Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 24 (Fin)

I’m not going to lie and say I was all that enamored by this finale. In fact, it was a bit of a chore to get through, ironically as soon as the titular Bahamut showed up. Now, all of a sudden, Charioce is a good guy like everyone else, and all is forgiven, at least until the more immediate threat of Bahamut is dealt with (and, as it happens, all is forgiven even after that).

Favaro is dead, and Bacchus’ wagon has crashed. Nina decides the only way to fight a dragon is with another dragon (hers truly) while the gods and demons get together and form a barrier to minimize damage to the capital—though Bahamut’s random breath blasts still causes plenty of apocalyptic destruction. I just wish it was more interesting a boss.

Dragon-Nina doesn’t go up against Bahamut head-to-head; that would be suicide. Instead, she flies to Dromos and lands (naked) on Charioce’s back, much to his chagrin. But that’s just tough: if he’s going to put his life on the line to destroy Bahamut, she will too. They interface with Dromos together and it takes the form of a dragon covered with magical circuitry.

Nina and Charioce’s dragon shoots a beam; Bahamut shoots a beam; the beams meet, the first beam pushes Bahamut’s back and eventually blasts his head off, and badda-bing-badda-bang, the capital—and the world—is saved.

Just before Bahamut is blasted away, Nina (but not Charioce) finds herself in “the light of Bahamut”, where Amira is still hanging out. She gives Nina a big ol’ hug (both are naked, so Nina’s a bit bashful) and whispers something. When the day returns, the Dromos dragon has turned to stone and Charioce and Nina are passed out on the deck.

Fast-forward to the epilogue: Nina is still in the capital, helping with rebuilding; still living with Bacchus, Rita and Hamsa; Favaro announces he’s leaving again to resume his wandering life; Nina tells him about Amira, and he’s heartened; Rita has apparently resurrected Kaisar as a zombie.

Nina can apparently visit the palace whenever she wants to dance with Charioce, who is blind now but still king. As I said, all the horrible things he did are forgiven now because Bahamut was defeated…only Bahamut isn’t really dead, and he’ll be back, because he’s the name of the franchise.

But…I guess Nina’s willing to let bygones be bygones in terms of the atrocities Charioce committed against demons, gods, and whatever humans opposed him. She’s also lost her voice, apparently the price she had to pay (along with Char’s other eye) to use Dromos.

I do loathe running out of enthusiasm right before the finish line, but Bahamut really undermined much of this season with its inexplicable insistence that the audience go along with the notion that Charioce was a fellow who deserved redemption.

Nina’s love always felt as blind as the king ended up. She gave and gave and never got anything back for her love, except for the occasional decently-animated dance.

This season was at times fun, often gorgeous, occasionally sweet or funny or even moving. But in the end I just wasn’t buying what Virgin Soul was trying so hard to sell, and as a result I doubt I’d have any use for a third round.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 19

Fancy Royal Ball Caper, anyone? Nina and Al’s big arrival is briefly interrupted by a flashback to Rita going over the plan to snatch Charioce’s bracelet. Everyone plays a role, including El, if the Onyx Soldiers get involved (with Azazel watching his back).

Nina realizes that as the ‘getaway vehicle’ her role is crucial to success (just as she trips on the palace steps). She’s been able to transform at will, but Favaro (paired up with Dias and tasked with actually swiping the bracelet) doesn’t think she’ll be able to when the time comes.

That’s not Favaro not having faith in his student; it’s Favaro knowing how Nina feels about Charioce, and how the King isn’t going to give up that bracelet easily. Al doesn’t have to pretend Nina is his fiancee or sister for long, as Nina ditches him the moment Charioce enters.

This is the Charioce who allowed the Onyx Commander to proceed with the plan to assassinate Nina, so with that in mind I couldn’t help but feel, like Favaro, that there was simply no way Nina would transform into a dragon, and thus no way he mission would succeed.

Nina is, however, able to ask the king to dance and draw him to her, and they become the center of attention as they cut a mean rug all over the ballroom. The CGI extras are a bit stiff, but the dancing animation is as crisp and smooth as it was during their first dance at the festival, and just as adorable. It’s almost enough to make you forget that this love story can only end in tragedy and despair.

On a secluded balcony, Nina waits for Charioce to come out and tell her “everything”, as he promised to do the next time they met. But instead, he dumps her like she’s never been dumped before, without even a hint of empathy or compassion. Just “we’re done, don’t come back, go before I have the guards seize you.”

Being subjected to exactly the opposite treatment from him she expected, Nina is a wreck, but Favaro emerges from the shadows to scold “Mr. King” for hurting his student, and demands he give up the bracelet. When Charioce says it can’t be removed as long as he lives, Favaro says he can fix that, but Nina comes between them, not able to betray the man she loves as he was able to betray her.

The guards arrive, but Favaro tosses some smoke bombs, which are also the signal that the plan has failed. Everyone evacuates without any trouble, but Al tries to go off on his own, only to be intercepted by Azazel and El; the three later encounter Jeanne and Sofiel in the streets.

Nina, Favaro and Kaisar end up at the waterfront, where they are quickly surrounded by Onyx Soldiers. Then the burly assassin arrives, prepared to kill the dragon. The look in Nina’s eyes suggests he’s welcome to try.

