Kamisama Kiss Series Review: Lose Your Home, Become A God, Maybe Fall in Love

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in June 2016 and can be found here.

This is a review of seasons one and two of Kamisama Kiss. There are some spoilers below but I hope you enjoy.

Review:

Kamisama Kiss is a romantic, coming of age, supernatural comedy? It’s kind of hard to define. Mostly it is a romantic comedy but some episodes focus more on the supernatural elements and others focus on Nanami developing as a person/god so it isn’t all about high school girl drooling over cute fox spirit. Though there’s definitely aspects of that as well. I think when I reviewed this the first time I felt that it somehow it lacked depth, but that isn’t true. While not every event is high stakes and world ending terror, Nanami is dealing with a lot being made homeless in episode 1 before having to learn about the supernatural world from scratch while coming to grips with her own power. Hard to blame her for clinging to Tomoe along the way.

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Originally I reviewed this anime using a plus and minus format. I’m going to keep many of the same points this time around but I’m ditching that format.

One the best things about the show is the relationship between Nanami and Tomoe. It is hard to say that they are a couple given Tomoe continues to declare that he won’t fall in love with a human, but at the same time they have a partnership that relies on a fair amount of trust and respect. This doesn’t just happen. It is built up slowly over the course of the two seasons as the begin with an absolutely terrible first impression of one another.

It is in the development of the two characters individually and seeing how that impacts on their interactions that a lot of the fun is being found. Nanami definitely gets assigned the role of damsel in distress a lot in the first season, but she isn’t just taking that lying down. She’s fighting to understand how to deal with this new role of god that has been thrust upon her. Tomoe for the most part seems like he’s got things under control, but he definitely brings a lot of baggage into the mix that season 2 begins to unravel.

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Then again, all of the supernatural support cast are pretty solid, and no, they aren’t all hot guys although a lot of the early characters introduced are. These characters come with vibrant personalities and complex relationships. Their problems feel very human and the recurring characters grow and change through their interactions with Nanami. Personal favourites include Kurama and Himemiko. Though Nanami’s shikigami is pretty adorable in season two as well as fairly handy.

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And all of this comes with a fantastic opening song (or at least season one does). I could happily sing along to this one for ages as it is just so incredibly relaxing.

But, there are some parts the show does less right. For instance the humans in the story. Seriously, there are only two other human characters in the story worth paying attention to. For all the time and effort spent on giving the spirits, yokai and gods personality and presence, the humans are all shallow and underdeveloped shells of characters. This is especially true of Nanami’s classmates. And even if this wasn’t the focus of the anime, do they really have to be that irritating.

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The other issue comes back to that seeming lack of depth. Almost every problem in the show ends up being neatly wrapped up. Nanami is sweet and wants to help people and spirits and everything else and somehow she just makes things work out. We could argue that this is a by-product of her being a land god and coincidences occur because of that power, but that doesn’t stop it being any less a cheap plot device to get a happy resolution. Though, season two was definitely starting to add in some more complex problems that weren’t one episode conflicts and it would be nice to see the anime continue on and continue in that direction.

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Overall, what we have is a sweet show with some great characters (and a few not so great ones) with a predictable but adorable story, all told with some nice music, vibrant artwork and reasonable voice acting.

I completely recommend this anime to anyone who likes romantic comedies and even just people that don’t mind the coming of age story with a bit of supernatural silliness thrown in. While the comedy doesn’t always hit the mark, the moments that do will have you laughing aloud. A scene that I always remember is when Tomoe transforms Kurama into an ostrich and then chases him through the school building with a fox fire. Utterly ridiculous and yet totally funny (and apparently I’m not alone in that given a recent conversation I had with someone on Twitter).

What are your thoughts on Kamisama Kiss? Do you have a favourite moment or character? I’d love to know.


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Karandi James

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Another Harem? For Me?

Ya Boy Jack over on the Aniwriter nominated me for this quite awhile ago and I’ve been meaning to respond but just never quite got there. In case you wanted to see my original harem, check out the post here.

Like last time I’m slightly modifying the tag. Instead of different types, I’ve decided this time to go with an all yokai harem just because.

The Rules:

1. Link back to the original post on Anime Q and A so they can check out everyone’s picks!

2. Use the ‘Build A Harem’ logo somewhere in the post.

3. Make sure to mention the person who nominated you too!

4. Pick 5 Anime Characters (any show & any gender) that would be in your ideal harem if you were the main character of a harem anime, explain a little bit as to why they are your picks (if you want).

