Monday, August 22, 2016

Kamisama Hajimemashita - Anime Review

So, recently, I've been getting into some older anime—and when I say older, I don't mean 90s anime. I just mean they're anime I missed a few years ago.

Kamisama Kiss is the story of Nanami Momozono, who, in the English dub is voiced by my favorite VA, Tia Ballard. Nanami's father has just run away from his massive gambling debt, and Nanami has been evicted from their apartment. Alone and without a home, Nanami seems like she's about to give up, but then she finds a man who's stuck in a tree after having been chased there by a dog.

Nanami rescues the man, and the man, after hearing her story, tells her that she can stay at his place and kisses her on the forehead. Little did Nanami know at the time that the place where that man lived was actually a shrine. She also didn't know that him kissing her forehead wasn't just some fatherly-ish act. We soon learn that Nanami has become a land god. The man who kissed her forehead is named Mikage, and he was the previous land god who lived at this shrine.

It's during Nanami's first trip to the shrine that we meet the love interest. Tomoe is a fox yokai who served as Mikage's familiar. He's none too pleased when, instead of Mikage showing up, it's Nanami. When he learns that she is the new land god, he becomes furious, stating that no weak and frail human girl could ever become a land god. He then leaves, claiming he's done being Mikage's pet.

Something that struck me about this anime was that it's very shojo. The beginning part of this series reminds me of how most shojo anime go. You've got the girl who is down on her luck in some manner, and then you have the standoffish male love interest who treats her like crap. This is a typical plotline within the shojo genre.

Fortunately, this story deviates very quickly from what I consider to be standard shojo plots. After Nanami has a run in with a hag yokai, she manages to bind Tomoe as her familiar. Tomoe then undergoes a near miraculous transformation. He cooks, he cleans, he even helps teach Nanami about what her duties are going to be as a land god. Of course, he still has moments where he makes fun of her, but it doesn't have the same harshness that other shojo anime have.

One of the aspects about this anime that I enjoyed the most was its humor. Now, I enjoy laughing. I'd rather be laughing than crying any day. However, few anime manage to truly make me laugh. I might smile on occasion, but only the seriously funny anime can make me bust a gut.

Kamisama Kiss is not an anime that makes me laugh. However, the humor it has does bring a smile to my face. I enjoyed watching the comedic dynamic between Tomoe and Nanami. It's always funny when Tomoe does something kind for Nanami, which makes her think he must really care for her—until she notices the evil eyes he's giving her. The constant jokes are also what I think served to elevate this series above other shojo anime with similar plots.

While Nanami has become a land god and must do her best to learn her duties, she is also a teenage girl, and, being a teenage girl, that means she also must go to school. One thing that's interesting about Nanami is how her peers see her. It seems as if everyone knows about her dead beat dad and that she's poor as dirt.

During her first day back at school after becoming a land god, Nanami meets Kurama... no, I don't mean that Kurama. I mean this Kurama.

Kurama is a popular idol that all the teenage girls adore—sort of like a less disgusting, chuunibyo version of Justin Beiber. He has large, black wings on his back, which he claims are there because he's a fallen angel. In truth, he's actually a crow tengu—a legendary creature that takes the firm of a bird of prey. In the Shinto religion, they are thought to be either a god or a yokai.

He first treats Nanami like crap. Naturally, because all pop idols are douchebags. However, after learning that she's the land god, Kurama tries to get back on her good side so he can eat her powers and become the next land god. We're probably lucky he was thwarted by Tomoe. I mean, if our main heroine had died, we wouldn't have much of an anime, would we?

Later in the series, Kurama ends up falling for Nanami, for the same reason most females end up falling for a harem protagonist. I'd like to say that Kurama helped form a strange love triangle between him, Nanami, and Tomoe, but the truth is that several more men fall for Nanami. I suppose you could say there's a small case of reverse harem in the series. Saying that, the only person who Nanami has eyes for is Tomoe. I really do pity all the other guys in this series. Well, not really, but you know.

I have to say, this anime had both good and bad qualities to it. I enjoyed how it differentiates itself from the shojo genre, and I enjoyed the stylized art. The art has the same feel as anime like Fruits Basket and Kimi ni Todoke. At the same time, the animation was pretty standard. There was nothing really special about it, and I feel like they cut a lot of corners of the animation during its production.

Perhaps my biggest issue is how the series itself is incomplete. The manga series that Kamisama Kiss is based on has been completed, but the anime seems to have ended without finishing. This gives the series an incomplete feel that leaves me wanting. As fun as the anime was, the ending itself was unsatisfying.

I still believe this anime is worth watching, even if you aren't the shojo genre. Its got a decent amount of humor, the romance is sweet, and while I can't relate to Tomoe because I sometimes feel like he's too perfect, Nanami is a very relatable character.