Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 17

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.

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7 comments

  1. M

    I am not so keen on this “Make Chaorice Great Again” either. With Azazel, his redemption arc is one thing but Chris is too despicable to be redeemed or made sympathetic. I mean, I get it, love conquers all and everything but I doubt that goes for genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    The way they set things up with Nina, reminds me of the disappointing resolution for Amira from last season. When compared with their male counterparts, the female characters tend to get the short end of the stick in Bahamut*. Things happen to them but with very little agency on their part which in turn, leads to very tragic results. With the exception of Rita, this applies to Amira, Jeanne, Nina, and even the demon lady from Azazel failed rebellion. Amira finds out she was played and manipulated all along (same goes for Amira’s mother). Jeanne kills Michael, has to mutilate her child, is taken captive, and threatened by Chaorice.

    Neither does Gabriel fair any better since they set her up to be a manipulative one-note player. By comparison, Michael had much depth to him. Same with Nina and Chaorice: Nina is young, bubbly, comic relief whereas Chaorice is more than a one-note villain. Same with Demon lady and Azazel.

    *With the caveat that this doesn’t take from the enjoyment of the show.

  2. S

    I have lots of doubts about Charioce feelings for Nina, or the fact that he can be nice to children demons.
    As he has said himself, he does not feel any guilt about anything – the ends justify the means.
    It is far better for him to have a loving naive manipulated pet dragon than having to fight the said dragon.

  3. Y

    The soccer part really pushed my suspense of disbelief. I highly doubt kid demons will let a grown human man join them without trepidation in their current circumstances. Apart from that, another stellar episode. This and Boku no Hero Academia are sustaining me through this fairly meh season.

  4. G

    Nina with that moustache as a disguise was pure comedy gold.

    If they are trying to redeem the king the only way I see that happening is if some greater villian comes along and the humans, demons, and angels all work together to stop the greater villian.

  5. That wouldn’t do it for me.

  6. b

    I’ve only read two shoujo mangas, and both of them somehow managed to have the protagonist say “I want to understand him better” when her love interest turns out to be a horrible person. It’s a bit sad to see the same thing happen in this show.

    I don’t want to see a Chris redemption thing (well, a last-minute realization that he’s a jerk would be nice, as long as it’s seconds before death). But his second-in-command implied that Chris and his knights are paying a heavy price for their power, so it’s possible that he’s planning on martyring himself for world peace or whatever. That would be unsatisfying… I guess we just have to shinjite in the writers.

  7. The thing I don’t quite buy here is Chris’ change in character. Nina voiced that question aloud, but I can’t think of a possible reason why he would act completely different from one scene to another. Who knows, maybe the show will surprise me.

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