Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Kamisama Kiss Review (English)


So here’s an interesting one. A series I dropped during Impressions a while ago comes up again and gets a full review. What changed I wonder?

Kamisama Kiss is a 13 episode Romantic Comedy series based on the ongoing manga by Julietta Susuki and published by Hakusensha. The anime is from Director Akitaro Daichi and TMS Entertainment for the Fall 2012 season. As of this review, FUNimation Entertainment (US) is the only licensor for the anime while Viz Media holds licensing rights for the manga. Streaming wise, Hulu currently has the series legally in Japanese for free. As does FUNimation, but they also have the English dub available for Elite Subscribers.

Sealing a contract with a kiss? Yup, this is a Shoujo series!
After her father having run away due to gambling debts, and being evicted from her apartment, Nanami meets Mikage, a strange man who is afraid of dogs. Nanami "saves" Mikage from a dog and tells him her story. He gives Nanami his house as a thank you for saving him. Nanami accepts the offer, due to having nowhere else to go. Upon arriving, she finds that it is a rundown shrine. Nanami is then almost killed by Tomoe, who was expecting Mikage to finally return after his 20 year absence. She is then greeted by both Onikiri and Kotetsu, as the new land god of the shrine. Unable to accept Nanami as the new land god, Tomoe mocks her then leaves the shrine, which, without Tomoe's power transforms back into a run-down state. Not wanting to rob Tomoe of his home and realizing that her powers as a god are too weak anyway Nanami leaves, but eventually is brought back by Tomoe after she seals a contract with him, making him her familiar.

Here we have your typical Shoujo/reverse harem anime. There isn’t really much new or innovative to be said about it. It’s nicely animated and fluid, though it has some moments of comedy where the animation is kinda meh. But I can’t really fault it that much. As for the music, it’s simple poppy/upbeat music mixed with slightly instrumental ones to coordinate with a folk sound suited for Japan and it’s culture, related to religion. It really is a lot of fun to watch what the series does with animation to bring the humor in, and after coming from much more serious series and films lately (ie Penguindrum, Wolf Children, and Kids on the Slope), it’s a welcome change for me.

When I tackled this series in my Fall 2012 Impressions, I mentioned that this had a sort of Fruits Basket vibe about it. Little did I know, at the time, that Kamisama Kiss was directed by Fruits Basket’s director. That’s right guys! So if you’re wondering why it feels kinda familiar then there’s your answer! Similar to the animation, the story doesn’t really try anything new here, however that doesn’t mean the story is terrible. It’s a really nice story, and, although it has a few bumps, it flows rather nicely. It goes from moment to moment, giving us really beautiful pictures that you can remember because of everything mixed into it. As for the ending, it can be interpreted as open ended or as a complete story. Like I mentioned before, the manga is currently ongoing so there is a possibility of a second season later on down the line once there’s more story to adapt. However, the ending we were given, for now, is still rather satisfying, completing the current arch pretty well.

LOOK AT THE FISH!!!!!!
(On screen text) Whistle....
The characters of Kamisama Kiss are rather diverse in personality, but rather stereotypical. Of course, there’s Nanami the spunky outspoken heroine of this series. And then there’s Tomoe the dedicated familiar who is tough on the outside, but soft and kind of misunderstood on the inside. The romance that grows between these two characters progresses in as natural a pace as you would expect in a 13 episode series, but along the way we learn more about these two characters and their ideals and mentality. As for our other major characters, Kurama and Mizuki, they are a mix of interesting and cliched. This series is technically a reverse harem so obviously you need other men in it who wish for gain the heroine’s affections. Kurama is probably the most stereotypical character in this series. The big pop star who can make any girl fall for him, and he only sets his sights on Nanami despite her constantly rejecting him. As cliched as his character is it’s still rather enjoyable. I found myself laughing my ass off and calling him a dick for a good portion of the series. His character may be stereotypical and cliched all to hell, but it’s still a lot of fun! As for Mizuki, I find him one of the more interesting characters of the series along with Tomoe, maybe even more. Seeing him grow to love Nanami but still only be second best to Tomoe, in a lot of ways, can be rather relatable to viewers. Though he, Kurama, and Nanami are fairly underdeveloped throughout the series, Mizuki was probably the most enjoyable to watch.

