Number of Episodes: 12
Production Company: Diomedea
Licensed for DVD by Sentai Filmworks
Brief Overview: Godou is like any other high school boy, except for the fact that he's managed to kill a god. Because of this, he holds the distinction of being a "Campione," a champion who has the power to kill gods.
Episode 1 Summary: Godou travels to Italy to complete a mission on behalf of his grandfather - he carries with him a strange stone tablet which belongs to a woman who lives in Sardinia. Before he can accomplish the task, he runs into woman named Erica and becomes involved in a battle between her an a giant beast. After escaping, she explains the nature of the rogue gods to Godou, and wonders aloud how he could possibly have so much magical power and not have any idea of how to use it. They finally deliver the tablet to Sardinian witch Lucrezia, who surprisingly returns it to Godou.
The next day, Godou and Erica awaken to find the land awash in rain, and the ancient god Melqart on a rampage outside. As Erica rides into the fray, Godou recalls what Lucrezia told him about the stone tablet and the power it holds. They discover that Melqart is about to face off with Persian god Verethragna, who has taken the form of a young man. Godou uses negotiation and cunning to gain the upper hand on Verethragna, stealing his golden sword and becoming the god-slaying Campione.
Thoughts: If the summary above sounds a little bit convoluted, well, it is. There's a lot going on in this episode that's difficult to summarize; there's a system of magic, a version of history that incorporates mythology from what I assume are several different cultures, and the action seems to take place in a part of the world that isn't normal fodder for anime. At its heart, though, this series is yet another variation on the average anime male power fantasy - a normal teenage guy discovers a hidden well of power within himself, and uses it to fight large-scale battles while winning the heart of a pretty girl (or girls, which is what the cast list suggests to me).
Normally I would have no reason to invest in a series like this, and by all accounts the first episode is decidedly well-produced but mediocre content-wise. I find that there's a lot of weight given by the anime blogosphere to whether or not the protagonists of these types of series are so-called "good guys." Godou is what I'd call one of these good guys, in that he's not a molester and he has a vague sense of duty, but this in itself isn't really enough to impress me as a viewer. I'm guessing that the reason why I left this episode with some lingering positive feelings is due to a couple of factors. Firstly, in a move that surprised even me, Erica's battle-ready outfit actually becomes more practical after she transforms. She goes from wearing a long dress to trousers, boots, and a slightly more conservative top. Coupled with her fencing moves and ability to use magic that allows here to move through the air, this is a much nicer way to treat a female character than I might have expected.
The second, more obvious reason why I'm feeling a little bit intrigued is that this series seems to be drawing inspiration from several different mythological systems. I personally have very eclectic beliefs, and I enjoy learning about different historical religions and religious pantheons for my own enjoyment. That this is a Japanese property that seems willing to pull from some less-used mythological material (I don't think that I've seen any other Persian deities featured in anime) makes me curious. I am, however, left with some questions as to the accuracy of how this material is actually used; I would not put it past this series to sprinkle these religious beliefs over the series like exotic flavoring rather than use them as purposeful ingredients, much like many anime do with Christianity and Christian symbolism. It's not personally offensive to me, but I suspect it could be to some historians (and I say this as if they'd be watching anime in the first place, ha).
This show, being what it is, contains a light dusting of fanservice in the middle portion of the episode of both the "alcohol-induced lack-of-judgment" and "sexy mature woman in lingerie" varieties. I get the uncomfortable impression that there might be some inadvertent statement about the perceived sexuality of Italian women being expressed here; Lucrezia is a very obvious seductress, and Erica is more forward that one would expect of the average Japanese heroine. This is something which may be illuminated a bit better in further episodes and may not actually be a "thing," but it did give me cause to stop and think.
The action animation here is actually pretty good, and made the battle scenes between Erica, Godou, and the various supernatural creatures and gods featured in the episode exciting to watch. The series is showing some problems even at this early stage, but it seems like the sort of property that could be raised up enough by its production values and story elements to be tolerable in the long term.
Follow-up Episodes: I watched up to episode four of this series and there are certain elements which came to light during that time which greatly changed my impression of it. The show is still pretty well-animated at this stage; there are a few action-related highlights, including a scene in which Godou and Erica duel so that Godou can demonstrate his use of Verethragna's other avatars. There's also still too much fanservice for my taste, which made things pretty awkward when I was trying to watch the show during my commute to and from work. Those elements were present in the original episode, however, and didn't have as much bearing on my opinion as did the resolution of the story arc in episode four.
To briefly explain what transpires, the goddess Athena arrives, having been stripped of most of her power so that she appears in the form of a young girl. She's come to obtain a medallion called the "Gorgoneia" (or Gorgoneion in the singular, according to Wikipedia). The explanation given in the show as to why Athena would want to retrieve this object relates Athena to the Gorgon as images of the "Mother Goddess," and gives Athena an origin story that goes against what is commonly accepted as canonical. That in itself is not what I find problematic; to be honest, I was surprised that a series like this would bring up the subject of perverting or demoting the images of powerful female deities by subjugating them to the power of male gods, which I personally believe has happened throughout history. I was actually starting to get invested in the story in spite of the many reasons intruduced thus far that would seem contradictory to my tastes. It's the resolution of the storyline that manages to really crap the bed.
As Godou faces off against Athena, who has retrieved the Gorgoneia and reacquired some of her power, he recounts to her the story of her origins and the way in which she was demoted from Zeus' equal to the equivalent of his daughter. I had originally interpreted this as his manner of imploring her to stop her attack; by proving that he understood her feelings and situation, perhaps she would discover the futility of her actions on her own and choose to stop. Instead, it turns into an extended scene of Godou berating the goddess, and using the fact that her image has been warped and sapped of its power throughout history to in turn siphon away her power in the present. In the end, Godou defeats her and she returns to her juvenile form.
There are so many disgusting problems with this that I don't really know where to begin, but the major one is that the "hero" of this show wields misogyny to defeat, and literally infantilize in the process, the image of a powerful woman. Way to go, anime, you've done it again. Way to sum up sum up a major problem with our society in a way that proves, without a doubt, that you do not get it at all.
I've long since accepted the fact that series tend to front-load a lot of the obviously grotesque, fanservicey content to attract a certain audience. I don't consider the practice ignorable, but I understand why it happens and that there may, sometimes, be elements of worth that crop up in later episodes. But when a series makes a statement, however non-intentional, that completely and utterly espouses a deep-seeded misogynist viewpoint, no amount of "strong female characters ™" or creative adoption of mythology can cancel that out.
- The action animation is strong in most of the scenes that warrant the effort.
- The show demonstrates a creative incorporation of multiple mythologies.
- The visual fanservice makes this the type of show that's not great to watch in public.
- There's some epic misogyny fail in episode four that stands to essentially ruin my perception of the show.
Recommended? I was fairly neutral in regards to this series until the fourth episode really dropped the ball (to the bottom of the Mariana Trench). There's a lot in this series that can be attributed to the overdone-but-understandable teenage male power fantasy, but the worse of the content is a completely witless, salt-in-the-wound tirade about women having power stolen from them, and it seriously disgusts me.