What They Say:
In the early 2050s, unknown life forms called “Oracle Cells” began their uncontrolled consumption of all life on Earth. Their ravenous appetite and remarkable adaptability earned them first dread, then awe, and finally the name Aragami, the “Mad Gods.” In the face of an enemy completely immune to conventional weapons, urban civilization collapsed, and each day humanity was driven further and further toward extinction. The year is now 2071… the domain of the mad gods lies here in the Far East. One single ray of hope remains for humanity. Following the development of “God Arcs” — living weapons which incorporate Oracle Cells — their wielders are organized into an elite force. In a world ravaged by mad gods, these “God Eaters” fight a desperate war…
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track and the new English language dub, which brings in actors from the game, both of which are done in the uncompressed PCM format. The series is one that would definitely have made out better with a 5.1 mix but the mix here is definitely a very solid one. With a great instrumental score to the series and some strong action sequences, these areas dominate in setting the mood and tone in a very strong way. There’s good flow across the forward soundstage and the movement is well conveyed. The music has a really welcome warmth to it, especially with some of the quieter pieces, that allows you to be drawn into it very well. Dialogue is a little more straightforward but it has its areas where it stands out with placement and depth while also coming across in a sharp and clean way with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The seven episodes for this set are spread across two discs with three on the first and four on the second. Animated by Ufotable, the show has a very crisp and appealing look to it with its animation style as there’s some great color quality and depth to it and it all comes across in a very solid way with no noise or breakup. The detail throughout is strong while the flow of the movement in busier sequences keeps it all together in a great way, making for a dynamic and beautiful looking encoding that brings the grime to life but also the bursts of color. The visuals are definitely ones that work for me here and the way it’s brought out with a solidly high bit rate just makes it even more appealing with all of its detail.
The packaging for this release uses a soft slipcase to hold the clear Blu-ray case inside. The slipcase has a really nice design about it as it uses the Japanese packaging artwork where the front has an action and intense pose for Lenka as he fights while the back cover lets Lindow take the stage against a brighter background that draws you in a bit more. The wraparound covers all the details of how the set is put together and while it’s a bit awkward in some areas to group things, it does get the job done. Inside the slipcase we get the Blu-ray case itself with more character artwork on the supporting side taking over here and that wraps around to the back with the background from it so that we get the episode by number and title and which disc they’re on. We also get the breakdown of the extras as a whole here. The reverse side does another two panel spread in the same manner, this time with Alisa on the front cover. This set also comes with a full color booklet that’s mostly filled up with character design work and details about them. It also includes some keyword breakdowns with what they mean and a couple of pages to recap the episodes with some really nicely chosen images to complement it.
The menu for this release goes for a simple static image approach and it works fairly well as it has the whole arc/binding piece that the God Eaters wear as its central piece. It’d done with the material in the middle before it’s worn so we get some nice yellow/gold tones here with the symbol surrounded by the more industrial tones. The navigation over it is kept simple but easy to use as both the main menu and the pop-up menu itself during playback. It’s not an in-depth or complicated menu but I like the way it ties into the tone of the show and sets you up for what kind of atmosphere you’re greeted with almost right away.
The extras for this release are spread across both sides but the big ones are all on the first. It’s here that we get the broadcast specials, a three-part series that are about twenty-three minutes each, where it goes into the production, dealing with the creative team on it, with the background on the property and the processes and things they did to bring it to life. There is a lot to like with this if you’re keen on how shows get made and to see the enthusiasm of the creative side and the various stages of the production. It’s a fantastic seventy-minute making of piece that’s the kind of extra that we love to get. The second disc brings us the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Going into God Eater was something that I had to contextualize for myself so that I didn’t approach it wrong, and so that readers here would understand it. The series had some serious anticipation ahead of its debut with the broadcast of the making of pieces and the strong following the games have. I’ve never played the games so those have no bearing on my opinion on the show. The series opened with problems right from the start with delays of the debut and then the final batch of episodes being pushed back into the winter of 2016 after the main batch premiered in the summer of 2015. There was a lot of drama that impacted how the show would be viewed when it was simulcast and that can certainly skew opinions. Thankfully, I had none of that to deal with as this set was my first viewing of the property.
