Here is a review that should have been completed six months ago, but due to erratic release schedule and budget issues, ufotable had to delay the final four episodes until now. With them having aired and the series finally concluded, we can now take a look at God Eater.
Many compared this show to Attack on Titan as there were some similarities between the two. Humanity is forced to live inside of a walled city because giant monsters known as the Aragami roam the land, feasting on anything that moves. A specialized team known as the God Eaters use specialized weapons, called God Arcs, powered by oracle cells… the very same cells that make up the anatomy of the Aragami themselves. These God Arcs are the only weapons that can harm an Aragami as anything from bullets to missiles don’t affect them.
For reasons not revealed until the end of the series, Lenka Utsugi wishes nothing more than to destroy all Aragami and joins the God Eaters. Now Lenka looks to vanquish all Aragami on the planet, but little does Lenka realize, there’s a deeper plan going on behind the scenes.
The similarities between God Eater and Attack on Titan are staggering, but many are souring on this show because they feel the story is rather bland, the characters feel a bit dry, and there’s not really any emotion or effort being put into this show. While the characters do feel a bit dry, the story itself is decent. It’s not an in-your-face style story like Attack on Titan, but more or less a slow burn. The show is paced by offering up a mixture of past and present. The present shows Lenka’s journey as well as his development as he hunts down the Aragami while the past gives us the background on the Aragami, how they came to be and how some of our characters got to where they are.
I actually found the past scenes the most interesting because not only did it give the supporting characters an amazing backstory, but it also explained the background of the entire world itself. Switching to the present, you get an understanding that with every single battle fought by the God Eaters is a battle that could have been prevented due to mankind’s arrogance. A lot of people can’t look that deeply into this show to realize that, but the story is pretty deep when you actually pay attention to it instead of running to the nearest keyboard and start taking a crap over a series just because it’s not holding your attention.
I remember doing a column not that long ago that talked about giving shows a chance and that’s what I did with God Eater. I was not really disappointed in this show except in one area which I will touch upon in the next section. I found the story really intriguing, but even though I’m singing its praises, the story was far from perfect. There were some plot devices in it as well as some parts that were just not believable… such as when Lenka took multiple fatal blows and just “got better.” If there were ever a time to point out and scream “MAIN CHARACTER PLOT ARMOR” then this is one of those times where you can safely do so. It was painfully obvious that Lenka just couldn’t die due to being the main character. Had they made Lenka’s injuries along the way far more believable, then it wouldn’t have been as bad, but when you get stabbed right through the friggin’ body and live… well… yeah
Despite all of that, I enjoyed the story, but even though the story was decently told, I’m afraid it’s time to move onto the section that made things just feel a bit flat.
Character development was present, but a lot of the backstory was so run-of-the-mill it just left you sitting there saying “That’s your story? Okay… you got it.” None of the characters really stood out as being truly unique and when you have a show with an intriguing story, amazing artwork, and a kick ass soundtrack, you’d kind of want to have your characters enhance all of that. Sadly, God Eater just couldn’t deliver on that front.
He is the Eren Jaeger of the series. He hates all Aragami to the point where he doesn’t care how he kills them, he just wants to kill them, but just like Eren was in Attack on Titan, Lenka is a complete and total noob and couldn’t fight properly. He needed the guidance of Lindow Amamiya, captain of the first squad (Read: Levi Ackerman) to show him how to fight and be useful. When we get to Lenka’s backstory, we discover his mother is sick and his dad and sister do whatever they can to help her get better… even if it means fighting Aragami just to retrieve medicine from an abandoned hospital. They can’t move to the city because they’re not compatible with oracle cells, but lo’ and behold, Lenka is!
That’s because Lenka is an orphan they picked up and not really their child. Lenka’s mother passes away and the Aragami attack their shanty of a village. A house falls on their father and God Eater’s version of Eren has to take his version of Mikasa and leave his version of his parent trapped under a house only to watch him get eaten by an Aragami, their version of a Titan, as they’re running away. So…. They decided to give Lenka almost the EXACT same backstory as Eren Jaeger. There is no way in hell that this is a coincidence. Yes.. I know this anime is based off of a video game, but come on… someone had to be reading Attack on Titan and thought “hey, we can do it, too.”
Lenka’s personality is just so weak, too. No matter if he’s inept at fighting or leading the squad towards the end of the series, his dry, monotone reactions to everything are really boring. There was hardly any emphasis or emotion from this main character and that lack of diversity really killed my interest in him. At least Eren Jaeger showed different emotions… Lenka on the other hand, only has one emotion… and it’s not the one that makes him an interesting character.
