Hiroshi KamiyaYoshimasa HosoyaKazuyuki OkitsuToshiyuki Toyonaga
Kamigami no Asobi
Also known as: Mischief of the Gods
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2014: K
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Director: Tomoyuki Kawamura
Actor: Daisuke Ono, Hiroshi Kamiya, Miyu Irino, Saori Hayami, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Yuuto Uemura, Daisuke Sakaguchi, Hirofumi Nojima, Houchu Ohtsuka, Noriaki Sugiyama, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yuuki Kaji, Hisayoshi Suganuma, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Tomokazu Seki
Keywords: anime, fantasy, reverse-harem
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=15828
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 9 April 2015
Mischief of the Gods
Not great, I'm afraid. It has its moments, but I don't think it works. I cared about the human protagonist and I had a laugh with the callous authority figures, but that's it, really.
It's adapted from an otome (i.e. "maiden") game, i.e. a reverse-harem romantic simulation computer game for girls, with a female protagonist and lots of pretty boys to choose from. What's different here is that the boys are gods. The girl is a human (Yui), who's been entrusted by Zeus with the job of teaching the gods to love. No, not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter. They'll be going to school together and Yui's classmates are:
1. Apollon, i.e. Apollo, Greek god of the sun. He's a childlike airhead who uses nicknames for everyone.
2. Hades, Greek god of the underworld. He's a gloomyguts who thinks he's cursed and that all bad things are his fault, which the anime quickly starts playing for laughs.
3. Dionysus, Greek god of wine and fertility.
4. Susanoo, Japanese god of the sea. He's a rude brat.
5. Tsukuyomi, Japanese god of the moon and Susanoo's big brother. Very quiet, takes comprehensive notes about everything anyone says, appears to be autistic.
6. Balder, Norse god of light. Like Apollon, but with a flashier hairstyle and a dark side.
7. Loki, Norse god of fire. Troublemaking cock, but with heavy gay subtext with Balder.
8. Thor, Norse god of thunder. Like Tsukuyomi, except with non-impaired brain functions. The third wheel in a Balder-Loki-Thor threesome.
9. Anubis, Egyptian god of the dead. Doesn't count, because he doesn't interact with the other students and indeed can't even talk to them. Barely appears. He's basically a dog in human form.
Then we have the dudes in charge:
10. Zeus, Greek god of the sky and thunder. He's running the show. He's also a massive cock who'll do things like changing summer to autumn just to spoil everyone's day at the beach.
11. Thoth, Egyptian god of knowledge, wisdom and creation. He's a nightmare of a teacher. It's not that he doesn't know his onions, but he seems to hate all things school-related (e.g. students and teaching), will take any opportunity to cancel class and is always unhelpful when Yui comes to him with a problem. Apparently it's possible to romance him in the original game. The mind boggles.
Good characters: Yui. She's great. She's human and has an existence that matters, in a way that the gods just don't. She has a background, she has motivations and she's not a dimwit immortal passing eternity by being a brat. She's unhappy about being kidnapped to be the babysitter for some mythological figures, obviously, but she never lets that get in the way of trying to help them. She becomes their big sister. She gets angry on their behalf. In one scene, she chews out Zeus. (Awesome.) After we've had gods being godlike in the finale, Yui trumps them all with her emotions about having to return home. That was surprisingly powerful. Yui is clearly the coolest character in the show.
It's hard to care about the gods, though. Oh, they can be amusing. Some of them are pretty messed up, e.g. Balder. Apollon's dark secret is sad, too. However at the end of the day, they're immortal supermen with the emotional maturity of brats in a playground. Your default attitude towards them is not to care. Any attempt at drama and emotion can tend to feel grafted on, even though you'd expect there to be tons to play with from the original myths. It's also unclear why the finale's threatened apocalypse should have been any more dangerous now than at any other time during the past millennium.
That said, there's still a fair bit to like here. This isn't a terrible show. Most of its episodes are entertaining. It's just that it feels a little hollow to me, for the reasons I've given. I liked Yui thawing out Hades with strawberry rice cakes. I laughed at Loki's mischievous gift to one of his classmates of a "romance manual", which appears to be porn. The Balder-Loki relationship has some genuinely strong scenes, e.g. Loki freaking out on discovering that Yui's human, or the big scene in ep.11. I also laughed a lot at the ep.10 pantomime, with everyone acting out Cinderella with lots of non-acting, plot improvisations and Thoth as narrator (bad, bad choice).
Ep.7 is a Christmas episode, by the way. The show gets fewer jokes than you'd think out of ancient gods celebrating a Christian festival that's younger than some of them.
There are also laughs to be had from the manservice, even if there's not nearly enough of it. Episode one introduces every boy with an explosion of flowers. Gods will have semi-naked transformation sequences into pin-up Magical Boy flouncy outfits. Loki's is particularly girly. The swimsuit episode (ep.3) is also a hoot.
I've read bad reviews of the original game. The anime sounds better than that, anyway, but it's still a rare Brain's Base misstep. To be honest, though, I suspect that my problems are subjective and that others might enjoy this show more than I did. There aren't any weak episodes in the second half, for instance. It's all either funny or making strong use of the characters. Unfortunately I, personally, found myself applying a God Discount to all the gods' antics. Their immaturity doesn't help, but it's not just that. They're shallow and often uninvolving. The gods are introduced as (male) bimbos. One gets the impression that they don't have any dramatic motivation, even when in fact they do and we'll learn more in the second half.
No, on second thoughts, being a deity isn't inherently a problem. I love Kamichu! and Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. My objection is specifically to this show's handling of them.