First Impressions – Campione!

We are the champions, my friend.

Despite a generic sounding fantasy premise, Campione! piqued my interest thanks to a well put-together trailer that showcased some good action. Of course, one should never trust a trailer, and at least based on the 1st episode, Campione! is a fine example that showcases why.

The key to taking down gods and becoming king, apparently.

48 hours from now, I, Kusnagi Godou, will become the 7th king of the world,” the main character narrates early on in this episode. This could serve as the set up to an entire 12 episode series chronicling the 2 days of Godou’s ascent. It would be highly unusual; the closest anime I can think of in pacing would be Nisemonogatari which covered less than 2 days in 7 episodes of Karen Bee. However, the pacing of this 1st episode indicates that those 48 hours will likely pass within the next couple episodes and will serve just as the springboard from which the main story can jump. Unfortunate, because that sort of how-it-went-down story would’ve added quite the twist to this show to make it stand out from the many other Shana-like urban fantasy light novel adaptations.

As it stands, the show feels very standard with few noteworthy features. There is nothing memorable about the characters. Main character Godou doesn’t have any personality – even his very reason for being there in Italy is to deliver something for his grandfather, not something for himself. His current companion Erica at first seems to be another duty-bound knight, but then she doesn’t actually have a well defined personality, as she changes to haughty spoiled ojou-sama and then to willing sidekick seemingly on impulse. Even Lucrezia’s mischievous personality falls right in line with the immortal bystander/meddler archetype. Other characters make only brief appearances, popping in here and there to say ominous things.

Erica gets to be whatever girl the plot needs at the moment.

The storytelling is just a mess. Things happen without sense, and there are plenty of plot holes already. How did Erica recognize Godou’s tablet from afar, especially if she didn’t even know what kind it was? And how did she know that he was Japanese? Erica, Arianna, and Godou decide to have drinks right after meeting Lucrezia… where? If it’s at Lucrezia’s home, why isn’t she present? If it’s Erica’s home, when did they get there? And why the drinking? The high concept of rogue gods doing bad things to create natural disasters is interesting enough, but it’s nothing too different from the likes of Shakugan no Shana or 11eyes, and it needs something else to make it stand out.

Thing is, almost nothing about this show stands out. It’s not very funny; only the drunk-talking-to-mask gag made me laugh. The fanservice isn’t very good – not only is it not creative, but it’s not compelling with such boring characters. And boring characters don’t make for much in the way of romance or friendship or any other character relationships, none of which is explored at all in this episode. The action is passable. It’s hard to make a lady knight riding the roof of a maid driven sedan not look badass. But the fighting animation, choreography, and direction are all rather mediocre. There was plenty of opportunity to showcase good action, but the show never took advantage.

I laughed, even if the punchline was telegraphed way early, and Erica did not at all look like a convincing drunk.

To the show’s credit, it does hit the ground running, wasting no time throwing Godou into the deep end. And he reacts well, quickly making a deal with a god and establishing himself as a player in this game of battles between gods. Normally you’d expect some (understandable) pussyfooting. But right now, it’s hard to simply care. The narrator at the end sounds pretty pumped up about Godou becoming a king, but I don’t think that actually warrants much excitement. There’s no reason to root for Godou or Erica other than that they’ve been designated the main characters. This is a very clumsy first episode whose failure to deliver on any front – not on humor, not on fanservice, not on action, not on premise – makes it a poor hook for the rest of the series.

He’s got sword in one hand, woman in the other, but I’m just not feeling it.

About

A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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22 Responses to “First Impressions – Campione!”

  1. Karakuri says:

    The narrator at the end sounds pretty pumped up about Godou becoming a king, but I don’t think that actually warrants much excitement. There’s no reason to root for Godou or Erica other than that they’ve been designated the main characters.

