I hate the angels in this show. I hate them so much.
Last week on Virgin Soul, Kaiser tried to stop Azazel from getting killed by the king, only for him and Nina to get thrown into prison as a result whilst nobody’s favorite demon lord gets tortured for all that he’s worth. Mugaro ended up getting captured by the angels, Jeanne gets screen time again, and the episode ended on Favaro returning, which definitely made his fans scream inside. I was kinda happy to see him again too, but I’m fully aware that it’ll take him more than his hairy hide to inject life into this show.
Anyways, I predicted that with Favaro’s return, the fanbase would blindly love last week’s episode even though it was slow as shit despite being an improvement on the previous weeks in terms of action and plot movements. Turns out I was completely wrong. There were quite a number of people who thought Episode 8 was the worst of Virgin Soul’s slow-paced half-hours, probably because the long pauses like when Nina tried to transform or Azazel got tortured were more noticeable when there isn’t any dialogue accompanying it. Some slow-boiling frustration with the show’s pacing might also be a factor, and the fact that the king didn’t care at all about Nina when he tossed her into prison rubbed some people the wrong way as well. Personally, I didn’t see why Ledouche was supposed to care to begin with. He’s an asshole in a cast full of assholes, okay?
Now most of those people are willing to forgive Virgin Soul for its faults if this next episode delivers, but I’m really starting to doubt this show’s future. Not only has it not found a new suitable strength to replace the adventure and action that it decided to avoid this go-around, but it didn’t bother to ditch what I didn’t like about Genesis in this continuation. The long exposition scenes where they just talk about the fantasy world. The annoying angels and demons that I think make Biba from Kabaneri and Yashiro from ERASED look like the Joker and Harley Quinn. Maybe it’s because I spent my entire college years playing every Shin Megami Tensei game I could get my hands on, but these idiots are really creatively bankrupt compared to Metatron teaming up with the military to rain down judgment on the humans.
And of course, there’s the fucking racism, which I really hate as a story when you just say it’s bad like every six-year old would know. Now I met with ZeroReq at Fanime last week and apparently he seems to think that the whole “hatred breeding hatred” post-war stuff that I said made the racism slightly unique a few weeks ago is enough to carry the show. The problem I’m having with that angle is that Virgin Soul is putting too much emphasis on the mistreatment of the demons and not enough on the reasons for said mistreatment. Moreover, I don’t see how that war makes Ledouche or Azazel any more interesting as characters with their hatred towards a species. And this goes without saying, but what the demons did to humans then does NOT justify what they do to them now.
I’m not expecting something grand from most racism tales, but after seeing Wonder Woman recently, I want something of that level at least in regards to these “humanity is fucked up” issues. So far, I’m not seeing anything in Virgin Soul that injects life into its subject matter. But hey, maybe this episode will change my mind.
- So we begin looking at the main characters adjusting to prison life and Nina has adjusted to it waaaaaayyyyy better than anyone else thanks to her super dragon strength and spunky attitude. I’m guessing it’s the king’s “kindness” that she’s able to live a relatively good life in prison, but if I have to be honest, it doesn’t look the prisoners in this show are suffering nearly as much as the demons outside. Or Oliver Twist in his story.
- I saw someone tweeting this a few hours before I saw the episode. Good on them for celebrating their birthday by having an anime they enjoy singing the birthday song.
- Favaro and Kaiser catch up with each other regarding what the former missed out on whilst in prison, and when the latter mentions Nina, Favaro ends up going in a flashback of how the two met and that Nina is the red dragon. Um, why do I have a feeling nothing interesting is going to come from this?
- Well good to see Favaro lives his life carefree, I guess.
- So as you probably expected, Favaro finds out he’s in a village full of dragons and ends up attracting the attention of Nina when she discovers he’s a bounty hunter. After being practically forced to coach her in a very basic training montage while discovering that he’s only attractive to her when he doesn’t have the afro (yeah Nina has poor taste in guys if she thinks that), Favaro warns her that bounty hunting isn’t a lucrative business anymore before setting off. Oh and did I mention that by the time this flashback ends, the episode is halfway done and we’ve learned nothing important story-wise? Man, this show really could stand to get some better editing. Or someone saying no to nude Nina scenes.
Person A: Okay team, how can we get Nina naked this week?
Person B: Um sir? You do realize this character is sixteen right? Why do we keep trying to shove pedobait into our audiences’ faces?
Person A: Are you new here? We’ve been showing underage skin to our audiences since Urusei Yatsura in the 80s and it was a huge hit then. Why on earth would we stop now?
Person B: You do realize we could also show tits back then, and nowadays we can’t do that anymore?
Person A: Also, she’s seventeen in this episode now. That means she’s at the age of consent.
Person B: I thought the age of consent was eighteen…
Person A: Look, have you seen Kobayashi Dragon Maid? People loved the shit out of its use of underage dragon fanservice humor, so that means it’s not dead yet as a ratings attraction.
Person B: Weren’t the dragons in that show like over a hundred years old?
Person A: Would you really be able to tell that just by looking at Tohru?
