Campione! (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 324 minutes approx.
If we’ve learned anything from anime it is that the life of an average Japanese schoolboy is never a dull one, full of adventure and fantastic life changing events. Godo Kusanagi is no exception. The 15 year-old has been sent by his grandfather to the Italian island of Sardinia to return a stone tablet to an old friend of his, Lucretia Zola. Almost immediately Godo is confronted by Erica Blandelli, a member of a magic group called Copper Black Cross, who demands Godo gives her the tablet. Their conversation is distracted by a gigantic boar which appears in the city, summoned by the rogue god Verethragna.
Erica is unable to beat the beast but is saved by Godo, and in return Erica takes him to meet Lucretia – a witch who hides her wrinkly octogenarian self behind the slinky body of a 20 year-old! Lucretia tells Godo to keep the tablet as it is the book of Prometheus and it may come in handy. True enough Godo and Erica meet Verethragna and via the scriptures of the tablet, Godo is able to defeat the rogue god and obtain his powers – making him a Campione, a God killer and the King of Kings!
And all that takes place in the first episode! With such an explosive opener the sky is the limit for this series right? Well there is good news and bad news. The good news is that this show is heavy on action and lives up to its fantasy promise; the bad news is that it is a disjointed mess with severe pacing problems and from episode two descends into a harem comedy with no sense of shame whatsoever.
The origin of this show is the series of light novels by Jō Taketsuki, which is a major part of the issues that plague this adaptation. For those who don’t know, a light novel is the equivalent of a novella, a publication usually no more than 200 pages long. Taketsuki’s ongoing series already has 16 volumes, allowing director Keizo Kusakawa and writer Jukki Hanada a wealth of material to choose for adapting. Wisely they’ve decided to follow the story chronologically – unfortunately they’ve been a bit random as to which bits they’ve picked and when they introduce them into story.
The result is the basic developments are rushed through, with significant milestone events either glossed over or completely ignored. For instance there are no training sessions or periods of adjustment for Godo regarding his new found magical powers; he simply seems to have mastered all of the incantations and abilities he inherited from Verethragna, including a magical sword, before the first episode is over. Thus we have no barometer of growth and development for Godo as the show progresses since he can already do it all!
But if Godo is so powerful why does he need the assistance of the warrior women that surround him? Because it’s anime! Godo accrues a harem of magical maidens all naturally in love with him, and guess how they share magical information? If you said “by kissing” then you’ve either watched far too many harem comedies or you are psychic. And a real dilemma calls for some super kissing as in the final act, with Godo’s kiss on Erica being so intense he seemingly manages to impregnate her with his Godly powers just through locking lips – at least that is the impression we are given.
As per the pacing issues mentioned earlier, Erica’s transition from tsundere to devoted lover is ridiculously quick – literally two minutes! She spends most of the opening chapter bullying Godo but after the defeat of Verethragna and their bonding kiss, Erica is suddenly sleeping in the same bed as Godo and declaring herself his wife by the end of it! Elsewhere other characters come and go with alarming regularity – one particularly bad lapse in continuity sees Godo make contact with a former opponent named Salvatore Doni who Godo defeated – but this is the first we hear of both Doni and their battle.
Joining Team Godo alongside Erica are shy shrine maiden Yuri Mariya, the quiet but deadly Liliana Kranjcar and Ena, a friend of Yuri’s – who is present in the credits from the beginning doesn’t arrive until two episodes from the end – while sitting disapprovingly on the outside is Godo’s younger sister Shizuka. All tropes and body sizes are represented here and the obligatory beach episode, a staple of the harem comedy is included here too. Even the main antagonist Athena is depicted as a cute young girl in a woolly hat and junior school uniform – only the Campiones and gods are male.
If there is anything positive about this show it is that the story does move forward rather than betray its central theme with unrelated stand alone antics, a rarity for the genre. Taketsuki also has infused her yarns with the mythos of Greek and Roman history, as you may have guessed from some of the references, and it seems for once some research has been down albeit with a few little liberties taken here and there.
Production wise the animation is competent and the battle scenes do look spectacular, bristling with energy, colour and explosive action. The same can’t be said for the characters however, whose designs are woefully familiar and cookie cutter, distracting viewers as they play the “He/She looks like…” game.
There is always something happening in Campione! – good or bad – so one isn’t short changed on the action front, but it is a maladroit concoction of ideas thrown together with little regard for coherence due to the rapid pace at which new elements are introduced. There is little new to be found here and it has been done better before, but I am sure there is an easily pleased audience for this show out there somewhere.
Japanese Language w/ English Subtitles
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ** ½
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