Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul
Episode 8

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul ?

It's Butt O'Clock on this week's Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, and I'm not just talking about Azazel this time. (In case you aren't familiar with my extremely technical terminology, “butt o'clock” is what it's called when the animation quality takes a serious dive in the middle of a show.) Unfortunately, the dumpy animation wasn't even the greatest of this episode's problems. Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul has been suffering from some plot decompression for a while, but this is the first episode that's managed to put a serious damper on the excitement. I've been coming down a little hard on previous episodes for this, but that's mostly because there hasn't been much else to criticize. However, this is the first time that these problems interfered with the show's ability to be entertaining, resulting in an uncharacteristically dour experience. It's necessary dourness, mind you – I wouldn't say that the characters experience anything excessively cruel to what they deserve – it's just not something that had to fill an entire episode on its own.

Coming off of last week, Azazel's demon rebellion failed because he couldn't make Nina reliably horny. His friends all die, and he's about to be killed by Charioce when Mugaro interferes. Mugaro tries to use their powers to save Azazel, but they're captured by the angels, who've been lying in wait. Azazel begs Nina to save Mugaro, but she can't will herself into arousal at this crucial moment, for some reason. Azazel is taken prisoner, while Nina and Kaisar (who interfered with Charioce's attempt to kill the rag demon) are sentenced to The Dungeons. There, Nina encounters Jeanne, while Kaisar finds himself up against a different familiar face – it's FAVARO!!!

That's right – Favaro's back, and he's been locked up for a while, judging by his enormous donut beard. His reappearance was really the saving grace to this unpleasant, padded-out week for the story. I hadn't realized how much I'd been missing him.

While I have to come down hard on this episode, there is a silver lining in that it doesn't derail the plot. If the pacing, production values, and entertainment factor pick back up again next episode, it looks like we'll be able to continue the ride with minimal disturbances. That's not to say that there isn't wonky plot stuff going on. Charioce is strangely unconcerned to learn that the girl he's been dating is in contact with the demon resistance, the circumstances of Kaisar's interference seem poorly thought-out, and Azazel's overall treatment just feels kind of needlessly punishing. He's already lost pretty much everything – you don't need to rub it in with shots of him getting whipped and desperately screaming for Nina to help. That's not very fun. But the show won't need to do any damage control before getting back to fun, wacky business as usual if it wants.

I think I might know what happened here. This episode feels like material stretched out to accommodate for production problems. It seems like MAPPA originally planned for a more exciting, dynamic version of this episode, but this fell through due to a lack of resources, and they decided to sacrifice this episode's thrill factor to ease the production burden. It'd make sense for something like this to happen around now – Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul has been an exceptionally lush production so far, and these types of shows tend to crash for a while after the first couple of weeks. The stereotype for these butt episodes is episode four, so we're actually overdue for something like this.

Production issues would also help explain some of the weird visual choices made throughout the week, like how they keep lingering on shots for several seconds longer than necessary. (Previously, the show had been much more snappily edited and visually diverse.) For example, there's a micro-decompression of what should have been the episode's climactic moment – Nina's failure to turn into a dragon and save Mugaro. This is supposed to jet start her involvement in the larger plot, but it feels like an afterthought in its own episode. Other issues include that ugly brown tinge that covers half the episode and some half-assed backgrounds. That CG gear dimension they shoved Bacchus into looks like a wallpaper option that comes with your computer.

Oh well, the series can't always be perfect. Ideally, I would have put all this in the last eight minutes of last week's episode, while also tightening all of that material up. That way, we wouldn't have 24 straight minutes of our heroes getting punished. We're all set up for an escape plot now, with pretty much every character (Nina, Jeanne, Kaisar, Favaro, Azazel, Bacchus, Hansa) needing to get busted out of somewhere. I'm sure that it'll all be Rita's doing somehow. While she's on the case, there's pretty much no way the forces of evil can permanently detain our heroes. Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul may have decompressed a bit too hard this week, but I'm optimistic that we'll see a return to form soon.

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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