The Blu-ray release schedule for Bahamut was announced last week, and based on the extremely strong initial set of Stalker numbers, MAPPA looks to be on-track for their first ever hit. That would be a reason to be happy even if this wasn’t a good series, because Maruyama Masao’s labor of love has shown a far greater commitment to making anime of distinction than most studios, and they’ve had an unbroken run of commercial flops as thanks (not to mention, Maruyama is still trying to raise enough money to finish Kon Satoshi’s final film).
Fortunately, Shingeki no Bahamut is a damn good series whose success would be worth celebrating no matter who was behind it. I was slow to be won over by this show in many respects – for a few episodes I admired it more than actually liked it. That’s been changing over the last few weeks though, as the character side has been edging closer to the sterling production side. The last piece of the puzzle, really, was the plot – but even that’s starting to round into shape now. After this ep I would even go so far as to say its approaching the level of both coherent and interesting.
As predicted, Hirata Hiroaki’s Lavalley would assume a big role in this episode – but it took rather longer than expected. Our heroic foursome have gone out of the frying pan and into the fire, having escaped the clutches of Azazel and his demons only to fall into the hands of the Gods – or rather, their Orleans Knights. They’re paraded in front of the seemingly dim-witted and ineffectual King Charioce XIII (Tesshou Genda), who seems only too happen to put the three non God-key holding members of the group to death. But a trio of Angels descend from on-high and order their lives spared, for fear of what their deaths would do to Amira and in the process, seemingly, the stability of the God Key.
In purely practical terms, the explanation seems to be that God and Satan each turned themselves into a key to save creation from an ultra-powerful monster called Bahamut, in the process sealing him away for a very long time (though seemingly not forever). We know where the God Key is, and it seems the Angels believe the Demon Key is in Helheim, which explains Amira’s strong desire to go there even if she doesn’t understand that herself. But the implication is that if the two keys are brought together Bahamut would be freed, so the real question here is who or what is manipulating Amira to try and do just that.
There’s an awful lot going on here, both on the character and plot side. Amira is devastated at what she sees as Favaro’s betrayal. Kaisar is clearly rethinking what he thought he knew and felt about Favaro, especially after he learns he’s not really a demon and Rita spills the beans about what happened to his bracelet. There’s a fantastic moment when the two of them do battle with knife and fork, just as they did as boys – but Rita breaks up the party with her flying fists again, to let them know that Amira is missing from her room.
That’s where Lavalley comes in, literally. He holds a pendant just like Amira’s, and says it was given to him by her mother. The implication is obvious, but I’m not quite ready to believe Lavalley is her father yet. He may simply be leading her on in that direction as a means of using her – perhaps he’s the one who wants to awaken Bahamut? We know that Amira is the singular creature that can change between Demon and Angel at-will, so her origins are mysterious at best. And let’s not forget Jeanne d’Arc – and not just because she’s played by Han Megumi. She tells Favaro she believes she’s the knight prophesied to restore peace after Bahamut’s awakening and her powers are growing massive indeed, but there’s something off here – like the real Joan, this one plays like a dangerous and power-mad zealot. I wonder if that foretold Knight might just be someone closer to the center of the story…