Kamisama Hajimemashita – 13 (Fin)

Tomoe sends his fox flames to scour the town for Nanami, but she’s wearing a concealing talisman. When she hears two girls excited about the upcoming shrine festival, she races back to the shrine. By then, the seals around a box are dissolved by Otohiko’s miasma, unleashing the even larger, more powerful misasma of the Earth Spider, defeated by Mikage centuries ago. With a little help from Mikage himself, she uses a Kagura dance to re-defeat the spider, and the shrine is restored to pristine condition. Humans and spirits alike amass at the night festival to watch Nanami’s Kagura dance. After it’s over, Tomoe praises her and “contracts with” (kisses) her, this time from the heart.

Last week we wondered why Nanami totally ran away so suddenly, but then we realized she’s still very young and prone to rash not always rational action. Tomoe also could have been a little more tactful in telling her to sit tight, so she wouldn’t feel useless. Fortunately, she snaps out of it before the earth spider totally levels the shrine. And as it turns out, there’s a lot more power within Nanami than anyone imagined. Everyone except Mikage, of course, who chose her (and left the spider in the box behind) for just this situation. Is the shrine and its grounds fully restored a bit too easily? Sure, but these are supernatural forces at work, so we’ll give it a pass.

What’s important is that Nanami came through in the clutch. Her Kagura standoff with the Spider shows that she’s willing and able to face and battle threats to the shrine rather than cower and let others save her (though she still trips). The festival is a nice way to end, with cameos by all the other deities, spirits, and classmates whose lives she’s touched. And in the end, Nanami gets what she’s always wanted from Tomoe: a nice long kiss that expresses his love for her, not just his obedience. Her deadbeat dad may have abandoned her, but in doing so, Nanami was able to find a purpose and a home that are truly her own.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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Kamisama Hajimemashita – 12

Upset with the town’s rumors that her shrine is rundown and haunted, Nanami begins planning an autumn festival. Among the events is a Kagura dance, which Nanami only has one week to learn. Normally not clumsy, she cannot remain calm around Tomoe, and progress is slow. Making matters worse is the wind deity Otohiko, who doubts Nanami can truly succeed his friend Mikage. He unleashes a cloud of miasma that envelops the shrine, and Nanami cannot disperse it no matter how hard she tries. Having accomplished nothing, a dejected Nanami flees the shrine. Meanwhile, an ominous sealed box she knocked over in storage breaks open.

All episode titles up to this point have been pretty accurate in describing what the episode will be about (“God Gets Kidnapped”, “God Goes To The Beach”, etc.) So with a title like “Nanami Quits Being a God”, combined with the fact it’s the penultimate episode, we knew despite things ending on a happy note last week, some final conflict would commence this week, and Nanami would indeed quit being a God. Nor were we surprised that the architect of that conflict is the deity who had only played a bit role up until now – the bizarrely-attired Otohiko – whose formidable power and devotion to Mikage pointed to an inevitable clash with Nanami. So what was surprising? Simply put, the manner and speed with which Nanami gives up.

That there’s only one episode left after this underscores the need to get things going, but 9/10ths of this episode goes at a very leisurely pace, replete with scenes of Nanami practicing the Kagura dance – which is fun, but repetitive. This lollygagging is to the detriment of creating a plausible scenario in which Nanami would truly say “I can’t take this anymore” and flee. The episode does not  fully succeed in doing so. One could say Tomoe’s “you need not come” remark was the straw that broke the earth deity’s back, but we’re talking Nanami, who has not only gone through quite a bit of hopeless situations, but also has nowhere else to go (besides Kurama’s again). Nanami’s rather rushed retreat aside, the series has more than earned our confidence it will recover with a strong finale.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 11

In the first half, a bored Mizuki sees Kurama on TV and decides to travel to Tokyo to get some pointers on acclimation to human culture. When he arrives, he is appalled by the level of pollution, crass rudeness, and monetary system. He ends up being invited to a TV Tokyo party by one of Kurama’s handlers. Trying a drink from a drunken man, he falls ill, and wakes up under the care of a young woman also new to the city and struggling to fit in, but is determined not to give up. Mizuki thanks her for helping him by giving her some of his homemade sake.