Person B: …okay fair point, but do you remember how people were uncomfortable with Amira’s ass when they found out she was only twelve?
Person A: Dude, come up with an idea, and I’ll introduce you to my sister.
Person B: Really? In that case…oh I know. Why don’t we have Favaro bathe in a hot spring and Nina joins him through waterfall jumping, only to get really horny and turn into a dragon?
Person A: But why would she be horny for him then and not previously?
Person B: Uh…because when you’re in water, you can’t maintain the afro, and the wet hair style gets Nina hot!
Person A: Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!
*The two start working when something else occurs to Person B*
Person B: Hold on, isn’t Nina supposed to be like twelve or something when she first meets Favaro?
Person A: Don’t interrupt the process again or I’ll cut you.
- But how exactly did Favaro get thrown into prison in the first place. Well, he tells us that he got surrounded by a hundred soldiers, but he put one hell of a fig…it’s going to be bullshit, isn’t it?
- Yep, I knew it. They just captured him while he was drunk off his ass, although why he was captured…actually there’s like a lot of good reasons to capture an anti-hero. Nevertheless, I’m not sure why Ledouche wanted him in jail specifically, as the episode doesn’t really make it clear to the characters or to us.
- Also, it turns out that the characters committed the crime of cutting his hair and putting him through some very bizarre torture. Seriously, what the fuck?
- Kaiser reveals that the soldiers who captured Favaro were black Onyx knights, which causes him to reflect on what his own team is doing. Please don’t tell me we’re going to focus on those no-names…
- …ah fuck.
- AH FUCK! Not that girl again! (addendum: actually I’ve been told that she’s a fan-favorite, mostly for her design. I think she’s annoying personally, and her design tries too hard)
- You know, I really don’t care about this dude. I don’t even know his name (and I’m pretty sure they name dropped it in this episode like three times), let alone why I’m supposed to care for him and his Jeanne fetish. He’s like Butters from South Park or Mishima from Persona 5, except without the hilarity or any sort of characterization whatsoever.
- Seventeen minutes into the episode and we see Nina bonding with Jeanne. Nina reveals that Kaiser is in the prison with them and that she’s acquainted with Jeanne’s child, which I guess is going to be what motivates her to break out of prison. Okay, is this what Nina is going to be doing the entire show? Just coincidentally meeting up with the old characters and being a bit player to the more interesting cast members? Granted that’s not a bad role, but then that begs the question, why are we focusing so much time on giving her a background and everything? That’s like trying to shoehorn Ginko’s past into every Mushishi episode.
- Wait, so Mugaro is a boy? How on earth would Nina mistake him for a girl then? He doesn’t look very feminine and he certainly doesn’t act it, so why did the show even bother to make that a thing?
- Man, these angels are so boring that even looking at them puts me to sleep. Well okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. I actually just got through a really bad rainstorm recently and it’s given me a bit of a cold, so I’m having trouble staying awake at the moment.
- Screw it. I’m fast-forwarding through these angel scenes. They are not worth my time in the least.
- Yes Mugaro, play the Song of Time on that ocarina and time travel out of this dull paradise.
- Yay. Jeanne is finally going to do something…next week because we’re almost out of time.
- Uh, way to indicate to the guards that something is going to happen, fellow female prisoners.
- Bwahahahahahahahaha! Rita Poppins is here to save the day!
- The end.
I think the visual presentation was a step up from usual, but that’s really the only positive thing I have to say about this week of explaining shit. Seriously, how can we be nine episodes in and have no goddamn story for Virgin Soul? It’s just buildup and explanations without any clear direction besides an upcoming free-for-all between the humans, the angels, and the demons. However, since none of the main characters have any stakes in that free-for-all, I’m not really sure why I’m supposed to care for it. Even Jeanne is connected mostly through her child being involved rather than any involvement on her own part, and she’s probably the closest there is to having a personal stake in the matter.
Seriously what’s the focus of this show again? The demon racism? The angels? Nina’s dragon issues? Jeanne being a poor mother? What’s the common thread tying all these disparate plot elements together, and why isn’t it front and center instead of in the background taking its sweet ass time to show itself? I really feel at this point that I’m watching a Shin Megami Tensei plot with the storytelling abilities of Fire Emblem Awakening/Fates. There is no imagination put into making the story stand out amongst all other similar fantasy stories out there. None of the characters have well-defined arcs. Every single backstory clarifies things in the easiest way possible. It’s like playing The Witcher 3 if you replaced all of its sidequests with the ones from Akiba’s Trip.
Also, it’s getting really obvious at this point that making this show two cours was a bad idea. These nine episodes could easily have been compressed into four without losing anything, and the fact that the episode starts with the characters adjusting to prison life and ends with them planning a breakout with nothing really happening in-between is perfect proof that MAPPA ordered way more than they could chew with this sequel. If they really could keep the animation budget consistent (with the occasional hiccups) for this long, I think a one-cour limit where they were allowed to go more all-out would have done wonders. But that didn’t happen, so it’s best not to think about it too much.