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.