It’s nice to see the show go back to what it does best: exhilarating action from start to finish. Back from its short hiatus, this week’s episode of Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis never lets up. There’s action from start to finish as Hell’s army invades Anatae. Even when the characters pause to talk as anime characters are wont to do, we’re not bogged down by the rules of the game or any other nonsense. Rather, every word is as emotional as the last. That’s the key difference here. Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis isn’t incredibly smart or complex. Its plot isn’t particularly intricate either. No one’s going to mistake this for a deep, touching series. The sixth episode was largely engaging because the characters talked about various subjects in a very dry fashion. Even Jeanne’s story of growing up and becoming humanity’s holy knight wasn’t particularly emotional. Well, the feels abound in this week’s episode. Favaro and Kaisar not only confront their fathers’ killer (of course, I still think the king is partly responsible), but the latter gradually realizes what a true friend he has had all along.
Our afro’d swashbuckler will never admit that he may have secretly given his childhood friend a reason to keep on living, but at the same time, Favaro never fought for his innocence either. And don’t you find that rather odd? Most people will proclaim their innocence even if they actually were guilty. And we all know that Favaro isn’t exactly the most upstanding guy; he certainly doesn’t have any qualms about lying if it would benefit him. So why wouldn’t he proclaim his innocence? Even if he really was responsible for the death of Kaisar’s father, why wouldn’t he lie and at least try to get Kaisar off his back? So in the end, Azazel’s conclusion must be true. Favaro saw what Kaisar needed most, and blaming a demon would’ve been too farfetched back then. So he did the next best thing: he allowed Kaisar to blame him. And that’s what these conversations should accomplish. They should add characterization. They should have great emotional impact. They should reveal something interesting about the characters’ motives. They should reveal truths that we don’t already know.
That isn’t to say that the anime doesn’t fall back on some run-of-the-mill tropes every now and then. Like all villains, Azazel takes his opponents too lightly. And like all villains, Azazel likes to cackle with glee as he watches his opponents futilely throw themselves at him. And in the end, this arrogance allows for his predictable defeat. If the God Key is really this important, you have to wonder why Azazel is wasting his time toying with the humans. Nevertheless, Kaisar distracts his father’s killer just long enough for Jeanne to go all “Pajama, pajama!” on our demon friend. But for… hm, I’d say 75% of the time, the dialogue in this week’s episode stays on point. No one feels the need to feed us pointless exposition. And luckily, this adaptation of a card game isn’t literally about playing a card game. Could you imagine these characters standing around, spelling out in excruciating banality how to defeat each other at said card game? And even if Azazel’s defeat isn’t all that original, this anime’s calling card has never really been originality. Rather, it has impressed us right out of the gates with its execution.
That’s not to say that everything was executed properly. For the most part, the animation quality is back to where we expect it to be. We see giants on both sides clashing against each other in tremendous fashion. And of course, Jeanne impressively impales Pazuzu right through the gut with her Maltet. The episode never lets the atmosphere get too oppressively serious either as Favaro confounds Azazel in his own silly Favaro ways. Having said all of that, the action scenes lack a bit of contrast from time to time. So when you get dark shades next to other dark shades, it can be a difficult to appreciate some of the finer details in MAPPA’s animation. I like the idea of a crimson sky giving way to pitch black darkness as the situation turns grim for our heroes. Then when Azazel is finally taken down, the sun begins to rise over the horizon as if there’s newfound hope. Still, the execution isn’t perfect. Likewise, the characters are well-animated, but the backgrounds are often drab and blurry. This is supposed to allow the characters to pop in the foreground, but I’d like the backgrounds to look good too. At the moment, they let the rest of the animation down.
In the end, Favaro straddles the line between hero and villain, but as much as he won’t want to admit it, he’s more hero than villain. He tells Kaisar to take Amira to Helheim, but that’s a totally Kaisar thing, y’know? This sort of self-sacrifice is right up Kaisar’s alley, so it is interesting to see it coming from Favaro. And throughout this series, Kaisar has embodied the archetypal knight in that very ostentatious sort of way, i.e. overly heroic and overly romantic. But he subverts it to a degree in this week’s episode. His dramatic play at his own self-sacrifice at the end of the episode is really just a ruse. As such, our knight can at least be duplicitous like his friend. In other words, now that the former best friends are back to being current best friends, they also borrow from each other. The only person who doesn’t seem to get any development is Amira herself. Instead, she plays up the cute factor again as she stuffs herself full with food and alcohol. If there’s any sour note to our cast of characters, it’s that I’m not too keen on heroine being so moe.
But criticisms aside, it’s good to see the Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis as it should be. At this point, I’m not sure if it’ll overtake Garo the Animation as my favorite anime of the season, but you never know. Just no more episodes like the sixth one. And, y’know, recaps.