Review/discussion about: Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut
I think it would be cool to investigate some ruins.
Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut has a couple of them. Strange structures filled with pillars, moss, and secrets yet found. The trade-off, of course, is a lot of danger. Creatures may be protecting the place. Latent, unknown devices may be itching to go off after lying dormant for hundreds of years. So long as I could avoid all of the risk and reap all of the rewards, I would try to trek through one.
Sadly, for Bahamut, it does not just have ruins. It’s in ruins, too.
Bahamut finds Lux, a prince of the former Old Empire, enrolled at an academy within the New Kingdom, the order that replaced the older.
Then the anime falls apart.
Much of what goes on within Bahamut feels like a hodgepodge of material. The anime splits itself up into a bunch of mini-arcs that simply don’t make sense. Information is either shoddily introduced or the happenings seem to come out of nowhere.
The first arc focuses on Lisha, the princess of the New Kingdom. Her events revolve around the history of the land, how the new system came into place, and the premise itself. But it is all done through minimal amounts of flashback and lots of heavy-handed dialogue.
The second arc focuses on Krulcifer. Her purpose is to bring the concept of Ruins into the fray. But what they are exactly and what they do for others and even why they are important goes largely ignored by the anime.
The third arc focuses on Celis. Her arc gets slightly more grounded when actual antagonists make an appearance. Yet said antagonists continue with the slipshod presentation. The giant beasts, Cecil’s female friend Saniya, and the villain who Lux mistakenly thought was his brother get thrown at the audience without much tact. The bigger enemies are meant for bigger action sequences, and the human antagonists are meant to be hated, but, since the context (once again) for them is lost, so is their importance.
The fourth arc focuses on Phi. Phi’s arc takes on a combination of all of these previous issues simultaneously. Overly quick flashbacks that do not provide enough. Out-of-nowhere ideas like getting a virus that turns one into a monster. More antagonists that, while somewhat relevant, exist just to be there.
The fifth and final arc focuses on Yoruka. Never around until the final three episodes, this arc gets the short end of the stick. Because Bahamut, realizing that it has not done too much with each girl outside of their respective arc, includes a multi-date outing that gets in the way of the events at hand.
That’s not the end of it. The whole pointless plotline involving Lux’s inability to pilot his vehicle for very long. The bringing back of a lame villain from the first arc. An ending that does not resolve the tale. It all comes together to put the narrative in quite the disheveled state.
More narrative problems exist, too. A random side council gets in the way from time to time, but who they are and what they really do is not made known. The robot suits have no real importance to the proceedings except for fighting. Dramatic moments lack emotion because the show flits from one arc to the next without letting events sink in.
Not to mention that the ecchi material, while a welcome addition, serves very little purpose. A small amount of it expounds on their characters, but, on a narrative level, the sexual content has no bearing on the direction of the show whatsoever. It can also tread into repetitive territory; one-too-many bath scenes are had.
Even a lot of the action sees trouble when the anime fails to make the fights intriguing. While they can demonstrate special moves and spurts of coolness, the different abilities, such as reading the future or stealthily moving around, are often replaced with too much gunfire or not enough choreography. (Lux’s abilities in particular, despite using Bahamut, are pretty lame.)
In short, the entire narrative is a mess through and through.
Bahamut’s art and animation fares a lot better.
The CG rendering of the robots they drive manages to be passable most of the time, so no complaints there. The backgrounds, though, lack much in the way of detail. Changing perspectives and lighting see similar fates. To be fair, Bahamut uses black-and-white coloring for dramatic moments and red hues for threatening ones on occasion, but the techniques do not contribute much.
And to be even more fair to Bahamut, it does include a paneling technique for conversation purposes. Usually used when they are in their robots, the anime puts each character in their own panel to make the conversations “closer” than they otherwise appear to be on screen.
The character designs are easily the best part of the art and deserve some praise. They are attractive with their blue-and-white outfits, black stockings, and gold embroidery. The color and glint of their eyes helps, too.
For example, Phi’s pink twin-tails, large bust, and lazy expression allow her to become the laidback wonder. Celis’s long blonde hair and taller figure turn her into both a beauty and a leader. And Krulcifer’s long blue hair (so much hair) and sharp face make her out to be the icy queen that she is.
Color symbolism likewise plays a part in the designs; a bonus feature. This type of symbolism exists across most of the characters, but using the previous examples helps here. Phi’s pink means kindness, Celis’s yellow means happiness, and Krulcifer’s blue means coolness.
Actual animation tends to be somewhere around average. Action sequences can sometimes raise the bar, but downtime is filled with lots of standing around with minimal movements. At the very least, some of the lewder scenes, like pressed breasts or a steamy make-out session, have the anime trying a bit harder.
