Review for God Eater: Volume 1
Aniplex! That’s the first thing that you ought to know when approaching this series. Aniplex and Aniplex US operate in a different way to the rest of the anime world, and it’s usually anime fans that pay the price... literally. I started two Aniplex series for review today, and both are distributor limited for fans, whether it’s in disc specifications, or in release format. With God Eater it’s the latter, as like all English territory companies releasing it, MVM are constrained in releasing this 13 episode series in 2 parts, where usually we get such shows in one helping.
It’s always the scientists! Scientists were trying to discover a clean, revolutionary form of energy, but instead they discovered a strange, new form of single-celled life. They just had to experiment, and the new type of life started to evolve. Skip forward a few years, and the human race is on the verge of extinction, terrifying beasts called Aragami preying on the few survivors. But there is hope for the few pockets of humanity sheltered in fortresses like Fenrir in the Far East. For there is a defence against the Aragami, the God Eaters, warriors genetically fused to their weapons called God Arcs, elaborate blades and guns. One such warrior who has just joined the God Eaters is Lenka Utsugi. He’s skilled, but he’s arrogant, and his singular desire to kill as many Aragami as possible means that he’s probably not a team player, liable to ignore orders, and likely to wind up dead. But Lenka is a New-Type, a God Eater with far greater potential and ability than the run of the mill warrior.
The first seven episodes of God Eater are presented on this DVD from MVM. The show is also available on Blu-ray if you wish it.
1. Lenka Utsugi
2. Lindow Amamiya
3. Alisa Ilinichina Amiella
5. An Eye for an Eye (All in Vain)
6. Stay True
7. A Flower in Bloom
God Eater gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic native PAL transfer on this disc, with the requisite 4% speedup. The image is clear and sharp, with strong colours, and the minimum of visible compression, other than some aliasing. If you’ve seen ufotable shows like Fate/Zero, then you’ll be familiar with some of the toon-shaded 3DCG animated characters that they’ve used. God Eater goes full whack with this aesthetic, not even bothering to try and conceal it as traditional hand drawn animation. It’s obvious from the start, it can be awkward and comical at times, and there is the odd rendering glitch. But the characters, the world, and the wholly CG Aragami do sync up, and once you’re used to it, God Eater is quite watchable. It’s just that it will take a couple of episodes to click.
You have the choice between DD 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese, with optional translated subtitles and a signs only track. Apparently Aniplex also means that you don’t get the theme songs subtitled. I went with the Japanese audio and it is impressive for the most part. The characters are suitably cast while the action comes across well with the stereo, as does the music. Actually the music comes across a little too well, with insert pop songs (again not subtitled) loud enough to drown out the dialogue. Out of curiosity I switched to the English dub to see if it suffered from the same problem, and instead, the English audio has just replaced the insert songs with generic, but dramatically appropriate music. The dialogue remains audible. What I heard of the dub isn’t too bad either. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos. Come to think of it, the music in God Eater (Japanese version) is really a high point of the show.
The disc presents its contents with a static menu. The only extras are the textless credit sequences.
It’s Attack on Titan; or rather a poor man’s Attack on Titan. Once you have a hit series, everyone’s inclined to jump on that particular bandwagon, and I’m just surprised that it took so long for the next such show to come along. Once more we have the remnants of humanity sheltering in a walled city, battling to survive against a horde of inexplicable beasts intent on devouring them, or in this case, devouring all life. God Eater’s story is less compelling, its world’s back-story not as well defined, and its characters thinner and less appealing. But it is watchable enough, and the action manages to hold the show together for the most part.
The way the story unfolds is pretty unoriginal, with modern day action bookended by monochrome flashbacks to the scientists that created this mess. God Eater does benefit from some nifty and energetic editing though that helps hold the attention. The characters do little to inspire however, with the protagonist, Lenka Utsugi the typical single-minded hero type who has no other ambition than to kill Aragami. A few episodes in we meet another God Eater named Alisa, a lethal killing machine that awes all who witness her skill, but who turns into a terrified little girl the minute her emotion deadening drugs wear off. And both of these are New-Types, who are particularly attuned to piloting Gundam... I mean who are especially talented in fighting Aragami with skills and abilities beyond the average God Eater.
The show ticks along well, really dishing out in terms of action and entertainment. It remains watchable indeed, if not entirely intellectually satisfying. For me it bubbles along the curve of mediocrity, entertaining one minute and laughable the next. There’s a fight sequence atop a jet transport in flight, which has no one blown off the wing, or sucked into an engine. It’s a plane that flies at around five miles an hour. Then there is the guy who literally gets impaled, by a big, thick Aragami claw, and he’s up and fighting again after the application of a bandage.
It’s daft, popcorn chewing fun. But God Eater is deceptively disposable. All through the episodes, and aside from the exposition laden flashbacks, there is some subtle world-building going on, explanation about the Aragami, the technology used to fight them, how that applies to the God Eaters. There’s also a subplot about refugees from outside the Fenrir base who aren’t allowed in, as they aren’t compatible with the God Eater tech, and can’t become or give birth to God Eaters. There’s also a grand plan to save humanity that seems a little suspect to me, especially the more we learn about the scientists behind it, the same scientists that apparently created this mess. It all culminates in episode 7, which is a game-changer for God Eater, replete with revelations about this world, and a story where the God Eaters have to think tactically to defeat Aragami, rather than simply have at them in an anime eye-candy sort of way. This is where God Eater gets good, and if it can keep it up, it bodes well for Part 2. God Eater is an unpromising series that stands on the edge of success or failure at the end of this first disc. Here’s hoping Part 2 can deliver more in the vein of episode 7.