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Anime review: ‘Kamisama Kiss’

Kamisama Kiss
© Julietta Suzuki / Hakusensha-Kamisama Kiss Project. All Rights Reserved. Under License to FUNimation® Productions, Ltd. Produced by TMS ENTERTAINMENT, LTD

On February 11, 2014, anime publisher FUNimation Entertainment will be releasing “Kamisama Kiss” in limited and standard edition Blu-ray/DVD combo packs, and the publisher gave us the opportunity to check out the supernatural romantic comedy.

Based on the shojo manga series by Julietta Suzuki (published in North America by Viz Media under their Shojo Beat imprint), the Kamisama Kiss anime is produced by TMS Entertainment (Lupin the Third - The Woman Called Fujiko Mine). The series follows the journey of a young woman, named Nanami Momozono, who finds herself in a bit of trouble after her father racks up a huge gambling debt and runs off, leaving her with no money or place to live.

With no idea what to do, Nanami lucks out when she encounters Mikage, a strange man who is stuck up a tree while trying to get away from a barking dog. After Nanami scares the dog away, she tells Mikage her sad story and in return for helping him, Mikage offers Nanami his home. Since she doesn’t have any better plan, Nanami takes him up on the offer and follows his directions to a small, run down looking shrine.

Undeterred, Nanami enters the shrine to discover that it is inhabited by two friendly spirit keepers, Onikiri and Kotetsu, as well as an angry, and beautiful, fox yokai named Tomoe who serves as Mikage’s familiar. It is then explained to Nanami that Mikage is actually a “Land God” and in charge of match-making, answering the prayers of worshipers; now the duty falls to Nanami to serve in his place.

Between dealing with her tempermental familiar, school, keeping a snake spirit from making her his bride, a classmate who is both a rock star and a yokai, and trying to do what she can to bring worshipers, Nanami’s life is never dull. Not everything about her new life is bad though, even though Tomoe starts off cold and callous towards Nanami, it seems like the two begin to develop feelings for one another.

The story of “Kamisama Kiss” probably isn’t the most original that I’ve watched in recent years, but that doesn’t hurt the series much as it is still presented in an entertaining fashion. Nanami is a great female lead, she starts off vulnerable and dependant of everyone around her, but over time she starts to develop into a strong character that can stand on her own alongside the many yokai that she encounters. Tomoe’s development was also interesting to see, as he is so angry at Mikage early on and can’t seem to stand Nanami, but he still sticks by her no matter the challenge.

One thing that I was a little bit surprised with in “Kamisama Kiss” is just how easy it is to forget that the story revolves around supernatural beings. With so much of the focus on the interactions between the cast, the relationships take up most of the episodes, with just a little bit of action. This still works out for the series though, as the pace is brisk and it rarely feels like things move too slow.

Visually “Kamisama Kiss” looks great, the picture quality is clear and the color is vivid. This review is based on the DVD version of the anime and it is likely that the Blu-ray version has better quality. The series looks exactly like what you would expect a shojo series to, all of the characters are thin, tall and even the men are beautiful, although much more brooding than the women.

Between the two audio options, the Japanese voice cast matches up better, but that doesn’t take anything away from the English cast. I think that both versions are worth watching the series in, but I did prefer the narrator in the English dub just a bit better. As for the subtitles, they are clear, easy to read and have nice flow.

Included as on-disc extras are trailers for other FUNimation titles, the textless opening and closing (I enjoyed the closing theme) as well as the U.S. trailer for the anime. Also included are commentaries for episodes one and twelve as well as video commentary for episode six. The series is being released in a standard edition (SRP $54.98), along with a collector’s edition (SRP $129.98) that includes an ornamental hair stick, a folding fan, a tote bag, a Tomoe Omamori lucky amulet and seven postcards, housed in an exclusive art box.

“Kamisama Kiss” is an ideal anime for fans of shojo series, the characters and story fit in perfectly with the genre and the series is sure to please fans. It also manages to offer a nice blend of comedy and drama along with its brisk pace that help to keep things fresh throughout. That said, anime fans who aren’t too keen on shojo series, may not find “Kamisama Kiss” as entertaining, as it does lack in the originality department.

If you’re a fan of anime like “InuYasha”, “Zakuro” and “Natsume’s Book of Friends”, then “Kamisama Kiss” is one series that you are likely to enjoy as well.

Score

3.5 out of 5

Kamisama Kiss

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Runtime: 325 minutes
Number of Episodes: 13
Number of Discs: 3 DVDs (Also available on Blu-ray)
Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles
Age Rating: TV-PG
Release Date: February 11, 2014

(A review copy of “Kamisama Kiss” on DVD was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.)