Criticizing stuff like this is my lifeblood. No one expects these to be good but it says something when these keep getting pumped out.
To many, the three battle harems of last season was something to be laughed at. For all their similarities, the premises, the fact that two of them aired within a few hours of each other with the criminally same first episode, and just the notion that carbon copy harems seem to be coming out in droves every season. Hilariously enough, Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle was the only one of its “battle academy harem” kind this season and how hilarious it was to realize how decent last season actually was compared to this mess.
You could actually say that the general anime audience was “spoiled” through the trio of harems last season and I can certainly admit that all three of them had some aspect of work put into them that made them superior than what most other harems lack, but I’m probably giving the three from before a lot more credit because I actually attempted to analyze them deeper than I normally do. Hell, so much in fact I decided to continue using this format of reviews. In almost every aspect, Bahamut showed me how you could make something so incredibly generic and devoid of any sort of tension or drama that somehow trumped the worst parts of last season. It isn’t completely without some redeeming traits but the bad outweighs the good.
Bahamut takes place in semi-medieval setting where ancient and mysterious ruins around the world contain mysterious items, the most significant being the Dragon-armors. The land was ruled by the tyrannical “Old Kingdom” who held many other smaller noble families under them. The Old Kingdom was however completely overthrown by “Black Hero” who single-handedly decimated its armies and opened a path for the peaceful New Kingdom to take its place. Enter Lux Arcadia, a former prince of the Old Kingdom who was involved with the coup who now works as a civil servant to try and make up for the crimes of his forebears. A certain work-related accident has him toppling into a girl’s bathhouse where he lands on top of Lisesharte Atismata, a princess of the New Empire. Overly familiar circumstances lead to Lux entering an all-girl’s school for piloting Dragon Armors and gets himself into a duel with Lisesharte to prove his innocence.
The entire schtick with the old kingdom-new kingdom could have made an interesting setting on its own but nope, that takes the backseat with the main backdrop being a fantasy version of Infinite Stratos with the whole “battle academy for girls to train in using mechs with the main protagonist placed in said all girls school for some half-assed reason”. At least the setting warrants the usage of these mechs since monsters exist but not like anyone that doesn’t have a named mech matters at all. Comparatively where Ichika was the only male character able to use mechs, male users for these dragon armors exist but Lux was just enrolled for the sake of convenience.
I normally judge harem characters with their relationship dynamic to the main character and I’m not lying when I say the interactions with the main characters form the overall crux of the entire genre itself. Lux Arcadia was not a favorable main character for me in the slightest. He’s absolutely horrified at the sight of the female body, he’s completely subservient, and not too many things encompass his overall character other than traits that already exist on other harem protagonists. Couple his completely outside-of-battle spineless attitude with the fact that he’s the strongest character in the series thus far with his Bahamut Dragon Mech and every single fight ends up with him sweeping everyone with minimal trouble. No one even seems to care too much that he’s the one who overthrew the empire, some characters know but that detail is just shown to be completely irrelevant. His demeanor also turned out to be make a more convincing female than as a male too. Lisesharte, or just Lisha, is the main female protagonist and the series tried to make her a big deal with the completely stupid tattoo scene where she didn’t even need to pull her panties down to show it off. This entire princess element to her character is only relevant to her introduction and in the ending but even then, she is fully relegated to side character status where she mostly interrupts Lux’s scenes with other girls. Krulcifer is slightly more important because the ancient ruins portion of the series takes a bigger portion of the series but she also suffers from powerless noble girl who is forced into marriage. However, she probably had the series’ best romcom scene with that kiss at the end of her arc. But generally, I never found her character all that appealing cause she constantly has the exact same intonation and demeanor which just wasn’t as entertaining.
I feared that Celestia would just be another rendition of Miku from Date A Live but she turned out a lot better than I thought. I actually forget the actual reason she’s “supposed” to hate males but apparently it was just a misunderstanding that stuck with her. I always like the nice knight-girl so I ended up liking her the most. On the other spectrum, I found Philuffy an absolute monstrosity of cliches rolled into one character. She’s basically Saya from Asterisk War only with pink hair, enormous breasts, and an even more boring personality. Plus her arc made the last amount of sense so I actually disliked her the most. Finally we have Yoruka who was introduced way too late in the series to make any sort of impression on me other than she was just Not-Kurumi.
