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Kaiju No. 8
Episodes 1-2

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Kaiju No. 8 ?
Community score: 4.3

How would you rate episode 2 of
Kaiju No. 8 ?
Community score: 4.2


The first two episodes of Kaiju No. 8 establish a solid foundation and room to grow for the rest of the series.

For background's sake, this is not my first introduction to the series, as I have read the manga's first volume for a review here on ANN. I held out on reading more, not because I didn't like it, but because I really enjoyed it! It has been some time since I read the first volume, so I have vague recollections of the broad brushstrokes of what happens in the early phases. That makes these episodes a nice reintroduction to the characters and setting for me.

The anime does a great job of capturing the many positive qualities of the manga and bringing them to life on screen. Kafka, Reno, and Mina all make strong early impressions with clear roles and good voice performances. The series jumps around a lot between tones, even multiple times within scenes, which can be challenging for any series to manage effectively. A lot is riding on the voice actors and animation team to make sure these tonal shifts are believable and flow together nicely, which makes them ultimately successful. Dramatic shouts and cartoonish expressions flow naturally into somber reflections or heartfelt pleas and vice versa. This is the make-or-break element for the series to be successful, and these first two episodes pull it off.

The other major dimension here is the world-building itself. Media featuring giant kaiju battles as a central component often fall into two broad categories regarding realism. The first category is far less concerned with the conflicts' practical realism, focusing on either the emotional truths or creative concepts instead. The second category is intimately focused on the realistic concerns of massive monster battles, often focusing on the collateral damage of struggles between such immense creatures.

Kaiju No. 8 seems to take a middle-of-the-road approach that presents itself as the latter while gradually toeing into the former. Kafka's job as a kaiju cleanup crewmember is firmly in the realism-first camp. If giant monsters could exist in our world, then their deaths would cause a catastrophic mess – especially in a dense urban environment. So, the idea of municipal or government cleanup crews specializing in mass viscera cleanup, area containment, and hazardous waste disposal makes total sense. Additionally, most of the early action scenes in these two episodes focus on the fear and danger of ordinary people. Much like an approaching extreme weather event, families huddle and take shelter, turn off the lights and pray for it to pass, or get caught in heart-wrenching situations when their loved ones are hurt or trapped. Even Kafka's single-punch victory is accompanied by a terrifying rain of blood that adds to his frightening visage, scaring the little girl he just saved.

At the same time, it's not exactly an ultra-realistic or super-serious endeavor either. Kafka gains a super form thanks to an alien host that he can't control, from its looks to where he urinates from. In his monstrous form, he is, in many ways, a superhero, again one-shotting a nightmare creature without much effort and no training. The defense forces have powerful suits that – for all their explanations – act as super-soldier exo-armor. These give super-human abilities and carry outlandish weapons like a battle tiger companion and man-portable rifles that can one-shot giant monsters.

This dichotomy might alienate some, as it could be seen as less than the sum of its parts by those who either want a more superheroic feel or a grittier grounded tale. I think the two halves work well in conjunction with one another, and it helps the series occupy a unique place in the greater swath of kaiju media.

The rather bland character models are my only real gripe in these first two episodes. Of course, the giant monsters look excellent with all the care and attention you would give the marquee beast of the week. But the actual human characters are very flat. This helps when they jump into comedic reaction mode, but it leaves something to be desired in more serious scenes. It's not a major drawback, but it is noticeable when the show shifts to a heavier tone.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the season; it feels like a real winner of an adaptation.

Episode 1: Rating:

Episode 2: Rating:

Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.

Kaiju No. 8 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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