Review for Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle Collection
I may have mentioned before that my never-ending consumption of anime is motivated by a hunt for the original, the fresh, the unexpected. That was a simple thing to find when I first started watching anime, but now, not so much. I can still usually find aspects of a show that excite and inspire, elements of a story that I might not have encountered before. But on occasion, a show turns up that is so derivative, so hackneyed, that it seems that the creators took an existing premise, and just changed the names of the characters, changed the jargon to make it seem different. It’s an “Oh no, not again” sinking feeling that makes me reluctant to even put a disc in my DVD player. I have to remind myself that it’s not always the story that is told, it’s how that story is told that matters. Besides, it has an end theme by nano.RIPE. There’s no anime with a nano.RIPE theme that I haven’t liked. Hopefully that paragraph has effectively lowered your expectations for Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle.
It’s a feudal world, where battles are fought using ancient weapons, airborne mecha from a lost age, now called Drag-Rides, and piloted by Drag-Knights. 5 years ago, the Arcadia Empire was overthrown in mysterious circumstances involving the Black Hero, to be replaced by the Atismata Empire. The Atismata Empire established the Crossfeed Academy to train Royal Knights, women all to pilot the Drag-Rides.
The fallen prince Lux Arcadia now works as a handyman, only it’s on a job at the Academy that he somehow falls into the communal baths and into the naked arms of Princess Lisesharte Atismata, who is training at the academy. Pervert credentials established, it also turns out that Lux has credentials in piloting Drag-Rides. Naturally he becomes the only male student in a school full of girls, including his sister, his childhood friend, and a whole lot of other girls who when not physically beating up on him for being a pervert, harbour crushes on him as well. But there are mysteries to Lux, not least of which is that he carries two swords instead of one, both capable of summoning mecha. The silver sword summons a rather unremarkable Wyvern, but just what mecha does his black sword call? There’s not a lot of time to find out, as conspiracies are afoot in the kingdom, Abysses are opening up, and monsters being called forth...
12 episodes of Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle are presented across 3 DVDs as follows. The show is also available on Blu-ray.
1. The Crimson Warrior Princess
2. The Weakest Drag-Knight
3. The Lady of the North’s Engagement Conditions
4. The Sixth Rain – Miniature Garden –
5. A Girl’s Wish
6. The Homecoming of the Strongest
7. A Girl’s Truth
8. Awakening of the Phantom Divine Beast
9. The Promise
10. The Young Girls’ Reward
11. The Imperial Assassin’s Dagger
12. The Young Girl’s Cherished Desire
Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic NTSC transfer on these discs, and the image is presented with no visible issues such as compression or excessive aliasing. The animation is smooth throughout, and the image is clear and colourful. It’s a fine DVD transfer of a recent anime series, although if you want better, the Blu-ray will be the natural option. The character designs are of the familiar, mainstream anime style, with a fairly non-descript central male character surrounded by all the usual female anime tropes. The action sequences are impressive enough, and the mecha are presented well, animated with impact.
You get the original Japanese audio with subtitles locked on during playback. It’s a fine enough audio track, the action comes across well, and I do appreciate the nano.RIPE end theme, while there aren’t any problems with glitches or dropouts. The actors are cast suitably to type, although I found it a little funny that they’re now casting Rie Kugimiya soundalikes in the tsundere role. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos.
This is another one of those redundant re-authors of Sentai discs by Madman Entertainment, just like the Girls Beyond the Wasteland discs.
The discs present their content with static menus, and jacket pictures, and each episode is followed by translated English credits.
Disc 1 has the textless credits, while Madman have stripped the discs of any trailers.
Disc 2 has two more textless endings.
Disc 3 has yet two more textless endings.
You might as well call this Undefeated Blade Dance of the Infinite Stratos. There is something that is so dispiriting about writing the same words over again about yet another identikit anime, so formulaic that they all begin to blur into one. The character names change, the jargon changes, the setting changes, but fundamentally there is no difference between Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle, Blade Dance of the Elementalers, or Infinite Stratos. It’s even more like Infinite Stratos given the flying giant robots. All that differs is that Bahamut’s setting is in a post-technological feudal world. I sometimes wonder if these shows are just as dispiriting to make as they are for me to watch, but if that were the case, they wouldn’t make the bloody things.
I digress, and I stress like a reviewer who has seen the same story too many times. What if you’ve never seen an anime before, and are coming to Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle as your first one? It’s competently put together. You have your non-descript hero type who through feckless perversion somehow manages to attract a harem of admirers in an all-girl giant mecha academy. Much silliness and relationship hijinks ensue with Lux Arcadia in a constant state of panic as he has to fend off the advances of Princess Lisesharte, Krulcifer, Celes, and childhood friend Philuffy (whose name is apparently pronounced ‘filthy’). Meanwhile, in the background a story unfolds about a plot to overthrow the kingdom, put together by stragglers from the old kingdom, which Lux himself destroyed five years previously. Action ensues, with plenty of giant robot fights, as well as a search for ancient technology in so-called Ruins. It’s about as average a show as you can get, doing absolutely nothing to stand out above its rather lacklustre peers. This is pretty low-hanging fruit. Get it right and you have a hit show, only no-one seems to get it right.
In the end however, Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle comes out below average, as it spends so much time with its harem comedy tropes, that the story is wholly unearned. You have a significant back-story regarding Lux’s family, and the downfall of the old Kingdom. You have machinations in the new Kingdom, as well as the surrounding nations. You have the mysteries of the Ruins, the old technology, and you have the plot to overthrow the kingdom, all unfolding in the background of the series, neglected as a result. You get loads of jargon, plenty of arcane terms and hints of import and ill-omen. But it’s all so much window-dressing. None of it is developed sufficiently to make sense (When I tell you that ‘Filthy’ has a Ragnarok seed inside her, you’ll be nonplussed. When you see that plot arc unfold in the show, you’ll be none the wiser), and so when it comes to the big finale, the giant flying robots fighting an even giant-er robot, none of it is earned. And of course the show ends on that ‘Hope we get a second season’ note.
Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle feels like one big advert for the light novels; as if it’s promising that all of its back-story and all of the character relationships will actually be explained in those. Without that explanation, it’s just a mundane harem comedy with the occasional giant robot fight. And now I have an anime that I don’t like with a nano.RIPE theme song.