SnB:VS Episode 20 – poor Mugaro

Mugaro

Spoilers ahead.

I’ve kinda given up on SnBVS actually adhering to some sort of plot now. It started out with an end point, but the train derailed and despite its determination to get somewhere, no one on board has any clue where that end point exists.  Weird things keep happening that are very much too-little-too-late in the gives-a-shit category.

Heart-broken Nina, after flubbing up the mission because she preferred to dance, runs away from the castle and ends up in a one on one battle with another dragon. WHUT? The head Onyx Knight hired a full-fledged dragon-folk guy who is a purist and hates half breeds (insert Hogwarts Slytherin references here, it’s same sort of prejudice). He and Nina go full-dragon mode to fight it out and Nina gets her ass handed to her.

What’s incredible about this scene is how pointless it was from the beginning. This is also an incredible missed opportunity for character development Nina needed over ten episodes ago. Having Nina face off against one of her own kind earlier would’ve been an amazing way to open up her eyes about the world around her and maybe be more invested in what her friends are fighting for, but that didn’t happen. After her short-lived battle, she ends up knocked down and it’s not the hunter who deals the final blow – it’s the Onyx Knight when he reveals that Charioce ordered her to be killed. Fuck the fact that she’s fighting another dragon! Fuck the fact that her life is in danger! Her defeat was more emotional than physical and while some would say that’s significant, it makes me laugh because that alone rendered the whole 2 minute battle sequence with the dragon hunter completely irrelevant and unnecessary. Want to take Nina down? Tell her Charioce hates her. Boom. Destroyed.

Back at home base, Mugaro throws a tantrum about not wanting to go back to Heaven. The reunion scene ended up being glossed over with only Jeanne thanking Azazel for taking care of Mugaro. Mom’s back to take custody and go home with El. K. Thnx. Bye.  However, Mugaro’s superiority complex (courtesy of Gabriel) hadn’t entirely abated. While this scene gave Bacchus a shining moment as he called out Mugaro on his ego, this scene still felt a bit pointless. The angels know about Dromos (hand puppet death star) and how it can destroy the world. So…. why do they want to take back the super power kid who has the best chance out of any of defeating it back to Heaven? Oh, right, Gabriel is too depressed up in Heaven and needs everyone to go back to her. That’s at least the only reason I can think of why there was even an argument about going back to Heaven. I think Bacchus’s comment was good in knocking Mugaro down a peg and putting his existence into perspective, but shit, the kid wants to fight and may be very necessary in helping to save the world!  In any case, Mugaro realizes he’s not the world savior he thought he was and then goes to say his goodbyes.

Cut to scene with Nina having a temper tantrum over Charioce, because nothing else matters to her and she’s still as irrelevant to the story as ever. She was given a very small bit of characterization as she attempts to hide her tears and puts on a cheery face in front of Mugaro, knowing he’s going away. Seriously MAPPA, more little scenes like this would’ve made Nina much more tolerable up to this point. I know I’ve said this so many times, but I just DGAF about her or Charioce. Burn ’em both.

I really hope this is the final straw for Charioce being an actual villain, but part of me thinks it’s all set up for him to be the fall-guy. He never explicitly said to kill the red dragon, but his non-committal response could be construed as him being just as guilty of it.

Mugaro’s goodbye scene with Azazel was as emotional as their meeting again and that along with Bacchus’s comments were the best scenes of the whole episode. Actually both scenes were throw-away scenes now that I think about it because it’s all about going back to Heaven for some unknown reason that most likely has zero affect on the plot. That, in turn, makes this generally a filler episode from beginning to end – IF the plot made sense, but it doesn’t.

Post credit major spoiler: Alessand, who was hiding out in the slums because everyone had forgotten about him, gets Mugaro alone and stabs the kid in the stomach. I’m guessing he did this to prove himself after being turned down from the Onyx Knights. He was a cardboard cut-out character from the beginning and him doing this NOW also feels like a missed opportunity for character development that would’ve made him more tolerable much earlier in the series. I can understand the importance of offing (or attempting to kill) Mugaro at this point just before the final arc push. Downing a major power player is always a setback. However, the way it was done feels like a shock-value afterthought on the part of MAPPA. Once again, post credit action/revelations that last all of 20 seconds trump the entire episode’s worth of…. whatever the hell it was….

This was another episode that packed a punch on an emotional front, but seemed to fall flat on action. While I applauded the show in the beginning for putting more weight into the characters over Genesis, I’m starting to feel conflicted due to how badly this series has mucked up. Some characters are given incredible moments to shine and fill out, while others, who badly needed more moments and backstory, aren’t given anything at all. So the idea that Virgin Soul is more character based doesn’t entirely hold up anymore. The first cour seemed to really balance out the character narratives with a plot line, but the second cour has thrown all of that out the window. Neither the character moments nor the action seem in sync now. As a viewer I don’t care as much about the action because I have no reason to care about the characters participating in it. Also, any action that seems significant, ends up being irrelevant and a waste of time.

Nina is supposed to be the one I root for the most and she’s the character I care least about. I understand that in life-threatening or world-threatening situations the characters can’t entirely relate nor care about why they should be saving the world. It’s a character crisis that many protagonists go through and when they conquer their afflictions to gain a greater sense of the big picture and how they fit in it – it becomes a vital part of why they end up being the protagonist to root for in the end. I know Nina’s emotional turmoil is meant to bring her to a greater understanding of herself and the world around her. Yes, even something as simple as a broken heart can do that to a good protagonist. However, it’s not working this time at all. Her lack of self-reflection has been to her detriment as a character I care about. Favaro seems to be the only one who gets it – she needs to work past her emotions to reach the other side. To the show’s credit, his attention to her has been touching and lets the viewers know, ok she’s really not that naive. But it’s only been through his attention and guidance of her that the viewer even has a hint she’s got a brain! There’s a major problem when other characters have to be so verbal in foreshadowing to relay the emotional journey of a character we, as viewers, should already know that about.

There are 4 more episodes for Nina to get over it and actually do something real as a protagonist as well as find the plot and stick to it. My favorites: Favaro, Kaisar, Azazel, Jeanne, Bacchus, Rita, and Mugaro have been stuck in the mud, spinning their wheels for far too long.

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