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.
Dumb-founded by the lack of any review for this amazing Light Novel, here write me review, by now I m reading Volume 6 of the series. I will update the review as I progress more and more into the story.
NOTE: For of all, if you came here from the anime, and you actually enjoyed it despite with flaws and mostly rushed development... seek no further, you have to give the LN a try, even if you dont want read all those first 5 volumes, which I deeply reccomend you to, at least start reading from the end of volume 5, since the anime takes a
different, original ending, and its better if you read this, so a better connection to the events of volume 6 and beyond can be achieved.
So far I m loving it very much, you need to put some time and effort into reading it at first, but then it greatly pays for your previous efforts!! Godou is well developed so far, unlocking new abilites of Verethragna. These abilities are very powerfull and usefull, but also need certain conditions to be meet, to be able to be used, and so for the battles Godou never fights and wins alone, his loyal knights and comrade are by his side supporting him. Also at first the battles seems to follow a "guide of how to win", but it was my initial wrong impression, and actually there is alot of creativity shown of how could use its powers to fight the [Heretic Gods] and to support and protect his comrades!
-Erica at first can be tiresome, but she reveals to be a very lovely women that though likes to tease Godou alot, she loves him at the end, and when it counts she truly shows it, even being much more considerative for him that at first, someone could though of being possible, since she truly is a "Red Devil" when she want to, beautiful, dangerous, charming, finds joy in mockery and teasing her beloved, an extremly cunning of a person, and possessive of truly's devil smile!! In the end, she is the one that mostly understands Godou, she can see throught himself, his motives, believes and ideals, and she gives him full support, and only wish for a happy life with him, happy also means liking to be spoiled my the also sometimes naive Godou, that easily gets played by the vexin, female fox Erica!!
-Yuri is the typical high lady, shrine princess that sees actions like a lover kiss being to shameless to be done on public, and after understanding Godou isnt like the other Campiones, she opens more to him, loses her fear of him (by being a Campione, a supposed Tyrant), and scolds him alot for his foolness and not thoughful actions (that at first cause some massive damage, and then he like oh shit I didnt think this would happen...), she scolds him because she cares for him, and her naive nature, makes her a easy target for Erica, and for "poor" Godou, she believes in him when he says the he isnt that shameless and lots of misunderstandings happen to him (true here), she doesnt know what to believe something and gets tsun~tsun and then dere~dere. Cute!!
-Liliana, the proud knight, that suposedly finds shameless things bad, especially Erica famous attacks on Godou, but then in secret writes some hot novels about her fantasies... and Erica, childhood friend and rival, she surely knows how to manipulate Liliana throught this!! Liliana pledge knight loyalty to Godou saying she will be on his side forever, helping him fight his "lechurous behavior", not wanting him to be beast of a man won gets every girl to serve him and do S-Shameless things to him (in her words). In truth she loves him, she sees this act of knight being by in side as an act of that, and it is so lovely that she is truly naive at nature of boys/girls instintive nature stuff, and then get surprised be the situations and gets all delusional, no one can stop that imagination of hers, not even herself!! Also as a knight she wants to take care of Godou, do all his chores and support him... all said she truly is like the other girls, marvelous on her own ways.
-Ena, she is wild, beautiful, has iniciative, if she wants to do something so goes and does it! She is also the possessor of a tremendous powerful sword and a tongue as sharp as Erica's. And more I cant say since she is still pretty new for me by now. One thing can be said, like every orher of the main girls, she as alot of potential, she is like the others, very unique and charming at her own way.
The characters are what I most like so far in the series, they give lots of misunderstandings to Godou, their personalyties are truly unique between, each seems that still has alot more to show of, and to entertain the reader.
This is a story you wont read by its complex development or twists!! But for the entertainenment of seeing the characters interact with eachother, the sillyness, naughtyness, the teases, the romcom stuff and the action!
Some people will hate this kind of stuff saying it is to simple or just fanservice, refering more complex stories and characters... for me as long as it is fun (and it is!!), that is what matters.
I have read all 18 volumes, and can say this is one fantastic, yet at times frustrating story. The frustration is with the MC himself. He is heroic, yet when it comes to the girls he is frustrating. HE is not your typical useless MC, but every now and then he reverts to one when it comes to relationships. Other than that is he a bad ass MC that you can count on.
The Novels flows nicely, tho they do time jumps to get you caught up with what is going on and understanding the heroes of this story. This is a Harem story, but
unlike other harems, the girls actually accept this and even give themselves their own positions as his wives over time. Even tho they accept it, the MC himself does not, for the most part and is unable to understand why they love him, resulting in my frustration with him.
As we watch the MC grow (at a snail pace mind you), we find ourselves happy, only to get frustrated when he reverts back to his "old" self, then begins to grow again. I think the frustration is what makes the story so fascinating and captivating as we watch Godou, Erika, Lilli, Enu and Yuri come closer as a "Family".
I can see this going on for another 30 volumes, as this is a never ending story of Gods and Divine beasts that come into existence to be fought, plus not to mention there are 6 other campione (at this time). The true story is about our 5 heroes and how they grow closer to one another and how they effect those around them.
The story itself is simple, Gouda meeting up with Erika, kills a god and becomes a campione, a god slayer. One of 7 to exist in the world, giving him the status of one of the rulers of the world. HE of course has no understanding of what is going on and does not accept it at first, but through trial and error (and death), he understands he is no longer a typical human and has a responsibility to human kind whether he likes it or not. Erika is the glue that keeps everything together.
Erika is probably the strongest (mentally) female lead I have ever encountered and is true to her feelings. If you have watched the anime, you get some understanding of her character while they are in purgatory.
I advise to watch the anime first then read the Light Novels from start to finish..you will not be disappointed.