While the characters are nowhere near as problematic as the story, that is not saying a whole lot.
At the minimum, Bahamut gives (due to the formatting of the narrative) each girl her spot in the limelight. Not a large amount of limelight, but they each get some all the same. Regardless, barely any execution is present in most of the characters, including Lux.
Starting with Lux, he is laughably lame. He hails from the same land as the other girls – the one Bahamut takes place in – but he was a prince of the Old Empire. Because of this and his usage of an inferior robot (earning him the convenient nickname of “Weakest Undefeated,” a trait of his that goes largely unexplored), he initially finds himself estranged in the New Kingdom.
Naturally, as he proves his worth, every girl flocks to him. It’s an acceptable development because part of the point is Lux reaching out to each of the girls in turn. Indeed, he has some kind of connection to their own problems: Lisha feeling worthless as a queen as he did as a prince, Krulcifer and he not having much of a family to turn to, and so on.
What’s not acceptable is his overly optimistic characterization and lack of a proper backstory. He shoulders everyone’s burdens, but, because his struggles are never looked at in depth, it makes his actions feel more like a requirement rather than a reaction to the situations before him.
Lisha follows similar suit, but she has a bit more depth. She is the upcoming queen of the New Kingdom. Her biggest conflict is the brand she received on her abdomen that evil men of the Old Empire seared onto her before her and her family took over. More specifically, she feels unworthy of ruling the land given that she was abandoned (by her father no less) to that unfortunate fate.
Sadly, Lisha, for both instances, is not the one to eliminate the person who branded her. Lux takes that honor – and robbing Lisha of some proper closure. Worse still, the anime pushes her into the side character role shortly following the conclusion of her arc, relegating her to flustered scenes thanks to the other girls. The final fight where she, once again, has to be saved by Lux solidifies how little attention she received.
Moving on, Krulcifer is perhaps the best written character of the bunch. She wins the academy-wide mini-game, asking Lux to be her boyfriend for a week. The move seems harmless at first, but her true intentions are made more clear following a side-street attack. She took advantage of Lux’s kindness, using him as a shield to thwart off a would-be suitor for the time being.
Later on, Lux learns of Krulcifer’s true origins: She is a descendent of the people of the Ruins. The exotic, mysterious nature of the Ruins themselves seeps into Krulcifer’s life as well when she talks about her “family.” She was adopted but not truly loved by her parents, brothers, and sisters because of who she was and where she came from. So she trained herself in the arts, from battling to mannerisms, to try and earn their love. But to no avail.
Much of this information is given through more expository backstory. But Bahamut at least shows some clout when the duel between her, her suitor, and Lux holds parallels in terms of using others as tools. I.e., her suitor saw her as a tool to further his gains, and Krulcifer (originally) thought the same of Lux.
Unfortunately, the anime lets Lux save Krulcifer from her doom rather than herself, but her actions afterward indicate her newfound fondness of the boy. She becomes very forward, letting Lux know that she will without a doubt be his wife in the future. But she takes her forwardness further with a kiss that was more than just a peck on the cheek.
In the end, Krulcifer manages to have some complexity to her character (even if some small snags are had along the way). The rest of the cast – namely Celis, Phi, and Yoruka – fall far below her level.
Celis enters the season roughly halfway through, letting everyone know of her main trait: hatred of men. As such, she challenges Lux to a duel where, should she win, he must leave the academy forever. Obviously not wanting such an outcome, and needing some way of getting close to Celis, Lux dresses up as a girl to circumvent Celis’s biggest barrier.
After “Luno” picks out a swimsuit for Celis, she opens up to the boy in disguise. She is not really a man-hater. She simply wants to protect Lux by keeping him out of danger in order to make amends, to take responsibility, for “causing” his grandfather’s death.
Later on, Celis nearly gets killed by Saniya (who is now randomly one of the main bad guys because she hates nobles; her strength as a villain is nonexistent). This situation prompts Celis to reveal her feelings of loneliness following the loss of her mentor through her indirect hands. Once again, Lux saves the day. He beats back Celis’s loneliness by fighting for her (and defeating the enemy). This instance of saving makes more sense than Lisha’s and Krulcifer’s since her conflict demands resolution through camaraderie.
A single conversation and a single flashback supports Celis’s character, though, making it rather weak. And while she does defeat Saniya on her own near the end of the season – hearkening back to her sense of responsibility – it is too little, too late.
But somehow, Phi’s character is even weaker. Before the academy went to the “training camp,” Phi was around for mostly two reasons: ecchiness and kindness. Hugging while wearing lingerie is her norm. But once the Ruin near the island surfaces, she changes.
