Nanami Momozono is going through very unlucky times. After losing her mother to sickness her father abandoned her after racking up a huge debt and losing even their house, so she is left alone and homeless. As she wanders on a local park, she saves a guy from a little dog. As thanks he kisses her in the forehead and offers her to stay in his home, a run-down shrine. But when she gets there she's greeted as the mistress of the shrine and it is revealed that the old guy whom she saved at the park was actually Mikage, the "Land God" of that shrine and he transferred all his powers to her with the kiss. Now she has to learn to use her newly acquired powers to help the people who offers prayers at the shrine. But there's a resident of the shrine who is not very happy with her, Tomoe a fox spirit who served as Mikage's familiar. What's going to become of Nanami and will she be able to convince Tomoe that she can do perform her job?
Simple But Well Executed
Kamisama Hajimemashita (Japanese Title) is directed by Akitarou Daichi, a name that should be familiar for those that are fans of the Shoujo genre (Fruits Basket, Kodocha) and his influence is evident in the art style, the camera work and writing. The camera work manages too really bring out the emotions through the use of an incredibly large repertoire of really well done expressions, the backgrounds change according to the situation, the character design is simple and clean and not overly cute and the comedic timing is great (more on this later)
Easy To Watch
I was surprised by how no matter what mood I was in, I managed to enjoy every single episode of the series. It doesn't try too hard to be likeable and it has comedy, drama, romance and more (not so well balanced, but I'll get to it in a bit) If you ask me for a recommendation to watch alongside your wife, husband, girlfriend boyfriend etc. this is something I would fully recommend
A Believable Couple
Both main characters are great on their own. We have Nanami a girl without luck but that never gives up, always want to help people in need and it's not afraid of expressing her feelings and Tomoe who is one of those characters who may act violent and arrogant and still manages to be likeable by showing he cares a lot for his master even if he has trouble showing it. Put them together and you have a natural and believable pair who carry the show through their chemistry and developing bitter sweet relationship
It's sometimes easy to forget as this is a very lighthearted watch, but this is actually a supernatural Anime, and it's nice seeing all different modern takes on gods and supernatural beings and how they interact with each other. A lot of the gods have trouble accepting Nanami, as she is a human, but nevertheless is very entertaining watching how she proves her worth by intervening directly herself to solve problems (something the gods would never think of doing)
Worth mentioning are the locations were the other gods or beings reside, as they are gorgeous (in particularthe underwater shrine where we met the snake-spirit Mizuki) and reminiscent of the Edo period in Japan
The comedy in the series, while simple it is executed incredibly well. The jokes are lighthearted but always pulled at the right moment, like the song that plays whenever Kurama, the tengu turned idol, enters the scene. I praised the range of expressions and the comedic bits of the show use them to the fullest. They always enhance what the characters are trying to convey and are able to make you laugh just by looking at them. This show really makes the best of its jokes
The Romantic Bits Are A Bit Rushed
One of the problems with romantic comedies is to find the right balance between comedy and romance, and this show falters a bit in the romance department. While the interactions between Nanami and Tomoe are interesting, in the first half of the series their relationships doesn't really go anywhere, so when in the second half we start to have a little bit more of development between the two they come up as bit abrupt as it seems Tomoe starts to see Nanami in a different light all of a sudden. But leaving aside that, one it happens the show really finds the right balance, so this is a minor complaint
A Short Run For A Slow Show
13 episodes were not nearly enough for a slow paced series like this one. The show take its sweet time with everything it does so we are left with way more questions than answers. Who is Mikage and why did she gave his powers to Nanami? Why Tomoe is afraid to open up to Nanami? The season doesn't really offers any kind of closure to almost any situation it presents.
Underdeveloped Side Characters
While I praised Nanami and Tomoe, the rest of the characters ended up being a little too one-dimensional and this is a shame as their introductions show there's potential in there (in particular from Mizuki, the snake-spirit and Kurama the tengu turned Idol), we can blame the slow pace and the shortness of the series, but there's a lot of squandered potential in there.
While a bit on the short side and may be slow paced for some, the series is actually a nice take on the old Shoujo classics with a mix of Japanese folklore. You can see the influence of Director Akitarou Daichi all over it and this is a good thing, the comedy shines and the great range of expressions are a great way to enhance the experience. Nanami are Tomoe make a great pair and while their relationship may develop a bit abrupt at a certain point, there's a lot of really sweet and touching moments. A very lighthearted show that's easy to watch and even better if you can watch it alongside you're significant other.
Stay tuned for the review of the second season coming later today!
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