So we meet again, Mr. Fox- I MEAN.... Tatum.
I’ve actually been waiting a while to watch the dub of this series, and it's one of the reasons why I decided to give it another go around. When I saw the casting announcement and the first trailer FUNimation put out last fall, I was on board for the most part. I say for the most part because I have run into, once again, one of my pet peeve Voice Actors. The last time I mentioned Tia Ballard was when I talked about Shiki as she played Megumi. She just didn’t do it for me in that role, but what about this one? I think Nanami is more up her alley. It does take a little time to get used to and there are still moments where it doesn’t really work, but I really did enjoy Ballard’s performance here. As someone who has acted in theatre productions I really hate type casting someone, but maybe Ballard is better suited for comedies rather than dramas. I’d have to find more of her work to confirm this though, so my opinion may change later on. As for our leading man, J. Michael Tatum (Black Butler, Spice and Wolf) is still really amazing! Though it did take a little getting used to, one of those character design doesn’t quite match the voice kind of deals, Tatum gives Tomoe some sophistication yet slightly oblivious to something we would find so simple. And this is why I love Tatum so much as he, based on what I’ve seen, is able to understand his roles and find a way to bring out those characters in every performace!

Ladies, your buffet of cute men.
As for our other major characters, Kurama and Mizuki, Sean O’Connor (Highschool DXD, Guilty Crown) and Micah Solusad (Soul Eater, Eureka Seven AO) each bring fun and energetic performances! O’Connor is actually fairly new and this is my first time hearing him in a major role so props to you sir and thank you for getting me to call Kurama a dick with a smile on my face! As for Solusad, the last time I saw you in a comedic type role was actually Soul Eater, so to see you go full on comedy here is just wonderful and I loved it! A few others I should mention with wonderful performances are.... well the entire cast really! This is another series where I enjoyed every second of the voice acting! But I will mention a few funs ones! Josh Grelle (Princess Jellyfish, Future Diary) and Jad Saxton (Michiko & Hatchin, Wolf Children) are the wonderful little Kotetsu and Onikiri. Joel McDonald (Space Dandy, Nabari no Ou) is fun as always in his performance of Mikage. Alexis Tipton (Shiki, Baka and Test), Anastasia Munoz (Sacred Blacksmith, Jormungand), Ian Sinclair (Panty and Sotcking w/Garterbelt, Toriko), Monica Rial (RahXephon, Deadman Wonderland), and Robert McCollum (Rideback, Peach Girl) are a few other fun ones I wanted to mention. OH! And Luci Christian (Princess Tutu, One Piece) as the Narrator was so fantastic! I didn’t even know it was her until I looked it up! Credit also needs to go to ADR Director Jerry Jewell (We Without Wings [ADR Director], Is This a Zombie? [ADR Director]) for bringing together this fun group of voice actors!

See? Pretty moments!
Once the contract is sealed, Kamisama Kiss isn’t really doing anything new to the Shoujo genre, but it is taking some of the best traits of the genre and making something really fun. The animation, story, and characters are as typical and cliched as you may find them to be but that’s what’s good about this series. Top it off with a really solid dub and you have this fun little comedy that at least deserves one watch, maybe two if you’re feeling up to some laughs. Ladies, this series is certainly one you will find enjoyment in. Guys, maybe not so much. If you’re girlfriend likes anime or is new to it, maybe this would be something fun to start her off with. Though, honestly, Ouran would be my first recommendation, but Kamaisama Kiss is among the top 5 your girlfriend may enjoy.

Next time, I take on another reader request.... But I may need to grab some lunch first. Until then, otaku on my friends!

Final Rating: 6/10 It’s nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it’s complete crap.

3 comments:

  1. An usefull post,thx to admin for the article,

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  2. Very nice thorough review. Thanks, I enjoyed your article. Think I will check this series out sometime. I'm a sucker for anime with bakemono, samurai and anything folkloric. I have a question, if you can recommend any new series out there that also have Japanese mythical creatures and or samurai era with comedy or action (no drama ones), can you let me know? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the article!!

      As for your question.... Let's see.... Mononoke comes to mind as it has more of a folklore vibe to it, though it can be more dramatic at points. I actually reviewed that series too! I throughly enjoyed it, but I have spoken with others have do not it can be hit or miss. And it has been licensed since I made the review as well as is up on Crunchyroll! Ayakashi: Classic Samurai Horror Tales is another one, which includes an arc which inspired the Mononoke series. House of Five Leaves is another old Japan era kind of series, but more on the dramatic side. On the plus side, it's only in the 11-13 episode range so it's easy to get through. xxxHolic is another good folklore/spirity kind of show that is a mix of drama and comedy.

      In terms of more pure comedies, Gugure! Kokkuri-san is a recent one that I enjoyed that uses Japanese spirits in a modern setting. There's also Samurai Champloo which is a mix of samurai/old Edo period mixed with comedy, turning it into a very INACCURATE representation of Edo Japan (no, seriously, the soundtrack is hip hop and there is baseball and beatboxing in this show). There's also a recent series from last year called Cool-headed Hoozuki. I didn't finish it, but it's a mix of demons/folklore but with a lot of comedy in there.

      Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head that are a mixture of what you're looking for. I hope you find one you want to try and get to enjoy!!

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