It’s no newsflash, but Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul is really damn good.
There’s much to be admired about this series. As I’ve noted, when a sequel is so much better than a show you already liked a lot that it qualifies as the surprise of the season, you know you’re watching something pretty special. For all the things it does well, perhaps among the most impressive is the way “Virgin Soul” manages to balance the light and dark elements of its personality without either undermining the effectiveness of the other. It can be very serious and bleak, it can be extremely silly and funny, and in the moment neither seems at all out of character. That’s really hard to do well – and this show is doing it very well.
If one chose to, they might associate specific cast members with one face of “Virgin Soul” or the other and not be too far off the mark, even if it’d be an oversimplification. Certainly Nina is the most obviously aligned with the “light” side (though by no means limited to it), so if an episode almost completely lacks her presence – and that of Rita, too – it’s hardly a surprise that it would be a particularly dark one. And not only was this one of the darkest (and best) episodes of the series, it was one of the darkest of the year.
It figured Jeanne and Mugaro’s backstory was going to be a depressing one, given what Azazel has already told us about the child’s origins. Conveniently, this episode (as told by Jeanne to Nina in their neighboring prison cells) also acts as an account of how Charioce came to power. Or perhaps more accurately when – because we still don’t really know how he did it. But times had already been rough for Jeanne, who having lost her heavenly powers was something of a figurehead captain of the Orleans Knights. When
Trump Charioice offers an ultimatum to Comey her – swear loyalty to him or be fired – Jeanne unsurprisingly chooses the latter.
This part of the tale still has a lot of gaps – such as what it was that Charioce had to take from the Gods in order to consolidate his power. But the personal side is pretty well filled in. Mugaro’s was indeed a virgin birth, and he is indeed a boy. He was delivered unto Jeanne after she’d been living a hardscrabble live on a smallholder farm, and she immediately named him “El” – which certainly indicates that she knew something of Mugaro’s background. Mugaro is officially a boy, and played by Kugimiya Rie – certainly a big name, which explains all the secrecy about Mugaro’s seiyuu. I’m not hugely fond of Kugimiya-san’s boy roles on the whole (with the notable exception of Alphonse Elric), but we’ll see what she can do with this one.
There’s no mystery as to how this is going to play out – we know Jeanne is in prison, and we know Mugaro is dark-haired and wingless, found on the verge of death and saved by Azazel. Still, to see it happen the way it did it pretty heartbreaking. There are still viewers who express sympathy for Charioce, which I find quite inconceivable, and I don’t suppose more glimpses of his dens of torture and seeing El mutilated by his own mother and drenched in demon blood to save him from being murdered by Chaorice is going to change those minds.
This episode was pretty straightforward – I took almost no notes on it, because none were needed – but it was riveting. I suppose this is one of those series that so eloquently expresses itself that it doesn’t require more interpretation or inspire much discussion – that’s really the only way I can explain the lack of comments to these posts. I get that, but I hope it doesn’t mean folks aren’t appreciating just how great – and fearless – Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul is. To present the events of this episode in such a simple way, without the need to embellish them – that was elegant and restrained storytelling, and that’s something that really should be applauded.