Campione!

campione

Godou was a seemingly average high school student, until he was caught up in random events and ended up killing the God Verethragna. As a godslayer, or Campione, he ended up evolving into something more than human, wielding powers known as Authorities obtained from Verethragna that are more powerful than any abilities or magic normal humans possess. Being one of only seven in the world with that title, he naturally attracted a lot of attention to himself from everyone all over the world knowing of magic and gods, this attention coming primarily in some combination of respect and fear. However, he also seems to have attracted a core group of dedicated followers. This group is led by Erica, a sly and fiery woman that is a great knight and especially adept at metal manipulation magic. It also includes Mariya, a mostly kind and mellow woman, though one that can get very fearsome when she’s angry, who possesses spirit vision powers. There’s also Lilliana, strict but naïve woman that is a knight like Erica and also her childhood friend, but is also a witch able to use a variety of magic. Lastly, there’s Ena, Mariya’s childhood friend and a yamato nadeshiko, though an incredibly free spirited one, who has the ability to induce divine possession. With these four talented helpers, Godou ends up going up against divine beasts, various gods, and other godslayers, performing absolutely ridiculous acts in the process, all the while insisting he is a completely normal person.

***

Campione is a light novel that starts off with a lot of great concepts, but it doesn’t really add much beyond them over its 22 books. Hence, it very much feels like the series is dragging on towards the last third or so of the series, in both its core elements, combat and relationships.

In terms of combat, the system was quite novel, with each major enemy being given a very unique set of powers. These powers are based on mythology and usually have interesting explanations behind them, but beyond that are also well thought out in terms of how they’ll play into combat. How these various powers end up being used and the way the battles flow was pretty well done, and some of the battles were tremendously exciting. However, it didn’t feel like there were enough powers or enemies using them. Godou starts off with 10 authorities and over the course of the entire series only gains 4 more. The abilities he has at the beginning are the ones he mainly relies on up until the end, and while the individual abilities do exhibit growth, it’s not all that much. The same applies to Godou’s partners, who definitely do grow, but only up to about half-way through the series. Furthermore, most of the enemies are heavily repeated. The 6 other god slayers, as well as a set of 6 core gods get many fights, and the amount of growth in them is minimal. Hence, while the context is different and the way the battles flow does go pretty differently, despite the battles being great in and of themselves, start feeling repetitive. This is especially true of the final arc, which dragged on really long and introduced very little new in terms of combat. The EX volume is a nice change of pace in that regard as it changes things up a bit, but it still felt too similar to prior volumes considering the context of when it was happening.

In terms of relationships, it also starts out interesting enough. The set up with the various main characters getting introduced and establishing relationships with Godou is well done. Their various connections to each other as well as to other side characters also creates an interesting web. This is especially true for the various heroines, who are a pretty diverse set of likable characters that work well together and end up bringing out a lot of interesting situations out of Godou. However, the issue is that this too hits a wall about half way through and there’s absolutely no progress until the end of the last volume. This is mainly due to Godou being someone that insists on pretending to be normal, even though he behaves completely ridiculously whenever he feels it’s necessary, and it’s very clear that he’s not just another dense protagonist despite him doing his best to act as so. His character being so contradictory is amusing at first, and is fine for the setup, but when it ends up becoming a roadblock to further character and relationship development, it really begins to grind on the reader, and hence though there are some great moments, this aspect slowly loses its charm as the series goes through the second half. Still, it is important to note that things progress tremendously in the ending, and the ending was really satisfying in this regard, to the point that the series has a great ending overall. The EX volume takes that even further and serves as a really good epilogue, though I think it also spends a good amount of time connecting characters to the sequel series that already had volumes out when the EX volume was released but I haven’t read yet, so I think I ended up missing the significance of that and found a lot of aspects kind of strange.

As for general comments, the art starts out pretty weak but gets much better, to the point I felt that there must have been a change in illustrators but from what I’ve read that doesn’t seem to be the case. There’s also an issue in that there are random short story volumes with stories pulled from random parts chronologically that really break the flow and don’t really add much at all. I say that despite really feeling that more slice of life elements could have really helped with pacing and flow. Also, the mythology, while interesting, did get kind of annoying as it heavily relied on info dumping.

