Title: Kamichu! aka Kamichu! ~ Kamisama de Chuugakusei
Company: Brains Base
Format: 16 episodes
Dates: 29 Jun 2005 – 28 Sep 2005
Synopsis: One morning, Hitotsubashi Yurie wakes up to find out that she has become a deity, and with that, her life suddenly opens up to a whole new world as she uses her powers to help people and spirits alike. Although being a goddess does come with its perks, Yurie must still struggle through the basic things that junior high school students deal with, including trying to get Ninomiya Kenji’s attention as she works up the courage to confess her feelings for him.
Yurie: Starts off annoying with her helplessness, but matures as the series progresses.
Comedy: Straightforward and relies on Yurie’s cuteness or Matsuri’s schemes for effect.
Setting: The small town atmosphere works… provided that they keep it there.
Spirits: Make for a wondrous addition to the atmosphere.
For a series that starts off without making any attempt at a backstory, Kamichu! manages to ease the audience into its setting quickly and effectively, rendering the knowledge of how Yurie goes from being an ordinary junior high student into a goddess largely irrelevant. By taking this approach, the series is able to beeline straight to the point by presenting Yurie’s adventures in the framework of an episodic series steeped in magical realism. This isn’t to say that all of the episodes focus on the fantastic. While there are some episodes in which Yurie’s divinity plays a crucial role, they generally take a back seat to the slice of life elements, allowing us to see Yurie go through her day as she contends with issues most normal kids her age face. With that in mind, Kamichu! develops into a rather charming series about a young girl growing up. Kamichu!‘s episodic nature has the advantage of being able to increase the range of the types of stories and situations that this series is able to deal with. For example, the spectrum of subjects each episode covers range from a unique mission, like raising an old battleship and hauling it back to port, to the sentimental, like restoring an old shack that was of significance to Yurie’s parents’, to the mundane, like spending New Years under the kotatsu. Furthermore, the love story portion of the series captures the innocence of the first love perfectly and despite Kenji’s cluelessness when it comes to Yurie’s feelings, it was nice to see how the romance proceeds from beginning to end. So in spite of its broad coverage, most of the episodes are pretty well-executed when it comes to the presentation and the story.
But due to its episodic nature, it’s inevitable that some episodes fit better with the overall feel of the series than others. The series noticeably falters when the episode departs from the charming, small-town setting and travels into the world at large. It’s noticeable when an episode’s scope becomes bigger than this series was ever meant to handle, making the particular episode feel really out of place with the others. Because of this, those episodes are more difficult to get into and you may experience a jarring transition as you take in the new surroundings.
This leaves us with the episodes that deal with Yurie’s day to day struggles in her hometown which turn out to be the most enjoyable because of the characters who interact with her. Matsuri is easily the most enjoyable because of her solid screen presence. Her spontaneity and the way she get the other characters involved in her machinations tend to be delightful to watch just to see how it plays out. Mitsue fits the role of the best friend who grudgingly goes along with Matsuri’s plans while serving as the voice of reason and anchor to reality. Finally, a special nod goes out to the various spirits that populate this world because they’re appropriately designed (seeing as some are spiritual manifestations of common household objects) and some, like Yashima, the shrine’s resident deity, are also enjoyable to watch as they interact with the human characters by showing that in spite of their separate existences, humans and spirits aren’t all that different from one another.
Kamichu! isn’t going to ever really touch on anything too deep, but it’s certainly delightful to watch all the same. While some of the episodes don’t really quite fit in with the series as a whole, for the most part, it succeeds in drawing you in with its simplicity and its charm.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: zzeroparticle