Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul Episodes 1-3
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul ?
How would you rate episode 3 of
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul ?
When it first aired three years ago, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis made waves as an unusually well produced and written mobile game adaptation. Apparently, Cygames makes a lot of money in general, and word is that they gave the folks at MAPPA enough of it to make whatever the hell they wanted with the company's blessing. The production team wanted to make an homage to Western fantasy adventure films, so Rage of Bahamut: Genesis was born. It was a good show, and I guess it did well enough for them that we're getting this two-cour sequel series, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul.
Some time shortly after Bahamut was defeated, humans figured out a really good way to beat up demons, so their new king, Charioce XVII, decided to start a war of subjugation. He barged right into their capitol and enslaved them all, including their big bad leaders. It's not a good world to be a demon in anymore, but things are going gangbusters for humans. This is where we meet Nina Drango. She's a bounty hunter living in a human city, crashing with our old friends Bacchus and his talking duck companion (Hamsa). She's pretty much a Disney princess in the mold of Anna or Belle or Jasmine - an outgoing, happy-go-lucky young woman who happens to be constrained by her particular circumstances. But while those princesses were trapped within more literal palaces, Nina is “trapped” by the fact that whenever she gets too horny, she'll turn into a dragon. Unfortunately, Nina is always horny, and this world is a labyrinth of hot guys, from the village painter to freedom fighter Azazel to the conquering king Charioce and even ol' eyelashes himself, Kaisar Lidford. Of course, Nina gets roped into this whole race war thing real quick. Azazel is trying to get her to save demonkind for him, while Charioce himself has begun to take an interest in her for other reasons. As the situation intensifies, Nina finds herself stuck between a rock and a hard place, if you know what I mean.
This second season is both deeply informed by and somewhat distanced from the first season's outcome. It assumes familiarity with what happened, but it also takes place ten years later with a new heroine. Although as many have pointed out, Nina was obviously designed as a combination of Favaro and Amira's personalities. Considering how the first season ended, it doesn't make sense for these two star-crossed lovers to have had a kid (and besides, Nina should've already been born by the time the whole drama happened), so she's probably not their actual offspring, barring some sort of outlandish magical explanation. Her existence is absolutely a best of both worlds situation though, since she combines Amira's cute naivety with Favaro's gregariousness. As a heroine, Nina is immediately lovable, and I'm happy every time she's onscreen. We'll just have to see whether or not she's actually related to Amira – my bet is that this is a red herring, considering she has a mother back in her village, but I'd be shocked if “Favaro and Amira's kid” weren't her specific design instructions.
Back to the recap, Amira sacrificed herself to reseal Bahamut, the villains were defeated, and Favaro and Kaisar ran off into the sunset as bounty hunting best friends for life. At some point in the interim, Kaiser returned to being a knight, and now he stands around being super uncomfortable with all the slavery around him. Azazel turns Kaisar to his side pretty easily by showing him just how horrible people really are to demons. It probably should have been obvious beforehand, but at least he comes around quickly enough. Favaro is still running around somewhere else, and he's even revealed to be Nina's instructor before the events of the show, so I'm sure he'll come back later. And Rita is still Rita – the omnipresent yet under-consulted voice of reason. She's even adopted Kaisar's severed hand as a pet! It's these small, ridiculous touches that make me love the show.
There's also something going on involving the kid, Mugaro, who hangs around Azazel. He's some sort of holy child who escaped Charioce's custody, possessing mysterious powers and supposedly meant to be the key to getting humanity to respect the gods again. This brings us back to the setup – humanity no longer respects the gods, so now they're killing them alongside demons. Considering what the gods pulled last season, I understand the disillusionment. They manipulated Jeanne, a beloved saint, for their own purposes until she snapped and killed a bunch of them. I'd be unimpressed too. But if last season was about making the gods out as scheming assholes, this one is telling humans not to get too big for their britches either.
Writing-wise, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul is immediately impressive in how it expands on the first season's characters. They were never much more than fantasy tropes to begin with (albeit entertaining ones), but the show treated them well, and this new situation adds fresh dimensions to existing characters. Azazel benefits the most, probably because he's being rehabilitated into a love interest for Nina. In the first season, he was more of a petulant brat and a buttmonkey. He wore tight pants and had an attractive appearance, but he also had a ridiculous personality and kept getting beat up in wacky ways. The hunk equation was imbalanced, you could say. But now he's a sexy freedom fighter trying to save his people from slavery. He wears bandages on his face and even a top hat sometimes! He still gets beat up, but it's in a sexy way this time. I have seen this character in many fanfics, and I'm excited to see him animated in such a lush production. In all seriousness, it looks like losing his throne in hell has forced him to grow up a bit.
Kaisar has also changed in the interim between seasons. Last we saw of him, he was living it up as a bounty hunter with Favaro, but now he's a member of the royal knights again. This was actually explained in two animated “short stories” posted on Cygames' Youtube channel. They aren't translated, unfortunately, but there are summaries here. The most useful bit of information is that Kaisar thought bounty hunting would mean running away from his responsibilities, so he came home. There's some stuff about the characters' relationships with their dads in there too, and Jeanne is doing alright, but I'll cover her stuff more whenever she reenters the show. That's about it.
As for production values, this show is comparable to its predecessor. The character designs are still poppy, fun, and vaguely Disney-ish for an anime. There are fewer action setpieces, but that may be due to the writing more than anything else. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis was the first installment, so it had to go above and beyond to hook in its audience by taking them on a world tour of fantasy adventure ideas. By Virgin Soul, I'm already invested in the characters, so it's perfectly entertaining to watch them sit around eating dinner, especially if that duck is involved. I love that duck. What I'm getting at is that the show feels more comfortable with itself, which goes a long way to keeping viewers invested, even if they're no longer straight-up animating scenes from Pirates of the Carribbean. Rage of Bahamut's tone is just about what I want from a fantasy romp – serious enough that there's real stakes and engaging characters, but people can still crack jokes at pretty much any time.
Anyway, Rage of Bahamut is a good show and I'm glad to have it back. This second season already feels stronger than the first, with a more involved story and the return of most fan-favorite characters. Following the success of Yuri on Ice, I wonder if MAPPA has decided that fujoshi are where the money's at and decided to tailor more shows to them. It wouldn't surprise me. This series reminds me so much of the romantic fantasy YA stuff that I read as a kid.
Next week, Azazel's in trouble and Nina goes on a date with Charioce. I suspect that this will be a pattern going forward. Poor Azazel. You can make him a sexy freedom fighter, but you can't scrub all the butt out of the monkey.
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.
discuss this in the forum (334 posts) |