GOD EATER – 03-09 Review
I like to imagine she’s saying this to the audience as she realizes that she just has become the worst character of this show.
This time I review:
God Eater 03-09: Shit hits the fan… again. This time a super-evil Aragami is at fault. Then Lenka and Alisa have a little montage until it’s proven that Alisa had lost all her marbles a long time ago but she was too high on drugs to notice until now… well, and also the monster that killed her parents had juck kicked her and everybody else’s ass. But at the same time Lenka has managed to find himself and realize that he’s THE guy, the one in a million, the special one… and he learns that this means he will soon die because he has monster-cancer because of his specialness. Also, humanity’s pretty much fucked in this series’ setting if you hadn’t noticed.
Sure, why not? What could possibly go wrong here…?
Nobody likes bad news. And yet they are part of life. After all, life isn’t all sunshine and giggles, right? So of course things get darker as soon as you try to make things seem more “real” in a fictional setting since the traditional prejudice against fiction is the need for escapism. But that brings us back to how nobody likes bad news and the saying may say not to kill the messenger but a series throwing at you the existential weight of life’s shittiness won’t be rewarded with applause from the audience. And so if you don’t want applause what do you want from the audience instead? An artist who seriously considers this may find a way to have a negative experience still become something meaningful for the story but there’s also the possibility that said artist just wants to be special, be “edgy”. You may ask yourself to what category God Eater belongs so far and I have to give it that: It really IS “Bad News: The Shounen-Series”. It’s quite a dark and even somewhat depressing series. And I don’t give a shit about it AT ALL. So, there’s that.
God Eater has delivered existential angst without heart. Before I talk about what makes the darker elements interesting, there’s no way to avoid it but to say that ALL the characters are shallow agents of plot-development. Any of the emotional beats in this series feel like a thinly veiled sham because of how predictable and heavy-handed they are. Emotions get expressed in these blunt statements while characters usually have no intuitive grasp of the emotions another person is feeling (with the exception of Lindow who might as well be a mind-reader compared to the rest of the cast). Therefore you constantly get reaction-shots of characters being surprised by what other characters saying and the surprise is often accompanied by verbal helplessness to react to this discovery.
Without any relatable characters the series is constantly fighting an uphill-battle in selling its darker plot-developments and sadly it’s losing it more often than it is winning it. It’s strange anyway how the series keeps up presenting these dark story-beats to the audience while clinging to its message of hope. There’s a stark contrast between what the characters are experiencing and what they seem to fight for. You naturally start to wonder why the characters even bother to get out of bed when their every endeavor just ends up creating more painful incidents. And whenever good does happen the series is quick to shove another bad thing down your throat. So it becomes even more difficult to relate to the characters when Lindow seems to urging Lenka to believe himself as he gave up trying to defend Alisa and instead tries to sacrifice himself. I mean, Lenka really couldn’t have done anything else and still Lindow made it seem like it was Lenka’s fault for not having enough self-confidence. And later the series tries to prove him right as Lenka (suddenly) becomes a master-tactician (which is a character-trait he just has from then on).
Someone has put a LOT of work into writing these English texts for the series. I don’t know why there needed to be this long text talking about how smart Yetis supposedly are but here you go, I guess…
Talking of Alisa… Fucking Alisa, right? Now here’s a character that’s an annoyance by design and of course you won’t relate to her either because of that. There’s a difference between a sympathetic portrayal of emotional frailty and just making her seem pathetic. First, she’s too arrogant to properly work together with Lenka & Co, then she sucks ass in the fight against Pita and after that she becomes a helpless bundle of teenage-angst and self-hatred. And just as she had hit rock-bottom she asked the wrong people for help and as a result got brainwashed. Whereas everything Lenka touches turns to gold, Alisa is just constantly fucking up, isn’t she?
