Well now, I’m not sure how I feel about all that.
I would suppose this episode of Virgin Soul is going to prove to be quite well-received, but truthfully it wasn’t one of my favorites. That it was technically well-done (though probably outsourced) and well-crafted is not in dispute – that’s pretty much a given with this season of Shingeki no Bahamut. But there were definitely a couple of developments here that didn’t really work for me, and that give me a bit of angst over where the series is headed.
In simplest terms, I’m not crazy about the way the narrative is being split up amongst the characters. It’s nothing against Nina, who’s great – or even Chaorice, who I detest as a person but like as a character. But there are too many good characters with very little to do for Nina to be the near-total focus of episode after episode. That’s why last week’s more collegial effort was a refreshing change. We desperately need to see more of Kaisar (especially) and Favaro, more of Rita, and Azazel and El, and even more of Bacchus and Hamsa. They’re too great as characters to be wasted the way they’re being wasted here.
That’s more of an ongoing niggle, though. More specific to this week’s episode is the warm and fluffy interaction between Nina and Chaorice. Chaorice is a character that’s divisive, certainly – and I won’t deny that I have strong feelings about his moral standing. Frankly I don’t give a rat’s ass about his vital objective, or his dead mother who was impregnated by the old king, or about his boyish smile that sweeps Nina off her feet and triggers her transformation. Atrocities are atrocities, and this despot has committed enough for ten kings. The end doesn’t justify the means (sorry, Urobuchi-sensei) and whatever his reasons they don’t mitigate the barbarous acts Chaorice has committed against the demons (and angels, too).
That said, I won’t deny that the rendezvous between Nina and Chaorice was well done (though they could at least have righted the headstone she knocked over). His behavior is more puzzling than ever, and there’s a genuine romantic chemistry there. We learned a lot more about the king (assuming it’s not all lies) – the aforementioned tidbit about his mother, the fact that his real name is Chris, the fact that he can smile and play soccer with demon children just as easily as order them butchered. None of it changes anything, and the fact that his own hatchet man is starting to doubt Chaorice doesn’t either. I don’t blame Nina – she’s a child, naive and in love. But her heart is going to be broken either way, so I’m not going to shed any tears for her if Chaorice pays the price for his sins.
My big worry, of course, is that Chaorice is headed for a “redemption” – that whatever he hopes to achieve is presented as a valid justification for genocide, and he’s sold to us as one of the good guys now. If that’s what Virgin Soul is selling, I’m not going to be buying – but this series has done enough to earn a decent measure of rope with which to hang itself. It’s smartly-written and relatively subtle, and I’m going to keep hoping it avoids the trap it seems to be setting for itself unless and until it proves beyond any doubt that it’s already been ensnared.