Warning: Spoilers ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Every so often, I’ll come across an anime that didn’t get a lot of notice but that was still quite a good watch. As I was working my way through my huge backlog of anime, I found just such a series. Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul (or in English, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul) impressed me way more than I would have expected. To make it even more surprising, it’s adapted from a card game. Yep, a card game. How the hell can they adapt a card game to an anime and do such a good job, and yet pretty much any video game adapted to a movie is a shit show? (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
Well, let’s not dwell on that too much and focus on something not terrible: this series. The follow up series after Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, Virgin Soul follows Nina Drango, the student of Favaro (lead from Genesis) set ten years after the previous series. She’s a cheerful, innocent girl who… has super human strength. Oh, and she turns into a dragon whenever a guy makes her heart race. Yeah, that’s only a minor plot point, right? As the story progresses, we get battles with gods and demons, mystical battle suits, budding yet challenging romance, tragic betrayal, and all manner of other stuff. And it somehow fits it all into a well-made, cohesive story.
The pacing of this anime was more or less on point. At no point did plot elements feel forced (maybe a bit at the end, though I’ll talk about that later). All of the character progression felt smooth, and side characters also got character development and progression. To give even more credit, all of them got the attention they needed to be developed without the plot pacing having to change to accommodate it. Yep, no random tangents diverting from the main story.
Speaking of characters, there was a slew of them, and they were pretty much all great. There were a few that may have been a bit stale, such as Joanne, but that may have been more of her character design (very stoic by design). Despite that, it was hard to find fault with it. Just because a character has a singular goal doesn’t mean it’s bad design, especially if it’s a side character.
What I probably liked most about the series was its ability to mix genres well, and control the flow of the plot to harness people’s emotions effectively. Generally, the series was action adventure, and it gave you plenty of action. The fight scenes were grandiose, as you’d expect when dealing with a war between gods, demons, and humans. The musical score was also on point for these battles, which makes a huge difference. But, pairing with this was a very cute love story between Nina and Charioce. The way they handled this romance was pretty solid, especially when trying to balance the clear emotional conflict Charioce was having.
That being said, just mashing action adventure with romance doesn’t work if they can’t control the flow. Romance needs a slower pace, and pure action just makes things feel overly rushed. But this series does it right. There’s periods of high action, interspersed with levity. The romance is given time to develop, enveloped by both hilarious comedic moments and touching reflection. Without all of this, the action wouldn’t be as important. We wouldn’t care when this character dies, or when someone is hurt, either emotionally or physically. Thanks in part to the great pacing, knowing when to tone down the action, Virgin Soul handles this very well.
Now, despite all of this praise I just heaped upon it, this series wasn’t perfect. There was something that didn’t feel quite right by the end of the series. While I understood Charioce’s struggle to do what he must as king versus what he wants to do for Nina, it still felt a bit off. His poker face is maybe too good. I could have sworn he DID order her execution, despite Favaro claiming he didn’t. Not sure what’s going on there, honestly. At the end of the series, despite all of the awful stuff that he does, when what he was planning from the start surfaces, it’s like everyone just forgives and forgets far too quickly. Arguably, they should have spent a bit more time addressing this at the end, just to wrap it up better. Also, while certainly happier than the ending for Genesis, but I feel like Nina and Charioce’s relationship will be a struggle with their particular problems. Finally, with everything you’d expect from a being like Bahamut, the fight with him had a lot of lead up for a very quick conclusion. Though, he wasn’t the main focus in this season, so I can’t fault it too much for that, but it would have been cool to make it a bit more epic.
So, after that very long-winded rant, what’s the conclusion? Overall, I definitely say this deserves a watch, if you’re into the fantasy action adventure genre and prefer it paired with some touching romance like I do. The characters are great. The battles are epic. The art and music quality is very good. It has a bit of a rocky conclusion, but I wouldn’t let it bother you too much. It’s still very good, possibly one of the better fantasy anime I’ve seen.
If you check it out, let me know what you think. With that, I’ll catch you in the next post.