This was a fun and often thrilling episode, but its impact was somewhat lessoned by the certainty that the caper would ultimately fail. It’s too early for the good guys to possess the means to rob the bad guy of his power. But (please) let there be no (or very little) remaining doubt: Charioce has made his choice: to let Onyx run free. He is the bad guy, however much Nina may love him.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 18

Baha Soul finally returns to airwaves and breaks from the action and the central romance to focus on all the various relationships characters have developed over the course of the last 17 episodes (and the 12 of Genesis before that).

Nina “gets home” late, worrying/annoying her “parents”: Rita, Bacchus, Hamsa and Rocky. She’s giddy as a schoolgirl, and her master Favaro already knows why; she can deny it all she wants but he knows her.

Things get awkward when Nina and Azazel meet for the first time since she failed to transform in aid of his rebellion, leading to the death and capture of every demon he convinced to fight for him.

Not particularly interested in catching up, Azazel responds to Nina’s apology by saying he never expected anything of her anyway…which we know is a lie. He even gives poor Mugaro the cold shoulder.

The team’s next plan will involve attending the palace ball to be held in three days. Nina quickly volunteers to sneak in and steal Charioce’s bracelet (the one that controls the superweapon) and proves she’s up to the task by spontaneously leaping behind a wall of crates, transforming into a dragon, then transforming right back (without even losing her clothes to boot).

Everyone is impressed…except for Azazel, who is disgusted and enraged beyond belief. That he had to lose so much and so many because the timing of Nina “learning what it feels like to be loved” was just a little too late…I’d be grinding my fallen angel teeth, too.

Continuing Nina’s practice of not staying well-hidden, El goes out the next day to look for Azazel, who stormed off in a right tizzy. El inevitably attracts the attention of guards and runs himself into a dead end, but Azazel swoops in to rescue him.

Afterwards, it takes El apologizing to Azazel for Azzy to snap out of it and stop directing his anger at someone who doesn’t have to apologize for anything. Azzy saved El, but El kinda saved him in the process, by proving there was more in life than…oneself.

Alessand and Dias continue to pop up now and again, with the latter remaining fiercely loyal to Kaisar (even worrying about being in a gentleman’s club would look) while Al resents him more every day for ruining their careers, abandoning them, and becoming a fugitive.

Well, it isn’t until a drunk Al confronts a tall, suspicious-looking “demon” that turns out to be Kaisar in disguise that we see that however else Al feels about Kaisar, his misses him, and misses the Orleans Knights, and how good it felt to be together.

After the Onyx commander dismissed Al’s request to transfer by basically saying he’s worthless, here comes Kaisar to tell him he has a great deal of worth, and if he would find it in his heart to set aside his superior’s transgressions, together they can make a difference.

Nina is still giddily drunk in love by episode’s end, to the point she’s yelling “I LOVE YOU” at the moon. Favaro joins her, though his words aren’t for Charioce, but Amira. He has Nina all but drop the pretense, as he knows Charioce is the object of her affections, whether she “can say” she truly loves him yet or not.

Drawing from his experience in helping to quell the threat of Bahamut years ago, Favaro still wonders if the choice he made was the correct one, and urges Nina to think carefully about how she’ll choose, because the way this world works, you can’t gain anything without losing something in the bargain.

Then Favaro gets back to playfully yelling “I love you” at the moon and Nina struggles to stop him, the Onyx commander is paying a mercenary/hitman to eliminate the dragon; an order the commander gave himself more than Charioce gave him. From the looks of this guy, Nina’s toughness is about to be tested.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 12 (Fin)

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I was wondering last week: “Why would Beelz be able to control Bahamut?” The answer?” Err…he can’t.

Bahamut is the third MAPPA anime we’ve reviewed at RABUJOI (the other two being Zankyou no Terror and GARO) that suffered from dull, uninspired villains (Beelzebub/Martinet, Five, and Mendoza, respectively). But that didn’t stop this from being the best Bahamut of the past seven episodes, oh-so-close to a return to the heady first handful of eps that made us fall in love with the show in the first place.

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Wait, his name is Gilles de Rais, and he can change his form to various people, from Lavalley to Kaisar to Martinet? Oh, whatever. The bad guy doesn’t matter so much as getting our trio of Fava, Kaisar and Amira back together and taking care of that little Bahamut-related problem. What does turn out being important is the fact that de Rais really just wants to watch the world end.

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Beelz wanted to grab control of the demon world and subjugate the realm of angels too. That wasn’t happening, as Bahamut is not a tool, he’s simply a means to an end…the end of the world. Azazel gets to finish Beelz off (good for him), while Fava wakes up from his arrow-induced nap and crosses swords with Kaisar once more as everything blows up around them.

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Fava seems to mouth something to Kaisar, who makes Rita promise not to interfere, and she doesn’t…but de Rais does, tossing a sword to Favaro, who uses it to slice off Kaisar’s arm just above the wrist. However, it’s that very wrist that has Kaisar’s still-active bounty armband attached to it. Fava uses it to capture de Rais into a stone tablet, which he tosses to Bacchus for a handsome reward!