In the second half, Nanami takes Tomoe to an amusement park, where he repeatedly refuses to talk about a hairpin he has and who it may belong to. He does eventually have genuine fun on the roller coaster, and fixes her hair in a bun but later on when he denies having known and loved Yukiji, Nanami runs off in distress. She ends up riding the ferris wheel at night alone, but when she accidentally messes up her bun, the hairpin falls out, and Tomoe suddenly joins her in the ferris wheel car, telling her it was a gift for her all along.

Another great two-parter from a series that’s been very consistent in the quality of its storytelling. Mizuki isn’t the least annoying character in the world, but a fish-out-of-water segment works out perfectly for him, as his arrogance is set aside and his confidence put to the test. Simply put, Tokyo eats Mizuki alive in short order, and it’s pretty amusing to watch him fumble his way around town. Fortunately fate smiles upon him, as he meets up with Kurama, then meets a kindred spirit who lends him a helping hand, lifting his spirit in the process. This girl doesn’t even get a name, but she sounded an awful lot like Orihime Inoue (Matsuoka Yuki), and we really liked what we saw of her. This series doesn’t skimp, even on minor characters.

The second part, Nanami is in high spirits over a day of activities Tomoe didn’t even verbally agree to, and then she gets suspicious over that hairpin, which she assumes was Yukiji’s. The thing is, after running away from him, she never presses him on why he said he never knew any such woman, and continues to insist he knows nothing about women, including her. Is he lying, or is there something up with his memories? We were right there with Nanami in his past, so we’ll go with that for now. Regardless of his presumed inexperience with human women, he’s got a live one in Nanami, and it’s clear he cares about her beyond his duties as her familiar. If he just wants to “live [with her] in the here and now”, she’s fine with that.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 10

The first half is the story of how Mikage met a listless Tomoe, shortly after Yukiji died. Mikage brings him to his shrine, nurses him back to health, and makes him his familiar, with emphasis on “taming” him and making him more friendly to humans. In the second half, Nanami is dragged to a karaoke mixer, but Mizuki, Tomoe, and Kurama are keeping an eye on things in the next booth. When one of the guys makes a move on Nanami, Tomoe takes him out and tells her they’re going home. Nanami thinks he’s irritated because she was with another guy; he doesn’t deny it.

Ah, a two-story episode…and a good one at that, with both halves more than pulling their weight. In fact, while the events vary greatly from one to the other, the first informs the second very nicely. Mikage comes across a wild, hopeless, defeated Tomoe, overcome by grief from Yukiji’s death. Mikage saved him and drove him to become stronger. Tomoe professes that he’s come to detest humans because they’re so weak. But threatening to devour nice young ladies only trying to thank him…is weak. Mikage teaches him this, then  suddenly disappears, and Nanami takes his place 20 years later. You can’t help but wonder what the old earth god’s intentions were.

Tomoe thought he’d put both romantic entanglement with (Yukiji) and outright contempt for humans behind him, but whether he’s starting to feel something for Nanami (who very obviously adores him) or he’s just afraid of another master abandoning him, Tomoe is never far from her side, even at a karaoke mixer. Rather than scold him for stalking her, she’s actually flattered that he’s so irritated by her hanging out with other guys (at least that’s what she thinks is the case). We’d be loath not to mention the best segue to the ending yet, with an unexpected karaoke-style rendition of the ED courtesy of Kurama. Seriously, that kicked ass.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 09

 

Nanami travels to the past with Mizuki, but finds that Tomoe took the Dragon King’s eye so he could give it to his lover Yukiji, who is deathly ill. Rather than snatch it as Mizuki suggests, Nanami helps her swallow it, and then returns to the present. They track down Isohime, who agrees to draw out the Dragon Eye within Nanami at the cost of 30 years of her life. But once it’s out, she also tries to take her earth deity mark, leading Mizuki to contract (kiss) with Nanami to protect her. They travel by tortoise taxi to the Dragon King’s palace, accompanied by someone who turns out to be the Turtle Queen. Nanami “rescues” Tomoe and embraces him, telling him her feelings for him won’t change no matter what.

