Kamisama Hajimemashita 2 – 12 (Fin)

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Kami-Haji wastes no time piling on the adorableness in its final episode. Lil’ Nanami is button cute, just the kind of person you want to hold and squeeze and protect for all time. But we learn along with Tomoe that that cuteness is tempered by a steely resolve to look out for herself and be wary of men; advice given by her mother, who herself could not escape a life of bad luck with a crappy excuse for a man. We also learn that the women in her family only ever bear more women, all of them beautiful.

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Tomoe is positively transfixed by this educational foray into Nanami’s past, and even though Mizuki tries on numerous occasions to nudge him to put an end to it, Tomoe watches on, even as things go from bad (Nanami’s mother dying, as expected) to worse (Nanami living with her awful dad, who does nothing but goof off and burn their house down). The things that happen to Nanami are almost comically cruel, but for all the slapstick mixed in with the narrative, the episode never makes light of her plight.

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It also makes it clear these are the experiences that made Nanami the young woman she is today, and that something great and beautiful can come out of all that suffering and hardship. With that, Mizuki again confronts the lil’ Nanami to try to coax her back to the present, and again, she flees from Mizuki, who if we’re honest doesn’t have the most trustworthy aura about him.

Tomoe is different, though. Even though he’s a man, Nanami seems to trust him implicitly. Is it the connection she has with him in the present shining through here, or the connection between her family lineage and the god who granted them beauty at a heavy yet bearable and character-building cost?

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Tomoe isn’t just a fan of lil’ Nanami because she’s adorable. He also likes the fact that everything she desires is clear to him here in her flashback world, as things she concentrates more on appear with more detail and in greater focus. Seeing everything she wants to clearly, and having the power to grant it all, Tomoe’s devotion for her grows. Here, when asked if he truly loves her and is someone she can count on, he can answer directly: yes he does.

Heck, he even proposes marriage, and she accepts…but when the grown Nanami wakes up, she’s seemingly forgotten everything about her dream, which deflates Tomoe quite a bit, because he thought he’d actually made progress.

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He laments the fact that the happy-go-lucky yet delicate girl he was able to confess to so easily was lost in the twelve years since, especially when she’s able to single-handedly convince the zodiac sheep to allow the new year god to shear him. Then Nanami surprises Tomoe again and makes him rethink everything when the Year God furnishes her with a photo of her mother.

Now, that wouldn’t seem such an impactful gift, but considering her mother died when Nanami was very young and all photos of her were lost in the fire (a heartbreaking fact), it means multitudes for Nanami to finally see her face clearly. And in doing so, Tomoe sees that neither Lil’ Nanami nor her mother really vanished; they’re still within Nanami.

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Back at the Shrine, Nanami is back to work on her talismans, and Tomoe is back to work denigrating their poor quality, earning her defiant scowls. But when relaxing after a long day ushering in the new year for worshippers and the like, Nanami settles down for some tea and TV with her shrine family, whom she’s been with now for a year.

When she steps outside, the falling snow reminds her of what a shadowy figure once said to her in a half-forgotten memory of the past (which we know to have just happened at the Torii gates), in which Tomoe tells her younger self she won’t always be alone and wary, but be “the lady and mistress of a household more rowdy than she could wish for.”

And so it’s come to pass. She has a family, without having resorted to marriage she’d sworn off. And yet, when asked again, Nanami adds the qualified “probably” to that swearing-off, opening the door for Tomoe, if he wishes to walk through it.

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Kamisama Hajimemashita 2 – 11

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“Dang it Mom, I’m working on my science project!”

Kami-Haji is really in the zone in its home stretch, such that it can abruptly change gears from the Tengu arc to Kirihito without breaking a sweat. Mind you, I was a little skeptical of the choice of gear—there’s only two eps left; get back to Nanami and Tomoe!—I decided to be patient and see where the show was going with this. It was a good decision, and my patience was rewarded handsomely.

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Having built a new portal to the Netherworld…in his house (probably not the best idea), Kirihito—or I should say Akura-oh—prepares to dive back in to look for his body. What’s interesting is the means with which he does so: by using the bracelet he made from Nanami’s hair (quite a bit of it…yikes!) to keep his human body intact while down there. That’s right, Mr. Big Bad can’t do a thing without Nanami’s (indirect) help, and he knows it.

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The Netherworld is just as dark and dreary and unpleasant as it was last time, but it doesn’t take long for Akura to find his body. Just a slight niggle: it’s on top of a volcano, in an eternal cycle of being simultaneously burnt and regenerating.

Yatori tagged along as is ridiculous 90% of the time, but we see why he came when he gets serious and stops Kirihito from doing something reckless. His hair bracelet will be of little use; what he needs is the ability to quell the volcano’s fire…and the best thing for that is fox fire; specifically Tomoe’s.

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So, okay, Kirihito will be paying Tomoe (and by extension Nanami) soon. Is there really time for that? Never mind; Kirihito’s side of this episode comes to a beautiful end: once Yatori gets him back to the mundane world, the portal starts leaking poison from the Netherworld. At first Kirihito/Akura is unconcerned, even after one of his shikigami turns to dust; he slaved over that portal and he’ll be damned if he’s going to seal it.

But then he remembers he’s in Kirihito’s house, and his mother is at his door with a late night snack. And he seals that portal right up. It’s an incredible feat for someone so nasty and self-concerned, but Akura-oh clearly inherited more than just Kirihito’s body.

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Embedded in Kirihito’s side of the story is a cutaway to Tomoe, the guy who betrayed him by falling for a human woman and thinking he could be a human himself, who is in that moment making hamburger steak for his human/god master, because it’s her favorite.