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Turns out Favaro and Kaisar had a plan all along. The bolt Kaisar shot Fava with had the antidote on its tip, thus curing Favaro, then Kaisar cut off Fava’s arm to make sure de Rais would be convinced Favaro was still under his control. You have to ‘hand’ it to Fava and Kaisar: they work really well together in a pinch.

With that, the two board an embiggened Hamsa, but for different reasons: Fava thinks he has to kill Amira to stop Bahamut, but Kaisar holds out hope he can free her. Their aerial trip up to Bahamut’s head is suitably harrowing, and looks fantastic.

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When Hamsa can get no closer, the fact that Martinet’s goals (the end of the world) didn’t jive with the goals of either the gods or the demons (neither of whom want to die or for the world to end). Thus, both gods and demons work together to build a fresh barrier, which gives our heroes the opening they need.

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Once atop Bahamut’s head, the show never lets us forget this is a gigantic beast moving all over the place; as such, it’s hard to maintain footing, especially Kaisar, who’s down a limb. Favaro manages to plunge Bahamut’s own fang into the symbol on his head (a conveniently lit-up weak spot). This seems to start the process of shutting Bahamut down. By doing so, Favaro not only changes his fate and the fate of the world, but also Jeanne’s – she is merely a spectator in Bahamut’s demise.

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Fava falls off the head, but his rope keeps him suspended right in front of Bahamut’s eye, from which a glowing Amira emerges.

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In this gloriously-staged and touching farewell, Favaro tries to lie with a straight face one last time. When his face finally breaks into a goofy smile, Amira smothers it with her lips, thanking him for what he’s done before returning to Bahamut’s eye. Kudos to the show for not pulling a deus ex machina out of its ass to save Amira. I trusted the old dragon in the forest: there was no saving Amira, except to save her from being the instrument of the world’s destruction.

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When Bahamut blows, Favaro is way too close, and loses a leg (just as Kaisar lost an arm. Interesting symmetry), but Kaisar escapes aboard Hamsa. And thus, the world is saved, by the most unlikely group of characters imaginable!

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Fast-forward half a year, and Anatae is being rebuilt, Jeanne has a new ‘do and is back in the Orleans knights, Fava has a new metal leg, and Kaisar has a new metal arm. Kaisar seems poised to join Jeanne as a lieutenant, but as Favaro departs the city, Kaisar chases after him, just as he did in the first episode.

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Favaro is somewhat comforted (as am I) by the fact that while he’s asleep again, Bahamut will never truly die, which means neither will Amira. All in all, not a bad way to bring things to a close.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 11

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In “All Roads Lead to Abos”, Bahamut is bursting with big bold Bahamut battles, as befits a show nearing its big finish. Things weren’t going so swell last time we were here: Jeanne’s a demon, Favaro’s a demon, Amira’s a key, and practically everything is going Beelzebub’s and Martinet’s way. Oh yeah, and Kaisar is released from his crystal coffin to fall to his death.

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Meanwhile, with Azazel aboard Bacchu’s carriage, Rita continues to slave over her alchemy equipment, brewing…something, and the angels continue to drop one after another from the honeycomb barrier keeping Bahamut at bay. We see what Martinet had in mind for the great saint when Dark Jeanne swoops in on her stone dragon and skewers both Raphael and Uriel, weakening the barrier significantly before turning on Michael. What a terrible perversion of Jeanne’s power!

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Kaisar manages to catch the rope of Favaro’s (I think) crossbow, but falls again when everything starts shaking. Fortunately, Bacchus’ carriage arrives in time to catch him. UNfortunately, that’s when Goth Jeanne spots them, and she’s not going to leave them alone.

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This means Bacchus has to actually do something, but Jeanne knocks him off his carriage, forcing Hamsa to blow up like a balloon and catch him. Nice work, Hamsa. After bandying words with Azazel, Kaisar is given an antidote to give to Favaro by Rita, who prepares to toss a second into Visual Jeanne’s mouth. Unfortunately, Hamsa accidentally knocks Kaisar overboard (Fall #3) and deflects Rita’s severed arm-and-severed hand pill flick. Nice work, Hamsa.

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Jeannetallica seems poised to finish our motley crew off, but Michael swoops in, grabs her, and having caught Rita’s antidote, puts it in his mouth and transfers it to Jeanne’s with a kiss. Good ol’ Regular Jeanne is back, but is distressed to find she had already stabbed Michael through, dispersing (and possibly killing?) him. For his part, Michael is glad Jeanne still lives to lead humanity to salvation, but that’s looking like a taller order by the minute as Beelzebub nears Bahamut.

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Bacchus, Hamsa, and Rita arrive on his ship thing’s deck as Azazel, having saved Kaisar, starts to battle Beels mano-a-mano. Meanwhile, Kaisar turns his attention to Dark Fava, who doesn’t even fight like the Favaro he knows. Convinced he has no choice (or there’s no hope for him), rather than give him the antidote (I guess he lost it?) he fires a quarrel into Fava’s chest, disabling him. Obviously, this can’t be the end of Favaro, though.