5. Make sure each character you pick falls into some of the following harem character types: Childhood friend, tom boy/girl, genki girl/boy, loli/shota, trap, tsundere, yandere, kuudere, dandere, etc. (If there’s a character you’ve picked that doesn’t specifically fall into one of these types or falls into multiple types that’s fine too!)

6. Nominate 5 people to participate in this tag!


Who is in Karandi’s harem?

01. Nidaime (The Eccentric Family 2)

You have to admit, for a tengu, he has style. Also arrogance and a tendency to look down on others. As well as a slightly explosive temper when pushed too far. Still, Nidaime was a large part of the reason I really loved season 2 of The Eccentric Family as his was a character I just had so much fum watching. Now, as to him being in my harem I’m pretty sure I know what he would say to such a suggestion.

02. Byakuya (Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi)

I know Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi isn’t finished and it is also decidedly average as an anime, but I really like Byakuya as a character. The one who keeps the accounts in order he comes across as harsh, but it is hard not to love a guy who feeds the adorable fox spirits. Not to mention, he’s far more level headed and focused than a lot of the cast so he brings an element of sense to things even if his words are harsh. Wish he was on screen more often. I’m thinking Byakuya can keep the rest of the harem in check for me.

03. Kubinashi (Nurarihyon no Mago)

For a yokai who usually seems pretty laid back and aloof, Kubinashi has a pretty dark past and is prone to rage and losing himself. That said, when he flips the switch he becomes pretty unstoppable. However even his normal self remains relatively detached. Though he is part of the Nura clan and one of several yokai who regular guard Rikuo, Kubinashi only really has ties with a handful of the clan members and barely tolerates the others. As such, I see Kubinashi being the guy in the harem who just drops by every now and then when I was alone and otherwise wouldn’t be seen. The few times he interacts with the other members of the harem would usually be tense, and I’m betting no one else likes him at all.

04. Soushi Miketsukami (Inu X Boku SS)

Every harem needs a stalker like character in it. Miketsukami is the mostly harmless kind (mostly) who will simply collect a million pictures of you as well as save and preserve any text or note you send his way. Also, his child form is totally adorable. That said, his over protective nature would probably drive me crazy fairly soon, but he makes a great cup of tea and given he’s incredibly socially awkward I think we’d get along. Then again, I can also see him getting into some conflict with anyone else who was a part of the harem.

05. Tomoe (Kamisama Kiss)

Okay, I might have a thing for foxes (or at least good looking guys with ears), but Tomoe was someone I kind of developed a crush on from the minute I met him. Hot tempered, he hates humans, and he’s stubborn, but he does his work with care and pride and he’s really powerful. That and, those he does consider worth his time he’s incredibly considerate of. Besides, I always felt bad for Tomoe being abandoned at the shrine for so long by himself, so it kind of makes sense he doesn’t exactly welcome Nanami with open arms. I do think throwing Tomoe into my harem though is going to be a fairly explosive addition and I’m just waiting to see what happens when Tomoe and Miketsukami go toe to toe with who can be more stubborn about anything.


Nominations:

I am pretty sure everyone has done this tag already but here we go:

And anyone else who hasn’t been tagged who would like to have a go.


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Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 19: Return of the Already Defeated Bad Guys

I’m going to stop weekly coverage of this one, but I’ll probably watch for a bit longer before deciding whether to completely drop this or not. Basically, we finally got back to the ongoing story in this, but it was hidden under the tired trope of defeated bad guys return.

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This issue with that trope is simple: we already know how to defeat these bad guys. They weren’t interesting enough the first time to really hold my interest and the second time around just makes them look even sillier given they clearly learned nothing from their last defeat. If we throw in Kitaro’s sunglasses disguise it makes for a wholly unsatisfying plot really.

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Though, there was just enough in here indicating that maybe the larger narrative we saw a few times in the first cour was going to get moving again. Just enough that I probably will watch some more, but I’m not going to keep this on my episode review line up for the simple reason that I feel my reviews of this show are getting repetitive.

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Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 18: Cat-Chick Is Always Fun

Despite a pretty ordinary story, I had enough fun watching Cat-Chick this week. Though, that said, this is yet another pretty basic episode following on from quite a few pretty uninteresting stories. I really think next week is going to have to pull off something pretty good to keep this on my watch list any longer.

