Why ‘Kaiju No. 8’ Should Be In Your Anime Spring 2024 Watchlist

Truly, I got my first taste of the highly anticipated Kaiju No. 8 anime series back in March when I was invited to the Crunchyroll 2024 Spring Season Preview and watched the first episode. Of it I wrote:” This first episode of Kaiju No. 8 does a fine job in the simple but solid world building of this anime’s version of Japan and the Kaiju monster that attacks it constantly. I think that audiences will start to see the string of the anime series’ narrative of the value of labor, not dismissing those who support us and fully going after what your heart’s desire is…”

With a trailer out for Kaiju No. 8 out in the world and more information about the series AND the artists attached to the opening (OP) and ending (ED) songs, I knew that I was game for this series to finally air. I figured that this new anime adaptation was for lovers of action-packed dramas, Kaiju (and all manner of monsters of course), and lots of great comedic timely moments for laughs. Now that we’ve got five episodes down, I thought I’d attempt to persuade those haven’t tuned in yet on why this new series, Kaiju No. 8, is a must watch and should be on your watch-list this Spring anime season!

Some minor spoilers for the first handful of episodes below

The Set Up

In Kaiju No. 8, we get to see a world that has suffered and changed a great deal–plagued by threatening creatures known as Kaiju–Kafka Hibino once aspired to enlist in the Japan Defense Force to defeat them. Kafka pledged to his childhood friend, Mina Ashiro, that they would both make it into that special defense force and wreak havoc on the monsters that ruined their childhoods; however, circumstances in adulthood forced them to go their separate ways and caused him to abandon his lifelong dream and separating him from his dear best friend. A true feat of courage and sacrifice lands him in the hospital at the end of episode one and forever admired by a younger colleague new to the job of Monster Sweeper–a job that is far from as popular and respected as the Defense Force that literally cleans up the dead Kaiji corpses left after big battles in the city.

Do you care for stories about characters getting the chance to revive a dream they previously thought dead? Kafka wants to clean up kaiju but not literally! Will a sudden metamorphosis stand in the way of his dream and living the best life he has yet to live? What does it mean to desire to be protectors of a world against a menace that is constantly evolving and causing chaos everywhere? Kaiju No. 8 effortlessly blends so much from a story about yet another underdog seeking to do more and beat the odds and the limits he once placed on himself.

The Pay Off

One of the major themes to follow in Kaiju No. 8 is determination…as in everyone. Everyone in life has some driving force in how they lead their lives and pursue their goals. Episode three of the anime introduces Kafka to a talent pool of applicants–all leagues above the ever-hopeful man. There’s Kikoru Shinomiya, a young woman who is seen and nicknamed a talent of a generation lifetime along with some of the toughest applicants the exam has seen in a number of years. As the man is observing along with his junior sweeper Leno Ichikawa, the path to the exam has already been an uphill battle–the exam itself will be a battle worth surviving, IF he can manage to get through it. Kafka arrives for one last shot at the Defense Force entry exam…but can he pass while keeping his Kaiju powers a secret? Ichikawa reveals what could be Kafka’s secret weapon: a part of the exam that he, out of all the applicants, is most knowledgeable about.

These first five episodes set the pace in retelling the set up of the story from the manga on the testing exam of the Defense Force, that Kafka is so desperate to pass. These episodes also help expand on the world building of Kaiju No. 8. The audience gets to see the glimpses of the system in place to get rid of and dispose of Kaiju. Kafka and others get to see the impressive testing facility that the Defense Force uses for its exams and also training recruits. I was really intrigued by the different parts of the sweeper crews and how they work together to break down, dispose of Kaiju, and also help clean up the city. Seeing the emergency alarms in place, the shelters, and more that helped flesh out a Japan that merely adapted to a world with Kaiju and a people working hard every day to survive and keep their home country safe.

The Humor

Kaiju No. 8 will keep you laughing for sure. This anime adaptation does a superb job of keeping the brand of humor and Kafka’s characterization on deck to the big screen. This guy is a lovable goof who has a good heart and bounces from coward to hero when the times need him to be. The anime is hilarious, balancing his inner turmoils brought to the surface with how he interacts with others. A scene in episode three where he finds that he doesn’t measure up to another recruit (actually any of the other recruits) left me laughing until I was in tears.

The introduction of the other applicants and the higher ups of the Defense Force and the organization that manages them brings new fun interactions to the mix. Kafka unfortunately has an unequal rivalry with a much younger aspiring Defense Force recruit, and the energy from their encounters colors how many other applicants see him. Kafka’s struggle with managing his new Kaiju-ness of his newly enhanced body makes for funny moments as he learns how to blend in for time to time as well.

The Humanity of Its Cast of Characters

Kafka Hibino, our main character, is a 32-year-old man who is greatly unsatisfied with his job as a sweeper. In many ways, he feels like he failed: himself, his childhood best friend, and his dreams from the years as a child. In so many ways, he is a relatable character (for some) to watch on screen and this metamorphosis begat by kaiju gives him a double-edged sword of sorts: it gives him another chance to follow his original dream and also puts a target sign on him, if discovered. Watching these episodes of him shining with his tactical knowledge of Kaiju, his ability to think quickly on his feet, and his drive to redeem himself is thrilling and starts building on an ever-greater story to get invested in.

An unexpected incident during the exam forces Kafka to push past his limits and seeing him and the different characters we’re getting to know experience a full range of emotions from being ambitious to showing vulnerability to releasing instinctual protectiveness. These episodes start to show the audience glimpses of these people and who motivates them, especially the standout applicant in the supporting cast. The final test comes to an end, but the examinees’ challenges aren’t over yet. The heads of the Defense Force are perplexed by several troubling implications regarding the Kaiju. The fifth episode cements Kafka’s new yet still fledgling position getting closer to his dream reawakened by his promise to join Mina and protect humanity.

Overall, this first showing of Kaiju No. 8 in the first five episodes stuns and proves that it deserves the hype that has been surrounding it. If you’re looking for the next action-packed series to add to your anime Spring season watchlist and haven’t either tuned in each or caught up with the latest episodes at this point in the game, I hope I’ve successfully persuaded you to check it and jump in with Kafka and the crew!

Tune in for new episodes every Saturday at 7:00 AM PT live subtitled and 7:30 AM PT SVOD subtitled and dubbed!

Follow news and announcements about the anime via #KaijuNo8. See more on via the English language website for the anime here!

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  • Carrie McClain is writer, editor and media scholar. Other times she's known as a Starfleet Communications Officer, Comics Auntie, and Golden Saucer Frequenter. Nowadays you can usually find her avoiding Truck-kun and forgetting her magical girl transformation device. She/Her

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