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As for Keymira, she emerges from her red ball glowing pinkish purple, and lights spring forth from Bahamut (now free of his barrier) to snatch her up. Uh-oh…

Kaisar is surprised to find Lavalley has arrived, as am I. I’m even more surprised to know he wants Bahamut released. He then shoves Kaisar off the ledge (Fall #4).

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Even with gods arriving from left and right (well, actually, from above), things are still not going to hot for those who don’t want the world destroyed. Amira may already be one with Bahamut now, who wakes up in the last shot, apparently ready to throw some titular RAGE around. How in the heck is this mess going to get resolved?

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 10

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This week puts two of our three ladies through the wringer, starting with Jeanne. While bound and burning at the stake as her defenders are slaughtered by the king’s soldiers, she has a vision of an angel who basically tells her they couldn’t care less about humans. Then she’s visited by the creepy red-eyed guy once more, and force-fed that suspicious potion he offered before.

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This turns Jeanne into a 1980s rock star demon…a pretty damn badass-looking one, too. She summons her guitar Maltet, makes a stone dragon rise out of the ground, and takes off. That’s not good. Bacchus witnesses this and is mildly concerned, as does Rita, who managed to get out of that situation in the lab and flags the god down for some questions.

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Meanwhile in Prudisia, Amira, Favaro and Kaisar are having a relatively uneventful journey when the damn ground shatters into bits and starts to rise into the air. Another huge demon beast/castle thing emerges, and dramatically transforms the environment…or lifts the illusory vail to reveal the real environment.

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The creepy red-eyed dude who transformed Jeanne (and probably poisoned the kings mind so he’d get her where he wanted her) shows up here too. His name is Martinet, and he’s very evil. I don’t like him. Amira remembers him as her ‘teacher’, who told her she’d be able to find her mother in Helheim. And Helheim, not Prusidia, is where they actually are.

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Rita hitches a ride with Bacchus and Hamsa’s carriage, which accientally runs over the fallen angel Azazel, who has apparently fallen again…out of favor with Lucifer, that is. The demonic doghouse, if you will.

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Back in Helheim, Martinet reveals his master, Beelzebub, who for whatever reason wants to release Bahamut. We’ve been told Bahamut is nothing but pure destruction for gods and demons alike, but I guess Beels has a plan. Unfortunately, he and his sneering assistant are nowhere near as interesting as Azazel and Cerberus.

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Getting back to that wringer our ladies go through: just when you thought Jeanne was having a bad day, Amira is shown her mother, an angel encased in ice, and once it shatters she’s kind of locked in a shocked expression. Amira was always told her mother could ‘take the key out of her’…but always thought that would be a good thing. It isn’t.

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As it turns out, Amira is merely a vessel for the key, created when Beelzebub did something awful to her mother. Amira has been manipulated by false memories contained in her pendant compelling her to come to Helheim at the proper time. Overcome with emotions, Amira goes over hugs her mom, which is a bad idea, because that causes her mom to crumble into a cloud of dust.

Worse, those nice clothes Fava bought her are all burnt up, so now she’s motherless, rudderless, and nude. Her resulting scream of anguish is the trigger that transforms her into the key Beelzebub wants.

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Bacchus and Rita are close enough to see the light of the spectacle. Knowing Bahamut is closer than ever to being revived, they know have to do something. That includes asking Azazel to help them out, which he agrees to do, if for no other reason than he doesn’t want to die either.

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Kaisar? He remains encased in a crystal coffin. Favaro manages to escape when he begs the bad guys to let him come over to their side (That’s So Favaro) but it’s just a trick, which Martinet sees through instantly, and then turns Fava into a demon, just as he did Jeanne.

That means perhaps the only ones who can save the world from Bahamut may be a group consisting of a zombie necromancer, a fallen angel, a drunken god, and a duck. The world is so screwed. Or is it?

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 09

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Proving that slipping back into knighthood is like riding a bike, Kaisar gets the command of a search party to find Fava and Amira, and finds them almost immediately in the middle of a very cool forest that wouldn’t be out of place in Nausicaa or Mononoke Hime. Their own arrival there is punctuated by Amira reiterating that she can’t fly with just one wing, which is a pretty good running joke.

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Lavalley sent Kaisar because he wants to stay in the city, because some sketchy shit is going down, not least of which Jeanne has been framed for attempting to assassinated the king, who as we know isn’t the most confident fellow right now. Such is the extent of his paranoia, none of Jeanne’s very reasonable arguments sway him in the least.

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While imprisoned, a creepy red-eyed fellow pays Jeanne a visit and offers her something very suspicious to drink in order to “learn the truth about her gods”.  The guardian angel Michael is nowhere to be found, but Jeanne is staying true to her faith for now. She’s followed her faith and her fate this far; now’s not the time to be faltering or tasting weird drinks.

