Review/discussion about: God Eater
Compasses are basically tiny magnets that are attracted to the magnetic poles of the Earth.
They’re fascinating. They don’t usually look like much – a round casing, some lettered markings, and a red-white dial rotating about the center – but their ability to guide, to lead. They are an invaluable tool for any adventurer. Any person, really.
God Eater has a compass. Believe it or not, it actually has symbolic purpose. But the anime still misdirects itself regardless.
God Eater stars Lenka Utsugi, a wandering boy who joins Fenrir, a militaristic branch bent on wiping out the evil Aragami. These beasts have been killing mankind, and it is up to Lenka and crew to stop them once and for all.
But the road to victory is paved with blood. Literally. God Eater is not an anime for those with weak stomachs. Aragami devouring people alive, gallons of internals washing over characters, and an exploding caesarian section demonstrate handily the anime’s penchant for violence.
Said violence may be grotesque, but it fits this apocalyptic setting in which Lenka and the others roam. It gives the world a harsh and dark atmosphere – exactly what it needs given all the doomsday talk.
Violence is just one mainstay, though. God Eater also takes a back-and-forth approach to the presentation of its events. That is, instead of glossing over the backstory, the anime takes its time in divulging the past. It intersperses the present plotline with flashbacks that reveal more about how the aforementioned setting came to be. The discovery of the Oracle cells, the start of the calamity, and so on.
To this end, the anime does a competent job at world-building. While only the Far East Branch part of the world is shown, the show does not skimp out on new terms and details. The advent of God Arcs. Oracle cell erosion as a side-effect to a fluctuating Bias Factor. Multiple species of Aragami. Nothing intricate, but it at least shows the anime cares about its world.
At this point, however, that compass goes haywire.
One of the worst aspects of the anime is the dialogue. A lot of what is said devolves into some variation of “you are strong” and “you can do it.” The talking becomes more like a yelling match rather than a conversation held between two characters.
The action itself is not much better. Many situations involve a character narrowly escaping death thanks to convenient timing on someone else’s part, devolving the tenser ordeals into repetitive moments. Furthermore, some of those violent scenes tread into unbelievable territory: massive spikes through spines, slit throats still giving speech and life for more minutes than possible, and so on.
The ending is rough, too. Despite the narrative making Lenka’s quickened death a major point of contention, he does not perish even after essentially experiencing the full effects of his affliction. It also doesn’t help that the tale itself does not actually resolve (and God Eater even reverses the death of one of its characters), but at least Johannes’s master scheme is revealed in full.
Even rougher is the whole indoctrination-of-Alisa-to-kill-Rindou plotline. While it was done because Rindou discovered the truth behind Aegis (a rocket to protect a few select humans from the Devouring Apocalypse, the supposed end of the world), it comes off as pointless since her actions did not affect Rindou or the situation to any high degree despite how much emphasis the anime put on this detail.
While all of these events are going on, the anime tries to push two different themes: a theme on man versus god and a theme on having hope.
The former has some interesting footholds. Emphasizing one’s self-determinism rather than relying on prayer. A theory that Aragami and humans may not be so different (in the long run). The very fact that these people are called GodEaters.
The latter is more typical. In a world where beasts roam and people starve, hope is not just needed but vital for survival. But as Tsubaki, Rindou’s sister, would put it, it is hard to have hope after all that has happened (destruction of Earth, rampant loss of life) and will continue to happen (the ease with which Aragami respawn).
Neither theme manages to see much in terms of exploration, though. Indeed, the anime is more concerned with heavy-action sequences. But the ideas are there in some capacity, alleviating some of the negatives accrued elsewhere.
God Eater takes a slightly different approach to its visuals.
The style is apparent from the get-go. The anime adopts heavy shadows, thicker colors, and contoured clothes to make its characters defined, to make them stand out among the various backdrops of the world. Another way to describe the style is that it rests somewhere between two-dimensional and three-dimensional. It takes a bit of getting used to, but, once one does accept the uncommon approach, it at least becomes not unwelcome.
Peering at the designs more closely, they may be a bit too eccentric for this wasteland, but, at the minimum, they have a sense of care put towards them. Alisa’s design is easily the best. Her cap, half-suspenders, and skimpy-checkered outfit make her quite attractive. Her big boots make her seem larger (thigh-wise) than she appears to be, too.
Souma’s design – with his white hair, raised hood, and brown tie – give him the outsider look that coincides with his outsider status. And Sakuya’s short brown hair, long gloves, and even longer skirt give her an air of maturity that seems lacking among the other characters.
Other designs, like Rindou’s and Lenka’s, are too plain compared to the others. And while Tsubaki’s design screams commander (long hair, tight uniform), her exposed bust seems a bit too out of place given the circumstances.
Moving on, the Aragami choose instead to go full three-dimensional. In short, it is passable. They are rarely wonky in their movements, and they even blend well with the stylish nature of the show itself.