A series with good combat and well-done relationships between characters, but that doesn’t have enough progress in either of these aspects considering the series length. 

8/10

Very interested in reading Campiones of Sanctuary eventually.

Ultimate Antihero

ultiamteantihero

Honmura is known as the Evil God User, as he is the only human capable of summoning the Old Gods. This makes him the only one that can take on Demon King level demons that invade Earth from another dimension. Hence, he is crucial to humanities continued existence. This doesn’t change the fact however, that humanity seems to be deathly afraid of him. Some level of apprehension is understandable, considering how much of a power gap exists between him and the rest of humanity and also how the abilities he uses are quite terrifying, more terrifying than the invading demons even. But the fear and loathing that it seems that humanity has for him that ultimately drive him into isolation are entirely manufactured by the United World Government, a new government that came into being following an exceptionally damaging Demon King attack, a government that is completely in the control of the Holy Path Church. The Holy Path Church has plans for the world, ones that foremost involve greater centralization of power, and hence consider Honmura a threat. However, even with the rest of humanity opposing him, he continues doing his best in fighting demons for humanities sake. To that end, when he is called to Japan by an old friend, he answers the call. There he is given the position where he joins up with Platoon 101, composed of the prodigious sharpshooter Sumika, the hardworking and straightforward brawler Chikori, and the clever battlefield coordinator Shiori, the last of which treats him coldly due to a shared past. Together, they deal with both demons, and the schemes of the United World Government.

***

This light novel series had a lot of good base concepts. I liked the general premise of Angels and Demons coming from different worlds, with old heroes and myths being the power that truly belongs to Earth, with the Old Gods, especially the Lovecraftian ones, being the most powerful. I also liked how that played into a pretty interesting combat system, with different types of abilities as well as special skills unique to characters. I also liked the specific premise of a guy being magnitudes more powerful than the rest of humanity and being isolated due to that, but persevering for the sake of humanity anyway, and the effect that has on the special relationships that are developed that are the exception to that. Ultimately though, I don’t think the narrative made very good use of those, which I very much suspect is due to the story getting cut off way too early. It feels like the series enters its finale just as it begins, with the third book of four. As a result, it feels like what was meant to be a much larger plot that used these concepts more effectively never came to be. This is bad in terms of the overarching plot, in that it feels like it didn’t do enough and the story isn’t really over yet, but is especially bad in terms of character development and relationships, wherein it feels like they got off to a good start, there isn’t any time for them to go anywhere so in the end they’re pretty much exactly where they were at the start. Hence, the ending wasn’t all that satisfying.

The character designs were good and the art was solid. In terms of writing quality, I can’t speak for the original, but as for the fan translation that’s floating around, while it is understandable mostly, more sentences than not are plagued by improper grammar, strange sentence structure, and awkward word choice. So while it’s better than nothing, it’s not very good.

A number of interesting concepts that aren’t given enough time to use and develop effectively.

7/10 

Psycho Love Comedy (Psycome)

psycome

Kamiya Kyousuke’s parents were always off on business, so as would be expected he was quite close to the only member of his family that he lived with, his younger sister Ayaka, a girl very mature for her age. Kyousuke was very much of a delinquent, constantly getting into fights and making a name for himself on the streets. However, he very much was not a murdered, despite him ultimately being framed for the murder of twelve other delinquents in a warehouse and being forced to enter the Purgatorium School of Rehabilitation, a high school specifically for juvenile murderers. Furthermore, his 12-kill count is especially high for the school, instantly gaining him popularity and respect among the other murderers. Hence he is stuck in the situation where he can’t just come out and claim that he was framed, as its not like that would help in getting him out, but would instead simply paint him as a weakling which would make him a target for the others. So he decides to try to live up to his title of Warehouse Butcher. As a result, he ends up getting close to a number of other students. There’s Eiri, a very sharp-tongued and elegant girl that comes from a long line of assassins, though seems to have some issues in joining the profession herself. There’s Maina, a girl that seems to be terribly afraid of violence and is a complete pushover, but seems to have a level of clumsiness fatal to those around her. But most importantly, there’s Renko, a girl that’s almost always wearing a gas mask but beneath that is a beautiful and alluring girl, who falls in love with Kyousuke and pursues him with all her might. And though she is generally quite fun to be around, she has the issue of a murderous melody playing in her head when she takes her mask off, resulting in her wanting to murder everyone around her, especially the guy she falls head over heels for, Kyousuke.

