Allow me to be frank: Campione is a load of hot garbage and I am not going to do it the honour of writing a bantering opening paragraph in this review. It is not a good show, nor is it a “so bad it is good” show, nor is it something you can watch with a heavy dose of irony. It is just awful, and I hope to explain why over the following 900 or so words.
Campione follows the trials of Godou Kusanagi, an audience self-insert protagonist so bland and inactive that he makes your average dating sim/eroge main character look like an unstoppable party animal. Godou comes to the lovely island of Sardinia to return a stone tablet covered in faux-Cuneiform and ominous pictures to someone his grandfather knew. On the way he gets accosted, and then saved by, a blonde lass named Erica who has a massive “Primary Love Interest” sign hanging around her neck right from her first scene. She saves him from being mauled by a rogue god beast in an alternate plane of reality, which you can tell apart from normal reality because the colour palette is slightly muted.
Anyway, skip ahead a bit and Godou has met his grandfather’s friend (she is a supermodel witch), discovered the meaning of the tablet (will save the world), ogled at some breasts (Erica’s), and then finds his life threatened by a Persian god in the form of a cocky young boy (Verethragna). Through deus ex machina nonsense, Godou kills the god and takes his powers - becoming one of the titular “Campione”, a human with the power of a god which is important for some reason or other that the show has not made clear in the slightest. But it loves telling you how awesome they are.
This is just the first episode. The other two early episodes have other characters telling Godou how important he is and how awesome his powers are, while he does absolutely nothing of his own volition. He does get into some fights using his godly powers, but these are won without any actual exertion. Oh, and Godou also starts to acquire a harem with zero effort, rounding out your wish-fulfillment anime bingo card.
To cut out the snark and eye-rolling for a second, Campione is an utterly banal show in every respect. The plot and how it is told is especially bad - tales of chosen warriors with special powers saving/destroying the world are nothing new or especially "A Bad Thing", but Campione is so colossally inept at explaining any of it that it left me frustrated. The story loves to throw characters, events and proper nouns at you (Campione, Copper Black Cross, History Compilation Committee) but makes no effort to flesh out what any of them mean or how they inter-relate. This is not for the lack of trying, as Campione is a nigh-constant firehose of flat exposition, often talking directly to the audience by using the cast to engage in inane conversations, even during supposedly life-threatening fights. The show even breaks up fight scenes to engage in the classic “group of onlookers discuss fight in a detached manner and so suck all the fun out of it” trope, and there are even multiple cases of the main character experiencing flashbacks simply so more exposition can occur. This former item felt so absurd when it happened that I could not help but laugh at how terrible it was.
All this constant explanation screams “Look at how cool and interesting this show is!” but instead has the opposite effect - the show is just plain boring, and what it is showing is a transparent wish-fulfillment tale of the world’s most flat main character getting obscene superpowers and multiple girls fawning over him. It doesn’t help that the show feels utterly devoid of craft - everything presented is bland as can be and thrown onto the screen without any forethought. It feels like the writer is bumbling around frantically trying to keep the audience interested by throwing more elements they think are cool into the mix, but all of which just make the show more confusing and dull. Such elements include having a shadowy possible-protagonist mutter to himself about how events are “interesting” (they are bloody not) and the main character getting sloppily french kissed by a ten-year-old version of Athena (ick).
The audiovisual presentation of Campione is workmanlike. The animation and sound itself is fine, if marred by unimaginative design that makes it almost impossible to call to memory even minutes after watching the show. There are admittedly some high points in the animation, particulaly some well-drawn backgrounds, but these are overshadowed by the nonsense that is taking place upon them. Even the few fight scenes in the show are barely memorable, and spend a lot of their time not focused on the action itself but instead on people narrating the action or on dust clouds kicked up by what we are told is happening. The sound in particular is utterly forgettable and flavourless, with the sole exception of a “clang” sound effect in the second episode when the protagonist is hit on the head by a ladle. The sound was so absurd and loud that it had me laughing like an idiot - a highlight of the show for me. The voice actor performances are fine, but sadly cannot enliven the terrible script that they have to perform. The show even has Fumihiko Tachiki as a narrator (something he does with aplomb in other shows), but even this cannot save the script from burning mediocrity.
Campione was honestly painful to sit through. The sheer unrelenting boredom generated by the show meant I was constantly fighting the urge to turn it off and do something else. This isn’t due to any single offensive element - the show is simply devoid of any form of originality and this is its downfall. I took multiple pages of notes while watching these three episodes, most of which were peppered with expressions of frustration and the odd expletive. The show is utterly uninteresting, ineptly presented, and the sheer banality of it feels almost like a punishment for daring to watch it.
If you are in any doubt after reading this review (or if you just like to skip to the review score - shame on you!) then I will say it here: Do not watch Campione. There are so many better things you can do with your time.
You can currently watch Campione in streaming form right here at UK Anime Network!