in ,

Kaiju No. 8: “Joining Up!” (S1E5) Makes Kafka’s Dream Come True

© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

If you’ve been following my Kaiju No. 8 reviews, you know I’ve been absolutely loving this show. In fact, in my review of the previous episode, “Fortitude 9.8,” I even said that I’ve been waiting for the series to let me down, but that hasn’t happened yet. Well, I guess I spoke too soon because this latest installment, “Joining Up!”, is the show’s first real hiccup. Granted, it’s not a terrible 23 minutes, but it’s not nearly up to the standard this series has set for itself up to now.

As usual, “Joining Up!” picks up more or less where the last episode of Kaiju No. 8 left off, and it begins with Kafka’s dream of joining the Anti-Kaiju Defense Force finally coming true. He did just well enough in the entrance exam to get a passing grade, and unsurprisingly, Kafka and Kikoru also made the cut. However, there’s a bit of a caveat here. All of the other new recruits enter the Defense Force as officers, but Kafka only earned the rank of cadet. His membership on the team is provisional, and if he doesn’t get his act together in three months, he’ll be fired.

From there, the rest of “Joining Up!” basically just shows us what these new recruits’ lives are like, and it’s more or less what you’d expect. Their training seems pretty intense, and there’s a good deal of competition among them. Sure, some are just happy being the best they can be, but a few of them are obsessed with beating out their fellow rookies as well. As I said, it’s almost exactly what you’d expect from a bunch of new soldiers (or soldier-esque fighters), so the whole thing is pretty humdrum.

Kikoru enraging Kafka and Ichikawa
© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

In fact, I spent the entire episode waiting for something interesting to happen, and by the time the credits began to roll, I was still waiting. Sure, there are a few moments that subtly hint at what might happen down the line, but nothing exciting happens in the episode itself. It almost feels like a big franchise movie that’s more concerned with setting up future sequels than telling a compelling story, and as we all know, that’s never a fun experience.

In particular, I was really surprised by the lack of kaiju action. Other than a few brief flashbacks, we don’t even see any monsters, and for a show called Kaiju No. 8, that’s pretty disappointing. Every other episode so far has given us at least one fun monster scene, but this one bucks that trend in the worst way possible. Granted, I don’t mind an all-character-development episode every now and then, but it has to be good character development. Unfortunately though, “Joining Up!” is pretty mediocre on that front, so you really feel the lack of action.

Along similar lines, I was also pretty disappointed with the humor in this installment of Kaiju No. 8. Sure, “Joining Up!” made me chuckle and smile a few times, but on the whole, this episode doesn’t even come close to the heights of knee-slapping hilarity I’ve come to expect from this show.

In fact, a lot of these jokes even come across as forced. To take just one example, the series has done a great job of poking fun at Kafka’s age up until now, but this time, the gag feels tired and worn out. There are a number of scenes where his fellow recruits call him an old man, but they never really work. Instead, these comments have a very “been there, done that” kind of vibe to them, so they didn’t make me laugh a single time.

Two Defense Force recruits talking
© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

All that being said, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. While I didn’t love this episode of Kaiji No. 8, it wasn’t all bad. For example, as I said before, it has some good humor here and there, and since I love these characters, it’s always a joy to see them on screen. But hands down, the best thing about “Joining Up!” is the subtle hints it gives us of what’s to come.

For instance, there’s a scene where Kafka and Ichikawa tell Kikoru about the source of Kafka’s unnatural abilities, and if you know anything about where this series is headed, their conversation seems to hint at a future conflict involving two of the show’s heaviest hitters. On top of that, there’s also a brief chat between Kafka and one of his superiors, and while it starts out pretty mundane, it quickly takes a bit of a dark turn. It makes me think that not all is well within the Defense Force, and I’m really interested to find out what’s going on.

Unfortunately, though, a bit of foreshadowing isn’t nearly enough to salvage this installment of Kaiju No. 8. The weak character moments, mediocre humor, and the lack of action just do it in, so as a huge fan of the show so far, I was really bummed out. But despite all that, I’m still confident that the next episode will be a return to form. “Joining Up!” ends right as a very action-heavy scene is about to begin, and I already can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Kaiju No. 8 premiered its first episode on Crunchyroll on April 13, and the streaming service is set to roll out new episodes every Saturday.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Two apes touching foreheads

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Crafts a Sequel Caesar Himself Would Be Proud Of

The People's Joker, Joker the Harlequin sits in a chair in a clown outfit and makeup with green hair holding a cigarette in her right hand

SHF2024: The People’s Joker is the Queer Coming-of-Age Comicsploitation Comedy You Never Knew You Always Wanted