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Campione! Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read

CampioneWho knew there were perks to killing a god?

What They Say:
Some people suddenly find religion, but for 16-year-old Kusanagi Godo, it’s that REALLY old time religion that’s found him! As the result of defeating the God of War in mortal combat, Godo’s stuck with the unwanted position of Campione, or God Slayer, whose duty is to fight Herectical Gods whenever they try to muscle in on the local turf.

Not only is this likely to make Godo roadkill on the Highway to Heaven, it’s also a job that comes with a lot of other problems. Like how to deal with the fact that his “enhanced status” is attracting a bevy of overly worshippy female followers. After all, they’re just there to aid him in his demi-godly duties, right? So why is it that their leader, the demonically manipulative sword-mistress Erica Brandelli, seems to have such a devilish interest in encouraging some VERY unorthodox activities?

Contains episodes 1-13

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series follows a familiar route as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language mix is the same, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is a pretty solid action piece that works the forward soundstage in a rather engaging way as there’s a lot of things going on with characters flitting about, weapons pounding against each other and some rather large gods striding across the earth causing a lot of destruction. There’s some decent bass that works throughout it and the mix of the dialogue and the music gives it a pretty good crescendo as it gets into the larger scenes. It also works well when it gets down to just the dialogue, though it stretches only so far since more of the bigger moments for it are tied up in the action. Overall, both mixes here work very well to convey the source material and immerse you in it and they’re both free of problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this thirteen episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. It follows a familiar split where it’s got nine episodes on the first disc and four on the second. Animated by Diomedea, the show has a great visual design about it and some very, very fluid animation that’s cleanly represented here with solid colors and some strong vibrancy. The show wowed me with its detail and designs during its simulcast and it has a stronger look here where the backgrounds have a lot to offer and the character designs as well, especially with the smooth fluid motions during the fight sequences. Costume does provides the right look here with some great colors and overall the transfer is definitely an accurate and clean representation of the source materials. It’s very easy to be drawn into the show when it looks this good.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us a single sized Blu-ray case where the two discs are held by the interior walls. The front cover puts Kusunagi front and center but with him surrounded by the core group of girls that are aligned with him. The colors are very good and the detail and flow of it all has a lot of appeal. The logo along the top looks great with a clean look and a good mix of red, black and white to make it stand out. The back cover definitely works well as we get a large circle that has the premise of the show along the left while the right has a few shots from the show and a gorgeously detailed image of Erica in her red dress. The episode and disc count is listed clearly and we get a look at the extras in a prominent way. The remainder is given over to the usual production credits breakdown and the technical grid which conveys everything in a quick and clear way to figure it all out. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release works some of the cover design but does so from the back cover where it takes the circle layout and throws in a cute image of Erica for the first volume where she’s in the school uniform and looking utterly adorable with the perfect amount of skin showing. The background has a mild amount of ornateness about it that gives it a good touch and that blends well with the slightly thematically styled navigation strip along the left. That provides the standard breakdown by episode title and number in a clear way which also doubles as the pop-up menu, which makes it very easy to see which episode you’re on during playback. Submenus load quickly and easily for language selection on both volumes and the extras on the second disc. The layout is straightforward but it provides a nice blend of artwork and style to draw it all together in the right way.

Extras:
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Jo Taketsuki that began in 2008 and has fourteen volumes to its name and still going at this point, a manga series also kicked off in 2011 in Super Dash & Go with Jiro Sakamoto illustrating it. That in turn has lead to the new anime with studio Diomedea production the animation. Diomedea has some good shows to its name and Campione definitely has a good look about it as well, especially as it’s the second show this season to give us something from this region of Europe as the show opens introducing us to Godou, a young man traveling the world that has ended up in Sardinia, Italy to return a tablet that his grandfather gave him. Bringing something like this back to its original owner is something he feels like he must do.

Of course, nothing unusual happens as he ends up meeting a beautiful blonde girl in a bright red dress named Erica that demands the grimoire back and is only interrupted from threatening him at knife point over it when a giant supernatural beast shows up in the city and she has to duel with it. It’s a quick series of events, but it gives us a good look at the action of the series, sets the tone well and highlights the quality of the animation. What’s interesting is the fallout from it all with the destruction and impact on the land as Erica reveals that only certain people can see these incidents, caused by rogue ancient gods, and that the rest of the world simply sees it as natural disasters that have happened, such as sudden intense weather patterns or the like. It provides an interesting cover for things, but it also provides us with a ton of information about the overall premise within the first half of the first episode, making the show instantly accessible and able to move forward with adding more and more points to it.