Thought Nanami’s adventure into the past would occupy the bulk of the episode, and that her love and resolve would be tested against a different kind of Tomoe? We did. Yet the time travelling lasted less than five minutes. That setting had a lot of potential, but the episode had other plans and moved on quickly. We continue to be impressed with the wealth of ideas this series is constantly spooning out, and the confidence and precision with which it shuffles them around. It turns out, Tomoe wasn’t stealing the eye because he was a selfish trickster, but to save the life of the woman he loves. Nanami can’t exactly snatch the eye and leave her to die, so a new plan is needed.

This involves making another deal with another deity (Isohime), though it quickly goes sour, and a sudden but not altogether unexpected thing happens: Mizuki contracts with Nanami. Now she has two bishies at her beck and call. But the theme of remuneration continues when by chance Nanami shares a cab with the Turtle Queen. She loses her haori out the window, but she doesn’t get upset; making it was enjoyable and its own reward. Mizuki ultimately retrieves it, and it’s returned to her as ‘payment’ for Tomoe. The queens attitude makes omething clicks in Nanami – she’s sitting around waiting for Tomoe to return her feelings, something she can’t control. So she’s going to stop waitin’ and worryin’ and start doin’.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

 

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 08

Nanami’s friends Ami and Kei suggest they all go to the beach for summer vacation so she can get over Tomoe’s rejection. Tomoe is against it, as he says he cannot enter the sea, but comes along anyway, as does Mizuki. When Ami nearly drowns (due to the intervention of a wind deity who is friends with Mikage), Tomoe goes in after her, alerting the Dragon Lord Sakuna to his presence. Sakuna imprisons him in a giant mollusk. Nanami swims after him but Sakuna rescues her from the deep, telling her he’ll only give up Tomoe if she retrieves the eye he stole from him 526 years ago. Begging Mizuki for aid, they travel to the distant past.

This series is definitely on a roll. Nanami has barely an episode to digest what happened between her and Tomoe last week (and as a result can’t easily digest any food either) before Tomoe is spirited away by another deity. Fortunately for her she knows other deities; this week it’s Mizuki’s turn to help her out again. She insists wanting to rescue Tomoe has nothing to do with her being in love with him, but of course that’s nonsense; she can’t separate that reason from any of the others she may have, no matter how practical they may be. Interestingly, it seems like Mikage is orchestrating this whole thing, pulling the strings from the shadows to get Nanami to save Tomoe. Why exactly is anyone’s guess.

This Dragon Lord guy has the memory of an elephant and is quite the stickler when it comes to debts (he has the date of Tomoe’s transgression down to the second), but we like how he’s also a pretty reasonable guy who not only saves Nanami from her foolhardy dive into the ocean (even deities need gills down there), but also promises to hand Tomoe over to her if his debt is repaid. And the only way to do that is to go to the past and avert Tomoe’s theft in the first place. Now that it’s not just her soul but her body going back, Nanami’s love and resolve will be tested to greater degree than ever, as she’ll once again be confronted with the Tomoe of the past, who isn’t bound to her and may not be as nice as the present Tomoe (and even he’s not that nice…)


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 07

Nanami arranges for her classmate Nekota Ami to thank Kurama one-on-one for saving her from the demon, but Tomoe warns her about trying to tie the fates of a human and a demon together. Nanami’s classmate Yumi asks if she can walk home with Tomoe after school; Nanami agrees but instantly regrets it and hides on the roof, where Tomoe, who rejected Yumi, finds her. Nanami tries to go on an impromptu date with Tomoe, visiting an aquarium and the roof of a skyscraper, where he asks her if she’s falling in love with him. She admits it, and when she asks him if he never considered returning the feelings, he nearly drops her off the building in surprise, saving her at the very last minute.

