Adapted from Matsumoto’s manga series, Kaiju No. 8 is highly entertaining

ANIME has seen a strong string of releases for the first half of this year. Just as the fourth season of Demon Slayer wrapped up, Kaiju No. 8 (KN8) also closed its first season with a great season finale.

One for those who love monster vs human action such as Godzilla x Kong, KN8 is also packed with humour despite following the rather standard template of Japan being attacked by kaiju or monsters.

Comical mayhem

In the anime adapted from Naoya Matsumoto’s manga series, each monster attack on Japan’s cities is met by the Japan Anti-Kaiju Defence Force (Defence Force), a military arm specialising in fighting these devastating monsters.

Centrally focused on Kafka Hibino (Masaya Fukunishi), KN8 chronicles how he goes from working a dead-end job in a monster carcass clean-up crew to becoming an officer in the Defence Force as he tries to fulfil a promise he made to childhood friend Mina Ashiro (Asami Seto), the captain of the Defence Force’s Third Division

The only problem is just before he joins the Defence Force early in the season, Kafka’s body is invaded by a tiny kaiju. It causes him to mutate into a human-monster hybrid with augmented strength and abilities.

For the remainder of the eight episodes, comical mayhem ensues as Kafka and his apprentice Reno Ichikawa (Wataru Katoh) attempt to hide his monstrous secret from the organisation that was formed to kill monsters.

$!Kafka slants more towards the class clown than the cliched hero archetype.

Monster-sized fun

As an everyman, it is hard not to root for Kafka. Lacking the training and strength of his more exceptional peers in the Third Division, he struggles with every required task as a soldier, from doing simple push-ups to even carrying standard infantry rifles.

The first half of the season focuses on Kafka’s personality while the second half spends a lot of time developing his relationships, such as with Reno and the other members of the Third Division. This rapport that develops between the characters is also the connection viewers will form with them and it is one of KN8’s strongest qualities.

Being a monster anime, the action is creme de la creme and the complexity of the sequences evolves with each episode. The first few action scenes are mostly Third Division soldiers shooting every monster until they stop moving.

Eventually, different characters bring different dynamics to how the action sequences play out, from Kafka’s fisticuffs in the middle of the season to characters using short swords and a gigantic battle axe in later episodes.

The studio behind the anime, Production I.G, have outdone themselves with the animation, especially with the last two episodes.

$!The first season expertly balances action and humour.

Flawed but not fatal

Unfortunately, the first season is rather formulaic and its story beats are quite predictable. Everything plays out exactly as the viewer will expect. Despite the dangerous situations they were placed in, the human characters do not seem to ever be in any real danger despite facing the series’ towering abominations.

This is obvious in several episodes, in which someone would suffer devastating wounds and they would make a miraculous recovery after spending a few days tucked in a comfortable hospital bed. It is a jarring transition that may cause viewers to not care about the characters.

Another thing the next season could address is a more uniform character development for the entire main cast, especially for important characters such as Mina. Strong characters require a solid foundation and complex motivations, especially for someone that is leading an entire division of soldiers.

This is currently not the case. Right now, Mina’s backstory is that her cat died during a monster attack and it made her upset. As much as the anime is an entertaining monster-slaying series, the second season would greatly benefit from strengthening a few of its weaker aspects.

Kaiju No. 8 is now streaming on Netflix.