First of all, BAAAAAAAAW. Secondly, Kirihito may poo-poo Tomoe’s love and devotion for a human (first Yukiji, now Nanami), but he kinda loses his philosophical ground when he puts the safety of his host body’s mother before his own.

Like Kirihito sealing the portal later, Tomoe suddenly feels guilty removes the shiitake mushrooms he meant to sneak into the mix after Nanami expresses excitement about him making her favorite dish. DOUBLE BAAAAAAW.

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The second half begins with Nanami watching a wedding on TV, and brings up the fact she’s agreed to host Himemiko’s wedding when it happens. Mizuki and Tomoe briefly misunderstood her phrasing to mean she was getting married, to which she responds “I’m not getting married. Ever.” And she says it with a creepy face that suffers no debate.

Her stance is harsh, but understandable, considering she comes from a broken home, and the marriage she’s most familiar with—that of her parents—obviously didn’t end well.

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How apropos then, that when Nanami tags alone with Tomoe and Mizuki to visit the Year God, she ends up revisiting those rough years, even transforming into her twelve-year-younger self.

One wonders why in the world Nanami would ever think looking back on her past twelve years would “sound fun”, but call it curiousity and awe at her surroundings, combined with her special brand of hard-headed recklessness Tomoe both loves and hates about her.

And while I maintain Tengu Nanami remains The Best, Lil’ Nanami is no slouch in the adorableness department!

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Tomoe and Mizuki fail to catch Lil’ Nanami (who lands a fantastic jump-kick on the latter, believing him a kidnapper), but they’re able to bear witness to her experiences at this age, from being given a chocolate bar by her deadbeat dad just before he runs off for good, to her mother being hounded by debtors.

It’s a lot for a little kid to take in, but even at her young age, she becomes overcome by shame at enjoying a luxurious chocolate bar as her mother struggles to scrape by. (Mind you, it’s her Dad’s fault, not hers).

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Even in the face of such hardships, the moment Nanami’s mom notices her daughter, her face brightens and she embraces her treasure, as if to assure her that everything will be all right. I had no idea Nanami’s mother was so kind, decent, and loving. Fortunately for us, Nanami took after her mother in that regard.

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So the question is, what happened to make Nanami family-less and homeless? Tomoe learns this after getting a good look (and possibly feeling the aura of) Nanami’s mother: she’s very ill, and doesn’t have long to live. Her mom didn’t run off like her dad…she died.

Being a little kid, Nanami has no knowledge of her mother’s impending death. And as we know, once she’s gone there’s no one else to take her in, until she comes upon the earth god shrine. But Tomoe tells Mizuki not to interfere; he wants to see a bit more. After all, he’s witnessing a side of the woman he loves he’s never seen before. Maybe seeing that side will finally give him the courage to tell her of his love. Here’s hoping.

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Kamisama Hajimemashita 2 – 05

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Nanami and Tomoe weren’t actualy apart that long these last two episodes, but as Nanami remarks, the netherworld had a way of skewing time, making it seem like far more than four days of separation, for her as well as me. Now Tomoe is a yokai again, and in prison. Is it Nanami’s turn to save him?

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Well…he asks for space, insisting it’s his decision whether to become her familiar again. And in his yokai form, he’s a bit of a short fuse, so Nanami gives him that space and tries to focus on work as Tomoe sulks in the dark. But in fine dysfunctional courtship form, both of them can think of nothing but the other, as if they had cast spells on one another.

Mizuki tells Tomoe his feelings for Nanami won’t go away just because he’s no longer contracted with her. So what does Tomoe do? Break into her room at night and contract with her, with the customary kiss, and boom, just like that, the Tomoe Yokai Experiment is resolved.

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The fact that a contract or lack of same had no effect on his feelings for her has a profound effect on Tomoe. It occurs to him he has fallen for her, but he can’t help but express that fall by yelling, scolding, bullying, and teasing. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that Nanami reiterates her love for him, but knows he’s not interested in her in that way at all. If he wasn’t, things would be much easier.

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Just when you think he’s realized he’s gone too far and comforts her, he follows it up by trying to strip her! In any case, this is a classic case of someone reflexively taking their romantic frustration out on the very object of their affection.

Tomoe doesn’t like himself in this state anymore than Nanami does. But once the Divine Assembly officially concludes with a big divine party, Tomoe is able to be civil and even debonair as her escort. Then Nanami chases a familiar butterfly that leads her to Mikage.

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Nanami’s duties at the diving assembly, which she was performing in Mikage’s stead, involved distributing strings of destiny to and fro with the other gods, deciding who will be matched with whom in the mundane world. What Nanami didn’t know is that a similar string connects her and Tomoe; a pairing facilitated explicitly by Mikage himself.

He knows Tomoe better than anyone else in any dimension. And so Mikage knows—and it has been confirmed time and again to us by Tomoe’s behavior towards Nanami—that Tomoe believes humans to frail and fleeting in their existence to devote his full soul to. He had done so once before with Yukiji, who passed away while he lingered. Human and yokai relationships are taboo because of the vast difference in lifespans.

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Mikage brought Nanami to Tomoe to teach him that humans aren’t weak. Nanami was cast away by her family and gone through innumerable hardships, but never gives up, never hesitates to help others, and never fails to flash a big adorable smile when Tomoe is around…and not acting like a dick.

Mikage’s aim was to “rekindle Tomoe’s bond with humanity”, by choosing Nanami, taboo be damned. But while Nanami and Tomoe have yet to figure out how such a thing will work, but the fact he came back to and contracted with her unbidden by anything other than his love for her, proves there’s is no shortage of sparks at the heart of that kindling.

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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 – 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)