27 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Campione episode 1 – Itarian (Scamp’s take)

Campione starts off in Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy, which I went on holiday last summer to. Hence I was all excited to see how their depiction of Sardinian life and architecture was like compared with my own experiences. Early impressions left me a bit high and dry through. Apart from one bout of botched Itarian, it looked to me like any old generic European setting. It took a minute or so for me to realise that was the point. ‘Sardinia’ in Japanese just means ‘generic exotic location so our female poster girl can appear more exotic herself’. Ah yes, light novel cliché #106, one of the lesser known light novel clichés.

Speaking of light novel clichés, Campione. Yes, just Campione. That is all Campione. It is every single light novel cliché ever invented, and absolutely nothing else, to the point that its rather fascinating as a result. It has the highschool male lead with absolutely no personality whatsoever. It has a wacky yet rarely seen relative who is the reason why the main character is thrust into this perilous situation. It has a pretty girl who falls into the main characters lap with absolutely no input on his part. It has characters talking to themselves as exposition, yet this exposition comes in the form of garbled nonsense babble that means nothing to viewers and is only there to make the show appear more complex than it actually is. You know, lines such as “ah yes, as expected of an Elder God, I shall have to unleash my Sword of Divination to tackle his Mana of Destruction and then I’ll need to go home and Powder my Nose”.

It would be quicker for me to list the light novel cliches it doesn’t have. Well firstly, there was no pedophilia. The main character doesn’t have a pervy sidekick. There’s no childhood friend character. There was no character standing on top of a tall building’s spire as he spouted some nonsense about how they’re bored and there are powers brewing or…wait actually I take that back, there was a scene of that. There wasn’t a scene of the main character walking in on a girl naked and then getting hit in the face because clearly that was entirely his fau-wait no I take that back, that happened too. How about the older woman who offers to sleep with the main character while flashing her underwear-oh wait that’s in here too. How about chuunibyou with the main character suddenly getting super powers and acting all cool out of nowhere and the poster girl instantly falls for him? Oh, apparently that’s the entire premise of this anime? Lovely.

Someone out there is going to try argue “not every anime has to be original, tropes are not a bad thing, originality is over-rated etc”. While there’s a whole other argument I could have about that (namely that there is value in putting a new spin on established concepts), that’s not even the issue here. The clichés in Campione would still be negative points even if no other anime had done them before. Having a main character with no personality and yet having numerous powers and ladies fall into his lap is bad storytelling, because it’s just wish-fulfillment rather than character development. There is no earning of these powers or ladies. Spouting mystic technobabble is wasted dialogue because it teaches us nothing about the show, and feels clunky and awkward because that’s not how anyone actually speaks. Being cliché isn’t even the issue here. Campione has the problem of simply being a terrible anime to tackle before it can worry about being Original.

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  1. Posted July 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    There was a time light novel adaptations were good? There probably was, but my mind has been robbed of its ability to think clearly about that. Maybe Toradora? Durarara/Baccano?

    • Posted July 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Spice and Wolf, Suzumiya Haruhi, Full Metal Panic, Fate/Zero, Scrapped Princess…

      • Boku
        Posted July 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        ….Kino no Tabi, Slayers, Twelve Kingdoms, Seirei no Moribito, Kure-nai….The problem is that they seem to adapt more of the perverted ones now…

  2. Anonymous
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    You make it sound as if wish-fulfillment is inherently bad… O well, I knew this show was gonna be shit, so I can’t say I’m surprised.

  3. Posted July 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Sounds as bad as the descriptions. Thanks for writing this so now I know with certainty I shouldn’t go anywhere near this anime.

  4. Borneo
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    If the lack of originality wasn’t even the real issue, I’d expect that you wouldn’t write about it at such great length. Therefore I have a hard time believing your claim that the clichés in Campione would still be negative points even if no one else had done them. Well, maybe that’s the case for some of them. But I’d reckon that most of those clichés are annoying you and me, because they’re, well, clichés. They’ve simply been done to death, greatly reducing the enjoyability they (may have) had when they were still fresh.
    At least that’s the reason why I won’t watch this show, and not because I think, the tropes it uses were inherently bad or something.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      I guess I do go on about cliches an awful lot, don’t I. Should probably learn to try review without using cliches myself

  5. Erif
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Aw DAMMIT. There goes the summer season for me everybody. :/

    Guess I’ll just have to go collect figurines this summer. Or worse, I might have to go READ MANGA. May God have mercy on my soul.

  6. Posted July 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I think you are on a wrong track with this “wish-fulfillment is inherently bad” theory. When I watch a story, I don’t necessarily get my enjoyment from the perfectly reasonable amount of hard work the protagonist does to get his reward, but from how interesting the plot is. And in theory, a story where a lucky protagonist has a blessed life, can still be entertaining. The problem *IS* with clichés, at least when they are so blatant that they ruin the enjoyment.

    But most entertainment is trying to reach some form of escapism, being immersive, making you identify with the characters.

    For example, I already noted a season ago, how many bloggers PRAISED Space Brothers for making them identify with Mutta, because they are also good-for-nothing older brothers, who wanted to be astronauts as children.

    With these term pairs, like “appealing vs. pandering”, “identifiable character” vs. “audience avatar”, “escapism” vs. “wish-fulfillment”, that theoretically mean the same thing, their negative version is used only when they FAIL at their purpose: Like when we see the ATTEMPT to provide escapism, we see the old tropes used, but we don’t actually wish to be bland teenage boys with an abusive harem, so we call it “wish fulfillment” for failing, but if it’s clichés would be more subtle and we wouldn’t feel offended by it’s blatant approach, it would be praised for the same thing.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      I believe I’ve had this argument re Mutta before, so not getting into that.

