This show infuriates me, but I can’t quit it. This my ranting, ramblings on the show up to episode 17.
I fell completely in love with the new character-driven story line of Virgin Soul, set in one main locale for the first 7-8 episodes. It was very different from it’s predecessor, Genesis, and showed so much potential to be vastly greater by giving the characters more depth and purpose. This in turn gave even greater meaning to the events and people from Genesis in hindsight.
And then it all fell down like a house of cards. The character development stopped and has been painstakingly dragging on ever since. I’m starting to wonder now if maybe a two-cour show was a little too ambitious because so far everything since the dungeon arc has been quite mediocre and even the animation quality has dropped off.
From the beginning, Nina, the main protagonist, has been the center for the show and she was quirky and fun and sassy – for a short while. The show did a decent job of showing us her personality and even giving her a few hardships to get over, but in general I honestly don’t feel like she’s progressed as a character at all. I don’t even see her as the main protagonist. She’s just that annoying loud, naive high school girl who is boy-crazy and jumps on any wagon that passes her by to take her to the next plot point. I honestly feel she’s side character B, and the show focuses on her to get more laughs and to rile up other characters. Otherwise, she’s done pretty much zilch as a proper protagonist. She helps other characters and motivates them to do better for themselves due to her insanely boundless levels of optimism and peppiness, which is all well and good – for side B characters who give main characters the moral boost they need to get their butts moving again. When have we seen Nina actually try and move the plot along of her own volition and make her own decisions to do well by those she cares about? It’s obvious that she is more or less the underdog of the show compared to the other more established characters from Genesis, but to my mind she’s yet to make her debut as Protagonist. She always says she will help out, but even then she just ends up going along for the ride and rarely ever takes true initiative. [Seriously, Amira, from Genesis was ten times more proactive and she was still technically a child cognitive-wise compared to Nina.] I keep waiting for the a-ha moment to strike her, but I still don’t think I’ve seen it. She’s just wandering around doing what the other characters ask her to do in order to help them out. She also keeps running into her genocidal maniac of a boyfriend, which now just makes me roll my eyes every time.
Ok, so the elephant in the room with the show is the Charioce x Nina romance that the show has officially stamped as CANON with this past week’s kiss on episode 17. (Part of me wonders if MAPPA caved due to all the Nina x Charioce shipping going on and decided to give the fans what they want.) Nina goes off dressed as a “demon” and runs into Charioce at his mom’s grave and we get his sad mommy story again. It’s never explicit that dead mommy dearest is the reason why he’s a genocidal/slave driving maniac now or not, but it clearly weighs heavily on him. The chip on his shoulder is about as big as Utah. But after spending the day hanging out with Nina in the demon slums (that he created by dragging all the demons to the capital to enslave), playing with the demon children (that have their controlling collars on he mandated for his demon slaves), and running away from his all-knowing Onxy Knights (who were watching him the whole time and he was aware of – just in case the demon slaves he was playing with revolted) the long awaited confession – of sorts – happened. If only he hadn’t met Nina who he’s really not known that much! He’s the always-unhappy-genocidal-king, but Nina came into his life and he’s all…. pretty much the fucking same as ever other than just saying “if only…”. She tries to get some answers out of him, but he can’t because….. reasons… and she’s not important enough to confide in. He has CONVICTIONS and that’s all she/the viewers gets right now and that’ll have to do based on the pained expression with which he says it. She cries because he said “if only….” and they kiss. I really wanted to see Rita show up with Rocky to bitch-slap both of them. The animation quality was up to par for this – of course- but I have to say that blue tone wasn’t doing Charioce any favors.
