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?
For this viewing, I took in the English dub. Both language tracks are offered in 2.0 stereo. There was some nice directionality in the sounds and each channel was clean. This is definitely a case, though, where a 5.1 mix would have been really nice. The amount of action in this series would have benefitted from a more immersive sound experience.
The title is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The coloring is bright, and the lining is clear. The series was free from technical issues as well. The only real thing to note was a tendency for the picture to get grainy at times during the fights, but that was a stylistic choice and not an issue with the transfer.
This release comes in a single amaray case, with a center insert to help hold all three discs. The front cover has a shot of Godo in the middle, surrounded by the various women in his life, with Erica in a prominent spot below him. The back has another picture of Godo and Erica standing back-to-back in a fighting pose, alongside some screen shots, the series summary, and the technical details. It’s a nicely designed package, though isn’t anything particularly special, either.
The menus for this release are basic. Taking up the right half of the screen is a picture of some of the characters, with the episode and language selections to the left. As with many Sentai releases, each episode is listed on the main page, but there is no Play All button. However, playback will automatically go onto the next episode, so one isn’t needed. The overall aesthetic is nice, but again, it is nothing special.
The only extras on this release are clean versions of the OP/ED.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Upon his grandfather’s death, Kusanagi Godo inherits a strange stone grimoire with a request to return it to its owner in Sardinia. When he arrives in Sardinia, though, he quickly finds himself drawn into a battle over possession of the tablet. One of those attempting to take the grimoire from him, a busty Italian girl named Erica Brandelli, offers him her help to escape.
It is explained to Godo that the grimoire is the conduit for the powers of the legendary Godslayer, and as tensions among the heavens have been increasing, it appears that Godo has been chosen to inherit those powers. When he is attacked by Verethragna, the Persian God of Victory, Godo accepts the powers, making him a Campione, a legendary warrior destined to hunt down and defeat the rogue gods. And, if he isn’t lucky enough, the formerly antagonistic Erica has now decided that she will be his bride.
Upon returning to Japan with Erica at his side, Godo finds himself beset by enemies on all sides. However, with the help of Erica and a number of other women who fight by his side, he feels confident that he can win in the end.
I have to admit that I went into Campione! sort of expecting a train wreck. That feeling is at least partially based on just the sheer amount of harem based action titles I’ve seen in the last few years. There’s only so many you can watch before they all start to look the same. But I wanted to give it a shot because the infusion of ancient mythology, both Eastern and Western, sounded like it could be pretty interesting.
From a purely objective standpoint, Campione! goes pretty much by the book. There really isn’t anything that happens that’s new or out-of-the-ordinary. The action is standard, the humor is predictable, and the plot twists might as well have come out of a “How to Write a Harem Shonen Title” help book. I’m not really going to do anything here to advocate for it otherwise.
Now, all that said, I had a lot more fun with this piece than I ever thought I would, especially after seeing how it all turned out. I don’t know why, but it really struck a chord with me in ways that many others have fallen flat. The action was well developed too. I think a lot of the reason I took to this was the inclusion of all the mythology. Each battle is tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of Godo’s opponent, and they do a nice job of staying away from some of the more likely candidates for inclusion, instead coming up with opponents such as Verethragna and Metis. Even when they use somebody well known such as Athena, they delve into some of the less well known ideas of her myth (such as her predating Zeus despite being his daughter) in order to fully develop her. From that standpoint, it’s pretty well
The humor came across well for me too, even if it generally ended up as Godo finding himself in an embarrassing situation with a girl. The embarrassment for Godo is often a result of the application of his powers. The girls who fight with him all have magic and knowledge that Godo needs to use his own powers. However, as a Campione, magic does not work directly on him; it has to come from within. So to pass knowledge on to him, or to use their own magic on him, they have to kiss him. And, of course, some of his loyal knights have “virgin lips,” so that act can be awkward (and also of course, once he’s kissed them once, they are his for life…). I felt like I should have been burying my head in my hands at the idea, but I loved it.
In fact, this entire series is pretty rife with sexual symbolism, not to mention the dominance of the male form. While he has many attacks, Godo’s main power is to summon a large Golden Sword that has the power to slice through the powers of divinity. However, the sword can only be used if Godo fully understands who his opponent is and how s/he can be defeated. As noted above, Godo obtains his knowledge from kissing one of his knights (most often Erica); in other words, kissing a pretty girl gives great power to his golden sword which he then thrusts into his opponent (who is often also a female). It’s a sigh inducing idea, but again, it just made me laugh.
I think the main reason why this all worked for me was that I liked the cast of characters. Often in these titles, the characters are just as stereotypical as the plot, but that’s not really the case here. Yes, Godo is kind and wants to protect people, but he is decisive and fully in command of his own powers. He never lucks into victory, rather he is in command the whole time. Mariya might be the quiet, reserved shrine maiden, but she steps up when needed and isn’t afraid to let her feelings be known. And Erica is the aggressive, noble, but she fits right in with everybody else, never comes off as overbearing, and gives Godo the space he needs to breathe.
In fact, I think it’s the relationship between Godo and Erica that really carries it. I don’t know how it is in the novels, but the way the anime plays it out is that Godo and Erica are the obvious couple, and the rest of the girls really have no chance despite being part of the harem. But despite this, Erica understands their roles in Godo’s life and duty, and looks out for them just as much as she does for him. And he, for his part, protects them all equally and views them as much comrades as friends. Even the simple fact that there does seem to be a chosen girl for Godo, even if unofficially at this point, puts it above most of the others where it’s all left up in the air.
Now, after all that gushing, I do need to bring the review back down just a little bit. I am generally fine with anime that is based on light novels or manga not telling the whole story, as is often the case. As long as the anime makes sense on its own and comes to some form of closure, then I don’t feel like I need the rest of the story. Unfortunately, that isn’t entirely the case here. While we certainly do get some closure at the end, there are times in this anime where something happens and it’s obvious they expect you to know what’s happened in the novels in order to make sense of it. For example, in the sixth episode, another Campione named Salvatore Doni calls Godo, and their conversation is roughly “Hey, remember that awesome battle we had where we fought each other put everything we had into it, and ultimately came out even? That was awesome!” That might have been awesome, but it never actually happened in the anime, and so there’s context missing. I noted a couple other areas where that was the case, and it makes me wonder how much I missed by not having read the novels. Considering neither the novels nor the resulting manga appear to be available in English, I’ll just have to keep wondering.
Campione! is an anime that really shouldn’t have a whole lot going for it. The whole approach is fairly cookie cutter. But for whatever reason, I really enjoyed it. It was dumb, but it was fun, and sometimes that’s all I can ask. If you aren’t as jaded as me, you might even not think it’s dumb. I with it didn’t always rely on knowledge of the light novels so much, but it didn’t hurt my enjoyment that much. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 15th, 2013
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System