Oh Erica… Where Art Thou?
TV Series; Episodes 13
Genre: Action, Romance, Harem
What exactly happens when a human kills a god? They gain the god’s authorities over the world and become a king of kings. Campione! follows the story of Kusanagi Godou, who becomes a such a god-slayer by accident on a trip to Italy. Now the question you might be asking to yourself is ‘How do you kill a celestial being by accident good sir?’. My response to you would be, ‘If you inherited an ancient grimoire from your grandfather that just happened to be a plot device to achieve such an end my dutiful friend’.
It’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but it sets the stage for a fantastic premise filled with rogue gods that wreak havoc throughout the world, pulled from every mythology possible. It’s ripe for high adventure and over the top action and a hero who answers the beck and call of both. Only if that were the case.
Campione! is simply a harem anime that only worries about its fantasy trappings when its convenient. Most of the time the story is preoccupied with introducing another girl or creating a situation where the hero has to kiss her to save the world. It’s a predictable structure that gets tiring pretty quickly.
But sadly it doesn’t afford the narrative any sort of direction. Events just seem to happen without any rhyme or reason. I feel like the episode directors and had a conversation that went something like this:
‘Oh look a wild god is on the loose.’
‘Now lets turn the sky black.’
‘Guess it’s the perfect time to introduce a villain who won’t be a factor in the series later.’
‘What about a rival with no backstory but the rest of the cast refers to him as if they have known him for a very long time.’
‘That’s so meta… Let’s do it!’
‘Wait guys we need to refer to the light novel…’
‘To hell with that!’
As the series closed, this lack of focus creates an underwhelming ending. I didn’t really understand why thing panned out as they did, but just took it for face value. I couldn’t even tell if there was a sequel to be planned for the series either, though it might as well be open to one.
Godou Kusanagi is as bland as the typical shounen hero comes. He doesn’t have anything particularly interesting about him so it makes the women that buzz around him like flies seem slightly desperate. He’s a beacon of kindness and shows the tenacity of a pitbull fighting for the last doggy treat in the world. I guess those are two attractive qualities.
The girls in his lovely circle are composed of popular bishoujo tropes to make any man’s mouth water. First there is the blonde haired Erica Blandelli, a dominatrix witch who won’t take no for an answer. Second is Yuri Mariya, a quiet shrine maiden that supports the Campione! from the back row (Final Fantasy reference for the win). Third is Liliana Krancar, the loyal knight that has a dark secret. Last is the mysterious Ena who just seems to be bat-shit crazy.
I am confident that there is much more to these characters than I have stated here, but because of the harem structure of the show, it’s all that becomes apparent. I’ve discussed the problem with the characters before in an article, but I’ll post it here for your convenience:
When considering the problem with it’s harem a few glaring missteps become apparent. First, none of the female characters have enough screen time to develop their characters or personalities. Second, even if their personalities seem interesting, once they are enveloped into Godou’s group they become one dimensional. Last, the story begins to flounder as it more concerned about where each lady falls into Godou’s Fantasy Anime Woman roster.
As of right now each female was given two to three episodes to really shine. Considering that each of these episodes had a baddie that Godou was trying to topple, it didn’t give them much screen time. It’s frustrating considering each of them has something interesting about them. While Erica does standout from the crowd, Liliana and Ena are lookers as well. Nothing seems to go past a first date with them though. We don’t learn much about their beliefs, motivations or pasts. Sometimes it feels like that their lives only began when Godou walked into it.
But what about the fallout from these introductory arcs? After they have been corralled into the harem they fail to intrigue me any longer. Erica lost all of her tsundere charm that she displayed in the initial outing. Yuri’s timid nature becomes even more subdued by Erica’s presence. Liliana becomes obsessed with the King of Kings and her every action is dictated by Godou. They become all to predictable which is bit annoying because outside of the harem they were sparks that drove the show.
Since dynamic characters are no longer pushing along the storyline, the show falls into a sort of quagmire. A lot seems to be happening each episode but under closer analysis I realize that little progress has been made. Campione! spends so much time trying to get it’s women in line that it fails to create a meaningful tale. I understand that sometimes a show can follow a serialized format, but this one begs to tell an epic storyline. Its a mythos filled with rogue gods, politics and drama! How can it not tell a cohesive and gripping narrative!
The art production is mostly hit or miss. The bright palette looks washed out, as if a swath of grey was painted over the vivid scenes. It’s as if the series is in a constant fog of war which isn’t attractive in the least. The character designs are well thought out though, mixing modern tastes with high fantasy charm. The action is well done for the most parts though some sequences seem haphazardly animated with many jumps and cuts to dampen the choppy animation.
Aurally, the seiyuu do a fine job with their lackluster script. None of the performances particularly stand out, but its standard fair nonetheless. “BRAVE BLADE!” by Megu Sakuragawa is a star in the audio department though. This opening has become one of my favorites and harkens to “Ash-Like Snow” from the Gundam 00 opening from a few years ago. Sakuragawa’s vocals seem to fly effortlessly over the roar of hardened guitars which creates a pleasant effect. It’s just so damn catchy too!
The problems with the characters and story are just too much for me to recommend this show. The fantastic premise which had me hooked just seemed like an afterthought as the series progressed. If this show does get a sequel I hope it focuses more on building a wonderful world than Godou’s random escapades with women.