I get that people can ship whoever they want and there’s an enormous Charioce x Nina fandom out there (some of the fanart really is cute), but I’m not buying it. Episode 17 aired and we still don’t have shit on what’s making Charioce tick. There have been zero clues other than CONVICTIONS (with a pained expression) and him constantly visiting mom’s grave. His personality is still as one-note as ever and the only time it changes are the few scenes with Nina, but the interaction between them is so childishly simple I don’t care for it at all. It’s more like they are both 12 year olds with big crushes on each other, but then he plays that he hates her in front of his school friends, the Onxy Knights. He knows Nina considers Kaisar a friend and she doesn’t want Azazel to die, but just the day before Charioce was in his bored-king-is-bored pose watching those two fight to the death in the arena because he doesn’t give two shits for the people Nina cares about. Nina also has rather sub-par standards if she’s still ok with accepting CONVICTIONS (with pained expression) and a total non-reason for all his actions thus far. I honestly don’t see any way possible Charioce can be redeemed at this point. I get there’s a reason to the romance, which is Nina gets over her dead daddy issues and can now turn into a dragon at-will. The transformation issues were a nice touch to understanding the trauma caused by Bahamut in Genesis, but the resolution to that trauma was completely lackluster and undermines just how dangerous Bahamut was if she can get over it with just one kiss with a man whose ultimate goals and intentions she’s still not sure about. That was seriously the most anti-climactic side plot resolution of the show thus far. They kiss! She can transform! They go on a Disney-style I’m-King-of-the-world ride! What the actual fuck, MAPPA. I had a teensy tiny bit of hope that Charioce might be playing Nina with the back-to-angry-genocidal-king expression on his face after she leaves him, but then that was dashed when the lead Onxy Knight scene showed up. Is the Onxy Knight really the dastardly villain pulling the strings? Even if he is, I still don’t think Charioce is worth redemption. I’d almost prefer the show deus-ex-machina a split personality of Chris/Charioce to explain his actions. Granted, that would be one of the worst cop-outs, but it’s been done plenty of times before in anime. If that’s the case, then sure give the asshole to Nina to care for and they live happily ever after going on dragon rides together.
Meanwhile… there’s an actual plot! Somewhere! Really there is, but it’s been sorta side-swiped by the Charioce x Nina shoujo that butted itself into the middle of it and has turned an action-packed, character-driven show into something that’s dragging it’s feet, lost all momentum and made the new characters of the show the most boring parts of it.
There was some respite with Mugaro reuniting with his mom, Jeanne. That along with Jeanne’s backstory episode have been the most powerful moments of the whole show thus far. I honestly felt Nina’s sobbing comedic moment ruined it, but that’s because I’m really sick of her at this point and any other plots would do best to leave her out. I’m glad Mugaro is back on board and has somewhat gotten over his Charioce syndrome of being The One To Handle All The Things because that really was a low point for him.
When Nina was part of the action in the first quarter of the show, it was still fun and exciting. Now I feel like she’s preventing it from moving because she has yet to become the Protagonist. The old school crew (Kaisar, Favaro, Rita, Hamsa, Bacchus, and Azazel) have been in a holding pattern while the show caters to it’s completely ridiculous romance that has yet to provide any decent momentum to the plot. I want them to come back into focus because they are the more redeeming parts of the show. If the romance moved the plot along – sure, but so far it’s done nothing. Whenever scenes with Nina x Chris are over it’s game-on with the other characters who are actually trying to bring about peace and save EVERYONE from King Dumbass’s hand puppet death star. Although the romance may have been an integral part of Nina’s growth as a character, it’s not been handled well and has yet to provide any assurance that she’s changed for the better to be an active protagonist with some sense of agency. She seriously needs this to happen – five episodes ago – to make her worth caring about. She’s great as the upbeat, comedic, light-hearted star but I need more out of her right now. She’s far too childish considering what she’s been through and seen. Girl needs to get moving and take a cue from Favaro, who has the comedic goofball/protagonist roll down like a champ. He knows how to bring his game on, she’s…. not even close yet.
I’m waiting for Lucifer to make his debut this season as well. The new OP showed him starting at episode 13 and we’ve past 17 with not even a word about him. See how much the stupid romance has slowed down the plot! I was glad Azazel was brought back into the fray, albeit briefly, and I’m ready for his black leather clad tight ass to start kicking some ass again. I no longer ship him with Nina. She’s just too annoying and I prefer Azazel as the tsundere he’s turning out to be with helping out Kaisar. The moment where Kaisar confronts him to help them out with hand-puppet-death-star was reminiscent of the scene in Genesis where Kaisar makes the same plea in helping to defeat Bahamut. It re-affirmed Azazel’s role as tsundere and the still-bad-but-less-so villain I love in the show. I think I ship them together now. Hopefully we’ll get some Azazel/ Kaisar/ Favaro/ Rita/ Lucifer action this week.