This is review number four hundred and fifty two. This anime is part of the Winter 2015 lineup, and it’s called Kamisama Hajimemashita season 2 or Kamikiss 2. It’s an anime about a bunch of person going to hell, and then coming back up to do a shopping montage. Yeah, let’s read on.
Nanami Momozono was given the job of a land deity of a shrine after the previous owner up and left. She wasn’t just left a shrine though. She also has two servants with her, a fox and a snake. Nanami fell in love with the fox, Tomoe. Little does she know though, Tomoe adores her as well.
Taking the Pants Off
Can you believe the first season of this show was my 126th review? That was very early TPAB, and I bet my review was cringy as f*ck. I don’t remember much about the first season, but I do vividly remember that I didn’t really like it. TPAB of 2013 lacked the amazing reviewer skills back then to fully express how much this anime sucks, and I am glad I got a second shot at it. Yes, it’s time to properly hate on this show. For his 452nd review, TPAB will take on Kamisama Hajimemashita again. Let’s get right to the main point though. I didn’t like this anime because the original source itself sucked. There are some manga that focused too much on the visuals that the author didn’t give enough focus on the story. That’s why it’s always smart to have one person illustrate and another to write a manga. Well yeah, it’s much cooler if you did it yourself but if you’re not really good at doing both then the end result is a lackluster manga that turns into an anime paradox. Yes, the gawd damn anime paradox. I experienced it once and I get to talk about it again. I’m getting way too excited about the bad elements of this anime already, so let’s focus on the positives first. I’m a fair reviewer even if people doesn’t agree. I just don’t like it because I embrace the fact that I’m a jerk.
So apparently this anime follows a girl that was forced to guard a shrine and she has a fox and a snake as her followers. There were also two other things there, but I don’t remember who they are. I don’t even remember the snake. I thought it was only the fox. I do know the girl confessed in the first season and she was shot down by the fox. Anyways, the first season kinda followed their romance, but it was very shallow because there was also some supernatural elements thrown into the mix. There was also a fish that liked a boy in the first season, and the fish is a supporting character here. I don’t remember anything of note in this show, because I kept remember how messy the entire experience was. In fact, the second season is a tonal mess as well. If you want a good example of a Supernatural anime with a side dish of another genre then look no further than Natsume’s Book of Friends. It has a cat that turns into a demon cat, but it also had enough impact to make us cry over an old lady taking care of a shrine. The elements of Drama and Supernatural melded together as we witness Natsume embrace the world of the monsters while also indulging in the softness of human connection. Top notch in all aspects. Kamisama Hajimemashita, on the other hand, has elements that doesn’t really go together. I can respect a story that has pockets of romance and jabs of the supernatural. I find it more insulting that the two genres ended up clashing.
This anime is Shoujo, for sure. It features hot dudes but they were never the focus. Instead, it follows Nanami Momozono’s journey as a land deity. In most episodes, we see her get tangled in the various supernatural entities of her work. There are some that dismiss her for being a human deity. I bet it’s like normal soda making fun of diet soda. They know diet sodas are just fooling themselves. Since the flavor is mostly supernatural, you can expect these entities to fight or show off their powers. The Shoujo elements are really only felt in the visuals, but I guess you can also make a case for the genre appearing in its romantic subplot. Nanami apparently has a will-they-wont-they type deal with her fox servant, Tomoe. Natsume’s Book of Friend does the same style with its supernatural entities falling for humans. You can often feel these star crossed lovers try to bridge the gap even though fate would say otherwise. In Kamisama Hajimemashita, the romance is awkward. It doesn’t feel personal and it appears randomly. I can respect a story about saving someone from hell, but it is immediately followed up by Nanami pondering her feelings for Tomoe. Now, if I ever literally go to hell and back, I would not have time to think about my hot fox servant. We spend so much time on one genre that the other genre is neglected. The supernatural side follows Nanami’s growth as a land deity, yet we never really see it happen. We spent too much time on her being stupid for Tomoe that her ability to write talismans just gradually gets polished. We would focus on Nanami trying to save a mountain and a love triangle suddenly appears. The wonders of the mountain seems to be glossed over to focus on a guy that already rejected a girl. It just looks so messy.
