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Kaiju No 8 First Thoughts

Kaiju No 8 First Thoughts

Posted on 17 May 2024

There's a real mish-mash of styles in the first episode opener - the kaiju design is remicent of a creature from Pacific Rim due to the glowing tendrils, the attack squad deploys with similar movements to those used in Attack on Titan and the music has the same slow, ominous gate of Tarentino's Hateful 8. Despite the seemingly disparate influences, it coalesces into an atmospheric and brooding opener to a show that looks like it won't be pulling a lot of punches. The opening direction also has some nice flourishes, such as the camera moving like a drone in and out of the helicopter cockpit. In all, it's an impressive opening couple of minutes.

The mood changes quickly as we're next introduced to a kaiju clean-up crew in which Kafka Hibino is a member. Numb to the idea of kaiju, he takes a practical approach to his duties picking up grisly remains of the monster and working hard to return the neighbourhood to normal. He wanted to be a Defense Force member like his childhood friend Mina Ashiro, but never made the cut. A new member to his crew, Reno Ichikawa, is determined to join the Defense Force too, and this grit reawakens Kafka's own ambitions. When the pair are attacked by a hidden Kaiju, Kafka proves surprisingly adept at saving not only his young charge but taking on the beast directly.

Kaiju No. 8

There's a real Planetes vibe to this opening episode, the idea of the background characters being the focus and the humour in the daily grind and humiliation of the dirty work that nobody else would want to do. This weaves seamlessly into some first class action with pretty horrific beasts and snappy direction, not to mention a genuinely surprising ending (despite the title of the episode).

The mix of horror, gritty realism and almost wacky humour somehow combine very well for this opener, but I'll be interested to see just how long they can keep all those plates spinning and not go too far in any one direction. Overall it's a solid introduction to the world and characters, with enough intrigue by the end to have me curious as to what comes next.

The character designs are memorable without being over the top, Ashino looking very cool in her fighting gear and the clean up crew looking suitably schlubby. It's clear that Kafka and Reno are going to end up working for the Defense Force, and I'm looking forward to following along as they get there. I'm hoping the series can forge its own unique identity going forward, but time will tell.

Kaiju No.8 is simulcasting with its Japan air dates on Crunchyroll.

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