Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 01
The changes to the world are interesting. The characters are better than they’re not. It’s not totally there yet, but it has my attention.
Shingeki no Bahamut is a series whose first season I loved in part because of expectations. I went in with none, what we got was pretty darn good, so it was a win! So it remains to be seen how a Shingeki no Bahamut series will do when the expectations are higher.
If this first episode is any indication: pretty good, though like it’s predecessor, Virgin Soul isn’t perfect. Instead of starting off as a Western-style bounty hunter adventure—and by Western, I mean the Old West, with horse chases, saloons of ill repute, etc—this dives straight back into the angels vs demons epic that GENESIS transformed into. Except—not the same.
Undoubtedly the element I like the most is the changes they’ve made to the world’s status quo. The angels are dead or dying out, and the demons are enslaved to the Kingdom of Anatae’s will. I’m getting a very Roman Empire feeling, or the Roman Republic before it transformed into the empire—expect the font of wealth (in the form of treasure and slaves) brought about by King Charioce XVII’s (Umehara Yuuichirou) conquests to paper over the problems in Anataen society—until they don’t, and suddenly exacerbate them all. I’ll also admit to a certain twisted thrill at seeing the humans on top of the Angels-Humans-Demon dogpile, even if they’re the aggressors. They might be bastards, but dammit, they’re our bastards.
Plus, then we get a demon freedom fighter, or what the humans would probably call a terrorist. That’s novel.
But what dragged me into GENESIS the most was Favaro Leone (Yoshino Hiroyuki) and Kaiser Lidfard (Inoue Go), and—wait, where’s Favaro!? (Error: Insufficient Favaroooo.) Which is a lesson: when a great deal of your allure rests on the back of a single character, perhaps the underlying series doesn’t deserve all the praise I heap upon it. Can it survive with someone like Nina Drango (Morohoshi Sumire) at the helm?
Maybe! Compared to what’s-her-name from the first season, I like Nina a lot more. She’s cheerful, strong, and more than a little stupid, and her tendency to fall for whatever pretty man she runs into is somewhere between funny/endearing and eye-rolling/frustrating. Still, not a bad heroine to maybe carry a franchise, even her success is unknown. Unless we’re talking about physically carrying it, in which case she’s fine.
Specific praise: I like that Nina getting swept up in the Rag Demon’s escape doesn’t feel as unfair as it could. When innocent parties get caught up in crimes due to misunderstandings, it can be incredibly frustrating. The key is how unfair it is, how avoidable it is, how much the victim deserves it, and how well the victim is able to handle it. In this case, it was only semi-unfair (she did clock Kaiser, and ran off without explaining), it was avoidable (it would have been better if Kaiser was notably dazed, or even unconscious), she kind of partially deserved it (she put herself in the area of the Rag Demon on purpose), and she was relatively well-suited to handle it (she’s strong, fast, and has a flexible personality), so it doesn’t end up feeling all that frustrating. Just a touch, and it’s mostly Kaiser’s fault, as usual.
Specific gripe: they forced Nina’s transformation into a dragon like a sonuvabitch. She just hulked out out of nowhere, for reasons that aren’t clear, and with only limited hints that something would happen and no hints that this in particular would (though it was clear that she’s not normal, see: her strength). I feel like this was the producers trying to frontload her transformation to get the hook in early, and maybe that’s for the best for getting butts in the seats. (That’s why movie trailers so often contain all the best moments.) I don’t think it served the story well, though.
All in all, I definitely enjoyed the premiere, and while there’s plenty of time for this 24-episode series to come off the rails, I remain cautiously optimistic. I’ll probably cover at least another episode to see where it goes. Tell me what you think in the comments below. Cheers!
- Some little moments still definitely worked, like when Kaiser showed that he’s uncomfortable with the bloodsport. Good, gooood.
- Bacchus (Iwasaki Hiroshi) and Hamsa (Morikubo Shoutaro) are my spirit animals.
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for exclusive content. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Guardians of the Galaxy, Glee, & Firesign; That’s not supposed to go there . . .; The Carcer Principle; and Fire, further.
ED: 「拝啓グッバイさようなら」 (Haikei Goodbye Sayounara) by DAOKO