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Not long after Kaisar and Favaro pseudo-duel, the two of them plus Demon-Amira are suddenly transported to another dimension within the woods, where Kaisar and Amira worry at a large fang-like protrusion stuck in the very odd-looking ground. When they fail, they wordlessly look to Favaro to give it a go, and he yanks it out as easily as a dandelion, to his and everyone’s shock. And that’s not the only shock…

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That odd-looking green ‘ground’ is really the flesh of a massive and ancient dragon, who is glad to be rid of the barb, put there by Bahamut 2,000 years ago. I realize having a big ancient animal throw exposition at the heroes is a common trope in this genre, but this dragon is pretty frikkin’ awesome-looking and sounding, so I don’t mind. I also like how Amira initially calls him “geezer”, but Favaro tells her to call him “mister” instead.

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Of course, once the dragon says his piece — about how Bahamut’s reawakening and thus everyone’s destruction is inevitable, and only by staying here can Amira maybe stave it all off, meaning she’ll never see her mother — Fava himself uses “geezer” in rejecting the dragon’s talk of fate.

The dragon, perhaps impressed by the puny human’s audacity, wishes them well on their quest to change their fate. In any case, he can’t stop them. But he does pull Fava aside for a quick word before the trio departs.

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Back in Antae, the King has decreed that Jeanne is to be burned at the stake as a witch, which is bogus as hell. Lavalley’s entreats for clemency fall on deaf and possibly drunk royal ears. The fact that Rita is still free in the city gives us some hope Jeanne can escape this particular predicament, but Rita snoops around and is caught in the larder of the same sketchy red-eyed guy who probably put the king up to all this in the first place.

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Using the Bahamut barb, the trio warps to Prudisia earlier than I expected, though I welcome the quick transition. Something tells me a place called “The Valley of Demons” isn’t going to be a cakewalk, but Amira wants her mommy, so they’ll continue on.

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Oh yeah, about that word Puff wanted with Favaro…he tells him if he really wants to change fate — i.e. stop Bahamut from destroying the world, the only thing he can do, according to the dragon, is to kill Amira, thus destroying the key and preventing it and the seal from manifesting.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, and yet again puts Favaro on the darker side of gray, as well as giving him a much larger role to play in the affairs of the world, just as Jeanne suggested could very well come to pass.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 08

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The battle of Antae is won, and King Charioce offers Jeanne her own lands as a reward, perhaps to get her out of the limelight. Naturally, she refuses, and the king doesn’t take the refusal well. He started out as a somewhat bumbling and generally harmless monarch, but it was only a matter of time before her power and his butted up. Ironically, Jeanne couldn’t care less about the power the king is desperate to maintain. She just wants to do her duty.

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Meanwhile, staring at the Bahamut statue brings all kinds of memories to the surface for Amira, including when a demon lord told her she was special and directed her to Helheim, where “her wish will certainly be fulfilled.” For Amira, that means finding her mother.

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As for her father, Amira deduces that it’s none other than Sir Lavalley of the Orleans Knights, Jeanne’s lieutenant. While Jeanne turns down land, Kaisar takes the king’s offer of knighthood graciously, while Favaro pretty much just goes alone with it, because hell, if nothing else he gets his nice knife back! The ceremony is crashed by the angel Michael, who’s there to bestow a new, even more bad-ass sword.

The king has his arms outstretched, but it lands in Jeanne’s hands. Doesn’t Michael know it’s not a good idea to make this king look weak? He doesn’t. Must be the disconnect between human psychology and the angels’ logic-based reasoning.

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While we’re on the subject of parents, the King looks at a portrait of his dearly departed mother, who then appears in ghost form to warn him that someone is preparing to betray him; Jeanne, specifically. That’s total horseshit, but the king swallows it because he’s a petty, paranoid fellow.

This may also be the handiwork of the demons, but it would be fine if it wasn’t, too, because for the king to be such a volatile wild card at this stage certainly makes things interesting.

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Favaro shows Amira (who calls him “Fava”) Lavalley’s quarters, and there we learn that while he’s not her father, he was a bodyguard for her mother, Nicole, who was an angel exiled from heaven. On a particularly nasty demon attack, the demon lord Beelzebub snatched baby Amira away. That demon sped Amira’s growth, which explains why she Amira acts so childish despite being grown-up in appearance.

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Before relieving him to go look for her daughter, Nicole gave Lavalley a pendant identical to the one Amira carries. When put together, they bring up a map of her present location: Prudisia, the Valley of Demons. Amira wastes no time sneaking out of the city, and while Fava bristles at the idea of going with her and simply wants his tail gone (as useful as it was last week), she beckons for him to join her and meet her mother, and he tags along.

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Of course, this means that they’re leaving Antae, which is where the angels wanted Amira to stay put under the protection of the king. Of course, the king is too busy with betrayals, trysts, murders and conspiracies, which allows Amira slip through his fingers, bound to the absolute last place the Angels want her to go: demon territory.

Then again, considering all the weird crap going on in Antae and with the king, maybe getting away is the safest move after all, at least for now.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 07

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Bahamut bursts out of its recap week gate full speed ahead with a very well-orchestrated and balanced episode, as Azazel leads a large demon host to the walls of Antae to re-capture the God Key, AKA Amira.

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The episode is clever in that on one side of the castle walls, Jeanne d’Arc leads the defense of the city in a big, loud, shiny, yelly battle, in which she successfully uses her trusty Maltet to dispatch Pazuzu. But this battle isn’t the whole episode. In fact, the battle is just a distraction so Azazel can sneak in.

