Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Anime Review: Kamisama Kiss

Continuing along with the just finished fall series (although I only had three, one-cour series this time, just about everything is carrying over into the winter but that's the subject for tomorrow's post), I had actually heard of this series before the annoucement since Viz Media has licensed the manga over here in the US (under their Shojo Beat imprint). So I tried reading some of it, kind of got into it but not really into it so I was pretty excited for the anime and hoped that it would just flow a bit better this way. Sadly the anime ended right where I stopped reading the manga so it didn't cover any new material, really wish I had planned that better but oh well.

Kamisama Kiss (Kamisama Hajimemashita)

Summary: Nanami lost her mother at a young age and now her father has run away from his gambling debts and all their assets have been seized leaving her with literally nothing. She's determined to do something about it but before she can think of anything she finds herself helping a man get away from a dog and he offers her a place to stay in return. What he didn't mention was that his place was in fact a dilapidated shrine and in the process he just made Nanami a god.... 

The Good: Since there's no good place to mention this otherwise, the title translates more or less into "I Became a God", best guess for why that was changed for English is for alliterative reasons/American idea of god is pretty different. Moving on, this show almost feels like it was based on a story from the early 2000s since it's so, clean in some ways. No fanservice (unless you count fox boys with long hair and all their clothes on fanservice), the romantic pairing is established pretty early on, no gimmicks, the characters never have too much trouble overcoming the problems placed before them, it just has a cleanness to it that I don't see that much these days (or maybe I'm not reading as much shojo so I'm just not coming across it as often, also totally possible). Funny enough, considering how they share a director, I think this show has the potential to be to a lot of early high schoolers what Fruits Basket was to me and my friends, a gateway anime which I think is a good thing (although my inner cynic says it probably won't work out that neatly).   

The Bad: When the director (Akitaro Daichi) was first announced I said I was a little worried since I just didn't like how he did parts of Fruits Basket (and it's no secret in the fandom that he and the manga-ka disagreed so much that that's why there's no second season) and yeah, again I didn't like the ending he had here. As I said earlier, I had read up to this point so I remembered a bit so I went, checked, and yep, not only did he squish in parts from the next arc (and they only had two episodes to wrap up!) but a lot of the stuff I didn't like (Nanami running away) was anime original. I'm guessing he felt like there wasn't enough drama already and wanted to add in more but I thought it was a poor choice. But mostly my problems lie with the source material, while there are some underlying plot threads throughout the entire story (which were brought up here, and ended up going no where since they haven't yet been resolved) the story has a ton of silly side stories and I do wish it underwent Cerebus Syndrome to an extent, or at least had fewer side stories (hell, I was starting to wonder if the anime was making up filler for some unknown reason).

The Audio: I might get pelted by the fans for this but, I didn't really like neither the opening song nor the ending. There wasn't anything wrong with either of them (Funimation translated the lyrics so I can say that they matched the show well enough) but they both had the wrong tone for me, they were too girly and simpering and I just wanted something a little more upbeat (or at least a more upbeat opening and make the current opening the ending). Didn't have any trouble with the voice acting however, every one sounded good 

The Visuals: I don't know what it is but Nanami's design just doesn't quite work for me. It's almost there, and I like around 75% of the other character designs in the show, but there's just something a little off. Maybe it was the color scheme, that also seemed oddly bright and cheerful and I would have liked it to have been a little more muted, although looking at the manga book covers I can say that I can see where they got the general scheme from.

So I give this show a three or a three and a half out of five and I'm not sure if I plan on buying it. I probably should, and probably will, since obviously the only way to convince Funimation to license more shojo (yes, even thought Viz had the manga Funi has the anime) and I'm sure they'll dub it well as well, it just fell a little flat with me in the end. Thankfully it does seem to be doing well in Japan (apparently the streaming numbers for Funi were either the best or among the best they've ever had for a simulcast) so we *might* get a second season, it would be a shame to leave the few things they set up just hanging, although if not there's always the manga (although sadly not on the VizManga site yet).