Kaori ShimizuYuri AmanoKamisama HajimemashitaAkira Kamiya
Kamisama Kiss (season 2)
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2015: K
Also known as: Kamisama Hajimemashita (season 2)
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2015
Director: Akitaro Daichi
Original creator: Julietta Suzuki
Actor: Shinnosuke Tachibana, Suzuko Mimori, Akira Ishida, Akira Kamiya, Ayaka Saito, Chika Ookubo, Daiki Yamashita, Daisuke Hirakawa, Daisuke Kishio, Hinata Kusunoki, Hiro Shimono, Hiroki Takahashi, Junichi Suwabe, Naoko Matsui, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Satomi Satou, Showtaro Morikubo, Shuta Morishima, Vanilla Yamazaki, Wataru Hatano, Haruhi Nanao, Kaori Shimizu, Kotono Mitsuishi, Ryohei Kimura, Yui Horie, Yuko Sanpei, Yuri Amano
Keywords: Kamisama Hajimemashita, anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=16255
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 12 September 2015
kamisama hajimemasita
I enjoyed it, but it's abandoned the school setting and is leaving plot threads unresolved. Let's just hope we get a third season. We could also read the manga, of course.
It's the story of Nanami (schoolgirl promoted to shinto god) and her demon familiar, Tomoe. Well, yokai. Nanami's in love with Tomoe and has told him so, even though he's a bloodthirsty monster who misses no opportunity to sneer at humans in general and Nanami in particular. Fortunately, though, he's also absolutely faithful to her and sees serving her as the reason for his existence. It's conceivable that he might be starting to reciprocate her feelings, but:
(a) He's got so much hostility, denial and uncomfortable backstory that even he struggles to break through his own shell,
(b) There are good reasons why humans and yokai shouldn't get together,
(c) They've both said their pieces and Tomoe's position was unambiguously hostile to even the slightest suggestion of romance, so Nanami's basically given up. She still loves him, but she's accepted that he's off-limits. One of the most striking tiny moments in the season, for me, was in ep.8 when Tomoe's gone so overboard in romantic denial that he's gone into personal abuse... and Nanami doesn't react to this at all and just nods happily, as if it's nothing she hadn't already internalised.
I like this show. The Nanami-Tomoe relationship is explored more seriously and deeply than I'd expected, even after seeing season 1. It's also funny. (This is important, since there's a lot of drama, comedy and adventure for which the romance is merely an undertone.) Structurally, though, this season doesn't feel self-contained. (My recommended solution to the producers: continue it.) It introduces an apocalyptic villain who's trying to break into the netherworld, but his story doesn't go anywhere and the main characters never even realise he's a baddie. He has a nice, subtle bit of character development in the final episode, but that's not a resolution. Meanwhile the season has two story arcs, not counting a mini-arc in the last two episodes, but neither of them really have anything to do with anything else.
I don't think we ever even see Nanami at school. Is that right? I couldn't swear to it, but that's the impression I get. I think we see her leaving the house to go to school and of course we see a shapeshifted Tomoe at school in her place when she's in Izumo, but that's not the same thing.
Of course, that could be argued to be a plus. The school stuff had never been convincing. You'll see me grumble mildly about it in my season one review. Nonetheless school had always been a consistent presence in the series and I think it wrongfooted me to have it drop out of sight like that. We'd been getting to know some of Nanami's classmates, Ami and Kei. They were nice. Ami had a thing for Kurama. What's happening there, then? Apart from anything else, Nanami's attitude to school attendance had been nagging at me since the beginning and that question won't go away if we stop seeing her at school at all.
The show looks the same, but the underworld is portrayed more atmospherically than the yokai world at the start of season one. It also feels mythologically convincing, with the sort of silly but life-threatening rules one expects in folklore. I'm also pretty sure the title sequence is full of gag references to other anime. I spotted Urusei Yatsura, I think another sequence might be an Attack on Titan parody and there are at least two other shots that must surely be references to shows I haven't seen.
I'm in awe at Nanami's ability to give away her life for others. Literally. If they hadn't found a way around it, in season one she'd have halved her remaining life expectancy and then this year she'd have never returned from the underworld. Seriously, both of those incidents took my breath away.
Random question: where do those tengu children come from? These tengu don't have women. That's why they're on edge around Nanami. (Technically there can be female tengu, according to the mythology, but they're rarely mentioned and lots of Japanese people might assume that they don't exist.)
I liked most of the season, but really liked the last two episodes. The window into Nanami's past is powerful, not to mention suggestive of possible future plot developments if one's comparing the show to InuYasha. (Tomoe is a lot like InuYasha and capable of looking just like him in that flashback with the red robes, so is Nanami therefore Kagome? Hmmm. This show has a Kikyou analogue too, which is another plot thread I'm assuming they'd have to return to in a season three. Maybe they'll cover it in the 2016 OVAs, which I believe are adapting a "goes back in time" storyline?)
This show has a lot of Western fans. It was FUNimation's most popular simulcasted anime, although I think that's "from their shows streaming at that time" rather than "of all time". It's likeable. Nanami is impressive. You can see where the romance is going, of course, but that's the whole point. It's about the journey. There's emotional meat in the different versions of Tomoe and the relationship between them, for instance. Going from one to the other isn't something to be lightly reversed. This gets heavy, for both characters. The show's chosen to stay faithful to the manga instead of tying everything up neatly with an anime-original ending, which could be called unsatisfying from one point of view but is something to be admired from another and makes me more hopeful that they're planning to complete the story later.
I like this show. When they give the story completion in the anime, I expect my estimation to go up still further in hindsight.