Review written by Bananaowns
The concept of humanity fighting against possible extinction remains a lynchpin in many anime series. Admittedly, this concept is overused, but still can be interesting. The smash hit, Attack on Titan, uses this concept brilliantly. The 2013 anime remains one of the few to permeate a worldwide culture akin to Dragonballz’s breakthrough in the early 2000’s. However, for every anime hit using this concept, there exists a score of failures. This year saw an adaptation of Owari No Seraph, an anime featuring the remnants of humanity fighting vampires. Owari No Seraph possessed all of the clichés of this genre, but largely fell into mediocrity. It was disappointing and tempered my excitement for other series premiering this year as well.
Another show was set to premiere with the similar post-apocalyptic concept with humanity fighting for survival, in walled cities, with a specialized army and with another special protagonist. God Eater is an adaptation of a popular video game series that predates the recent trend of post-apocalyptic animes. It is unfortunate that because of these trends, God Eater faces an uphill battle to earn acclaim. Even more scrutiny falls onto the series because of the high pedigree of Ufotable, the animation studio making God Eater. However, the first episode showcases something that many series lack, potential.
Set in the near future, the world has been destroyed by monsters known as the Aragami. An organization called Fenrir fights for humanity’s survival using special weapons called God Arcs, activated by the largest wearable wristbands known to humankind. Seriously, I respect any cosplayer that attempts to cover God Eater characters because those wristbands look extremely inconvenient. Anyway, the episode starts with Lenka Utsugi, a young man living outside the Fenrir Far East Branch, a walled city. He navigates through a landscape fraught with Aragami, but reaches the city. He receives a gigantic wristband with a special type of God Arc. For some reason, Lenka wants to kill all of the Aragami. Well this plot point certainly has been covered to death, but Lenka is slightly different. He is brash, but quickly makes friends with Kota Fujiki, a fellow trainee. Initially he wants to skip training, but quickly realizes his faults. He actually fails a lot in his training; he is not necessarily amazing in battle. This is exciting because it leaves a lot of room for growth. The series focuses on a protagonist that is not already a prodigy, a rare plot point in anime. Of course, Lenka’s growth still has a long way to go, as a fighter and as a person. He quickly disobeys orders to attempt to help fend off the Aragami assault of the city. It is in this attack, that the viewer understands just how dire the situation is. Even the elite soldiers present have difficulty in combating the Aragami, at least to some extent. The episode ends in the middle of this battle, but on a strong note. Lenka manages to activate his particular type of God Arc, shifting it from a sword to a rifle. That is, his type of God Arc is capable of transforming. This transformation marks the end of the episode and it provides enough of a tease to keep viewers interested.
In terms of animation, the works of Ufotable never disappoint. God Eater is beautiful anime. The style is difficult to describe, but almost looks like hand-drawn animation on top of a CGI pallet. It reminds me of the Disney short film, Paperman. It’s a perfect style that seems to combine CGI and traditional anime, at least in terms of the human characters and backgrounds. The Aragami are purely computer generated and they look out of place. Compared to the beautiful style and movement of the human characters, the Aragami look clumsy. Despite the look of the Aragami, the action scenes are breathtaking to watch. The way the characters interact with the Aragami, along with the unusual weapon designs, create a series with a ridiculous amount of potential. Future battles in the series could be absolutely amazing as the stakes are raised and the set pieces get larger.
Overall, the first episode of God Eater serves as an enticing preview of what is yet to come. Despite possessing numerous clichés, the plot remains distinct enough is this oversaturated genre. The characters possess room for development. The animation is beautiful. God Eater earns an 8/10 for the first episode.