Anime Review: Kamichu!

Written by Fellistowe

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a god? This is the dilemma faced by average junior high school student Yurie Hitotsubashi, who wakes up one morning to the realisation that she is a god (Kami). No explanation is given for this miraculous event, but when she shyly tells her close friend Mitsue over school dinner in the opening scenes of the anime, her friends reaction is to calmly give her an offering of a sprig of parsley as a joke….

Kamichu!

Available on DVD Region1, from Geneon Entertainment.

Kamichu!

 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a god? This is the dilemma faced by average junior high school student Yurie Hitotsubashi, who wakes up one morning to the realisation that she is a god (Kami). No explanation is given for this miraculous event, but when she shyly tells her close friend Mitsue over school dinner in the opening scenes of the anime, her friends reaction is to calmly give her an offering of a sprig of parsley as a joke. Her confession though is overheard by fellow classmate and priests’ daughter, Matsuri Saegusa, who immediately pounces on Yurie, proclaiming her to be her new best friend! So begins this heartwarming story, as the three girls enlist the help of Matsuri’s little sister and shrine maiden Miko, and set out to find out just what Yurie is a god of. Those who know a little about the Japanese Shinto beliefs know that there is a god of almost everything, so you can guess that as the series progresses Yurie quickly learns she is not alone in her godhood, but rather one of a multitude.

It’s the girls easygoing acceptance of these miraculous events that really sets the pace for the series. It never sets itself up to be serious; instead you are drawn along by its simple charm and gentle humour. Cuteness is in abundance here, but it’s not the in-your-face cuteness as can be found in other series of its type, but more the down to earth cuteness of real children facing fantastical events. Yurie plays the clueless lead, a girl with a ditzy personality who, much to Matsuri’s annoyance, no-one can ever really take seriously as a god. Whilst she would much prefer to nurse her crush of her fellow classmate (and only member of the Caligraphy club) Kenji Ninomiya, she always tries to do what’s right and tries with all her heart, an act which is so endearing you just can’t help but cheer her on. The other characters balance her act so well; Mitsue is the easy going best friend who invariably ends up being the butt of most of the jokes, Matsuri the energetic go-getter who sets herself up as Yurie’s manager and advisor, whilst the shy quiet Miko is just so cute as a shrine maiden that she’ll melt your heart.

The girls, from left to right: Mitsue, Miko, Yurie, Matsuri

 

Brought to us from the same creative talents as R.O.D TV, the pace and feel of the series is in stark contrast to their previous work, instead of being action driven the show caries you forward on the strength of its characters; you can’t help but want to know what will happen next as Yurie is faced with such challenges as finding lost gods, warding away the god of poverty, or even talking to lost aliens! Of course getting people to take her seriously as a god is a must, too!

 

Breathtaking background artwork make this series a joy to watch

 

The animation work is deceptively breathtaking. The background animation has a pastel shade to it that hides the true depth of detail that is concealed there. The town the series is set in is based upon the seaside town of Onomichi in the 80’s, and the sheer amount of effort and detail the animators have put in to capture every nuance and detail of the town is awe inspiring. Raifuku shrine is a case in point; the amount of detail captured in the buildings is amazing, even down to the temizuya by the entrance for purifying the mouth and fingertips. It reminds me greatly of the kind of detail you’d find in something like a Studio Gibli film; you can watch a scene through once, then re-watch it again and easy find something you missed the first time round.
The character animation stands out more than the background, being crisper and more defined. At first glance the characters movement strikes you as clumsy and a little odd; it’s not till you realise that the animators have gone to great lengths to define the finer details of movement and facial expression that you realise this is why. Rather than relying on the usual super-deformed or comical effects to convey expression, instead the animators have chosen to use the natural means of facial expression and gesture to convey those feelings, a job which is difficult at the best of times but works wonderfully in this case.

The collectors box is above par for its type, the box (Shrine box) has a textured outer sleeve to give it the feel of a wooden box, with illustrations by Taraku Uon on the inner box. As well as the first disk (of 3), included are bonus pencil boards and a mini wall scroll (again, Uon illustrations) reminiscent of their ROD heritage, featuring the girls in some generally innocent but still slightly coquettish poses.

All in all, if you’re a lover of cute heartwarming tales of innocent girls in humorous situations, this series is a must buy.

Note: All images remain the property of Geneon entertainment and are used for review purposes only, they will be removed if officially requested.

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