Need a cool, laid back character that’s good at fighting and loves putting away those cancer sticks? Then Lindow is the character for you! Okay, I’m not going to take a crap on Lindow because he was pretty entertaining. He never showed fear when fighting, but his down-to-Earth speeches to his teammates and to Lenka showed how much of a human being he truly is. He’s the kind of character that won’t let his true emotions through because he knows that it wouldn’t do his team any good. In fact, in the final episode, Lenka fully understood Lindow’s persona when he took his place in the fight against Pita.
Lindow knew the importance of bonds and friendship, but he also knew, from a strategic standpoint, the role emotions play in teamwork. It made him an amazing leader and a pretty well-rounded character. Needless to say, he was my favorite character in the whole series and felt that he would have been better suited for the main character position than Lenka.
Talking about Soma ventures into spoiler territory so you have been warned. If you don’t want to know some of the key points of God Eater, then skip onto the next character.
Soma is part of Lindow’s team and is the son of Johannes von Shicksal, the East Branch director. In the past, Johannes’ wife Aisha conducted an experiment on herself to infuse her body with oracle cells while pregnant in order to see if the baby produced would be more receptive to oracle cells. This was done during a time when they hypothesized that people compatible with oracle cells could possibly have the ability to kill the Aragami. However, when she gave birth, the oracle cells caused her to… well… explode and Soma was the only survivor of that “experiment.”
Because of this, Soma’s personality is very quiet, yet angry. He doesn’t like people getting in the way and he also has an issue with people he cannot trust. Yet, at the same time, Soma vows that he won’t let anyone die. Soma’s true intentions are pure, but his persona prevents him from being open with anyone around him. I guess with a past like that, it’s pretty understandable. Despite his pretty unique backstory, they don’t really do much with Soma in the series. He shows up for some fights, does his part and that’s it. I didn’t really care all that much for this character as he seemed more annoying than tragic.
She is the second in command for Lindow’s squad and outside of having a blatant thing for Lindow, she doesn’t really do much except play the “mother” role for the team. At first she has, what appears to be, a harsh exterior, but she offers to teach people like Lenka, Kota, and Alisa how to use their God Arcs when they are in shooting mode since that’s her specialty. She also gives off the vibe that she can’t make decisions on her own as she typically follows whatever orders are given to her no matter who the person giving the orders are.
She does have a warm and caring personality, but for someone being second in command, she doesn’t seem to handle responsibility all that well. She freezes in moments of tension and sometimes seems to be at a loss as to what to do more than someone who can lead a squad. This is further justified when she often acts as backup in most of the missions Lindow’s squad goes on. These traits in a character are fine, but not when you’re the second in command. It’s probably because of her rank that I just couldn’t really get into this character all that much.
Tsundere alert! Okay, so we have this hyped up elite fighter from the Western Branch transferring to the Eastern Branch. Fighting like a boss on top of a plane was an awesome way to introduce this character, but then they decided to give her a backstory and turn her into one of the most useless fighters on Team Lindow.
Okay, so the Aragami can evolve. The “main boss” of this show is a giant Vajra-type Aragami named Pita…. Yes… they named the big bad boss after a piece of pocket bread. Pita is super-intelligent and possess human-levels of thinking. It also killed Alisa’s parents and when Alisa sees Pita for the first time, her brain snaps and she just becomes a lump of useless mush. So much for the BAMF elite fighter gimmick, right?
I guess they did that to try and make Alisa seem more human and less of a tsundere trope, but instead they gave her the trope that her parents are dead and she, like Lenka, wants to murder all the Aragami, but unlike Lenka, she sees the one who killed her parents and all of a sudden she’s just dead weight. I know we’re supposed to feel emotion and sympathy for this character, but with a generic backstory like that and the way she just becomes useless, that sympathy is just never generated. I really wanted to feel for Alisa by holding out hope that she could turn that fear into a strength, but she never did. At the end, she does snap out of it, but it’s just so forced that you don’t really feel like she’s empowered. It just feels like “welp, that’s over. Guess it’s time to shoot stuff and fight again.” Even when she does fight again, she’s not portrayed as the badass as she was introduced as. Character continuity at its worst!
