Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle Collection (Cert 15)

3 Discs DVD / 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 296 minutes approx.

Release Date: August 21st  

The harem comedy is the gift that just keeps on giving – except it is more akin to the unwanted gift from a distant relative who doesn’t know what to get you, and settles for the same default option every year of sweets you don’t like, a voucher you won’t spend or toiletries you don’t use.

I say that because Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle begins with a preface set five years before the series takes place, explaining the Coup d’état which saw the Arcadia Empire overthrown in a violent and destructive battle. A lone warrior known only as Black Hero, in his bespoke black mecha suit called a Drag Ride, single handedly wiped out 1200 Empire Drag Rides, ending the battle.

Naturally it stands to reason then that the first scene of the present day story set in the restored Arcadia under the new regime, should see series protagonist Lux Arcadia – former prince of the Arcadia Empire – fall through a roof of a bath house and into the lap of a naked bathing beauty, causing much consternation and embarrassment in the process.

Yes, this is that kind of show. Sort of anyway. If you have seen the likes of Freezing, Infinite Stratos, Blade Dance Of The Elementalers and to a lesser extent, Familiar Of Zero then you’ve pretty much already experienced what Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has to offer. However, the lone saving grace is that, unlike its aforementioned contemporaries, there is actually a consistent episodic story being told.

It might be a little too late for some viewers if the cliché ridden mad dash of the first episode hasn’t already put them off but credit to creator Senri Akatsuki, upon whose light novels series this is based, for reversing the trend of focusing on the harem elements at the expense of an over arching plot. It may not be wholly original but it’s a plot nonetheless.

Having been reduced to lowly handyman status, Lux is the sole male at the all female Royal Knights Academy. The unfortunate incident in the bathhouse with the spoilt Princess Lisesharte “Lishe” Atismata of the Atismatan Kingdom, results in the challenge to a duel with Lishe confident in her fighting skills. But Lux isn’t known as the Weakest Undefeated Drag-Knight for nothing as Lishe is about to find out.

During the bout a creature called an Abyss interrupts the fight, and Lux sacrifices himself to allow Lishe to fend off the Abyss, earning her respect and – of course – her undying love. This selfless act also sees Lux accepted into the academy as its first male student, affording him the opportunity to mingle alongside his childhood friend Philuffy “Phi” Aingram and other wonderfully named potential love interests such as Celistia Ralgris, Krulcifer Einfolk and Tillfur Lilimit.

I don’t know if it ash ever been explained but fantasy harem shows do seem to try a little too hard in creating fanciful names for their characters and as demonstrated, Akatsuki has really gone to town in that respect. Personality wise they cover the usual tropes – Phi is busty, ditzy and lethargic; Celistia and Lishe are both tsundere with the former becoming possessive over time (one episode to be exact); and Krulcifer is the demure but secretive one.

Despite this when it comes to fighting these girls don’t hesitate to don their Drag Rides and get stuck in, each one skilled at a particular style of fighting or possessing a specific power. It is only on ground level and sans mecha that they become slightly helpless and cry for Lux’s aid, but he is hardly a burly defender out of his Drag Ride either. His appearance is slight and effete and his personality is equally gentle and respectful but he knows wrong from right.

Lux’s distinguishable ability, aside from being an inexplicable chick magnet, is his dual Drag Rides – the standard white model called Wyvern and his more powerful black version, the Bahamut. Wait, did I say “black”? Oh, slight spoiler there. Providing opposition to Lux and the academy are former loyalists to the Old Empire seeking revenge for the Black Hero, a shadowy bunch often hiding under cloaks and masks with the means to summon Abyss to do their bidding.

Other antagonists operate quite openly, luring Lux and the girls into traps where they unwittingly help in realising the pernicious objectives, with partial success. Employing mind control or flat out emotional manipulation, these dastardly devils, boasting such absurdly fantastic names as Kreutzer Balzeride, are blessed with egregious personalities but are afforded little development or substance beyond their overt evil ways.

Visually the character designs are as off the peg as the story elements but the animation and overall production values are surprisingly high, notably the background artwork. The battle uniforms are reminiscent of Infinite Stratos as are the Drag Rides, with a touch of the Busou Shinki armour in there too. And there is plenty, but not an abundance, of fan service and the occasional lewd frolics if the story becomes too taxing for anyone.

The biggest frustration with this show, something I have opined many times on this site, is that there is a kernel of decent story beneath the safety net of lazy conventions and cheap thrills that could have made it stand out more. As already suggested, it scores points for eschewing the usual “ten episodes of silliness, two episode of plot” formula by relegating the harem comedy to occasional distraction but still relies too much on established ideas to strengthen its own identity.

Alas we are left with a show that doesn’t do anything particularly wrong and stays within the remit of its chosen genre well enough, blending it with another staple genre of the mecha action for crossover appeal. The downside however is that Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle is too derivative to be truly memorable, offering passing entertainment for that quiet afternoon when nothing else is available.

 

Extras:

Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles

Disc 1:

Clean Opening Animation

Clean Closing Animation

Discs 2 & 3:

Clean Closing Animations

 

Rating – ***

Man In Black

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