    …Right there. I think you described the entire reason why I didn’t enjoy this whatsoever. They had everything there for a great story, but I just can’t say anything I like about the main characters. Erica was indeed all over the place (the switch between high-class ojousama and over the top drunk was way to abrupt for my liking) and the main character guy is just so… bland. Sure, he got into the action right away, but hell if I can spot his motives behind it aside from some woman gave him a book.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Wow. I really enjoyed this. Superb action/SFX. Superb transformation with BGM. Superb fanservice with moderation. Very stylish looking, main protagonist only slightly retarded but isn’t useless/getting in the way.

    Though it has a handful of flaws, what stands out is the great animation quality. Everything looks like it’s a worthy watch. A nice anime to look forward to each episode. What surprised me is that Gods may be Evil/Good in this. And it looks like every god in all the mythologies could be used.

    The character development has time to but so far, I’ve already taken a liking to that crazy maid.

    Erica has a nice body and elegance as a knight even though she’s super obnoxious when drunk. Yoko Hikasa as her seiyuu makes a perfect fit. She certainly knows how to play a tsundere and Erica is as hot as they come but she does know how to strike a balance.

    Godou is pretty lucky to gain such a power but I don’t think it suits him. Any god killed by a mortal, that mortal shall obtain the abilities of the killed god. That’s like a God of War based power he has on his hands. Seeing how the story is going, he’ll eventually gain the abilities of Verethragnas 10 forms but I’m betting each form also has a condition for activation.

    Verethragnas paid for his arrogance. Making the protagonist become a Campione because some he wanted to have an entertaining fight by reviving other gods and making himself one incarnation weaker and give that to a potential human warrior? Well, too bad, he gets defeated and this human takes the glory.

    The ending reminds me of a mix of Fate’s Gilgamesh’s gate of Babylon and Archer’s Unlimited Blade Works.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, I wish the maid got some more screentime. So far, she’s just a bad driver who can’t cook stew or hold her alcohol. She was very friendly to Godou.

      His power definitely reminded me of video games. Specifically the Mega Man series, which was known for the stealing the boss’s abilities mechanic. It’s a useful gameplay mechanic.

  3. Highway says:

    I liked the show as well, and wasn’t really thinking about it (Italy plus various gods plus knights plus action means “Don’t bother figuring it out). Like BB, I liked Erica’s character design, and her voice acting (I didn’t realize it was Youko Hikasa, but I’ll take that anytime)

    I know what you mean about the car scenes. The first time she was on the roof was ok, but an Opel Astra? Yawwwwn. It’s probably a diesel even. And then she was on the roof AGAIN later when they were going to the second battle? You just left the hotel, Erica, get inside. It’s a lot comfier and safer, especially given how Arianna drives.

    But I liked the action and Erica, and will keep watching. :)

    • lvlln says:

      The action just didn’t do it for me. Lots of flashy lights and explosions, but not a lot of actual movement by the the characters. Energy duels aren’t very fun to watch; combat is much more interesting.

  4. XNihili says:

    I think that the animation studio scrapped the equivalent of a about a whole Light novel in one episode and less than half.

  5. skylion says:

    I have the same feelings that lvlln has, only it took watching it “for real” rather than the pre-air. I found myself FFing to get to the better parts, which was only a few key areas.

    I love the supernatural background, and this looks like it has a decent foundation to set it apart, just not in this episode; which it bloody well should have done.

    Animation-wise, it has good character design, and the VAs are making a good case from strong results. Just not this episode.

    Ah, well, the show must go on. Hoping episode two will improve it’s lot.

  6. Elucidator says:

    the last part was unintentionally hilarious to me. I just lol’d when the narrator started talking in a GRAND MANNER!

    anyway, i’m still gonna watch this, simply because i have nothing else to do. that and i hope that the show fixes itself.

    the last parts of episode 1 was really really rushed.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, the last part had me close to facepalming. Yes, it was meant to be over the top campy, and I appreciate that, but it was hard to get into it when I didn’t feel anything for the protagonists.

  7. Sushi GoKart says:

    Honestly I’m left with a meh feeling as well when watching Campione. I’m digging the character design by not much else. I feel like there will be some great action sequence set pieces throughout the show and I’m liking the pacing of the story.