Nanami’s classmate (lotta classmates this week!) Ke-chan tells her a guy thinks she’s cute, a guy will naturally come to her. That may be true, but Tomoe is not a “guy”; he’s not even human, he just looks human. Human enough for a teenage girl to fall in love with him. This is a possibility he must have known about, but it seems to take drilling into his head by Kurama to bring consideration of it to the surface. Whether in denial or genuinely ignorant of how his words and actions affect Nanami, he is confident Nanami would never fall in love with her familiar. His unbending devotion to serve and protect his master has no inherent romantic intent, but try telling Nanami that.

Nanami can’t contain herself any longer (with jealousy acting as a catalyst of letting another girl potentially take Tomoe away) and starts getting “peppy”, Tomoe must heed Kurama’s words. The result of which is, everything comes out in the open. Nanami is no longer telling herself she’s falling for Tomoe, she’s yelling it, screaming it from the building-tops to Tomoe himself. His attempts to dismiss it fail, and the moment Nanami tries to get a response, he is so flabbergasted he almost accidentally kills her, in a gesture she initially misconstrues as rejection, until he begs her to let him save her. In that moment, falling from a building, Tomoe clearly realized that having a master who is in love with you is better than having no master at all.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 06

Since their last kiss, Nanami finds her heart pounding whenever she’s near Tomoe. When she comes down with a fever, Tomoe disguises himself as her and goes to school in her stead. Kurama, believing he’s Nanami, tries to win her over with his prowess at English and singing, but fails. Tomoe discovers a deviant demon in the girl’s locker room and seals it in a lollipop. Meanwhile, Mizuki pays Nanami a visit and burns incense to transport her soul to the past to meet the “real” Tomoe, a cruel, village-raiding brute under the employ of the “Bloodthirsty King.”

Kamisama Kiss has been a consistently strong and entertaining series throughout its first half, with its own unique, ethereal ethereal look, feel, and style. This latest episode may be our favorite yet, as it contains a little of everything and doesn’t waste a minute of its running time, and slowly nudges Nanami further into something resembling a romantic interest in her familiar. She may be a deity, so she has the human-youkai love taboo to deal with. Furthermore, Tomoe taking Nanami’s form could have been a hammy mess, but he handles it, Kurama’s lame advances (seriously, his English sucks), and a perverted lesser demon with cool aplomb. We especially like how he’s not a perfect copy of Nanami, but rather an amalgam of Tomoe’s mannerisms with a paler, bustier, more fox-eyed Nanami.

What impresssed us is that his day of school in Nanami’s body wasn’t the whole story, as the second half deals with Mizuki trying to convince Nanami that Tomoe is trouble, and it’s the fox’s plan for her to fall for him. To this end, Mizuki transports her soul into the friggin’ past (not a dream or hallucination, but the actual past) where she meets a Tomoe who looks the same but has far rougher edges, and for a moment looks poised to have his way with her (she inhabits the body of a village maiden named Yukiji). The whole sequence is very…otherworldly. But her brief trip to the past seemingly had little effect on her opinion of Tomoe: whomever he used to be doesn’t concern her as much as the kind, gentle Tomoe she’s come to know and is falling for. But we’re curious about the fate of Yukiji, and who that Bloodthirsty King dude is.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 05

The thunder deity Narukami pays Nanami a visit at school, offering to take the shrine and Tomoe off her hands. Nanami declines, so she takes her deity mark and turns Tomoe into a child with the hammer Daikokuten. She runs into Kurama, who lets her crash at his place. Tomoe’s body is too small to handle his demonic power, and he is disgusted by his uselessness helplessness, so he goes back to the shrine and hides there. Nanami bets that if she finds him, Narukami will return him to normal. She finds him in Mikage’s mirror, and Narukami withdraws. Nanami returns Tomoe to normal and he kisses her, resuing their contract.