The flashbacks are even messier. I do understand that the manga has chapters focused on one thing, but the anime adapts the damn thing without any grace. During a life and death crisis, a flashback would suddenly appear and we would follow that, and then we’d go back to the life and death thing. I am vague on the examples, because I honestly forgot what happened in the anime. I think two major arcs happened, but they really just happen without any weight to them. The sudden transition to flashbacks just looks utterly sloppy though. Oh, there’s one about this rock star side character and flashbacks would happen randomly. Often times, it’s to introduce a character that’ll serve a purpose in the next scene and it just looks extremely amateurish. There is no proper transition to the story, there is no foreshadowing employed and the flashbacks are used as a plot device. I hate stories that uses a flashback to explain a thing that explains a part of the story happening after the flashback. For example, we are told of the rock star’s rough childhood because the guy that made his life hell appears heavily in the following scenes. We are told that a pink haired dude saved someone and got banished, yet the flashback only happened when we see the monster the pink haired dude fought that got him banished. We are told of this ruler of the mountain yet his appearance only happened when Nanami decided to look for him. He was an emotional linchpin for a lot of the characters, and the story didn’t have the foresight to introduce him early.
I’ve seen this kind of catastrophe before, because it ruined me awhile back. In terms of an adaptation, the anime should be able to capture the original source’s strength and weaknesses. Now, I ask you, if the original anime is deeply flawed and the anime perfectly adapted it, is the anime good or bad?
The Adaptation Paradox
Yes, this exists and I hate it. Basically, the manga itself is just badly written. Julietta Suzuki spent more time creating the panels and the visuals that she didn’t properly pace the flow of the story. Don’ get me writing, the visuals are absolutely breathtaking. Her drawings has a gentleness to them that the anime never captured, and I don’t think they can. It is just uniquely Julietta. The problem is the story often just happens without any care to them. There was one scene in the manga where a magical hammer randomly gets introduced and this hammer is now an important thing for Tomoe to save Nanami. It literally appeared in one chapter only, and it’s now an integral plot device. It was so laughably amateurish that it makes my head hurts. The problem with Julietta’s work is that she never lets a scene breathe. We wonder into the deity meeting Nanami attended and we barely get to see the supernatural creatures that attended it. We saw one, the war deity, and he was mostly featured because he looks like a model too. I think back to Natsume and how Yuki Midorkiawa would let us feel the snow falling from trees as it welcomes the emotional burden of this snowman rabbit. She had the foresight to tell us the snowman rabbit slept next to another normal snowman rabbit, and the normal one melted the next day. That single scene ruined me. Julietta is an amazing artist, but she is not a good storyteller. She doesn’t know good pacing, and she mostly confines her efforts in the chapter she’s making. Some chapters are really good, but overall, the story moves too fast. So here is the anime adapting a badly paced manga often using the manga itself as the storyboard, and the end result is all of Julietta’s weaknesses as a writer completely exposed.
I do need to point out that this is the second time I’ve experienced this adaptation paradox. It happened before with a manga called Donten ni Warau, and that title is a lot more amateurish. There could honestly be titles of Shoujo mangas intentionally giving up story and pacing because their readers aren’t really into that. They just want the visual candy. My entire being as a reviewer rejects that notion though, but I will be fair and state that it could be a thing. This is Japan. I mean, they made door licking a sex thing. This is sadly the fate of this anime though. It’s a Shoujo anime that has a bad story and laughable pacing. It doesn’t know how to do flashbacks, it doesn’t take advantage of its visual storytelling and it lazily uses Dues Ex Machina to resolve its stories. These are all elements of Julietta’s writing. She’s just not any good at it. I can bash her all I want though. It doesn’t change the fact that her work has two anime already. Also, despite her lack of storytelling skills, she does know how to do something really good. Owing to the stereotypes of a Shoujo genre, the anime does have compelling characters.
IF there’s one thing I truly enjoyed in this anime, then it’d be the interesting characters. The sloppy visuals and the lazy storytelling honestly only served to make them look good. Tomoe and Nanami are compelling characters mainly because of their complicated relationship. Nanami is an honest girl that lives her life to the fullest, and she straight up confesses to a guy she liked. In every aspect of her life, she gives it her all and she doesn’t back down. In this season alone, she went to hell, climbed a mountain and tried to fit a sheep inside a barn. Despite all of these overwhelming tasks, she never had a moment of weakness because she was taught never to have one. Tomoe is even more compelling though. He lived a lifetime already, so Nanami’s confession doesn’t really budge him. He outright rejects her. And yet, he can’t seem to leave her side. When you’ve lived a lifetime like him, you know the pains of living but you also know the sweet side of it. Seemingly feeling not to be aimless and alone again for another lifetime, Tomoe follows Nanami and admires her from afar. Yeah, he kinda likes her as well but he has the foresight not to jump the shark. It often takes a lot of his strengths though just to hold himself back and go for the girl. In fact, a lot of the best scenes in the anime has him giving in. He’ll wrap his arms around the girl and he lets his feelings take over only to regain himself and suddenly stop. This is why I hate the Shoujo genre. It features gullible romance that is too saccharine for me, but it’s formulated to make a younger reader squeal. She’s not fangirling to the story though. She indulges in Tomoe’s presence, and I don’t hate anyone for that.
