Kamisama Kiss Series 2 Collection (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 287 minutes approx.
You’ll have to cast your mind back some two years to when the first series of Kamisama Kiss hit our shores, telling the tale of down on her luck 17 year-old high school student Nanami Momozono who becomes the new Land God of the Mikage Shrine. Under her servitude, so to speak, are grumpy fox yokai Tomoe, snake yokai Mizuki and shrine spirits Onikiri and Kotetsu.
Series two continues the story without pausing for breath, rushing headline into the first of two multi-episode stories, but we are treated to a very quick recap of the prior events before things get underway in earnest. Nanami is dedicated to taking her role as Land God seriously, so much in fact that she has been practising the skill of creating magical talismans and has become semi-competent at it.
When an invites arrives to attend the Divine Assembly, the annual gathering of the gods in Izumo, Nanami leaps at the chance, surprising Tomoe and co, but upsetting her foxy familiar by opting to take Mizuki with her instead of him. As the lone human at the assembly however, Nanami soon finds herself in a number of difficult scrapes.
The mythos and world of the Gods wasn’t something that was explored in much depth in the first series, something this follow-up is keen to rectify. But first Nanami still has to improve her God skills and is tasked by the flamboyant Otohiko to raise a Shikagami. Nanami eventually nurtures a cute little monkey with purifying abilities whom she names Mamoru, who can transform into a human boy.
If you’ve seen any anime set in the world of the Yokai, then you’ll have a fair idea already what the citizens of Izumo look like, following the template of the traditional designs of Japanese folklore. However they are suffused with the cartoonish whimsy of this show’s shoujo aesthetic, most notably the Lord of the Grand Shrine Okuninushi, a curiously camp fellow with a divisive edge to him, who takes a shine to Nanami.
Not everyone is so welcoming and a small group of Yokai resent a human being present at their annual gathering and conspire to make life hell for Nanami. Unfortunately a good deed helping a fellow human named Kirihito sees Nanami trapped inside the dangerous realm of the Netherworld.
There is plenty of scope for this story to run across all twelve episodes in this series but instead it is rushed to cover just the first six. The detriment of this is evident in a key plot development of Tomoe making a huge personal sacrifice to rescue Nanami from the Netherworld, the ramifications of which have potentially reshaped the whole relationship between the two, but is resolved inside ten minutes and off screen.
Story number two centres on a tengu (crow) child named Botanmaru who arrives in the human world looking for another tengu called Shinjūrō, who just happens to be Nanami’s rock star acquaintance Shinjūrō Kurama! Botanmaru is there to bring Kurama back to Mount Kurama where their ruler Sojobo has taken ill and a successor need to be announced. However foul play is assumed in this so Nanami, Tomoe and Mamoru tag along to help out.
Just as before, there is enough potential in this story to run for a whole single cour season but we get the compressed four episode version. Once again Nanami finds herself playing hero in a world unfamiliar to her, forced to disguise herself as a boy in order to undertake her mission. It’s fun while it lasts but suffers from being all build up and swift conclusion, which seems to the theme of this set.
Having not read the ongoing manga from Julietta Suzuki upon which this series is based, one assumes this was a decision by show director and writer Akitaro Daichi. There is clearly no shortage of ideas from Suzuki as, unlike other shows of this nature, each adventure is fresh and free from repetition. Diachi may be working to a tighter schedule and time limitation hence the rush to the finishing line.
It is the final two episodes which are the most notable victims in that respect, beginning with a story that sees Kirihito makes his return only to have him fade away into the distance and the conclusion be all about Nanami as a young child. Again this no reflection on the actual content just the handling of it. Kirihito’s character and background is treated early on as a major story thread but is shunted to the wayside and remains largely unresolved.
Thankfully the zany cast, both old and new, helps soften the blow, remaining engaging and hugely entertaining throughout. Mamoru the monkey needed more attention as the most prominent newcomer but I’m sure in his original cute form, he’ll still win over many fans. Also frustrating is the patchy exploration of the central relationship between Nanami and Tomoe, which flits between tacit love and all out war on a whim, although as pointed out, their union is considered taboo among the Gods so maybe we have been spared some uncomfortable scenes.
Humour is again very much an integral element in the show’s success, and like the first season it never lets up from the get go. The gags range from the broad visual excesses of the aghast and often violent reactions of the cast to the occasional and more subtle sight gags – one in particular took me a while to register what was going on but the absurdity of it was beautifully played and gave me a huge giggle.
Because of the manic and extrovert nature of Kamisama Kiss, along with the supernatural fantasy premise, quibbling over the shortcomings of the story is a tad churlish, but at least there is a story driving it unlike other shows. If you enjoyed the first series, get ready for another highly entertaining helping of this fun filled show!
English Language 5.1 Surround
Japanese Language Stereo
Episode 4 Commentary
Episode 12 Commentary
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Songs – Episode 1 & Episode 6
Rating – ***
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