And we have the final member of the Lindow team and a late addition at that. Kota runs into Lenka on his first day and he’s an even bigger noob than Lenka was. At least Lenka was able to hit the targets in the training simulation program…
Kota is that “always happy” free spirit of a character who is just a bit too naïve for his own good. His energetic vibe could have been infectious had the cast of characters paid attention to it. Most of the time they just ignore what he says until he actually tries to make himself useful. While Kota does finally get to work together with the team in the end, it feels more like a “look mommy, I’m doing it” moment more than something that should be taken seriously. Throughout the series, it seems like the team spent most of their time saving his ass from dying. The payoff in the end didn’t seem anywhere near what the journey to get there should have represented. If any character was deserving of a death in this anime, it was Kota.
Seriously… completely useless character. What’s worse? He’s the kind of trope character that would end up as a main character in a lot of generic animes. Thank God (Eater) that this didn’t happen here.
She’s Lindow’s sister and commander of the God Eaters in the Western Branch. She is a former God Eater and one of the first to retire. She’s your typical commander character. She barks orders, but she always tries to analyze the situation and choose the best path to success. She’s not a bad leader by any means. In fact, she’s probably one of the better characters I’ve seen in a commanding role. She has a nice balance of duality between compassion for those under her and her duty as a commander to ensure the job gets done. You can’t really ask for anything more from a character in this position. She is one of the few characters I felt that this show got correct.
The last two remaining characters, Johannes von Shicksal (left) and Paylor Sakaki (right) really dive into spoiler territory. All I will say, as to not completely ruin 80% of the content of God Eater, is that they were scientists in the Fenrir project that were in charge of studying the oracle cell and the Aragami. Now, Johannes is the director of East Branch and Paylor the head of Research and Development who is tasked with the creation of the New Generation God Arc weapons.
Art, Animation, and Sound
Here is where the anime REALLY shined. The artwork is simply gorgeous. I don’t really know how to categorize it as it looks like a hybrid of watercolor and CGI. The Aragami are full CGI while the characters, backgrounds, and everything else has that watercolor feel to it. It is truly unique and gives this show its identity. Every scene could be a desktop wallpaper, it’s that good looking.
Holy Giant Aragami
Even though I hated the characters from a personality standpoint, I loved all of their character designs. Everyone looked unique and nobody blended into the background. Their coloring, animations, clothing, and pretty much everything else about them really made them stand out. The only thing that made me laugh was during the final episode when they decided to turn Lenka Super Saiyan. Yeah, that’s a bit spoiler-ish, but I couldn’t let this review go by without mentioning that. In fact, here… check it out for yourself!
What does the Scouter say about his power level?
The animation is also extremely smooth as well. While some parts of the show have your typical anime-type animation, most of the show, especially the fight scenes, just look amazing! Not only are the fights well-choreographed, but they just look so fluid and alive with life. I would say the best parts of this show were the fight scenes just because of the way they were handled. This comes as no surprise as ufotable did an outstanding job with the fights in Fate/Zero as well as Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works, so to see that kind of effort and attention to detail carry over here in God Eater is well appreciated.
That’s one angry pocket bread
The soundtrack… just WOW. Driving orchestral themes, rock themes, even insert songs both unique to the anime and borrowed from the video game soundtrack… the OST brings the emotion to the show that the characters fail in doing. I think this show would have truly suffered had the OST not been this good. This is one of those OSTs that you should rush out and pick up as soon as its available as it won’t disappoint. An anime doesn’t have to be good to enjoy music, you know! The OP theme, “Feed A” by OLDCODEX is a decent opening. It’s just a generic rock theme, but that’s kind of their style. Even though I never saw Free, they also provided the opening for that and I actually liked that song more than this one.
Despite its flaws, I enjoyed God Eater. It wasn’t the best anime I’ve seen, but its far, FAR from the worst (like some people are making it out to be.) It had a very interesting story, rockin’ fight scenes, an amazing soundtrack as its high points, and piss-poor characters as its only low point. If you ignore the characters and treat them as props and just sit back and look deeply into the story then you might actually enjoy this anime.
I would recommend this as something to possibly stream (legally, but hey, I won’t question your acquisition methods), but this is not a show I would say go out and buy it to own. Seeing it once should suffice, but if you want to see it again, then that is your decision to make. Personally, once was enough for me as it didn’t leave me with a super fuzzy feeling at the end. Some of the animes that have ended this season felt like it was saying goodbye to an old friend. God Eater just felt like I was saying goodbye and not looking back as I walked away.
Good for what it is, but there’s better out there.
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