Kamisama Kiss (Season 1 & 2)

Very Good

This ended up being a surprisingly good random pick.  Kamisama Kiss is another anime that’s somewhat difficult to place.  It’s probably best described as a blended romance and comedy anime rather than a romantic comedy.  This anime is generally low-key and pretty unassuming, but permeated with a thoroughly sarcastic tone.  Although you’d expect the anime to be pretty frivolous, it ends up going some pretty serious places.

Purpose: Very Good.  There’s a pretty big subject matter difference between the first and second season.  Generally, the first season is more slice of life-y, since it’s about learning how to be a god.  It tends to be a little more episodic, but it was held together by the budding romance.  The second season changes direction and takes the anime into much more serious waters.  It’s much more about the characters and character relationships at that point.  Really, that’s where it hits its stride,  solidly weaving drama and comedy into the romance elements.  That said, on a broader note, the anime can be divided along season lines into two general categories.

Characters: Very Good.  One of the notable things about the characters was the inclusion of a rare tsundere male.  He wasn’t exactly the most distinctive male tsundere, but the personality was done quite well.  What made his role much stronger was the inclusion of two other foils, who really ended up highlighting different aspects of his character.  For that matter, character development was handled in interesting ways, marking a very distinct difference between the humans and non-humans.  The most interesting dynamic that they created was the difference between characters that are several hundred years old, yet still young, and “normal” humans. Eventually, they managed to round out the main and supporting cast enough that each had a solid amount of depth, resulting in some level of respect for the characters.

World: Very Good.  Much of the world development comes in the second season of Kamisama Kiss.  It solidly builds off of existing Japanese mythology, but adds a more personal twist to the pantheon.  Though you see it occasionally, this anime definitely “humanizes” the gods (kami.)  Eventually, you get a much clearer picture of how things work in the world because it takes on a more consistent feel.  It’s a good thing, too, because the world is what supports the much stronger drama that happens in the second half.  That said, there’s still a lot of things that are only touched on and left unanswered.

Plot: Good.  The plot wasn’t too special, overall.  The first part had a fairly trivial feel that comes from slice of life type shows.  Plots were pretty straightforward and didn’t really span more than an episode.  That said, there was always the main romance plotline running through things, which kept things moving.  The main romance itself makes a huge leap once it gets to the second season, where you delve into the characters’ pasts.  In addition, there are several more interesting dramatic plotlines that appear.  The latter drama is where most of the plot’s power comes from, since it’s able to build upon both the main romance and some really interesting things aside.

Storytelling: Very Good.  There was a really good use of animation change to suit particular scenes.  Basically, they’d change the animation style to emphasize certain aspects of the characters.  Mainly, it was used to make the scary yokai seem more approachable and endearing.  Although it really came into its own when the characters’ personalities started bouncing off each other.  It does take a good while for that to happen, though.  Animation aside, the handling of the characters’ “turns” was handled in quite a solid manner.  The viewer got to see things from different characters’ perspectives, but it never felt like “oh, it’s your turn now.”  Of the storytelling, two things really stand out.  One was the “dream-world” of the main character’s past.  It was pretty exceptional in how it was handled – clearer memories were in focus, while things that weren’t as clear were more cartoonish or, well, different.  The other was the handling of the characters’ backstories.  The theme was “the person before you knew them.”  They actually did a really good job of making the characters similar enough, but different so that they seemed unknown to the viewer as well.  It definitely had the feel of the character’s life before the other characters, and even the viewer, knew them.

Pace: Good.  The slowest part is actually the first half.  Basically, it starts off at a complete standstill, slowly building momentum.  It takes some time for all the characters to be assembled, and some more time for the anime to hit its stride, especially with respect to the character antics. Once it gets going, it ends up being a really solid pace.

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