Sep 10, 2019
tl;dr: 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.
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.
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