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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Initial Thoughts: Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita: Abandoned by her father, Nanami finds herself homeless when she meets a man who offers his own home to her. His home turns out to be a shrine where his supernatural household awaits the return of their lord and master after a 20-year absence.(Source: Hulu)
Spoiler warning: Review contains spoilers for the first episode of Kamisama Kiss. Read on with caution!
In the first ten minutes of its premiere episode, it is clear that Kamisama Kiss/神様はじめました wastes no time in setting down what's going on. Nanami goes from homeless and in despair over her errant father's gambling habits to the girl living in a shrine and becoming a land god in the blink of an eye. And she gets acquainted with an incredibly handsome (albeit arrogant) wolf familiar named Tomoe and his oddball yokai attendants Kotetsu and Onikiri. So, definitely not your typical shojo romance. Good: typical is boring.
Read the rest of my review of Kamisama Kiss after the jump:

One episode in and I already adore Nanami. She doesn't take shit from anyone, will do whatever it takes to get the task done, and has a seemingly natural bias towards helping people (even creepy ayakashi hags and goofy attendants with masks). As much as she is fazed by her entrance into the world of yokai, she quickly adapts to her new surroundings.
Even though she doesn't relish the idea of being a land god, Nanami takes the task upon herself since there's no one else to do so, thanks to Mikage sealing her new position with a kiss (geddit?). She's probably used to grown men abandoning her and leaving her to carry on their debt, which is pretty sad.
So far, Nanami's duties seem like less of a god and more like a groundskeeper. De-weeding the yard? Cleaning the shrine? And to think, Tomoe was doing all of this stuff by himself for so many years. At least the show doesn't try to paint Nanami as some secret domestic goddess, because that doesn't become her.
I imagine that big stack of books containing wishes will come into play soon. Does Nanami have to actually answer all of those wishes? She will probably get more of them now that the land god is back in residence and back to cleaning up the shrine. Whatever powers Mikage actually transferred to her will probably manifest themselves as she does so.
Speaking of Nanami's powers, those scrolls she used were awesome. Once she got a hang of what they could do, she was pretty clever with them. Also: was the 'god soldier' bit a Nausicaa reference? If so, four for you Kamisama Kiss. Four for you and a gold star to boot.
Naturally, Nanami's foil is in the form of Tomoe, a stubborn jerk ookami-sama who thinks Nanami is a pest and an annoyance at best and clearly not suitable for taking over Mikage's position. But he's strong and that's enough for Nanami to make him the best candidate for her familiar. As much as he says he'd rather not attend to Nanami, it's pretty clear that he cares for the shrine and took great pains to look after it in Mikage's absence.
(Side note: Cosplayers? The costumes in Kamisama Kiss are pretty darn gorgeous. I'mma need to see a ton of Nanami and Tomoe cosplayers for the 2013 convention season.)
There's an obvious theme of kisses in Kamisama Kiss - hell, it's even in the title. Considering that kissing is one of the more intimate and affectionate gestures two humans can share, it's no wonder a kiss in this series can seal the power of a god in the body of a human girl - or initiate a contract between a young god and her wolfish companion. Of course, there's a distinct difference between the kiss between Mikage and Nanami and the kiss between Nanami and Tomoe, a difference I could write an entire post about. Maybe later?
One of my favorite parts of Kamisama Kiss so far is the animation style. The way it presents Nanami's back story, complete with stylized theatrical voice-over and old film filter, was brilliant and effective at getting across a lot of important info without being boring. The splash images of Tomoe and Nanami are gorgeously drawn, as are the costumes and sets. I want to see more of the shrine itself, but that will certainly come up in later episodes. There's also a great use of textures during brief flashbacks that add to the stylishness of it all.
So far, Kamisama Kiss is colorful and cute and filled with energy. It's also terribly touching: the scene in which Nanami overhears an old woman praying for her daughter is one of the best in the episode. I'm personally looking forward to seeing Nanami take on the responsibilities of a land god as well as her developing relationship with her new familiar, Tomoe. If this ends up being the only shojo series of this anime season I check out, I won't be disappointed.
You can watch streaming subbed episodes of Kamisama Kiss on Hulu or at Funimation's site.