Essentially, Phi starts to physically weaken. Lux chases after her when she runs away at one point – only to almost get choked out by her. Hayes (the other random villain) informs Lux (and the audience) that the virus within Phi is making her into an Abyss, a beast controlled by the villains.
Throughout her ordeal, Lux learns more about her. She liked Lux from a very early age. She was experimented on to the point of death. She consoled him when his mother died.
Per usual, all of this information is either without context or hastily put together. Sometimes both. She later betrays Lux and the others once the virus begins to fully take control, but (as is the case with every character) she gets out of her conflict not through personal change or of her own volition. (Airi is the one to directly save her this time as opposed to Lux, but it’s still so shoddy.)
And just for the sake of completeness, Yoruka performs horribly as a character, too. She has a weird affinity for Lux – pledging herself to him due to a contract from the days of the Old Empire. Her conflict also comes in as poorly written backstory. Shortly after, she gets defeated in about thirty seconds thanks to Lux comparing himself to Yoruka’s younger brother, thereby turning her onto his side.
Her entire character comes off as unnecessary since her inclusion does very little for the rest of the cast (which can be said for nearly all of them) and her impact on the story as a whole is practically inconsequential. But the worst part is that she hurts Lux’s character and, hence, one of the main themes of the cast: helping others in times of need.
During Yoruka’s battle with Lux, Lux describes why he chose to destroy the Old Empire, his Empire. Yet Yoruka’s description of Lux’s actions contradict what he has done for everyone else thus far: “Master, you were fighting by yourself for the sake of the Arcadia Empire from the beginning…” Despite how much the anime emphasized the notion that people require the support of others, unlike the girls in his harem, Lux took on his biggest burden alone.
The other villains barely have anything to their name. Airi stands on the outside saying little else besides “Big Brother.” And Relie’s relationship with Phi does not receive adequate attention.
All in all, the cast is a wash.
The opening track tends to a lot of noise as the beat, instruments, and singer fail to work together. Its English lyrics, like “fight for the sky” and “to be the soldier,” are silly, too. The only redeeming quality is the middle section where the beat shifts and the vocalist reaches loftier heights. But it is not enough to pull the OP up off the ground.
Next to the character designs, the ending track is arguably one of the only positive traits of Bahamut. The instruments support rather than overshadow the singer. The pace is consistent yet quick. And the ending’s tiny bit of repetition caps off the piece nicely. The ED is not that memorable, but it is certainly stronger than most of what Bahamut has to offer.
Voice acting performs are on a similar level. Perhaps slightly higher. Yurika Kubo as Phi goes kind, tired, and unemotional with an all-in-one voice. Risa Taneda as Celis brings both maturity and class with her way of speaking. And Mutsumi Tamura as Lux plays the young boy role well while being female herself.
(A special shout-out goes to Rie Takahashi as Noct for her constant use of “Yes.”)
As for the original soundtrack (not including the OP and the ED), it is largely forgettable. Piano ensembles for tenser moments. Rising violins for those triumphant times. And lighter tracks for the lighter scenes. The rising violin piece is slightly cool, but the majority of the OST is very much unimpressive to hear.
If I liked anything about the anime, it was the romance between the different girls and Lux.
As some may know, I am a sucker for romance. So the content related to it throughout this one made me smile and laugh and be happy. Lisha believing that holding hands was a major accomplishment. Krulcifer’s kiss scene. Celis’s stereotypical falling-on-her-boobs event. Phi splashing water at Lux; she was definitely my favorite character in the show. And Yoruka’s yandere tendencies.
Even the outside romantic dealings I found humorous. For instance, Airi scolding her brother for his “perverted” thoughts and Relie cheering Phi on in the game of love. All of the romance was favorable to me in some form.
Everything else, however, either got on my nerves or made me bored. Lux as a character was uninteresting – much too passive. The robots and action were more so flashy than cool. And the ecchi material, while not unwelcome, could have at least tried to make itself more interesting.
Furthermore, the harem members hardly interacted with one another. It would have been fun to see them have more dialogue between each other than what was given since their traits, likes, and personalities would have definitely clashed and coincided. But that never really happened.
Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut falls apart everywhere. The story is riddled with issues, the characters are incompetent, and areas of the art and music have seen better days. In other words, this is one ruin that has almost no rewards to speak of.
Story: Terrible, too many problems to reasonably list
Animation: Fine, boring artistic direction, about average actual animation, and nice character designs
Characters: Terrible, Krulcifer is passable, but Lux, Yoruka, and the rest of the cast are beyond poorly handled
Sound: Fine, bad OP, good ED, bad OST, above average VA performances
Enjoyment: Bad, sporadic romance kept the experience from feeling like a total drag
Final Score: 2/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3