Episodes which drop bombs at the very end like this one did are always a bit of a puzzler to blog. The temptation is to start with the ending, and often I think it’s actually the best approach because that’s all anyone is really thinking about anyway. But there was a real progression to all this with Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul, and plenty of stuff happened in the first 21 minutes that’s worth talking about. Needless to say, though, I’m going to assume anyone who’s reading this has seen the episode. If you haven’t, stop reading and go away until you do.
It’s not easy to find fault with the first eight episodes of “Virgin Soul”, but if I were to single out anything it might be that it’s taken just a bit too long running in place before giving us the massive plot lurch that we saw this week. But even there, when we’re talking about a series with the luxury of 24 episodes to tell its story maybe it was justified in taking the approach it did. It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out, because I think the first season was “just right” at 12 eps – there definitely seems to be a meatier plot with “Virgin Soul”, but two cours is going to tell the tale of just how meaty. Two-cour anime were once the norm, but they’re very much the exception these days. That’s why it’s probably a good thing the staff here is packed with veterans who remember those old days very well.
You name it, and it pretty much got shuffled this week. It was pretty clear where last week’s “Shaka, when the walls fell” ending was going to leave things, and indeed it seemed as if Azazel had pretty much resigned himself to his fate (though he was certainly going to try and take Charioce with him). The one who interfered first was certainly the one you would have expected to, Mugaro – he (not for the first time, obviously) arrived in the nick of time to save Azazel’s neck. But unfortunately Sofiel and her God pals arrived soon after, and zapped Mugaro’s powers with a magical chain.
That would have been the end, I suppose – but dear old Kaisar stepped in, as you knew he would. Kaisar’s code of honor may make him seem dithery at times, but he always puts his actions behind his words in the end, no matter the odds. What results is an oddly dance-like three-way duel between Kaisar, Azazel and Charioce (and oddly a step down in animation, too, given that you’d have thought this ep would be a priority budget affair) where each of them is more or less in opposition to the other two. Kaisar is Azazel’s ally here, but Azazel is in no mood to be persuaded by Kaisar’s idealistic vision of what’s possible and what isn’t.
The upshot of all this is defeat – though not before a very cool moment when Kaisar thwarts Charioce with his false hand, and a very funny one where Nina – after an extended and solemn setup – is completely unable to transform into the red dragon. I can only assume Charioce recognizes her here, though the favor certainly isn’t returned, but that doesn’t stop him from arresting the two of them and (eventually) throwing them in his deepest dungeon.
So where does this leave us? Well again, pretty much everyone’s arc took a massive turn this week. Mugaro is in Heaven, where Gabriel is trying to convince him to join forces with the angels in what sounds very much like a war against a humanity that’s grown arrogant and cruel, and meet his mother in the process. Bacchus and Hamsa are there too, though their return was not what Hamsa had in mind – they’ve been imprisoned for their role in hiding Mugaro from Heavenly eyes. Bacchus seems quite unrepentant – clearly, he’s decided his course lies in following his ideals even if they conflict with Heaven’s. As for poor Azazel, he’s being tortured beneath the palace, though it seems like it’s being done more for amusement than to extract any useful information – I’m convinced Charioce has figured out Azazel doesn’t know anything of value that he doesn’t (all the more reason to believe Charioce is a sadist).
Obviously, though, it’s what’s happening in that dungeon that everyone is going to be talking about. Yes, he’s back – and with two-thirds of the series remaining there’s still plenty of time for Favaro to become a central figure in “Virgin Soul”. Favaro is such a distinct character that I suspect he’s a tone-changer for the entire series – I wouldn’t be surprised if this season started to play out quite a bit more like the first now. With Favaro, Kaisar, Nina and Jeanne all locked in the same prison, it’s a sure bet those walls won’t hold – there’s way too much firepower in terms of personality and plot armor for that.