Campione! – 03, 04
「遠方より敵来たる」 (Enpo Yori Teki Kitaru)
“From Afar, An Enemy Comes”
The show finally starts giving us some time catch our breath with an episode heavy on the exposition, but never going too overboard with its infodump. We come to learn about the Divine Instrument “Gorgonion” and its connection to Athena, through a prophecy of the world falling to ruin if she comes into possession of it and reverts to her true form. I have to admit here, I’m somewhat dismayed by the revelation of this simplistic, uninspiring story, turning what could’ve been a complex antagonist in Athena to a throwaway “I will destroy the world!” villain. Of course, the show acknowledges the numerous myths and legends pertaining to the character, but understanding the god is merely used as a condition for Godou’s activation of his golden sword, and doesn’t seem central to defining Athena and her motivations.
In spite of my gripes with the story, this was perhaps the strongest episode of Campione! yet, going at a pace that seems just about right for the series, instead of it seemingly rushing to some incomprehensible end. The fights and Erica’s antics are as entertaining as always, as was the prim and proper Mariya’s outburst at Godou’s denseness which provided a few muted chuckles. Oh, and of course, how can one fail to give the best part a mention? Director Kusakawa Keizou uses the episode to brilliantly showcase his experience with the harem genre, having Godou french both the immortal loli and the hot Italian under the guise of lolmagick. Tongues, saliva, and all. Godou, you sunafa gun! At least we now know the reason Erica kissed him in that very first episode, demonstrated here as a transfer of knowledge about the god for the activation of his sword.
Well, even if I said this episode was a step up from the previous episodes, it still isn’t saying much. The pacing here does slow down to give the show time for dumping a load of details onto us, but the exposition is nearly always clumsily executed. Take for example, the admission from Godou about the last time he “died” and got resurrected, inserted as a passing statement in their discussion of the strategy to tackle Athena, an odd place to mention it, and I’m left there puzzled as to why they chose now of all times to bring this up instead of the first time he died. (Which I’m assuming here was the time when they fought with Verathragna.) I’m finding that there is a poor connect between these bits of explanation and the developments we’re getting, giving the show a – for lack of a better way to explain it – choppy, patchwork feel to it. Exposition and development fail to transition properly into each other, such as with the preamble to the fight with Athena here. I barely had any sense of its significance despite the grim consequences of letting her come into contact with the Divine Instrument.
I fear what we’ve been treated to until now is what we’re likely to see over the course of the show, and the choppy progression of the plot thus far sure doesn’t set a good precedence for what’s to come next.
「まつろわぬアテナ」 (Matsurowanu Atena)
Picking straight up from where episode 3 left off, Athena claims the Gorgonion from Mariya, leaving Godou to confront the fully awakened goddess in an epic final showdown. Well, I say final showdown, but true to light novel form, it’s not so much a fight as it is a battle of words. This is played amusingly straight in Campione!’s case, since his lecture on Athena’s history also doubles as a spell chant, the very thing that powers the golden sword. The infodump doesn’t seem to have any real significance to the fight asides from that weak justification, but well, ain’t that how it always goes in these battle-novel adaptations? At least the random facts and mythology guesswork make for much better small talk than idealism debates based on ridiculous premises. Yes Touma, I’m looking at you. I’m always looking at you. (The ToaruIndex one, in case anyone thought I was referring to the one here.)
It seems like we’ve only just started with Athena’s arc, yet here we already are at its conclusion. I don’t know how quickly these episodes are plowing through the volumes, but I guess the best thing I can say about the anime here is that the rush through the material isn’t as obvious as it was before, even if the story still seems to be moving at a brisk pace. The characters seem to be suffering for it though, because after all these episodes, Erica remains the only character to have made any kind of impression. A girl that’s open to polygamy and even puts another female up for our dense protagonist’s consideration? Erica keeps hogging all the awesome in this show! Plus, she’s the only one who feels like there’s depth to her character. Erica’s incessant reminders that she’ll be the one most suitable to Godou in the end almost seem like some kind of brainwashing, and it puts her motives under a questionable light, as does the fact that she practically orchestrated the entire situation with Athena. There’s little reason to doubt her devotion to Godou thus far, but Erica does seem to know far more about the going-ons in the world compared to most of the characters, which makes me wonder if she has any secret plans that require Godou’s cooperation, or if she’s trying to mold Godou in some manner.
Athena’s arc in its entirety felt extremely simple, a notion echoed by Amakasu Touma (Masumoto Shinobu) at the episode’s close, though I believe not quite in the same respect. The hinting at a bigger picture couldn’t be more obvious even without bringing up the foreshadowing of the Prophecy of Starless Night and the involvement of another campione, Duke Vobon, through Liliana’s presence in Japan. What I personally meant was that this first arc never quite lived up to the potential of the premise and kept with its relatively simple storyline of a rampaging, two dimensional baddie. Don’t get me wrong, I still find it entertaining enough, but I can’t seem to kill the hope for the show to be more than what it is at the moment.
If you were anything like me and never touched the light novels before, chances are you probably couldn’t fully catch Godou’s winding lecture on Athena’s true nature unless you’re some kind of mythology buff. With some help from a well-read friend of mine, I’ve summarized what I believe the anime was trying to say here:
I won’t presume this information to be 100% accurate, so if you happen to find any inconsistencies, feel free to point it out in the comments!