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Inside the castle walls, the episode hasn’t forgotten about our quartet of heroes and heroines, but while there’s certainly plenty of dread – especially when Azazel arrives, there’s the feeling the larger battle is far away. It’s a lot more claustrophobic, but also a lot livlier thanks to the banter between Favaro and Kaisar.

After meeting with that shadowy guy, Amira just wants to eat eat eat, and if she didn’t pass out from the wine, she herself would be one more obstacles to keeping her alive and free from the fallen angel’s clutches.

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The episode doesn’t pretend this is an even fight, either: Azazel looks down on Favaro, Kaisar, and Rita like they’re insignificant ants to be swiped away before claiming his prize. They can’t hope to beat him, but they can take turns delaying him. First Favaro stays behind so the others can escape, in a display that clearly shows some of what Jeanne said to him about being more than just an ex-bounty hunter stuck. Heck, he even puts his demon tail into it!

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Once Rita has Amira safely away from the fight, Kaisar returns, not about to allow someone else to kill “his father’s killer.” Again Fav and Kai show how well they work together and stab Azazel through the heart. But, of course, Azazel doesn’t have a heart, and human weapons can’t kill him. He still plays dead for a moment just to mess with them. This, and his response after Favaro accused him of cheating, are both great moments for the evil yet irreverant bastard: “Well, I am a demon.” You are indeed.

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The guys are in a bad way, but Kaisar happens to turn his sword in such a way that he notices a faint glimmer of light down in the city streets. He then makes a seemingly suicidal rush at Azazel, but in the knick of time, a great light appears behind him. It’s not the rising sun, but Jeanne with Maltet, who spotted Azazel and needed those few moments Kaisar gave her to execute her attack and send Azazel packing.

I’m not sure exactly how the physics of Kaisar’s stunt worked, but nor do I care; it was a sweet setpiece that also united the battle that had been going on inside the castle with the one happening outside. Rita, unfortunately got the short end of the stick, but she definitely contributed.

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With the demon army repelled and the day won, all that’s left is to stuff Amira back in her room to keep her safe. Alas, it only takes a moment (after she glimpses her ‘father’) for Amira to wander away from Rita and into the square where the giant Bahamut statue stands. There, the terrifying power of Bahamut and the past destruction it’s caused flashes through her bandaged head. We witnessed a lovely battle, but it was only a battle. There are plenty more foes to fight before the war is won.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 06

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And so, aboard a zombie dragon, our variably gallant anti-heroes narrowly escape the clutches of both Azazel and the Jeanne d’Arc-led Orleans Knights–oh wait, scratch that. They’re free for just a few hours before they’re eventually taken prisoner by the latter. But our pals thrive in constant peril, so I wasn’t concerned.

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Azazel, meanwhile, is going to have to try to live (or unlive?) down the humiliaiton of letting Amira and the humans slip through his fingers. Heck, Lucifer won’t even see the man, and both Cerberus and another co-worker are quick to lay into the convert. I for one am glad Azazel’s failure isn’t simply shrugged off. He has to redeem himself, which means going after that God Key.

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Favaro, Kaisar, Amira and Rita are brought before the king in the royal capital of Antae, but their al fresco trial is crashed by not one or two but three angels – Raphael, Michael, and Uriel, who direct the king to place Amira under heavy guard and spare the lives of her companions.

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I love everything about this scene. The angels beaming onto the scene, as if on some medieval teleconference, reducing the impressive-looking King to a mere errand boy. His Majesty assumed the angels would want the captives executed at once, but the angels show everyone a feed of angels struggling to keep Bahamut contained. Amira is one of the keys to Bahamut, and they fear the emotional damage of having her friends executed could make an element that is presently stable unstable.

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Then, after shaking the king’s hand, Favaro immediately proceeds to upset Amira immensely, telling her he’s done risking his neck for her, wants his demon tail gone and to be left alone. It cuts Amira to the quick, and I must say, it’s not Favaro’s best moment, but this is who he is: almost always lookin’ out for Number One.

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Favaro and Amira don’t part on good terms when the former checks out what the demon alert warns of: a group of colossal ghouls headed towards the city. He then watches as Jeanne rides out with her heavenly spear and turns the ghouls into mincemeat with an awesome display of pyrotechnics. It’s a neat reminder of just how serious the demon threat is, and how vital Jeanne’s skills are. One even has to wonder how the city survived in her absence.

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Back in heaven (I guess?) the lady angels direct blame at Bowie-esque Michael for allowing Amira to escape with the key in the first place, causing this tenuous situation. Michael, for his part, did manage to cut one of her wings off, but the fact of the matter is, Amira is able to transform between angel and demon.

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After a night of epicurian delights, a very drunk Favaro settles in for the night against a cold stone wall, but is confronted by an uncertain Kaisar. No doubt Favaro is at the stage in his evening where the booze has stopped flowing and the boobs have stopped bouncing and he can’t help but look back upon how he treated Amira and feel a little regret, and so tells Kaisar to make with the dinner knife he swiped from the dining hall and have at him. He is a nefarious, lying, backstabbing villain, after all. Favaro, naturally, is armed with a fork, which can double as an afro pick if the need arises.

