Welcome to another edition of Why You Should Be Watching, this week with a holdover from last season, Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul. A sequel to Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis from 2014, this show follows the adventures of Nina, a dragonfolk woman, as she makes a life in a city under the command of a king bent on subjugating demons and gods beneath humanity’s iron heel.
If that sounds interesting to you, check out my thoughts on the show below the break!
What I’ve Seen: Episodes 1-17 and the previous series, Genesis
There are a lot of shows that might not look impressive if you’re just glancing through the list of descriptions and key visuals each season, but as they say about judging a book by its cover, the same can be said for anime like Shingeki no Bahamut. Just like Genesis before it, Virgin Soul is about a world of demons, gods, and humanity raging against world-ending threats. But the fun part about these two shows is that the heroes aren’t the most… heroic.
After all, with the right hand of Lucifer, a Han Solo-esque bounty hunter, a disgraced knight, a zombie girl, the halfbreed of a human and god, a girl that turns into a dragon, and a genocidal king, things get a little bit complicated. Every side in this show has something going for them that makes you want to root for them, or at least not have anything bad happen to them.
Azazel may have killed a bunch of people, including two other characters’ parents, but he’s a freedom fighter against that genocidal king I mentioned. Except the genocidal king is just trying to make the world better for humanity because demons and gods are constantly either corruptive murderers or sneering rulers, and these descriptors aren’t limited to just one faction or the other.
There are a lot of shades of gray in Virgin Soul, just as there was in the series’ previous incarnation. Unfortunately, the show is a lot more heavy handed with the overt displays of why some of these characters are terrible compared to the good heart supposedly deep inside of them, so things become unbalanced between the different scenes quite often. I have a lot of problems with the story, but something about the show’s charm just keeps pulling me in.
If nothing else, that sense of style and charisma the show, and some of the characters, have is the strongest point of the show. You might not like the annoying naivete of Nina’s character on her own, but when bounced off the other characters in the show, you just can’t help feeling amused and rooting for her, especially in the rare glimpses of an actual person inside her in more serious moments, rather than the rambunctious kid she is most of the time.
In addition to the fun cast of characters, which I wouldn’t say are necessarily written the best, the show’s “camera work”, so to speak, is slick and reminiscent of an old western, with many shots in the show covering the screen with blood or dirt and shaking it around whenever we’re watching a horse gallop past or someone’s standing in frame with a new wound on them. This isn’t a show content with just your average panning shots and still frames, but one that tries to evoke a camera pointing at these characters, an effect that’s extremely noticeable in the first episode of both Genesis and Virgin Soul.
Of course, as this is both a sequel and a carry over from the last season, there is a lot to watch through if you start now. Luckily, Genesis and Virgin Soul are separated by 10 years, so while some of the characters from the previous series do show up, they’re regulated to background and support work rather than main characters, stepping aside to allow new blood like Nina and Mugaro to take center stage. On top of this, some of the supporting characters from Genesis, like Jeanne D’Arc and Bacchus, are given much more fleshed out stories here in this series, so if you liked those characters, you’re in for a treat.
What this means is that you can jump in right from this sequel and then go back to watch the origin story without being too confused. Each would work for your first step into the series, as the characters from Genesis are introduced and talked about enough in Virgin Soul for you to get a sense of the history and the actions they completed in the original series. Personally, I started with Genesis and started Virgin Soul after, but that was just because I felt like having a complete story to watch before getting into the new, as yet incomplete one.
Still, while I enjoy the series a lot for what it is, I do recognize that a lot of the things that happen in the series aren’t the best writing, even despite the seemingly huge web of interconnecting events and characters. A lot of the first series felt like moments of convenience stitched into a story like a fun, stupid D&D game, and that feeling carries over into Virgin Soul with perhaps a bit more careful planning.
I give the show a lot of slack because I love adventure stories in a fantasy land, and while Virgin Soul doesn’t venture much outside the capital city of the human realm, knowing there’s a world out there and being shown glimpses of it early in the series gives a sense that there’s adventure to be had, and there is, in fact, much more of it later on. It may be that since Genesis was never in the same location twice for most of its runtime that I’m more satisfied with how Virgin Soul is playing it, however, so I would be curious to see what people starting with this series feel about the world.
Speaking of curiosity, the openings and endings in this series are very at odds with one another. Both openings feature a metal soundtrack playing over stylishly colored and animated segments loosely based on the events of the show, while the two endings are a fluffy Kirby or Mario-esque romp through a Mario world and a dance club twist on the story of Cinderella. There’s a lot of meaning and subtext from the Cinderella ending, but the other openings and endings seem to be there just for the fun of it.
And that’s really the important part to remember: this show is fun, if not the best story-wise. This is no more apparent than in the character of Nina, who hyperactivity enjoys herself nearly every step of her journey outside the dragonfolk village. There’s an undercurrent of joy in love, life, and the world inherent in Nina and the other characters at times that is easily sensed, even if it sometimes clashes with the darker moments of the series.
All in all, I would heartily recommend the series if you’re looking for a new fantasy series to dip your toe into. It won’t be a masterclass of storytelling, but it looks good, has a roguish sense of humor and adventure, and most importantly, doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is.
Regardless, that’s all I have on the show for today, so go check it out to get your own opinions on it. If you enjoyed this look into Why You Should Be Watching this anime, take a look at my last Why You Should Maybe Be Watching on Gamers!
And if want something a little more verbal, you can take a look at my YouTube channel where I discuss issues, ideas, and more through the lens of anime while giving insight into why I enjoyed the show.
If you want to talk to me, you can always leave a comment down below or catch me @Croswynd on Twitter anytime.
And, as I always say, remember to enjoy the way you watch anime, because as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that really matters.
See you next time!