Series: Kamisama Hajimemashita (Anime licensed by Funimation under the title “Kamisama Kiss” and available for viewing on their website.)
Related Manga: Kamisama Hajimemashita (As of today, there are 13 volumes and counting under the title “Kamisama Kiss” available in English for purchase on Amazon.com. Manga licensed by VIZ Media.)
Platform: Funimation (you should totally be watching!)
Kamisama Hajimemashita hits every check box on my list of things I love in a good anime. I love a hint of the supernatural, a little romance and a lot of humor while not falling fully into the gag/joke/anime trap that some series thrive on. It also has those painful hints of angst and emotional wounds that shape a person into who they will eventually become, which is a theme I adore.
I firmly believe that we, as people, are shaped by our experiences, both positive and negative. A person who has only positive experiences can never fully comprehend or empathize with the pain another is feeling. It’s why I believe in reincarnation of the spirit. I believe that deity sends us back, again and again, until we fully understand the depths of pain and the highest points of joy a human can experience. Until we can truly do that and still acknowledge our own failures, we are incomplete in some way and are still learning.
That’s a theme that winds its way through Kamisama Hajimemashita. Nanami is a high school student who is abandoned by her father and left alone in the work with nowhere to live and no one to rely on. Through chance, she meets Mikage, an earth deity who manipulates her into taking on responsibility for his shrine and the familiar and spirits he’s left behind.
Nanami’s personal pain allows her to empathize with Tomoe, Mikage’s abandoned familiar who has been waiting patiently for years for Mikage to return. While Tomoe and Nanami fight regularly, Nanami finds herself understanding Tomoe’s fears of being left alone again and embraces ownership of the shrine and her new role as an earth deity to make sure the others at the shrine can have a true home.
Of course all of that happens through thirteen episodes and with a cast of other characters. Even with those distractions, the thread of pain, comfort and learning to understand others is maintained as a theme throughout the series. Each character has their own pain or misfortune and throughout the episodes they learn to connect to each other in the ways that they are able, forming a dysfunctional but caring family.
I loved the themes of comfort, finding a home, finding happiness, learning and growing and the delicately growing romance between Nanami and Tomoe. I love the supporting characters as well. Kurama with his ‘I’m an idol’ ego but soft heart, Ami and her good-natured innocence and excitement about life, even Mizuki with his sweet, heart-rending pain over his loss and his need for a new home, all of them tear at your heart just a little and leave you wanting more.
This has turned out to be one of those animes where I find myself not just wanting but needing to read the manga. I need to know if there’s even more to each story in the manga. I want to know where the characters go from here. I want to continue the warm and bittersweet feelings it brought out in me as I watched it.
I would recommend this anime to anyone, whether it’s something they’d normally watch or not. It’s sweet and gentle, even at the most painful points, and it leaves you with a sense of hopefulness and happiness at the end. I hope that the series is eventually given a second season to continue past the point in the manga’s story where the anime ends. Much like Natsume Yujinchou became a sleeper hit and was given season after season, this series could also do the same.
Coming up next: Kore wa Zombie desu ka? which is twisting my brain.
Anime Challenge: 53/1000.