The florid narrator says it all this week: severe storms lie ahead for Nanami. Narukami swoops in, and in less than eight minutes Nanami is out of house and home, has no familiar, and is no longer an earth deity. We had no idea it was so easy to strip her of her godhood, but the thunder deity is as powerful as she is impatient. It’s rather amusing that she just found out Mikage’s been gone for twenty years, and wastes no time taking over the shrine. Only once she has it, she’s miserable, because the place is a run-down mess without Tomoe, who has no intention of being her familiar.

If it wasn’t for suddenly bumping into Kurama (convenient, that), Nanami would’ve likely had to spend the night out on the street. Kurama for his part almost seems to relish hosting her and lil’ Tomoe, despite his veneer of annoyance and put-outness. It’s his chance to show Nanami – deity or not – that he’s not merely a villain. But most importantly, the ordeal switches Nanami and Tomoe’s roles for a week: she proves to him she can protect and care for him in his moment of vulnerability. There were moments when he was about to lose hope, but she pulled him out of that mirror and resolved the situation. He wastes no time re-contracting (kissing) her to show his gratitude.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 04

When Nanami handles a white snake that got into the school, she gets a strange mark on her arm. Tomoe warns her it’s a “Mark of the Betrothed” and is worried the snake spirit will return for her before long. He insists on guarding her at all times, and so poses as her classmate. He falls asleep and she wanders off and is kidnapped by the familiar Suenagaku Mizuki. She wakes up in his shrine, which is frozen in time. She’s to marry him, and cannot escape. Before long, Nanami realizes Mizuki’s deity is gone, as no one has prayed to the shrine in many years. Tomoe arrives just as Mizuki is about to force himself on Nanami. Tomoe is about to destroy the plum tree that holds the shrine’s plane together, but Nanami stays his hand.

Just as there are good people and bad people, there are good spirits and bad spirits. This week Tomoe learns once again that his master is only a fragile, mortal girl, and a ripe target for the bad ones. This Mizuki guy was more pathetic, tortured, and obsessed than evil, but the fact of the matter was he sought to take Nanami for his own, and she had no say in the matter or recourse. If it weren’t for Tomoe, she’d have been trapped in that underwater shrine without a deity, displaced from time, for all eternity. It’s a pretty grim prospect.

But Mizuki was only a familiar, and one Tomoe could easily defeat, had Nanami not decided to be merciful. There will be more adversaries, and they will be more powerful and perhaps more malevolent (there’s another one coming next week, in fact!). With all the free food and cute sprite servants and the regular contact with a very nice-lookin’ fellah, Nanami has to stop taking her new role lightly. There are bad gods out there who are just waiting for the moment Tomoe dozes off or she slips up. She must be vigilant. We’ll say this: her life has definitely gotten more “interesting” than those of her classmates, whose only foundation for existence seems to be hanging around hot guys…or picking on snakes.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 03

Nanami recieves her first youkai visitor, Himemiko of the Isara Swamp. She requests Nanami help her make a match between herself and a human, Kotaro, who just turned 18. She comforted him when he was crying by the swamp ten years ago. Tomoe warns Nanami about the taboo of youkai-human love, but she ignores him, and finds Kotaro in an ice cream shop. Tomoe gives Himemiko human form so she can meet him, and Kotaro comes around. When two thuggish punks approach Himemiko, Nanami gives Kotaro the nudge he needs to rescue her.

