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Review: Kamisama Kiss

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Doing the God thing

When I dream of becoming God, these fantasies usually don't involve a white-haired pretty boy with fox ears who follows me around and does my bidding; clearly, I've been doing it wrong. Now that Kamisama Kiss has taught me the error of my ways, my visions of deity will probably contain more sexy fox men and less sending other drivers to burn in eternal hellfire when they forget to use their blinkers. It's probably healthier this way.

Have your own delusions of Godhood been too full of wrath and too light on supernatural boyfriends lately? Then you too could probably use some Kamisama Kiss in your life.

The gang

Kamisama Kiss DVD/Blu-Ray Complete Series (Hyb)

TMS Entertainment

Publisher: FUNimation

Release Date: February 11, 2014

MSRP: $54.98

Kamisama Kiss is a very skillfully done supernatural romance done in the shoujo style, and really, that could be the whole review right there. If you like the combination of shoujo aesthetics and supernatural characters, you will eat this show up with a spoon like it's chocolate pudding. Mmm. Sweet, sweet pudding.

What's more difficult to say is whether or not this show has much appeal outside of shoujo fans who already know what they like. While the plot moves at a good clip (no lazy filler episodes here) and the story remains engaging throughout, it's still a very shoujo-y tale filled with breathy songs, impossibly leggy characters, and plenty of luminescent blushing. Furthermore, while it's not a true reverse-harem show, the fact that main gal Nanami has several attractive, supernaturally-gifted guys vying for her attention might give some viewers cause to roll their eyes.

That said, I think the strength of the main character may be enough to win over some viewers who are new to the charms of shoujo. Poor Nanami gets kicked out of her house due to her absentee father's debts, and finds herself homeless at the start of the series. Through a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger, she becomes a supernatural creature called a "Land God" and inherits a shrine to live in. Unfortunately, the previous Land God's familiar-- a silver-haired fox demon, Tomoe-- isn't impressed with the idea of having a down-on-her-luck teen as his new God. What's a newbie divinity to do?

A loving relationship

What's refreshing about Nanami is that she's very active, taking control of her own story rather than just letting things happen to her. True, becoming a Land God in the first place is something she kind of stumbles into, but that takes place in the first five minutes of the show; after that, she's all about making choices and moving forward. She makes mistakes from time to time, but her errors always feel age-appropriate rather than the result of stupidity. She's a fairly realistic heroine whose bullheaded determination is a great source of strength, yet it's often her biggest problem as well; it's hard not to root for her.

Naturally, handsome fox-spirit Tomoe is more cool and detached, and while his warming up to Nanami over the course of the series was something I fully expected, the way it's done isn't strictly predictable. In true "defrosting Ice King" fashion I expected Tomoe to talk down to Nanami and treat her basically like dirt until the final episode, at which point he would reveal that he's actually in love with her. I guess that's still kind of what happens, but in practice it's a little more nuanced and interesting than I anticipated, with more give and take.

There isn't a ton of action, but Tomoe is a very hands-on kind of familiar and takes insults to his mistress very seriously, so don't be surprised to see some supernatural brawls go down. The magic is all mined from Japanese folklore, so be prepared for plenty of talisman-throwing as well. As a romance primarily, fight scenes were never going to be a big draw here, but I felt the series found a good balance between action and talking-head scenes; a liberal dose of humor helps keep things interesting as well.

As is my habit, I watched the series subtitled, where a lot of the usual suspects abound if you're used to watching your shows in Japanese. However, I checked out an episode or two of the dub to assess its quality, and I don't think you can really go wrong with either option here; the dub is well-cast and it seems like some care was taken with the translation. I found Tia Ballard's Nanami to be a bit too loud, but then again, if I were in Nanami's position I might find myself yelling a lot too.

This set is pretty light on extras, featuring only a few commentaries from the English ADR director Jerry Jewell and members of the cast. I could complain about the lack of bonus stuff, but this is the bare bones release; fans who want the whole Kamisama Kiss experience, complete with postcards and hair pins and what have you, should pick up the Kamisama Kiss Goddess Edition box set, MSRP $129.98. But these 13 episodes are strong enough on their own to warrant the reasonable asking price here without the need to guild the lily.

I've attempted to elaborate on it, but what I said at the beginning of this review still stands: this is a really good shoujo supernatural romance. If you like that, jump on this. If you're not the biggest shoujo fan, but you like your heroine's feisty and your shows filler-free, Kamisama Kiss may be worth checking out anyway. It passed "The Wilson Test"-- by which I mean, my husband actually started watching it (and laughing along with the jokes) even though I didn't ask him to, and let me tell you: not every shoujo series passes that test.

Score: 8.0 – Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.

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Kamisama Kiss reviewed by Karen Mead

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide

 
 
 

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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures


 


 


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