I enjoyed the first episode of Campione!, though my initial impression is that this a pretty generic setup. I don’t necessarily consider “generic” a negative term, as long as a series is well executed and based on initial evidence, that seems to be the case here. I’m already hearing a lot of howling from fans of the LNs about major changes and rushed pacing, but fortunately I don’t have to carry that baggage and can judge the anime on its own merits.
Of course the flipside of that is that things can feel a bit rushed or confusing, and there a definite sense that this story started in the middle. Our hero is Kusanagi Godou (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) a Japanese teen in Italy to deliver a stone tablet which turns out to be an artifact called the Grimoire of Prometheus. Along the way he meets what has the makings of a harem, starting with Erica Blandelli (Hikasa Youko), who turns out to be a Knight from a magical order, and who’s very interested in the grimoire. There’s also Erica’s maid Ariana, plus a seductive with who’s older than she looks and a whole bunch of Gods including Verethranga, an ancient Persian warlord with ten incarnations who’s busy reviving old Gods like Melqart to give him somebody interesting to fight. And Godou ends up being drawn into the battle between the two Gods on the Isle of Sardinia, and killing Verethranga using the power of the grimoire to steal his golden sword – a sword which can destroy a God’s divinity.
If it sounds like an awful lot of stuff happened in the first episode, that’s because it did. As I said there wasn’t much preamble here – we just jumped right into a speeding car. I’m fairly certain the events of the first ep are actually a flashback being recalled by Godou, explaining how he got the be the “Campione” or God Killer. Just why he suddenly became so knowledgeable and gung-ho to fight in the middle of the battle between Verethranga and Melqart I’m not certain, as he was acting like a fairly normal harem lead before then – and make no mistake, Gods and battles aside this has the whiff of harem all over it. Erica is a classic tsundere, book-perfect, with the interesting angle that she’s also apparently a drinker. We also have the lusty witch Lucretia as well. The harem stuff feels pretty standard, but the God stuff is at least a half-turn of the dial away from cliché.
I’m not expecting a whole lot of originality here on the whole, but Campione! is a nice-looking show (though this is a pre-air and not the best quality) from Diomedea, whose biggest hit so far has been the Shinryaku! Ika Musume series, and Studio Barnum. The animation is pretty solid and the character designs from Ika Musume’s Ishikawa Masakazu – based on the originals from LN artist Sikorsky – are above-average, especially the Gods. I see little in the résumé of director Kusakwa Keizou to fill me with hope, but series composer Hanada Jukki (Level E, Kuragehime, Sola, Steins;Gate, Seitokai no Ichizon) has done some very good adaptations to say the least. It’ll be two weeks until we get a new episode, but I’ll check in with the show then and see how things develop.