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This show has really become fairly flat since the end of the last anime season when we had quite an epic fight. But even before that, the individual episodes all had something about them. There was a clear message, a bit of energy or polish, and occasionally a sense of childish danger. Now we just have yokai of the week shows up and characters meandering about until the problem is solved.

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To make it clear, this episode spent more time with Cat-Chick worrying about her outfit and Kitaro finding out than it did on dealing with the yokai. And really nothing happened. No danger, no perils, nothing for Kitaro to do. His turning up merely propelled Cat-Chick into enough of a rage that she chased the other yokai around until we realised he wasn’t all bad after all. And that’s all she wrote for this episode.

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Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 17: Yokai and Riddles

Still on vacation, Kitaro and the gang stumble upon a problem when the people in town are being turned into bronze. What follows is a pretty ordinary kind of story but it works for the most part.

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I will admit this episode struggled to hold my attention. Even with Kitaro being taken out of the action early on, the villain this time around never even felt vaguely threatening or like someone I was supposed to care about. Mana’s uncle getting turned to bronze equally had little impact because with so many people turned it was obvious they were going to reverse it and the situation wasn’t going to be permanent. With little reason to worry about the outcome the actions themselves needed to carry the show and they just couldn’t.

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Even a visit to a mountain tengu clan didn’t shake things up enough to really get me engaged and by the time the villain was vanquished (or self-destructed) it was all a matter of wondering if that meant the episode was over. I hate to say it but this one might have started to suffer from the repetitive nature that plagues a lot of episodic shows. There just isn’t enough carrying over from week to week to make it feel like there’s a purpose here.

That said, I’ll give it a few more episodes given we’ve had weaker stories before and then this has bounced back.

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Karandi James

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Natsume Yujincho Seasons 1 – 4 Review: Great Characters, Great Atmosphere, and Just Pure Relaxation

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in May 2016 and can be found here.

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It might seem strange that I love Natsume. Given my usual tastes for faster paced stories, stories that are a little bit darker, or stories that do something a bit unexpected, there really isn’t any reason for me to be such a huge fan of Natsume.

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And yet there is something incredibly compelling and adorable about Natsume himself that manages to draw me into this world and makes me want to spend more and more time with him.  Natsume in the early episodes of season 1 is damaged, and that damage doesn’t just disappear. It fades and comes out in different ways at appropriate times, and slowly, ever so slowly, it is being healed, but there isn’t an instant fix.

In point of fact, it’s hard to even notice how far Natsume has developed as a character until you go from an episode mid-way through season 4 and maybe watch an episode from late season 1 or early season 2. Natsume is a dynamic character who continues to take on board the experiences he goes through and these become integrated into his overall character. While it is subtle development it is consistent and ultimately it makes this whole story feel authentic in a way few manage. And it isn’t just Natsume.

All of the characters in this show develop slowly but surely in ways that fit with the experiences they go through. You really feel like you are part of this group and watching this show is like catching up with old friends. There’s a strength of writing and character development that you do not normally come across. This is something Irina and I explored when we took on the Natsume Supporter Character Battle to determine who the best supporting character was in this story. It ended up being a heart-breaking experience as we pitted truly great cast members against one another.

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The plot also moves. While each episode really is the yokai of the week appears with either a problem to be solved or a desire to get their name back, each season feels like it is moving forward. Season one helps Natsume overcome his unreasonable hatred of all yokai. Season two sees him developing some actual human relationships that aren’t superficial or simply being acted out. Season three helps Natsume begin to understand Reiko (his grandmother) and her actions. The season four plunges us into finally facing some of Natsume’s child-hood trauma and finding some closure.


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NATSUME YUJINCHO ICHIBAN KUJI PREMIUM


The art style is also really pretty. There’s definitely a reliance on soft colours but the nature effects, whether it be sunlight, flowers, leaves, snow or rain are always gorgeous and the characters are simple but easily distinguished.

Music is used well throughout the series but again has a very laid back kind of feel to it. Sound effects are mostly understated which makes the occasional dramatic effect really stand out.

The fifth and sixth seasons of this show continue building on the compelling foundation and this is one story that just keeps getting better. I completely recommend this series. If you want something warm and fuzzy and don’t mind watching events unfold at their own pace, Natsume will be a very rewarding watch.


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Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 16: A Ladle Seems Like A Slow Way To Sink A Ship

Mana takes a vacation in this episode of GeGeGe no Kitaro but wouldn’t you know it, Rat-Man is also on a ‘vacation’ and soon we’re going to have yokai trouble again.

