I’m usually somewhat sceptical about series that are based on video games, mainly because I expect them to be not-so-subtle marketing tools. In spite of my reservations, I was keen to check out God Eater because it looked pretty damn cool.
God Eater is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which terrifying monsters known as Aragami have obliterated most of the planet, its inhabitants and wildlife. The surviving population, which is rapidly dwindling, is divided between those living behind a reinforced wall, built by the mysterious Fenrir organisation, and those who scrape by unprotected in the wilderness. Only mysterious weapons known as God Arcs can slay the Aragami. Lenka, a new Fenrir recruit from outside the wall, is fitted with a God Arc and joins humanity’s last fight for survival.
Wait a second, this sounds an awful lot like Attack on Titan, right? Well, the ‘last remnants of humanity living behind a wall to protect themselves from big monsters’ narrative is something that’s been a few times now and there is one scene in God Eater that feels ripped straight out of Attack on Titan. But if you’re a fan of the genre, God Eater is an entertaining watch.
Despite only having 12 episodes, the series successfully manages to branch two different storylines in the past and present. In the present, Lenka and his team are deployed on various missions to subdue Aragami and learns that there is more to Fenrir and his teammates than meets the eye. In the past, we meet the trio of scientists who are studying mysterious Oracle cells in the years leading up to the apocalypse where the Aragami suddenly appear, then researching technologies that can save humanity. These regular flashbacks to the past separate God Eater from monster-fighting series where we don’t see anything of the world before, and if anything I preferred and got very invested in this storyline of the past.
Looking to the present storyline, let’s take a look at our main characters aka God Eaters. Lenka feels pretty generic as the young hero, making him a fairly blank canvas for the uninitiated audience to project themselves onto. Once you learn more of his past and life beyond the wall, he becomes a more fleshed-out and interesting character.
As for the rest of the team, there are quite a few voices you’ll recognise if you’ve spent too many hours watching anime. I have to declare a bias for Souma, mainly because he is voiced by Nakai Kazuya (Zoro from One Piece, Date Masamune from Sengoku Basara)- but also because I love his character design and backstory, which is tragically linked to those scientists I mentioned earlier. We also have Rindou (voiced by Hirata Hiroaki who you may recognise as Kotetsu from Tiger and Bunny), who is your default ‘cool but kind-hearted leader’ type. Of the two female team members, the blonde skantily-clad Alisa predictably gets more air time even though I’m a fan of the machine gun-wielding Sakuya. And finally, there’s Kouta, who essentially acts as the comic relief even though there’s not much to find funny in a post-apocalyptic world. You can forgive God Eater for not having fantastic character development when it has just 12 episodes to work with.
One of my favourite things about God Eater is its animation, which is an unusual but not too heavy-handed CGI. It allows for some creepy-looking monsters for all those over-the-top fight scenes. Speaking of fight scenes, there are definitely multiple occasions where Lenka really should have died horribly, so please leave your realistic expectations at the door.
The one thing that lets God Eater down for me is what I mentioned at the beginning – it’s a marketing tool, albeit a very enjoyable one. The anime series ends halfway through the first video game’s storyline and essentially shouts ‘want to find out what happens next? Play the game’! Even though I would be happy to do that and the games are available to buy in the UK, I don’t have the consoles or free time to do so. I’ll have to hold out for a season 2…
God Eater has a lot of good things to work with and unfortunately not enough time to do everything it can with it. For this reason it gets a respectable 7/10 from me.