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This dinnerware duel, another novel invention of an gloriously inventive show, is broken up by Rita, who manages to smack both of them in the face with her arm-cannon to announce that Amira has flown the coop. They split up to look for her.

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The mysterious cloaked man who breaks Amira out claims to be able to fulfill her wish: to know who she is and what she was meant to do. He has a gem that glows like hers, and she even entertains the possibility this is her father, though that could just be because Favaro said she had to have a father because everyone has a father. Even though she’s surely quite angry with Favaro, his influence is felt.

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The episode could’ve ended right there, but it wasn’t done yet. We get one of the more intriguing conversations of the show, one between Favaro, who has stumbled upon a stone statue of Bahamut, and an off-duty Jeanne in street clothes. Jeanne tells Favaro the tale of Bahamut, who was sealed when Zeus and Satan sacrificed themselves, and the prophesied hero who would protect the world when Bahamut returned. Jeanne’s people believe she’s that hero, and she, once a simple farm girl, has come to as well.

Because of her own humble beginnings, she questions Favaro’s notion that he doesn’t have anything to do with this mess of angels, demons, and prophesies. I question it too: If booze, girls, and freedom were all he really needed, he wouldn’t be standing in that courtyard talking to Jeanne-freakin’-d’Arc. He met her, and Amira, and reunited with his old frenemy Kaisar for a reason. There’s a greater role than the one he’s settled for so far. He need only step upon the stage.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 05

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Bahamut delivers yet another exceedingly exciting, breathlessly swift-moving episode where no one is standing still long. Favaro teams up with Rita to infiltrate the enemy castle, then convinces Kaisar to put aside his vengence for the moment so they can rescue Amira. The plot is pretty straightforward, which works in its favor, because what makes the episode truly special (and immensely fun) is the execution and details of that plot, along with its ability to utilize — and reward us for — our emotional investment in the characters.

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Last week Azazel snatched up Amira and Kaisar with the tentacles from his boss flying bio-castle, Gregor, and is enjoying a fine repast as Amira is tortured by Pazuzu. I loved the almost office-like atmosphere of the villans’ lair. Kaisar also has to watch, and when he brings up Favaro as the demon who tricked Amira into stealing the God Key, they all heartily guffaw. It’s great how as clearly evil as these guys are, Favaro is even worse than all of them in Kaisar’s mind.

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But, of course, that’s far too harsh, and being far too narrow-minded about who is responsible for who’s downfall and death. But harsh and quick-to-judgment is Kaisar’s M.O. in dealings with Favaro. Meanwhile, Favaro is able to convince Bacchus to lend him his flying carriage, but only if he pays the “fare”, which Bacchus leaves up to him. Favaro chooses to sacrifice his bounty hunter armband — practically his livelihood, up to this point — making him just another outlaw. That’s dedication, especially for a demon-girl who gave you a tail and your childhood friend who wants to kill you.

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Rita and Favaro prove just as irresistable a duo as Kaisar…moreso, even. Unlike the upstanding-to-the-point-of-back-spasms Kaisar, Favaro and Rita remain stubbornly morally ambiguous (although one could argue that Kaisar’s vendetta and bloodlust are hardly morally pure virtues, even if he thinks he’s righteous). For half a ‘mo, Favaro considered the advantages of having Amira and Kaisar out of his hair, but sees that Rita is willing to spring into action, so he follows her lead.

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On more than one occasion, Rita wonders out loud why Favaro is going so far, as if to validate the fact she’s doing the same thing for Kaisar. And so they egg each other on to be the brave, and valiant heroes. And they proceed to kick some Gregor dungeon grunt ass on their way to where Amira is being held.

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Kaisar, who is also there, was told all about what Amira is and what she did, but he ends up being used as a pawn by his captors, who egg him on into taking care of their intruder problem for them. And after all that traveling, Favaro is a half-step behind the rested and super-pissed Kaisar, who’s still convinced Favaro is guilty of putting Amira in danger too. Again, this is a perfectly reasonable position for someone with his level of loathing towards Favaro.

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Rita ends up breaking up the fight by launching her separated arm at his face and calling him a “brat”; which is a pretty awesome way to break up a fight!

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Having had some sense knocked into him, Kaisar agrees to table his quarrel with Favaro until Amira is safe and they’re all off Gregor — but only after Favaro makes a gesture that limits his options in a future he’s classically never planned for: he tells Kaisar when the time comes to face him, he won’t run.

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As all that’s going on aboard Gregor, we get a little surprise: Jeanne d’Arc! Here I thought we had been watching flashbacks of yore, but she’s actually been in the same present as Favaro & Co. all along. In a gloriously staged deus ex machina, she arrives just when the Gregor is about to pass through the gate to the Demon capital of Cochytus. In a particularly bad-ass tactic, her Orleans Knights close the gate while Gregor is only partially in, thus slicing that portion off and crippling it.

We get a good helping of how Orleans fight: with arrows and catapults and spears, all thrown and launched through magic circles that intensify their offensive effect. This time, the battle was in broad daylight, and thus easier to see!