Actual animation tends to remain high where it counts. Namely, the action. Aragami jump after their prey. Characters slice, fly, and run. And the various explosions and lights, and not to mention the smattering of blood, give weight to the many encounters held throughout the show. Downtime unfortunately receives a reduction – not as much movement from the cast’s bodies or facial expressions – balancing out the given animation amount.
As for the art, while it can have some cool looking landscapes and the detail is there, they are sadly a mishmash of green, brown, and grey, leaving behind much in terms of creativity. The anime has to be this way, but it is still drab to see.
The art does have other positives. The show uses a high-speed effect to indicate the progression of time. And the past plotline uses a black-and-white grainy overlay to let the audience understand that the events currently on-screen are, indeed, from an earlier time.
Nevertheless, the anime has one significant negative: God Arcs. These weapons that the God Eaters wield are simply silly. Way too big, cumbersome to fight with, and lacking in terms of interesting designs. Each issue triply so for Lenka’s last God Arc.
One of God Eater’s weaker areas is the characters that it touts.
Yet it is best to begin with the best. At the top of the strong list sits Rindou. Not to imply that he is particularly well-written. He does get impressed by Lenka and the others from time to time, but he has no outstanding qualities besides smoking a cigarette and having a purposefully incorrect catchphrase. Plus, his development is next to zilch.
No, what Rindou provides is a two-fold connection.
To elaborate, Rindou connects himself to nearly every member of the cast. Rindou visited Lenka when he was a kid. For Sakuya, he has a more romantic relationship. Tsubaki is the older sister that humanizes him. He befriends Souma when nobody else would. And he works with, not against, Alisa despite her difficult behavior.
While he does not actively seek to put himself in their lives, he is not one to shy away from providing them that push in the right direction. And that’s his second connection: He represents the main theme that the characters follow (through him).
At first glance, the major theme appears to be finding one’s path in life. That’s definitely a nice interpretation. After all, many of the cast members experience this dilemma. Lenka struggles between fighting to kill or fighting to protect – two similar yet vastly different outlooks. Alisa cannot overcome a traumatic moment from her childhood, believing herself to be weak. Souma’s upbringing indicates that he was never wanted by family or friends, so he does not even have any choices to speak of.
The better interpretation, however, slightly alters the original: It’s about helping others find their own path.
Lenka does not reach the protection conclusion on his own. The family that saved him and the team that supported him allowed him to realize that it is not about killing Aragami but rather saving these same people that matters most. Alisa is similar. Lenka’s words of encouragement give her the strength to move forward. And Souma does not break his shell without Lenka refusing to give up on him and Kouta’s general friendliness.
And as was written, Rindou influences all of them. He instilled in Lenka the necessary qualities to being a leader. He gave Sakuya the opportunity to carry on his project in his stead. He humanized his sister Tsubaki in return. He gave Souma a place, a team, to call home. And when Alisa was on the brink of insanity, his words of wisdom snapped her out of her delusions.
If nothing else, his compass, an object whose sole purpose is to provide direction, solidifies both his representation of and the show’s focus on this theme.
Unfortunately, beyond Rindou and the message of helping others find their own path, the cast falters.
While Souma’s development from a brooding boy to a less-than-brooding man exists, the transition has low execution. Mostly because the anime does not give him the necessary time to flourish as a character. Indeed, the heavy-handedness of soldiers passing by and making remarks could have been handled better.
And it was. At least, in the past portrayal. His origins – born a hybrid of human DNA and Oracle cells – ostracize him from others due to his “monster” status. And him inadvertently killing his mother, and hence Johannes’s lover, made his father absolutely despise him. In other words, Souma’s characterization is nice, but the development of his character is not.
Lenka is one notch below Souma. Lenka was originally bent on getting out there and fighting, but, after indirectly getting a squad mate killed, he reels back the solo-hero antics. Granted, he trades them in for cooperative hero antics, like drowning a mammoth Aragami and fighting atop a flying plane. But he at least concedes that brash confidence will only get him – and others – killed.
Sadly, that’s the extent of his character for a long while. His first fight with Dyaus Pita goes horribly wrong, but it does not change his character. Not until episode ten does Lenka finally get more thrown his way. Much needed backstory at that.
Once again, however, the execution isn’t there. While the entire episode is dedicated to his origins, childhood, and subsequent arrival at the Far East Branch (nice), the pacing is too fast, removing any sense of tension and importance that his family members’ deaths would impart (not-so-nice).
Other characters have a similar problem to Souma: They are not around enough. Kouta has an intriguing aside when it comes to the thoughts and feelings of family members who see their loved ones going off to war. But since he is only around briefly in the beginning, middle, and ends of the anime (i.e., he does not have a presence) his character does hold strength.
Sakuya and Tsubaki are the same. Their relationships to the other characters are hardly explored. Especially so with Rindou. A joke about beer and a couple of elevator rides (respectively) do not aid in strengthening the bonds they share with the lover and brother (respectively).