Not surprisingly, Godou gets drawn into all of this when Erica brings him back to return the grimoire to Lucrezia, the woman who originally had it. Of course, she’s seemingly younger than Erica which boggles him but adds to the larger story going on here with the ancients and their involvement in things. But she’s also playful in what she does to mess with Godou and Erica, providing for some surprisingly well done and, um, engaging fanservice that I’m heartily in favor of. In the end, you know that Godou will be drawn in enough to help out Erica who takes her role as a knight seriously in the fight with the rogue gods, even if she doesn’t care for Lucrezia’s approach or personality at times. The opening episode is one that provides lot of information quickly and hits the ground running, setting the stage well and making sure the viewer understands the basic premise so it can work in a lot more as it moves on.

With the first two episodes bringing in a lot of information, it works well to let things just move forward from there with a bit of back and forth between Italy and Japan. The time in Japan is fun since Erica naturally ends up there and ends up living with Godou, but we also get the added fun of more characters that take a more prominent role. The first is his long time friend of Mariya, who as a shinto priestess has plenty of background to be useful to him, but there’s also obviously the potential childhood romance angle as well that can come into play. There’s some fun banter and sparring between her and Erica as they meet and gauge each other, especially since Erica is foreign, exotic and desirable to most of the student population there, but also because Erica is just so outgoing and affectionate with Godou. But that affection, while it has a base level of being true, is also largely done just to be fun and amusing since she knows it gets to him. All of this lets things settle in a bit and to get to know everyone and to understand what kind of guy Godou is when taken out of his god-slaying aspect.

What gets me with this show is that outside of a brief bit of simple sun and fun play we do get later in the season, it is largely all about the story. And it’s fairly packed as we get a few different opponents coming into play as Godou establishes himself as the newest Campione. Another Campione shows up and tweaks him a bit but we also get the arrival of Athena, who has taken the form of a pint sized girl who has her own larger plan to gain back an item that Godou is in possession of. With her history in the, well, history, it’s of course a different way to look at her, but the real point of it gets a lot more interesting. When she ends up confronting and toying with Godou, his ability allows him to see her true past, not the one written by the victors of history, but what she really was and what was done to her. That allows him the upper hand and is an interesting story quirk since it looks to rewrite the past but to do so in a way that logically makes sense and works really well in the story. It doesn’t turn her to his side, but she becomes a little more nuanced because of it.

Though the show deals with a few gods and some other interesting characters along the way, right up through the last arc that introduces the place between worlds as a purgatory, the arc that won me over the most involved one of the other Campione’s, an older man named Voban. With a desire to gain power more that Campione’s get in defeating various heretic gods and the like, he’s got a lot behind him and it’s all he’s really after. With a fair bit of wealth and position, he has a commanding presence, especially when it comes to a new upstart like Godou, and there’s a certain flair that works well as he sees him as a challenge. He also has drawn others to him, notably a young woman named Liliana who was sworn to Voban’s service by her grandfather. She’s conflicted about what she does, so it’s not a surprise she’s drawn to the way Godou operates and the women that are around him. She’s a bit innocent in a lot of ways but very talented at what she does. Voban uses her in a good way to achieve his goals, but naturally it doesn’t go how he hopes. The combination of the two adds a welcome element to the show and keeps it from being all about going against rogue gods and that there are dangers with other Campione’s.

The harem aspect of the show is certainly present, but as it progresses it does it in a way that strangely feels a lot more natural than it should. The first point that I liked was that the various women that are drawn to Godou are able to transfer their various powers into him, but because he’s immortal and made of magic now, the only way to transfer it is through a kiss that lets it get inside him. It’s a cheap gimmick, but it’s very, very well executed with some good style and real meaning as each of them are into him at different levels. It also provides a stronger bond between them and we don’t really see them bickering over who kissed him. The other is that it doesn’t have all of them constantly running around with him. Erica is prominent early on but disappears for awhile before becoming more important again later on. Liliana only comes in after the first few episodes and has a growing role while Mariya is sort of mixed throughout it all to different degrees. This keeps it a bit fresh and not quite as overpowering as all of them constantly fawning over him or arguing about things with each other.

In Summary:
Campione was a series that really drew me in during the simulcast as it provided a lot of story, a good story, and some very attractive animation. With gorgeous character designs throughout and some very fun sequences – especially involving the numerous swords that Godou can control and command – it had a proper scale to it that’s sufficiently large and definitely open ended, but it also keeps it properly personal. Godou is an interesting character as a self admitted pacifist, but one that excels at battle as he deals with the gods. He’s not looking for a fight, but he won’t run from one if the stakes are high enough. It’s easy to see why the others are drawn to him and why he’s interested in each of them for their own unique appeal. This set tells a complete story with a few arcs dealt with from the original light novels so it’s definitely complete yet open ended. My only regret is that it was just one season as it’s a show I would have really loved to have seen more of with the details that the production put into it.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade:B+
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 15th, 2013
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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