    I feel like for an action anime to have any sort of ‘artistic’ value you’re going to have to aim for something meatier than using the whole ‘mythology is real’ theme. Fate/Zero has a deep philosophical aspect. Jormungand is a great character study. There has to be something more

    • lvlln says:

      I think action anime can stand on its own if the action is good enough. Unfortunately, action is a genre that anime in general doesn’t do too well. And often good works of action are good in other areas – like the Evangelion Rebuild movies or Gunslinger Girl or the 5th Kara no Kyokai movie. But look at Redline: nothing but balls-to-the-wall heart pounding action, and it was awesome thanks to it.

  8. HannoX says:

    There was both good and bad in this episode. Yes, it was too rushed and so far the characters are just stock characters. I do like the whole thing about the ancient gods and given the setting it’s appropriate that the gods in this episode were from Mediterranean and Near Eastern countries. However, what really sold it for me so far is Erica’s sword. Rather than a katana or one of those gigantic anime swords Conan couldn’t wield, it is very similar to a spada de lato of early 16th C. Italy. That makes it a very appropriate sword for her to have. Someone involved in this anime either has some knowledge of swords or did some research. That causes me to have some hope that later episodes could get better. But there will have to be more character development and better storytelling. Erica’s sword by itself isn’t enough to raise this above the mediocre level.

    • lvlln says:

      That’s a nice touch of attention to detail that I didn’t catch. I don’t know too much about swords, and it looked like any other European rapier, like the kind one of the girls used in Fall Seriously in Love With Me! or was seen a lot of in the Zero no Tsukaima series.

      • HannoX says:

        There’s actually a lot of variation in rapiers as to length and width of blade and even more in the guard and hilt. The spada de lato was a transitional form of sword that was on its way to becoming a rapier. The main difference between the example I know about and Erica’s sword is in the crossguard. Of course, not all swords had the same style of crossguard so it is quite possible that there were spada de latos with guards identical to Erica’s.

        Regardless, the fact that they gave her a sword very similar to an Italian type from the early 16th C. and that they used a Phonicean god and a Persian one rather than the more familiar Romano-Greek ones gives me hope that they may actually do something interesting with this anime despite the fact that the first episode is pretty run-of-the-mill.

  9. Tofu says:

    I’m watching this for Hikasa… that is all <3

  10. akagami says:

    I think I’m in the minority with BlackBriar in actually enjoying this. I came into this feeling ho-hum, since the character designs from the pic on AniDB and the series summary sounded kinda meh. Then it started and my interest just kept on rising.

    I’m definitely going to keep following it, I really enjoyed the action, though my one complaint is that Godou could use a better character design.

    For a first impression I’m ranking it as a 8, we’ll see where it goes.

    But I’m probably in the minority, I couldn’t finish Fate/Zero season 1 (I’m about halfway?)… the action was well animated, but the whole thing just couldn’t interest me enough. I think I enjoyed Fate/Stay Night more… so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    • skylion says:

      Don’t be fooled by my post above. I love this show. It has a good mix, it just needs to get the parts in the right place. I love the idea of a mortal taking on the Heretic Gods. It has some power, it just needs to work on making the characters a bit more believable. That’s really it. As of right now, they are pretty much cookie cutter. The cookies are nice and all, but….

      • akagami says:

        I like my old chocolate chip cookies. I don’t need radical new-age cookies. ^^

    • lvlln says:

      You’re not the only one who’s praised its action, but I just don’t see it. It’s a lot of flashy energy balls and not much actual fighting. The direction was very standard, and the car riding scenes were a lot less exciting than they should have been, thanks in part to the unremarkable animation quality that filled the episode.

      • skylion says:

        Well, yes.

      • akagami says:

        I think you’re just more critcal and I got dazzled by the flashy energy balls.

        “Ooooh, pretty lights”. ^^

  11. Liza says:

    I found it pretty meh.It was alright but it didn’t stand out either. It’s an okay series that I will follow for maybe another episode or two in hopes it will get better and make me feel like it is worth watching.

    On another note, I really thought of Unlimited Blade Works when Goudou summoned all of those swords. XD

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