My favorite character in the series is this new one introduced at the first half of the show. Tomoe has lived a lifetime and he met a lot of people during it. One of them is this murderous devil that used to be Tomoe’s sidekick. Akura-Oe seemingly woke up one day to find Tomoe gone, and he’s been lonely ever since. Losing his body and left to stay in the dark, this dude was given a second chance when a mountain climber walks up next to him. Akura is an amazing character. I love him. He is apparently a villain in his lifetime, and he tries to be in the first half, but he is stuck living a human’s life. You’d think he’d object though, but he seemingly found the comfort of a human life too important to him. He often had to choose between retrieving his body or living a human’s life, and one side often wins. It’s adorable how he tries to be bad, but you often feel his lifetime was just as lonely as Tomoe’s. The fox had a chance to live most of his life with warmth though while Akura soak in darkness. Given a chance to be in warmth, Akura can’t seem to give it up. While he still desires to raise literal hell in his current lifetime, you also can’t help but feel glad that he has warmth besides him now and that’s good enough.
Deus Ex Machina
From wiki-sama, it states that this is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence. This anime has a f*ck ton of it. I already explained the magical hammer that solved a problem before, so I want to focus on Nanami’s stupid talisman writing skill. The anime never really explained why this is her only power and how she can improve it. She just has this power, and this power is important. A lot of the stories’ conflict is solved by Nanami writing on a piece of paper, and it just looks so bad. I’ve never seen such a lazy plot device employed over and over. Sometimes she would just write “find this person”, and the person would immediately be found. In one scene, she was able to create a barrier by running around yet the story never really explained how she manages to do it. She just did it, and it looks awesome. I love stories in my anime. You have to understand that. A thick slice of exposition, a gravy boat of subtext and a side dish of foreshadowing, I eat those up. That’s honestly why I keep coming back to anime and doing reviews for almost a decade now. I come back for the stories. To be served Deus Ex Machina in the laziest way possible is honestly insulting to me. I can forgive a bad story turned into a bad adaptation. I can fairly argue that Julietta isn’t the only author to focus on the visuals more. I can accept the Shoujo genre has flaws itself that allows this anime to be like this. I cannot forgive lazy plot devices though. The reviewer in me rejects it. A simple explanation of Nanami having limitless deity powers inside her is enough for me. That’s a decent explanation. Instead, Nanami just whips out a paper and a problem is solved. It’s just so bad. I really hate it. Who hurt you? Why did you do this?
Daichi and TMS Entertainment
There is an argument to be made here about an anime making up for the manga’s weaknesses. I often feel like that was never discussed though, because this was just a paycheck for everyone involved. I don’t know of any ground breaking TMS Entertainment anime, and I honestly don’t want to see one. This studio really only does “decent” anime, and that’s fine. When you’ve existed for 75 years, there’s really only so much more you could do. People know your brand and that’s enough for most. They don’t really put much effort in the animation, because I think they’ve cracked the game. When you’ve lived for so long, you know what can be passed off as “decent”, and that’s fine. It’s all fine. I do hope their later titles are much better. This was a 2015 anime, so who knows what TMS Entertainment has unleashed after this one. I do know Akitarou Diachi. He created Now and Then, Here and There and its one of the most depressing anime out there. Beyond that, he directed a lot of really good anime with Bokura ga Ita being a prominent one since it’s a really good Shoujo title. He knows how to do an adaptation, and I can bet he could’ve done something more if a different studio handled Kamisama Hajimemashita. He did try to improve the flow of the story, because the manga is honestly a lot messier. I didn’t talk about the dialogue, but the flow of conversations is a lot stupider in the manga. The author just really doesn’t know how to do exposition. Akitarou did his best though. He even paced the anime to make each chapter of the manga stand out in the adaptation. I do think he phoned it in at some point, and I don’t blame him for that. I would love to see his later works though, because this dude has talents waiting to be enjoyed by many.
