OP: 「スクラップ＆ビルド」 (Scrap & Build) by Elaiza
「誰にも気付かれない, 誰しもが夢に見る場所で」 (Dare ni mo Kizukarenai, Dareshimo ga Yume ni Miru Basho de)
“Unnoticed by Anyone, in the Place of Which Everyone Dreams”
KamiErabi GOD.app builds its momentum off of being a death game premise created by video game auteur Yoko Taro of Nier fame. But while its star power offers more than enough promise, the first episode doesn’t aim to break the mold as far as establishing itself as being more than a product of its genre.
NEW GOD FLOW
Much like Kodaka Kazutaka’s anime ventures, there’s an impulse to try to cross reference the games that Taro has worked on to get a finger on the pulse of this story. But whereas Kodaka’s love for subverting audience expectations have made reviewers look into how Akudama Drive and Tribe Nine portrays its oddball characters or quirky stories, Taro’s games have a heavier focus on interactive storytelling.
With the Drakengard and Nier games, Taro’s approach was to challenge players by making them question the ways our realities are constructed before us, and the ways we make sense of the violence we regularly encounter in life. Naturally, a premise like KamiErabi GOD.app would be an appealing way to convey this as its characters are willing to kill one another to achieve godhood.
Our main character, Ono Gorou, might be an interesting character to study with his hyper obsession with pop stars, his reality constantly shifting for the worst as bystanders act like nothing’s wrong, and his mother wavering between trading stocks and chugging whiskey. Everything feels calculated yet plain, but the plainness could easily be a red herring as Gorou’s reality feels more and more like a hazy nightmare as the app begins manifesting real world consequences.
THE MULTIVERSE OF SADNESS
On the other hand, KamiErabi GOD.app is stuck in an odd place as far as its quality goes. Director Seshita Hiroyuki has been able to strike gold with many of his CG anime like Ajin, but at times, the character models can feel less alive and more stiff. The puppet-like aesthetic of Ohkubo’s designs do compliment this style of animation, but it does become apparent when the blurrier fight scenes serve to compensate for the limitations that the animation has to not feel stilted at times.
Likewise, Jin, the creator of Kagerou Daze, may have a role in why the show is hyper fixated on idols and magical girls. As with most advertising based on “From the Creators of…” name recognition, it might mislead people into thinking this was all Taro’s brainchild when the story is also being filtered through Jin’s approach towards the premise. As the show goes on, it’ll be interesting to see whether the story will start to feel more like Mekakucity Actors than SINoALICE.
What makes giving the show a vote of confidence the most difficult is the direction the story heads within the first episode. While it seems to have its environmental storytelling down pat, the main plot treads down the same direction as Mirai Nikki and Platinum End as we deal with a supernatural death game for godhood.
Cell Phones being the catalyst for the show’s death game already makes the Mirai Nikki comparisons unavoidable. And with so many video games and TV shows focusing on evil phone apps that corrupt reality, it starts KamiErabi GOD.app off on the same unfortunate footing as multiverse stories in the 2020s.
There is plenty of potential with KamiErabi GOD.app as a product of a supergroup of oddball creatives. Although the first episode doesn’t do much to challenge the narrative conventions of your standard “death game for godhood” series, it isn’t too late for it to come into its own as the show goes forward.
ED: 「Bleed My Heart」 by Alisa