      Perhaps something in-story that is earned can be considered wish-fulfillment, but so long as it’s earned by the character through development or whatever, that’s fine. That’s just good storytelling.

  7. Posted July 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Crap I still have small hopes for this show anyways (Or mostly just waiting until Crunchyroll streams it)

  8. Posted July 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think it was the worst of the LN adaptations, but this episode reminded me of a cross between Shakugan No Shana and Garzey’s Wing (without the English dub).

  9. Posted July 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t even finish the episode. there was literally nothing new brought to the table, NOTHING.

    • Noname
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Well if you are going to argue that nothing LITERALLY was brought to the table I would say that you are dead wrong. There were several bottles of fine wine brought to the table in this anime. =P

  10. lmm
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I still watched this, and I’m glad I did. The setting is at least a change from Japanese high school. The female lead is at least somewhat humanized, as if they’ve finally realized that super-bitch isn’t the secret to every viewer’s heart (and if you’re looking for originality, how’s this: her outfit gets more practical when she transforms). Grandfather and bumping into the girl may be trite, but they get the setup out of the way and let the show get started on its actual plot in the first episode (I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt and assuming it’s going somewhere that will take up all the episodes; if we’re into dumb filler by episode seven then I’ll agree with you). And the theming fits and makes sense; of course the expository talk sounds like technobabble, but that’s the genre. It’s been too long since I saw a good fantasy anime (I’m one of those people who gets rubbed the wrong way by Fate/Zero).

    Sure, it’ll probably fall off a cliff (and into generic-harem-land) by episode 4. But on its own merits that was a good first episode.

    • Noname
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you. Also what I liked although there was fanservice the main character wasn’t a complete pervert. He had some self-control. Also it wasn’t shoved up in your face.

      Also I liked the bits of humor in this anime. Humor is very important to me and some (most) anime base theirs on absurd situations and perverseness. The maid killed me.

      Also the music was awesome. The last scene gave me tingles because of the situation and the epic music. Something that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.

      Also I am still surprised at some people that complain about techno-bable whilst they are fully aware that this is a LN adaptation. LN can and by definition will get wordy. There is always lots of talking in them about just everything. =P

  11. luffyluffy
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Summer season is a pile, why are you even doing this

  12. Adrian
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    All this talk about cliches makes me wonder. Would I hate Love Hina if I rewatched it? I’m afraid to reach the answer.
    I believe Love Hina had something else that made it better than the the romantic comedies that raised upon its foundations.
    Tropes are tools anyway. Campione merely lacks the skills to make use of these and “craft” storytelling elements properly. Guilty Crown would be the best example of bad use of tropes.

    • Posted July 2, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      More likely you would only hate Love Hina if you were a modern anime viewer who never saw it when as a concept it was fresh(er), and in being so popular inspired the following generation of tropes and cliches from studios looking for an easy road to success.

      A great example of this is John Carter. From the perspective of a modern moviegoer it’s tired, bland, cliche, highly derivative, and absolutely devoid of soul – a hollow science-fantasy film with nothing to say about anything. A bad mimicry of Star Wars’ and Conan’s past glory. Even to an infrequent patron of the theatre like me, less exposed to the tropes it managed to give this impression. Then I looked up the name on Wikipedia.

      It turns out John Carter was written in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame), and is the grandfather of all those later, more famous stories which wore its once original ideas down into painful cliche. It may be that these ideas were only valuable for their novelty and lacked the depth which makes for a classic, but novelty is a powerful force. I’m sure as a magazine reader in 1912 I would consider John Carter a new and interesting story full of great ideas.

      • Posted July 2, 2012 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        What bothers me about the John Carter movie is that Disney usually has this way of taking outdated stories and making them timeless. There was none of that in John Carter.

        As for the Love Hina anime, I’m not sure. However, the manga still holds up well for me. It has that “honest” feeling that the many products that copied it couldn’t recreate.

      • Noname
        Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        I believe that might be nostalgia enhancing the feeling that you get when you read it. Nostalgia does that to people. =P

  13. Banarok
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read some of the light novels, and yes it goes into generic harem land, the charactersation of the lead heroine fails since it start at the prolouge (volume 3) rather then volume one. It would have been bad either way but i think it would have the benefit of a doubt if it had gone after volume order. But would have crahes hard episode 2.
    Still i find it so generic i almost have fun picking out the clichès and honestly they do take a new spin on the lead woman but its not noticible this episode and it still have all other generic archetypes in the harem so no big diffrence.

    • Noname
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink


      So sad to hear that….

  14. SQA
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Definitely a Light Novel series. I was feeling the Index-vibes almost instantly. Still, if it’s slightly better than the Index animes, it’ll at least be worth the time watching. (Index should have been the Accelerator & Last Order comedy hour)

    And while in last season I might have dropped it, the pickings are going to be rather slim this time around, it feels like.

  15. TheVoid
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Well I didn’t expect Verethragna to get killed in the same episode where he meets the MC and lets him have one of his incarnations.

    Though since he’s showed up I hope this means the more obscure deities will appear instead of the overused.

  16. Desi
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I wish you would stop calling the personality less characters Yuji-Everylead’s! If it weren’t for stupid luck, that dude was supposed to disappear within days. Having no personality would of helped the process.
    Tintin is much older, date of creation wise and he is like, the ancestor of all these bland leads. Blank Surface on which adventures can be written upon, they say. Sound familiar?


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