But that’s a part of a disconcerting throughline in this series. Somehow men just are better than women in God Eater. At best you have someone like Sakuya who is a competent fighter but still needed the help of Lenka in the end that one time she leaded a mission. Or like when Lenka’s God-Arc needed to be repaired the engineer-girl Lecca wasn’t good enough and it was that one genius-friend of Johann who dealt with the weapon. Or like how the contribution of the woman in the scientist-circle from the flashbacks is to be an emotional support for Johann and delivering a child which ends up being the God-Eater-prototype (who not very surprisingly is VERY powerful and a dude). Despite the presence of various competent women in the series, it seems like the series always puts men into leading-positions within a particular scene and actively has proven more than once in a scene that the good guys are better off with men in charge. Then again, the characterization in this series is bad in general so I doubt any of the writers even considered this.
What the writers considered, though, was how to present a world full of misery and on the brink of total destruction. Akin to what Attack Of The Titan does with its setting you get a palatable sense of a hopeless war here. And the best thing is how the series uses every kernel of hope and turns it into salt that gets poured into the open wound left by the last tragedy this series has made its audience sit through. Like, early on Lenka wonders why they should go on these pointless hunting-trips to kill a couple Aragami here and there but then it’s revealed that the Far East Branch has a sort-of Noah’s-Ark-project for humanity and they need Aragami-cores for it to work. That lifts Lenka’s spirits – until he finds out that over a decade of gathering cores has only led to a completion-percentage in the one-digit-range. Or when Lenka has just made Lindow proud and proven to himself that he’s a good God Eater by saving a village – but then he gets the news that he has monster-cancer and will only live for another three years at best. It’s these tragic gutpunches where this series is at its best.
And there’s a story supporting all that but here’s again where the problems start. The story stumbles forward more often than not and it never feels like the audience gets a coherent image of what the factions are, what’s exactly at stake and what the exact goals of the characters are. Actually the series talks about these things but these things are delivered as revelations more often than not and they don’t seem to propel characters into action as you would expect. There isn’t a whole lot of build-up in this series as early on the whole Noah’s-Arc-thingy gets explained as the whole point of the God Eater patrols but then later on Lindow suddenly gets suspicious and investigates the project (apparently immediately getting paranoid after hearing of how more and more Aragami are flocking to the Far East Branch). I’m not even sure half the time who the protagonist is supposed to be: Is it Lindow or Lenka? The story doesn’t do either character justice. In the case of Lenka it’s a lack of influence over what happens and in the case of Lindow it’s a lack of attention from the story as we just see bits and pieces of what he’s doing and why he’s doing these things.
If characters are the glue that holds together a story and makes them relatable, this series is seriously lacking in glue. This series is so dark and existentially terrifying in so many ways but when none of the characters ever seem entirely relatable, a lot of the drama becomes ineffective. Especially when you look at a character like Alisa you notice how dull the characterization of this series has been so far. This series has fucked up the characterization to a degree where it impacts the effectiveness of the other story-elements. And it’s bad sign for the other four episodes that are yet to air because I doubt that four episodes will be enough to fix such a fundamental issue. I mean, you know that the writers of this series just sucked at characterization when there’s an actual episode called Sakuya Tachibana and all it did was show how Sakuya felt bad for not being able to save civilians earlier in the series and then after putting her into a leader-position she got rescued by Lenka’s master-tactician-skills. It’s amazing how seemingly even the writers can’t relate to these characters and properly articulate what their deal is.
Not even ufotable’s amazing animation can save this lifeless husk of a series and it’s highly unlikely that the remaining episodes will change that. God Eather has defined itself by its tragic moments without realizing how inept the build-up for all that stuff has been. It’s “Bad News: The Shounen-Series” except you don’t care who has to announce the bad news and who will be the recipient of said bad news.
- I suspect Lenka isn’t actually gonna die because of his monster-cancer. Instead he will turn into a super-monster at the end in order to defeat Pita
- So the real purpose of that ark is to do… what? Is it to build a super-Aragami that would protect humanity?
- Did these flashback-sections really have to be THAT long? I mean, they really are just exposition and a little bit of drama for the most part.
- There wasn’t even a hint there of how Soma and Johann Schicksal are connected and when they met briefly it didn’t feel like they were connected either. The characterization in this series is SO bad…