Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul
Episode 5

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul ?

This week's Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul marks its second episode of straightforward plot and character development. I'll dive right in with Kaisar, who received the biggest share of screentime this week.

His first moment is lunch with Rita, which marks the first instance of a ship tease between them. Honestly, I think it's pretty cute. Romance between an adult man and the "actually immortal adult woman in a young girl's body" is usually a one-way ticket to squicksville for me, but this marks an odd exception. I think that it's because Rita is never framed as a child at all. She's the most mature of our heroes by far, and her appearance is devoid of all the “seductive child vampire” tropes that I immediately recognize and loathe. They'd make a nice pair, even if their meet-cute consisted of Kaisar killing her zombie parents. Anyway, that's a lot of words on a one-scene romantic “maybe," but the gist of the scene otherwise is Kaisar being an indecisive baby over his duties to the crown versus his moral scruples over an actual genocide. Of course, Rita tells him to shut up and do what's right already, rocket punching him into the river in the process. With his beautiful pompadour ruined, Kaisar sits there soggy and regretful, while Rita walks off, grumbling over stupid boys.

After this, Kaisar decides to probe Charioce for his motivations. This scene is our first glimpse of Charioce's inner workings, and it makes him more understandable, if not particularly likable. He was an illegitimate member of the royal family until ten years ago, when Bahamut wrecked stuff up real good. The proper line of succession was decimated, and Charioce emerged triumphant from the ensuing legitimacy crisis. Growing up in this power struggle (he's in his early-to-mid 20s now) turned him into a stone-cold determinator and human supremacist.

His basic argument is that before Bahamut, gods and demons bossed humanity around. Now that they've both turned out to be a bunch of puffed-up jerks, it's time for humanity to become strong by themselves. Kaisar's counter is that enslaving the demons will inevitably sow hatred and ensure a crisis down the line. Also, it was cooperation between the three races that sealed Bahamut last time. If something like that were to happen again, they'd be SOL alone. Charioce responds that he'll just get tough enough to handle demon rebellions and apocalypse dragons all by himself, neener neener. Also, why the hell is Kaisar questioning the king anyway? The fact that Kaisar isn't immediately fired for his impudence suggests that Charioce is using him as part of a plot. It makes sense – the dude is cozy with like half of the people keeping the resistance running. Especially Rita! They'd all have died ages ago if it weren't for her.

I didn't say much about Bacchus last week, but he does have his own brewing subplot. The heavenly order is trying to get him to find Jeanne's baby for them, offering to let him back into heaven if he does. He's torn over this, especially when he realizes that it's probably the sweet kid Nina has been dragging around. In the meantime, the angel Sophiel is also on Mugaro's trail. When Nina gets into a confrontation with some slavers, Mugaro uses his powers in public, which draws attention to them. Nina is a lovely girl who brings out the best in everyone she meets, but she still hasn't realized how much danger she's in for getting involved in all this nonsense.

In Azazel's corner, he's already promised his demon buddies that Nina will participate in the demon restoration. That's awfully presumptuous of him. Fellas, always secure consent from your partner beforehand. That means the clear, enthusiastic assurance that yes, she will serve as the lynchpin in your liberation war. After that, have fun. Anything short of that is not cool.

Nina herself isn't that prominent this week. The main development is that she's now good friends with Mugaro, taking the child on a shopping trip and making them smile. I say them since this bit casts some ambiguity on Mugaro's gender. Nina keeps referring to Mugaro as a girl, when I was previously under the impression (assumption?) that (s)he was a boy. I looked back a few weeks and couldn't find any explicit confirmation either way, although I may be mistaken. I'll see what they say in later episodes, but if anyone can clear this up, say so in the comments. Admittedly, it may be ambiguous on purpose.

Five episodes in, and I'm shocked by how much Rage of Bahamut: Virgin soul differs from its predecessor in one crucial respect. It's fully a continuation of the first series in its aesthetics, worldbuilding, and comedic sensibilities, but the storytelling style is totally different. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis was paced like a theme park ride. It was just a seat-of-your pants catapult from action setpiece to action setpiece alongside colorful fantasy archetypes. By contrast, this second season has limited itself to a single setting and keeps its focus on the exact delineations of its plot and character work. On that front, it's well done, but largely archetypal. Mostly I'm amused by how they've backwritten the first season's setting and characters into something more complex. The social ramifications of Bahamut's destruction are well-thought-out, while all of the old characters are given new dimensions. In spite of all this, it still feels like Rage of Bahamut. This is a primo fantasy romp, and if it keeps this up (and builds to an action climax soon maybe), I could see it standing alongside the likes of Vision of Escaflowne or at least Magic Knight Rayearth with fans.

Grade: B+

Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.

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