Yet by far the worst character in God Eater is Alisa.
She initially seems rather important to the anime. Her New-Type status matches that of Lenka, her prowess on the battlefield is commendable, and her staunch need to save everybody aboard her inbound plane demonstrates where her heart is found. Not too shabby of a start.
While the anime does not put much more emphasis on her character for a couple of episodes (she does have that poor teamwork phase), she makes a resurgence with Dyaus Pita’s arrival. In essence, the dark beast killed her parents right before her eyes, causing her feelings of being weak as well as the PTSD she combats daily with drugs.
Following her failed confrontation, Alisa basically regresses into a state of mania. For two episodes, she is literally unable to do anything but cry for her mommy and daddy. Her complete about-face puts the traumatization of the event she experienced into perspective.
Then she disappears for two more episodes, receiving next to no attention. She only resurfaces after her creepy doctor hypnotizes her.
Altogether, her character has one clear goal: kill Dyaus Pita. To overcome the fear that plagues her, she must destroy her most important enemy.
But it’s easy to guess what doesn’t happen.
Yes, after all of her crying. After all of the emphasis placed on her one piece of backstory. After all of the tolls she has had to endure. She is not the one to kill Dyaus Pita. Despite her entire character revolving around the beast, the honor of the kill goes partially to Rindou and mostly to Lenka.
In short, it is insanely asinine. Avenging her parents and defeating this anomaly that has tormented her psychologically for years was her character. So it makes absolutely zero sense for her not to be the one to ultimately take Dyaus Pita out.
Overall, the cast have many positives with slightly more negatives, reducing the total level of execution that they otherwise should have had.
God Eater liked to use many insert songs throughout its run. They usually started playing right before a high-impact scenario in order to give said scenario more oomph, more adrenaline. While not every song is worthwhile, a couple of them are. “Have You Ever Seen…” has a rock-n-roll composition that fits the cooler tone of the show. And “Human After All” (while technically considered an ending track) is practically spiritual, going along with the god motif.
The rest of the original soundtrack is sometimes loud and almost always grandiose. “Requiem -Rakka-” incorporates a choir for a churchlike feel. “Tensei” does not let up on the violins, creating a fast piece for those tenser moments. “Admiration” slows it all down, relying more on a soft piano to bring about gentler times.
As a whole, the OST may not be memorable since the tracks themselves are not that catchy. But they at least support God Eater through their various tones, scopes, and compositions.
The ending track is half-and-half. The first half is mysterious and beautiful thanks to the slowness of both the instruments and the vocalists. This all gives way to more of that grandiose tone found in the OST, ruining what was otherwise a heartfelt piece (even if the vocalist maintains execution throughout).
The opening track trades away the subtlety and slowness of the ED with a faster and louder composition. Heavy guitar, drums, and a coarser vocalist work together to create a piece that aligns with the anime’s own (to a degree) hardcore premise. Even so, the OP is less an articulate offering and more just loud noise. Especially in comparison to the other musical choices that the anime provides.
And while lots of screaming went on, no notable voice acting performances were had.
The characters were a large reason why I was not a big fan of this one.
They are simply boring. Rindou isn’t that cool, Lenka is too lame, Souma’s bad-guy-but-really-a-good-guy shtick got old quick. Alisa seemed as though she would be a nice addition to the team, and she is certainly attractive, but her rude behavior and lacking personality made her less fun overall.
The action was also not that fun to follow. One reason was the gunplay. More often than not, I get bored by battles involving gunshots, missiles, and other projectiles, and it was no different here. Another reason were the enemies. I.e., the Aragami. They were uninteresting monsters; they were not cool or neat or scary. In fact, Dyaus Pita’s grinning and human-like reactions were more goofy than intimidating.
Certain moments – the anime implying Rindou is alive, Johannes’s despair following his beloved’s death, Lenka willing to sacrifice himself to save Alisa – were intriguing, but these few examples were about as much entertainment as I could find throughout the season.
God Eater manages to weave two different plotlines together while also creating a connected theme for much of the cast. Unfortunately, the weak narrative choices, the poorly handled characters, and other notable issues cloud the show. It is lost – and no compass could help give it the right direction.
Story: Fine, nice world-building, interesting back-and-forth plotline, and themes on God and hope, but lame dialogue, repetitive action, and some silly plot developments
Animation: Fine, stylish appearance, okay character designs, about-average actual animation, and okay artistic direction
Characters: Bad, Rindou highlights the major theme of helping others find their own path, but Souma, Lenka, and especially Alisa are riddled with issues
Sound: Fine, bad OP, okay ED, okay insert songs, okay OST, below-average VA performances
Enjoyment: Terrible, boring characters and boring enemies made everything a chore to watch
Final Score: 3/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3
I hope they make a season 2…but I sadly can’t keep my hopes up knowing how many OVAs of manga and game adaptations never complete the story.
This made me look forward for the god eater game franchise they should continue anime for attraction