Sight and Sounds
I talked negatively about the author, but let’s balance it out with a long talk about her visuals. They are amazing. Her panel work is pretty great. She often gives so much room for the visuals that it really does feel like she wants you to just look at the pretty pictures. As I said before, she does gentle work with her characters. She puts a lot of effort in the eyes and the facial expressions, and she gives so much emphasis to how slender and vulnerable a character looks. This often adds to their narration that makes the characters stand out even more. I know her visuals are typical Shoujo, but they are executed really well. She puts so much effort in the visuals and it shows. The kind of effort put on the page is undeniable, and I respect her for that. I also love the fact that she loves dressing Nanami up. You often have full panel drawings of her in different outfits. I know this is a staple of the Shoujo genre, and I love how it’s done here. Nanami looks awesome in all her different outfits, and you can tell Julietta enjoys posing her in many clothes. She even does the hair different from time to time. It’s adorable. Nanami is one thing, but you can tell she enjoys drawing hot dudes more. A lot of close ups are done for Tomoe and his beautiful face. A lot of detail work is given to his hair and how his slender body poses in a certain scene. It’s like the author herself is fangirling while she draws. She can’t tell a great story, but she sure knows how to draw.
The animation is decent. Again, this is a TMS thing. The studio just couldn’t be bothered to go above and beyond. That’s fine though, because the animation is pretty good. Julietta’s characters are brought to life and you can feel the actual panels moving in the anime. Akitarou Daichi is such a thoughtful director and storyboarder that he wanted the manga readers to actually see parts of the manga come to life. Given a chance to improve the flow of a scene though, Daichi does smartly do them. Cleaning up most of the clutter, Daichi would often pace the dialogue much better and make certain scenes make sense. It’s a shame he couldn’t pace the actual story without ruining the manga appeal of the anime. I think he really worked with what he got, even storyboarding actual panels with little effort.
You really won’t notice it, but the animation is actually pretty lazy. Most of the movements are done in chibi mode, and the beautiful visuals barely moves. If they are shown, it’s only their mouth being animated. It’s not something you’ll catch unless you’re really paying attention. I just hate the fact that there are fight scenes in the anime and we don’t see actual fights. Daichi just copies what’s in the manga and that’s a shame since he could’ve done a lot more. Given the lazy writing, I was hoping the animation could make up for it. A good example is the war deity fighting Tomoe. The setup was there, but we only saw the aftermath with the war deity trying to recover from his wounds. For a messier example, there is the thunder beast in the cave. The actual fight was shown, and it utterly shocks. No, I meant it utterly sucked. No semblance of the fight was actually shown and it was over before it even began. I also hate the fact that we never really get to soak up the different scenes of the anime. Again, we went to hell but we never saw hell. We climbed a foggy mountain but we never felt it. We attended a meeting of deities in Izumo yet we never actually saw it. The experience is entirely one dimensional, and the visuals had a huge factor in it.
The anime’s OP is “Kamisama no Kamisama” by Hanae. This is honestly a very awkward song. I think it tries to be as catchy as the first season’s OP, but it just sounds clunky. The hushed voice of Hanae doesn’t really add much and the flow of the song just sounds really off. I personally don’t like it. It honestly resembles the actual anime. Awkward in its existence. The animation is a good representation of the actual show. It flashes the beautiful characters and then goes chibi to animate them. It then recycles some animation and then lazily makes the montage afterwards. It’s cringy as f*ck, and I don’t like it. It even show just random characters that appeared in the anime without any reason. It’s like someone was just reusing design models. It was embarrassing to watch.
The anime’s ED is “Ototoi Oide” by Hanae. This is a much better song, and Hanae’s voice is a lot more welcome here. It tells about waiting and longing for someone, and it’s a very powerful song next to the ED sequence. It honestly features the theme of the anime, which is the relationship between the characters. I didn’t expand much on it because it wasn’t really properly executed in the anime. In the ED montage though, you see the characters drawn in a vulnerable way chasing after the connections that are important to them. There is also a nice touch of the visuals resembling the twelve year tunnel that appeared in the last episode. I’m sure it’s not done on purpose, but I like the little nod here.
6/10 “The lazy writing and the under whelming animation makes for one tilted anime experience.”
I know some people will like this anime. The visuals alone is a big sell, but it just isn’t for me. A subjective score would be a 7 out of 10, but I had to knock it down because of its technical elements. I can honestly forgive a lot of things, but I just can’t get over actual bad writing. Effort is something I love to experience in any anime I review, and there is very little here. If you like Shoujo though then there is no harm done. This anime is decent. It’s also the second season, so clearly a lot of people liked it. I didn’t, and I don’t recommend it.
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