The side characters were the interesting part as they showed up the most and helped out the main characters in most occasions, leading some hilarious implications that they were more involved with the series than the actual main girls. The blue haired one was the match-maker for Celes but got the least screentime, the brown hair one had a distinct voice and showed up a lot but I never really found her all that great. Lastly we got the gratuitous english user, the black haired girl who always starts a sentence with “Yes” or “No”. Give how 95% of the rest of the series just rubbed me the wrong way, I was more annoyed with this one. Lastly we have Airi, Lux’s sister whose only purpose is there to explain her brother’s abilities with almost all implications that she was a former princess also thrown out the window.
The villains side doesn’t have anyone else memorable either. You have two scumbag male villains who don’t matter, a girl that looks like an evil version of Neptune, and the brown girl who we thought was just a hardass was actually a villain. The only one that matters at all is Lux’s brother but even then, he’s just there to look menacing and maybe give us a hint at how Lux might look if he wasn’t so criminally lacking in testosterone.
If there is one thing I will give this series credit for, it’s the looks and design. The original artwork was done by Kasuga Ayumu and while I’m not the biggest fan of the uber-smooth style, I can admit it looks nice. Lerche did a relatively good job in adapting the art but Kasuga’s same-face issue is more noticeable, especially in the opening where everyone’s smiling face looks exactly the same. On a side note, I didn’t really care for Lisha at all but I do like seeing her colors of Red, White, Black, and Gold since those make a really appealing contrast to my eyes. So overall, the girls look decent but as far as the mechs go, I never liked the whole outer-armor style of mechs at all. It just seemed counter-intuitive to me to have any sort of combat mech to be designed in a way so all of those fell flat with me. The animations were also not the best suite and the fights suffered because of it but more so because of a point we’ll get to real soon. The OST wasn’t memorable in any sort of way and this is where my arguments from the top come into play because the opening and ending were the points I first realized at just how much better the music from the last season’s harems were. While the Nano.ripe ending was decent, the opening was completely unremarkable.
The progression was also the most by-the-books of them all with each new girl completely overshadowing the previous ones that were developed on. This point is usually tried to made to look less obvious by having some doses of plot here and there but Bahamut just loves to not involve enough exposition scenes with its actual main characters. It’s one of those exposition scenes where we switch to super serious authority figures that we don’t care about talking seriously. Yes they’re setting up for some future stuff and thank goodness they care about plot but this isn’t a good way to do this when you give us no incentive to care about what these people are talking about. At least the three series from last season had either a short list of side characters that were at least directly relevant in a way to care about exposition scenes or just had a half-decent set up. Yes, I’m saying that the tournament stuff were better than stuff like this. That doesn’t mean tournaments don’t happen here either because it was a backdrop near the ending but that was actually the less annoying part than seeing every plot point culminate and end the exact same way. 3 out of the 5 plotpoints ended with a duel involving Lux and the arc heroine in some way and something always goes wrong and forces Lux to utilize Bahamut. Even when there’s a supposed limit to his power, it removes any and all sort of tension when every arc ends with Bahamut tearing everything apart. One of the few things I can say that was also decent was the finale where everyone getting involved and being somewhat useful was good to see when every other arc they’re absolutely useless.
In the end, the only good thing I can say about this series is that it looks nice. The music aside from the ending was forgettable, the characters weren’t exactly complimented all that well after their arc of relevance was past, the main character turned out to be the worst of them all, the fights were absurdly boring, and the setting was just laughable. If one was looking for one of the more recent examples of just another trashy harem to watch and then forget about the next season, Bahamut was definitely it. Of course, what I just said above shouldn’t really be taken completely seriously since in the end, it’s just another formulaic harem series but it was quite interesting to see how the formula seemed to play out after seeing what happened a few seasons ago.
Was it better than IS? Somewhat tough to say because Season 1 of IS just was what it was while S2 tried to introduce plot into it, something which Bahamut tries from the get-go and fails to really deliver on. But I can with absolutely certainty that Lerche designs trump A-1 designs in this matter and in the end, that’s usually the main point of watching this stuff.