Treated as a just over two-hour movie for this first half of the season, God Eater makes for a strong if familiar science fiction action movie and delivered a very enjoyable viewing experience. The show takes place in 2071, several years after work by a group of military funded scientists unlocked a potential new energy source only to unleash a range of strange creatures that have pushed mankind to near extinction. Think heavy shades of Blue Gender in a whole lot of ways. Within this area of post-apocalyptic Japan where the organization now known as Fenrir is working a project called Aegis to house all of humanity, we see in their area that the population is down to just about 200,000 people when prior to all of this it was millions upon millions. Suffice to say, humanity is at the edge and the planet is ravaged. It’s a familiar setup but it’s well executed with the flashback about the scientists, who now lead the Far East division of Fenrir, and how everything began to go wrong.
While the scientists provide context and leadership amid all that’s going on, the series focuses on a young man named Lenka, a survivor from outside of the ramshackle town that has cropped up and is protected by Fenrir. Lenka’s been a candidate for what they call a God Eater, someone that bonds with weapons known as God Arcs that are attuned to them. The ring that binds them wraps around their wrist, a big clunky thing, that can never be removed afterward. But when all hope is lost, it doesn’t really matter. Lenka is your standard scrappy survivor looking for revenge against the seemingly animalistic creatures known as Aragami and that means he’s reckless and brash – which naturally helps him from time to time and hurts him in others. What makes him doubly special is that he’s a small part of a new breed known as a New-Type, those who can through force of will change their God Arcs into different weapons, from a sword to a gun and vice versa. It gives them a lot more flexibility and there’s a lot more that they can become as the series goes on as well. Again, standard fare kind of material, but the execution just nails it.
These opening episodes do all the worldbuilding that we need, giving us just enough and teasing more in the flashbacks, while also pushing things forward as we get to know the basics about Lenka. Honestly, this is the kind of world where people’s backgrounds matter little and you know that things like hobbies and interests aren’t going to enter into it. What we get with Lenka is the brash kid that’s put through the wringer and then brought onto a seasoned team of pros at fighting the Aragami so that he can learn how to do it right. His reckless side is a problem but also a strength as we see because it pushes him in directions that others may not go, particularly combined with his being a New-Type. We get a mild contrast with another New-Type that arrives from the Russian branch with Alisa, but she’s similar to him in enough ways but just with more experience and a colder approach that anime tends to give its Russian characters. It’s familiar, yes, but again it’s also well executed.
A big part of what drew me to this beyond the story and concept itself was the animation style. There’s a whole lot to like with how it looks and feels as it’s very striking with the character designs and just the feeling and flow of it all. It has that video game look but with a more anime-eye applied to it that gives it a different kind of richness. The grime and darkness of the world is presented well and the contrast with the scientists, especially with their overdone costuming, definitely works really well. The creatures harken back to shows like Blue Gender and Muv-Luv Alternative for me and that tickles a particular fancy that I have. There’s hints of bigger things in the offing when it comes to the Aragami but before we get there the series establishes really well what these creatures we see are like and the variety to them.
I really got into the show, from start to finish, with what it offered. The familiarity is certainly there and I won’t deny it compared to a host of other shows over the years, but the execution is so spot on and polished that it was just a blast to watch. I love the character designs, even with the ridiculousness of the costuming, and the world setting is fantastic. Creature design is a blast to watch as they reveal themselves and the path the narrative takes is engaging and fun, not belaboring stupid plot points for the most part or pushing really uninteresting or cringeworthy things that detract from the main. If you view it as the first half of a two-part movie experience, God Eater delivers a strong setup that leaves you wanting more just to see how far it’ll go. Aniplex’s release is solid with its presentation of the show itself with a great looking and sounding piece in a solid package and a very fun English language dub.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, God Eater Extra 00 ~ 02 (Creator Interviews), Textless Opening and Ending
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: November 29th, 2016
Running Time: 166 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.