***

Note: Spoilers that aren’t related to specific plot events but related to themes and how a character grows are included in this review.

This is a really interesting novel series in that it’s a mish mash of a lot of things that kind of don’t work but also work pretty well. For the most part, it feels a lot like a high school slice of life novel series where the focus is on character relationships and development, even with the extreme violence and craziness throughout. For the most part, there’s not much of an overarching plot, but rather smaller plots per novel that focus on introducing new characters or further developing old ones in regards to their effect on the overarching narrative. These plots are pretty interesting, in that the twist on the slice of life aspect makes it quite unique and allows for a lot of interesting elements, such as a good amount of suspense and crazy twists, as well as the large amount of action. I should note though, that the action was somewhat disappointing a lot of the time, due to the MC not being all that great in terms of this. The series is tagged as “protagonist strong from the start” but that’s not entirely true. His ‘strength’ comes mostly in the form of heavy endurance which allows him to survive taking heavy punishment, but in terms of actual combat ability compared to the other major characters he’s pretty low. That results in him being able to easily take on dozens of small fry, but when he’s put up against the major players, he’s actually pretty weak, and in such situations he doesn’t usually do much, and strength wise he never grows, which was kind of disappointing. He and the other characters do go through a lot of character growth though, and ultimately the character development overall felt really solid. Ayaka comes to have a better view of other people. Maina gains confidence in herself and a will to continue moving forward. Eiri becomes more honest with herself. Renko becomes more human and in tune with her emotions. But most importantly is of course the protagonist Kyousuke. His development is interesting and I quite liked it, though I can see why it may miff some people because I can see why it would be controversial and in the end it’s tied pretty heavily into the whole narrative and is a running theme throughout. When he starts out, he is incredibly wary of the other students, seeing as they’re murderers and all. He begins to make friends with murders that aren’t really murderers and begins to settle in. The tone throughout the first five books is pretty lighthearted, wherein even though the style is pretty dark, in terms of tone and atmosphere it doesn’t feel oppressive at all and though lots of terrible things are described as having been done by characters outside the narrative, nothing truly bad happens during the narrative itself. Hence, while most all the characters are killers there’s nothing to truly make them seem like bad people. As a result, over the course of these books he begins to make friends with the true murderers, the cannibal, the serial killer, the necrophiliac, etc. That they’re killers just gets pushed aside. However, ultimately it very much is brought to the forefront, and Kyousuke has to question himself, as a normal person is it really okay for him to have friendly relations with murderers? And in the end he decides, yes, it is fine even if he doesn’t understand their desire to kill, nor does he want to, for him to respect, be friends with, like, or love them anyway, which is a tremendous shift in world view from how he started in the first book that was slowly built up until it finally clicked near the end. This shift is of course incredibly important to the main relationship in the book, the love triangle between Kyousuke, Renko, and Eiri, wherein though other characters also seem to be in love with Kyousuke they don’t seem as prominent. This relationship is what serves as the core of the ending, and probably what everyone reading up to that point truly cared about. To some degree, the ending was disappointing in that it was an open ending, but at the same time, it did everything really well, and though it was open, it wrote around that incredibly well, so ultimately I was very satisfied with the ending, and look back on the series overall quite fondly.

The art for the illustrations was really good, and I also liked the interesting character designs. I can’t judge the original writing style, but the translation by Yen Press wasn’t very good. It had a pretty stiff writing style, and a number of obvious mistakes regarding sentence subjects, and probably others that I couldn’t tell.

A series with a really unique and darkly comedic premise that has some core tonal and thematic issues but ultimately manages to resolve them in an incredibly interesting fashion.

9/10