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It’s probably a testament to how light-hearted this show is that even an episode that focuses on a yokai dragging sailors under water isn’t enough to make me flinch when normally any potential drowning has me on edge and reaching for the mouse to skip a scene. I actually had no emotional response at all to this episode which concerns me a little for the future of watching it. Previously I’ve had a lot of fun with this show, but I will admit to feeling very detached during the more recent episodes.

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Still, there’s nothing actually wrong with this episode. Mana visits family and one of them doesn’t return home from his fishing work. When seeking to rescue him, they realise that there’s a yokai that is claiming sailor’s and using them as yokai to bring up his treasure (though no one ever seems to really pin the blame on Rat-Man which is where it belongs given earlier in the episode he’s the one who opened the pot letting the yokai out).

I think where the episode may have dropped the ball a bit was in the town’s response. It is obvious they were using the yokai threat as a reason to unify a town that was being torn apart by opposing ideals on how to run a festival, but other than a bit of exposition early on the audience didn’t really have any connection to the plot about the festival so it didn’t really have much impact when they all came together to play tug-of-war with the ghosts.

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Ultimately, this episode works but for me it was kind of functional without being particularly interesting.

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Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episodes 14 + 15: Dreams and Faces

Monsters of the week abound with episode 14 giving us a dreamland that you can’t escape from and episode 15 asking what price you would pay to be pretty.

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This pair of episodes are both pretty cute and both pretty pointless as anything more than just another encounter with yokai. There isn’t even any real character building within the main cast, save for a small moment of cool from Daddy Eyeball in the dreamland where he imagines himself in a body so that he can save Kitaro. That said, both episodes work well enough as they introduce our human victims of the week and then overcome the problem.

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Interestingly enough both episodes very much seemed to point the blame for misery at the human world rather than the yokai with the fired salary man escaping to dreams because he couldn’t overcome his daily challenges and the school girl changing her face because of mercilessly being ostracised due to her appearance. This isn’t a new theme for GeGeGe no Kitaro, but it has been awhile since that theme has been the only focus of a story.

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Perhaps the most disappointing thing from these episodes is Mana. She used to be quite an interesting character and in episode 12 she definitely stepped up only now the show seems to be determined to simply have her as a hanger-on. It would be nice to see her returning to being something more than an intermediary between whoever the victim of the week is and Kitaro.

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Still, if episodic yokai stories work for you, GeGeGe no Kitaro isn’t doing too much wrong on that front and remains pleasant viewing even while it isn’t exceptional.

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Karandi James

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 13: And We’Re Back To How Things Were

And after the nation changing events of episode 12, we’re back to exactly how things were before as if someone hit the reset. That was disappointing.

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Last week:

I wonder if the fact that everyone now knows about yokai will remain a thing or if people will go back to their ordinary lives after this episode?

While I get that episodic shows are prone to resets, it seemed like episode 11 and 12 introduced what could have been a very interesting element into future events by having the ordinary lives of people seriously and publicly disrupted by yokai. And yet,  GeGeGe no Kitaro chooses to abandon dealing with that plot line and instead we’re back to Ratman scheming and Kitaro doing his hero thing with everyone else just back to their ordinary, oblivious lives.

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While this episode was still pretty solid for this series, the let-down of what might have been a really fascinating story path being ignored weighed heavily on me and I found myself just a little less engaged. It didn’t help that the moral this week was about as subtle as a brick to the face. That said though, the episode isn’t any worse than any of the earlier ones and taken by itself, quite enjoyable.

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GeGeGe No Kitaro Episode 12: Grand Scale Fight

I wonder if the fact that everyone now knows about yokai will remain a thing or if people will go back to their ordinary lives after this episode?

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After setting up a fairly large scale fight between the Tanuki and everyone at the end of the previous episode, episode 12 of GeGeGe no Kitaro delivers a conclusion worthy of a to be continued. The first half of the episode is suitably bleak in painting a picture of life for humans under Tanuki rule and then the troops begin rallying in order to mount a rescue for Kitaro and finding a way to beat the Tanuki back.

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I kind of loved the arrangement of the OP being used during this scene. It was perfect. Recognisable as the OP but suited perfectly to the scene playing out.

It is Mana who steps up big time in this episode and it costs her a lot already having to endure being cursed during the episode, but there are some definite ongoing ramifications for having drawn some unwanted yokai attention through her actions this episode. It will be interesting to see how that develops in future episodes. Meanwhile, it continues to cement her as a pretty solid character in this series.

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Karandi James

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