Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 10

Ever wonder how Jeanne d’Arc went from Captain of the Orleans Knights to mother of El/Mugaro and prisoner in Charioce’s dungeon? This episode tells that tale, starting seven years back. Things start to go wrong when Jeanne fails to save a young girl from a demon, and she starts to lose respect among her men—not all, mind you, but some is all that’s needed for a kind of rot to set in.

Once he takes the throne (without the help of the Gods, a first for kings of Anatae) Chariorce gives Jeanne a choice: play ball and help him get the more god-loyal subjects in line, or face exile. Jeanne chooses the latter, and is eventually made to bear a child through the divine power of Michael—no hanky panky or months of pregnancy needed.

Jeanne lives a simple life off the land, and she raises her winged son El well and he proves to be helpful, but they can’t escape from the worsening conflict between men and gods for long, and soon Jeanne comes to harbor an injured Sofiel from the dastardly Ebony Knights.

When the knights come looking for Sofiel and attack Jeanne, El uses her powers for the first time to neutralize them. They report El to Charioce, who orders Jeanne and El caught dead or alive. Jeanne clips El’s wings and hides him amongst demon corpses, then runs off with one such corpse to lure the knights away from her son.

Jeanne gets captured and hasn’t seen El since, but Nina, who has heard her whole dreadfully horrible tale, is now convinced that Mugaro is El (despite her beliving Mugaro was a girl) and promises Jeanne they’ll be the first two to escape the imperial prison. Here’s hoping.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 09

Throughout this episode everyone remains imprisoned, affording time for Kaisar and Favaro to catch up, while Nina impresses by making hard labor look comically easy and ends up befriending Jeanne. Both Kaisar and Favaro know Nina, and both Nina and Jeanne know Mugaro.

What could have been a static table-setter is infused with bottomless sources of magnetism thanks to the official infusion of Favaro (and Jeanne) to the arc, and a measure of “freedom” is lent by taking us back to when he came to make Nina his apprentice.

That story provides some of the best laughs of the series, as Favaro and Nina prove to have fantastic comedic chemistry. Favaro arrives at the dragon village to eat, drink, and screw away his earnings, but the second Nina hears that he’s a bounty hunter, she wants in…and Nina gets what she wants through boundless perseverance (read: Favaro gives up trying to run away from her).

Nina’s feats of strength impress Favaro, but her more fine skills such as marksmanship and whipcraft leave a little to be desired. When Favaro enjoys the village’s famed hot springs, he ends up learning about Nina’s transformation ability when she dives in not knowing he’s there.

Favaro only agreed to have Nina as an apprentice while he’s in the village, so when he leaves, he decides there’s no more he can teach her—which…wasn’t all that much to begin with. After all, you can’t teach most of what makes Favaro Favaro. Still, Nina receives her bounty hunter’s bracelet with solemn pride and excitement, and promises to “probably” not forget her master, and takes to heart his words about “the wind blowing to tomorrow”, despite not really getting them.

The story of how Favaro ended up in the imperial prison is far briefer than how he met and trained Nina: in the first town over form the dragonfolk, he passes out drunk, is ratted out by a woman in exchange for gold from Onyx Guards. His magnificent afro is shaved, and he undergoes all manner of suffering under Charioce, only to be left to rot in the prison.

As Kaisar starts to rot beside him, his Orleans Knights try to deal with the loss of their captain…by getting drunk in a club surrounded by pretty demons, including Cerberus, who convince Al that he’s the captain (though whether he’ll remember in the morning is dubious).

Meanwhile, Jeanne befriends Nina, and when Nina explains why she’s in the slammer, Mugaro comes up. The child Nina describes is clearly the same person Jeanne suspects, but it’s funny that she’s initially unclear because Nina refers to him as a girl when he’s really just a very pretty boy.

Still, Nina’s arrival and news of Mugaro serves as the catalyst for Jeanne to decide the time is right to break out. Nina, wanting to make up for not saving Mugaro before, is eager to assist her, and in Nina Jeanne has a powerful ally.

And as I mentioned last week, things are not so dire, as not everyone is currently in prison. Rita isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them to rescue themselves; the end of the episode has her taking flight by umbrella into the night, ready to do some rescuing of her own, or at least assistance with same.

I’m stoked about the pairing of Nina and Jeanne and the reunion of Kaisar and Favaro, and look forward to seeing what the four of them plus Rita (and maybe an assist or two from a demon or god) manage to come up with to defy the evil (yet as we know, also complicated) King Charioce.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 08

The things that went down last week and at the beginning of this week can’t be undone; there’s no convenient return to the status quo where everyone scatters but remains free.

Instead, Kaisar crosses the line into straight-up treason by interfering with and raising a sword to King Charioce, in an attempt to stop him from fighting Azazel.

Azazel doesn’t want Kaisar’s help and is through listening to his prattle, so Kaisar ends up having to fight both Azazel and Charioce at once, in another nicely-animated little setpiece.

He bests both of them, thanks to a well-placed fist and his metal arm…but while the fight is over, there will be consequences for all involved.

Mugaro, who came to try to help Azazel and the demons, ends up captured by Sofiel, who goes ahead and captures Bacchus and Hamsa while she’s at it. Azazel pleads with Nina to transform into a dragon already, but Nina is confused, overwhelmed, and most importantly, her heart is not racing.