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Favaro and Kaisar work together to take out Pazuzu and use the handy chains and pulleys to lift themselves to safety. Azazel attempts to re-take Amira into custody, but is slapped back and forced to retreat when some form of demon guardian shields her.

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All’s well that ends well, with Favaro, Kaisar, Amira, and Rita flying off into the sunset aboard a zombified dragon, presumably to continue their odyssey to Helheim. But a lot of uncertainty lies on that horizon. Azazel & Co. will be back on their tail before long, as will the Orleans Knights. Favaro has cast aside his career and agreed to face of with Kaisar, and still has a tail. Rita could zombify or eat the others at any time! (though that’s unlikely). And the angels are having a heckuva time keeping an awakening Bahamut at bay, which is an existential threat to the entire world.

But so soon after surviving the day by the skin of their teeth, I’m sure the crew isn’t particularly concerned about what may come tomorrow. Instead, they’re probably content to enjoy that sunset and that smooth ride of that Zombie Dragon, which I’m sure is the name of a band.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 04

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I will never tire of Amira’s many expressions

Put simply, Shingeki no Bahamut simply kicks ass at telling rousing, impeccably-orchestrated stories of adventure. Last week featured a town of illusion and undead ruled by a powerful, devious, but ultimately bored necromancer. Rita ended up following Kaisar looking for a change of pace and a little excitement…and her decision paid almost immediate dividends.

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“D’you even know how to USE that?”

Entitled “Reunion at Ysmenport”, we’re immediately treated to a beautifully-rendered, well-worn and lived-in city; I could almost smell the fish…and other things such cities have. As street swindler ends up giving both Favaro and Kaisar information how where to get where they want to go. Favaro needs to get to Helheim (and can only keep up the lie about knowing how to get there for so long. Kaisar simply wants to get to Favaro.

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Mmmm…you gotta love crab.

What ensues is perhaps the most complete and exciting episode of the series so far, a journey on the high seas with giant sea monsters of varying tastiness, demon sailors, zombie sailors, demon sailors fighting zombie sailors, demon girls fighting sea monsters, et cetera, et cetera. There’s a lot going on!

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Taking an undead necromancer hostage: Not a good idea

But it’s not just action: after three episodes of Kaisar chasing Favaro across the ends of the earth, we finally learn why: Favaro’s dad was the one who attacked the convoy carrying the king’s tribute, which was overseen by Kaisar’s father. Kaisar and Favaro were childhood friends despite being from different classes, but Kaisar saw what happened as a betrayal, and his desire for revenge has driven him on a continuing quest to nail Favaro to the wall.

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Ruff! Ruff!

Oh, and also…the demons in demonworld finally stop commenting on what’s transpiring in the regular world and spring into action! I’m not the biggest fan of the dog-demon-girl with her puppets Cerberus (!), but at least these guys are consistent. Every time Amira transforms, they’re able to locate her.

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All that work, and it tastes like crap.

Amira does so when that giant crab emerges from the deep and threatens the ship…and Favaro. While there was probably no way Favaro could have dealt with the beast himself, it was still a risky move that ends up giving Favaro’s dad’s old friend and fellow “honorable thief”, Captain Amon, an opportunity to reveal himself as having “gone into business for himself”, just like Favaro. The jewels he and Favaro’s dad stole were filled with magic that brought forth killer demons, and only Amon survived, but he did so by becoming a demon himself…a bounty-hunter demon! And right now, Amira’s price is so high, Amon is fine simply killing Favaro rather than turn him in.

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So boss.

Meanwhile, Kaisar and Rita have not been standing still. They secured passage on another ship, which turns out to be pirates who aim to rob Kaisar and sell the girl. What’s so great is that so many people would find this a relatively alarming situation, but Kaisar knows what he’s doing and easily dispatches several pirates with his superior swordsmanship.

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Also, Rita isn’t really a “girl” anymore; not entirely. What she is is someone who you most definitely want on your side. The pirates numbers are meaningless; she kills them all then reanimates them as a freaking Zombie Pirate Crew under her command. It just keeps getting better!

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She rams her newly-acquired (and much larger) ship into Amon’s and that’s when the previously-mentioned battle between amphibious demon sailors and zombie pirate sailors commences, with Favaro, Amira, Amon, and eventually Kaisar literally above the fray in the rigging. Up here we get some Pirates of the Caribbean-style tightrope combat for good measure.

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Frankly, I really liked Amon as a friend of Favaro’s and as a link to his past, but not all baddies can become allies like Rita. Speaking of baddies, after Amon is vanquished, the head demon dude Azazel sends a giant tentacle to pluck up Amira, inadvertently bringing Kaisar along for the ride, too. He stops Cerberus from killing him instantly, but whatever he has in store for the bonus human can’t be good.

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I…I didn’t see that coming! Who am I kidding, I hardly saw anything coming this week, and that’s why it was so fantastic. I was almost always on the edge of my seat. Now we have quite a predicament on our hands: both Favaro and Rita’s traveling companions have been taken prisoner by powerful but unknown foes. Will these two team up to get their respective partners back? I’m guessing Favaro still wants to get rid of his tail, and Rita wants to turn more things undead, sooo…yeah.

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