Tomoe is trying to control Nanami, but ultimately she has all the power, and once she learns he’ll obey her without complaint if she simply yells passionately at him, she asserts that power with relish, meeting with youkai royalty and agreeing to set up a meeting between youkai and human in spite of the taboo against it. She’s a god; if she can’t give people hope, even against impossible odds, then what good is she? Especially when the odds turn out to be not nearly as impossible as originally feared.

We were expecting the timid, Rubik’s Cube-spinning Kotaro to run away screaming at the sight of what is essentially a swamp monster, but Tomoe does good work, and he’s able to transform her into a cute-as-a-button human girl (though she has to work on lowering those eyelids, plus table those creepy tongue clicks). Kotaro, initially suspicious, warms up to her; their meeting is a most affable one. He even prepares to stand up to two guys twice his size bothering her, thanks to a spiritual and literal nudge by Nanami, which is all she as a god is supposed to offer.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 02

Tomoe fixes up Nanami’s living space at the shrine, informs her of her duties, and asks her to make water into sake, which she fails to do. When Nanami learns the famous Visual Kei idol Kurama Shinjirou will be transferring to her high school, she races to class, wearing an embarassing hood, and Kurama is immediately rude to her and plants Y30000 on her. He’s interested in her because he’s actually a crow goblin from Mt. Kura. Tomoe transforms him into an Ostrich, but Nanami is lenient, and orders him to change him back.

Tomoe may be Nanami’s familiar, but he’s no mindless slave, and while he must obey every order she gives him, he still has a certain degree of free will. He can choose how he serves her. He can also reminisce about his past life as some kind of swordsman. When making her wear a hood gets her ostracized by the class – who are a bunch of insensitive assholes; what else is new – he later apologizes with a huge feast in her class. When she ditches the hood, he still has her back, and is able to fend off the first demon that tracks her down since she became a deity.

Sket Dance’s Date was also into Visual Kei, but he was a kind and gentle soul. Kurama is a dick. He breaks the dress code, tries to frame Nanami with theft, nearly runs her over, and wants very much to know why she doesn’t like him. Of course, this all makes sense when we learn he’s the demon, though that he just happened to show up at her school on the first day is a little contrived. Was it just coincidence, or did he plan it? In any case, his ostrich transformation is hilarious comeuppance. This guy wasn’t much of a threat, but we suppose he was never supposed to be.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameo: Kurama drives (and almost hits Nanami with) a very stylish (and probably expensive to import to Japan) Alfa-Romeo Giulietta.

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 01

High school Momozono Nanami’s deadbeat father runs off and she is saddled with all his gambling debts and evicted from their apartment. She saves a man named Mikage in the park from a dog. He gives her a kiss on the forehead and a map to a place to stay. It turns out to be a shrine, and she has inhereted Mikage’s role as the local earth deity. Her first challenge is to get the divine messenger, the fox demon Tomoe – to accept it and contract with her. Doing so also requires a kiss, which she delivers while falling from a tree, and he saves her from a demon hag.

Like Chuunibyou, this first look at Kamisama Hajimemashita is an amusing, charming affair, centered on two disparate characters – a girl and a guy – who end up connecting in the end. In that series, it’s a weird girl and a guy trying to be normal; in this case it’s a normal human girl who has fallen backwards into godhood, and must contract with a weird guy with fox ears. Who is deliciously willful and selfish until that sealing peck on the forehead. Particularly funny is quick, cruel dismissal of Nanami’s sob story. Their dialogue is very snappy throughout.

Nanami makes a good impression as a down-on-her-luck girl who is willing to give this thing a go, but that initial gung-ho-ness bumps up against the massive duties her position entails; duties all but impossible without Tomoe’s help. But she also shows her stubborn in that she’s not about to grovel and beg to someone who’s been nothing but rude and contemptuous. Tomoe showed before that his “bark is worse than his bite” so she rolls the dice and falls off that tree betting he’ll follow her down, and that’s when she plants a big ol’ smooch on him. Not necessarily because she likes him (yet), but because she has to.


Rating: 8 (Great)