As the seasons have come and gone and come around again, Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul has been a constant. This show just keeps on doing what it does, which is be one of the best on the schedule. With its huge cast of memorable characters old and new, and dark and layered plot, this series is a marvel of consistency. There are always things I could nit-pick (I really believe Kaisar and Favaro are being underutilized, for example) but in the end the quality always wins out.
With so many strong characters, some of them are always going to be left out for too-long stretches, and we got a welcome return for some of them this week. Bacchus and Hamsa for starters, who represent some of the strongest elements of this series’ lighter side. They’re still being detained in the Land of the Gods, but the promise of wine is enough to lure Bacchus into babysitting El, who’s retreated into a shell and refused to eat or speak since the disastrous end of the battle with the humans. Gabriel has an ulterior motive that goes well beyond concern for El’s welfare of course, but wine or no, I like the think Bacchus has a genuine affection for “Mugaro” (he didn’t have to look after him in the first place, but he did).
Even more welcome is the return of Azazel, who’s been totally absent after arguably having been the co-main character for the bulk of the first cour. As Lucifer bides his time in Hell, enjoying his books, Azazel is once more the Rag Demon – this time as a prisoner being trotted out in the arena for the entertainment of the baying jackals angry over his past deeds. Azazel is one of the main reasons “Virgin Soul” is a better series than the first season of Shingeki no Bahamut, I would argue, and his personal story may be the most compelling of anyone in the cast. He still has a major role to play in the denouement of this story, if nothing else because of his bond with El (who’s the biggest MacGuffin in the plot right now) but it’s nice to see that the narrative hasn’t totally forgotten about him.
Nina and Jeanne’s arrival in Heaven is the impetus to move the story forward. It’s a desolate place, the ranks of angels thinned first by the Bahamut crisis and then by Gabriel’s failed attack on Charioce. There are more lights representing those who fell than living angels, in fact. El senses his mother’s presence right away, but it’s some time before Gabriel agrees to let them meet. To her, Jeanne is just another weapon – a tool to try and bring El back over to the cause of war. A touching reunion does happen (though there’s no touching for poor Bacchus and Hamsa) but as heartfelt as it is, that’s only the beginning of the real drama.
Azazel ponders why he’s chosen to fight for life, Lucifer bides his time, and Charioce struggles to keep a lid on the terrible power he’s unleashed upon the world. But El is the key to everything, it seems likely. His goal is noble as only youth can be noble – to bring peace to the world of angels, demons and humans. But his vanity is likewise youthfully pure – he’s decided that he and only he can be the world’s savior. El is at once the greatest hope for peace and the greatest threat to the world, and I’m not sure his mother can be the one to keep him from veering into dangerous waters. A reunion with Azazel is surely on the horizon, sooner or later – and may be the key to keeping El from losing the essence of who he is to his desire to save the world.