Since that’s only way she’s ever been able to transform, and because she’s never willingly transformed, she can’t become a dragon, so she’s arrested along with Azazel and Kaisar.

All the townsfolk who know and love Nina know she’d never be capable of treason against the king, but when they defend her too forcefully, they’re threatened with charges of treason, and everyone clams up. Not Nina herself, however. In shackles, on her knees, and without leave to speak, Nina lets Charioce have it with both barrels, with the general thesis of her rant being that he’s an evil bully of a king.

In a show full of characters with overly florid language, it’s nice to hear Nina speak plainly but forcefully about how much Charioce sucks. If she recognizes him as her date during the festival, she doesn’t let on, and Charioce doesn’t reveal himself to her. He orders her and Kaisar be sent to the prison tower, where they’ll stay “indefinitely”, and more importantly, be unable to further interfere with his plans.

Those plans involve finishing off the gods, who he’ll allow scored a win by capturing Mugaro, but still thinks they’re being overconfident, and likes his odds of destroying them, after which Jeanne d’Arc will finally stop praying.

The name Jeanne gave her child Mugaro is “El”, and that’s what Gabriel calls him (her?) while trying to make a deal: if he lends his power in helping them put the humans back in their place, he’ll be able to see his mother again.

As for Bacchus and Hamsa, they’re being held in some kind of strange void, also likely indefinitely. Hamsa tries everything to free them, but Bacchus isn’t sorry for protecting Mugaro, which he did because he merely “felt like it”, and isn’t okay with them using him.

Nina and Kaisar’s imprisonment (the bickering ferrymen was a nice detail) also offers them the opportunity to meet a couple of very interesting people with cells adjacent to their own. Nina discovers Jeanne d’Arc, while Kaisar spots a grizzled, bearded Favaro Leone, who finally makes his entrance in Virgin Soul.

By the end of the episode, we have Mugaro, Bacchus, Hamsa, Nina, and Kaisar all in custody or imprisoned; only Rita is free. It’s a refreshing, stakes-raising development after many earlier close calls. I’m not sure how everyone is going to get out of their cages, or what role Favaro will play, but I’m certainly eager to find out.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 01

The age of man revering the gods has ended.

Bold, resonant words from a leader of humans invading and destroying the godly sanctuary of Temple Ark. That’s right, it’s not the gods and demons going at it, but humans, all hepped up on power they’re not supposed to possess. Now we’ve gotten to the good stuff…Shingeki no Bahamut has returned, and it’s just as lush, gorgeous, and engaging as I remember it.

Whither Favaro Leone? That’s one of many questions left unanswered in the season two premiere of Virgin Soul. Instead, we have a new heroine in Nina Drango, who is as adorable as she is tough as nails. She has superhuman strength, speed, and stores of energy, which not only make her very popular in the burgeoning Royal Capital of Anatae, but also give her the idea to take up some bounty hunter work, provided by Bacchus and Hamsa, who grudgingly allow her to crash there.

Nina also has an interesting little quirk that seems like just that at first: she’s extremely bashful around handsome men. And who’s more handsome than King Charioce XVII’s right-hand man Kaisar Lidfort? For chrissakes, he’s got better eyelashes than Nina. The two meet while both on the lookout for the “Rag Demon”, a wanted vigilante who seems to be in the business of freeing his fellow demons from bondage, and also bears a striking resemblance to everyone’s favorite fallen angel, Azazel.

The Rag Demon literally bumps into Nina, sending her flying through the air, and we’re treated to a steadicam shot of her appearing still as the world around her spins around and around and she realizes who it was who bumped into her.

The gorgeous setting is matched by even more masterful direction and camerawork, with lovely organic sweeps, zooms, pans, yaws, pitches POV shots…look, I’m not a cinematographer, okay? I don’t know all the jargon. But I know what’s good, and this is very very good stuff.

Turns out, that little quirk of Nina turns out to be much more than that. Climbing to the top of a tower inspired by the Canpanièl de San Marco in Venice, she comes under attack from the city’s dragon knights, beleiving her to be in cahoots with the Rag Demon. She falls and is caught by Azazel, and her close proximity to him finally causes her to blow: streaking through the sky in a pink flare that lands in a building, then emerging…as a really cute, precocious, cool-looking red dragon.

The city defenses give her a fight, but she’s ready for one, and gives as good as she gets in a virtuoso display of destruction. Even the mecha-like giant fighting suits the humans have are little match for her power, which is just as considerable in dragonform as it was when she was in the form of a 16-year-old girl trying to make it in the city to support her mom back home.

The carnage and destruction continues, until suddenly everything goes quiet and white, and Nina wakes up on an operating table, fan blades spinning above her, and none other than Rita at her bedside, sporting her characteristically ambiguous expression. Bored, tired, unimpressed? Probably none of the above; Rita seems aware she’s got herself a rare specimen on her hands: a girl who can become a dragon.

As for the illustrious and well-loved King of Anatae, Lord Charioce XVII: he is the man we see in the beginning, raiding a sanctuary of the gods and no doubt pillaging divine tech, ignoring warnings that humans will never be able to control such power. Nina, in her naivete, goes along with her fellow citizens in voicing her gratitude for the king.

There’s lots of juicy meat to sink our teeth into in this new Shingeki no Bahamut. Familiar faces and places, an instantly rootable new heroine and a fantastic battle combine to get things off to an auspicious start.

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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