I watched this a while back but failed to comment on it. So I re-watched it just now and still thoroughly enjoyed the heck out of it.
Art, Animation & Character Designs
One of the first things I noticed about this series is the art and animation. The art was really good and details were thorough. The animation was extremely smooth and exceptional. It had a very high frame rate that made everything look velvety smooth in motion. As for characters designs. Another well done. Most of the characters (females) were just uber cute!!! Especially Yurie.
The OP wasn't much. It was an okay piece with female vocals. After hearing it a few times, it wasn't too bad, as well as the rest of the music. It gave the sense of a lazy cool summer day with a glass of lemonade.
Series and Episode Story
This series is a simplistic yet fantastic piece of story telling. It's nothing more than a naive school girl that became a god one morning... not to summarize the synopsis above. But what makes this uber cute and out-right entertaining is the fact that there's 3 girls just simply coping with the concept or the fact of one of them being a god... and how tough it is to manage things. Nothing in this story get's serious but rather, everything is light-hearted..... like becoming a god is an everyday norm.... hehehe! Of course, the "light-hearted" is "not" to say that the story has no substance. The shinto aspect was a great touch. That's a topic not explored much in anime.
My favorite line: "I became a god". So poignant and innocent, I love it.
Overall, this is a good anime and well worth the Buy mark. The story is remarkly simple.... but remakable nevertheless.
Last updated Friday, April 24 2009. Created Thursday, April 23 2009.
Watching Kamichu left me flabbergasted as I mistook it for something Studio Ghibli made when I first seen it. Granted, the show has a number of the trademark qualities found in a Ghibli film. There is the bright vivid artwork and some episodes demonstrating a lot of fluid animation from perils triggered by Yurie's powers or things taking place in the world of gods. Then of course, there's the mix of fantasy and reality elements found in this series. Kamichu's fantasy themes are strongly influenced by Shinto beliefs and in the reality sense, there is Yurie and her two friends putting up with the perils of growing up. A good number of Ghibli films feature coming-of-age trials focused on girls approaching adolescence. In Kamichu's case, it does quite well at blending such themes.
Kamichu's main focus is on Yurie. Outside of the god powers, she is a naive, simple-minded girl just trying to get through her times in junior high one day at a time. Despite being a god, she doesn't let this new status get to her head and those around her just accept it like it is something normal. While she has the best intentions when wanting to use her powers to help people, they usually cause trouble for others that she didn't expect. This sets up the process that even as a god, Yurie isn't perfect and this error sets up a lesson for her to learn from when trying to push her intentions onto others. Seeing such aspects of her character added to my delight for this series as I felt like I was watching a TV show made by Ghibli (though it was not!!).
Plot lines in Kamichu were mostly episodic with Yurie tending to a different situation that made use of her god powers in each episode. Her friends are with her during each situation and add to some of the fun of this series. Matsuri likes using Yurie to get money or promote her shrine. Making Yurie go through the random advice booths was worth a chuckle, especially with the girl's naive personality and not knowing how to answer all questions well enough. Mitsue acts as the straight person in the trio. But to her dismay, Matsuri's rock n' roll loving shrine god, Yashima-sama, often likes possessing Mitsue to rock out with a guitar. Not every day you have a god using your body to perform like a rockstar at a shrine festival!! XD
I only have a couple things to nitpick with for the series. With Kamichu's heavy focus on character progression, developments in plot were at a minimum with this series due to the episodic nature of the series. This left the big question of how Yurie got her god powers unanswered thus my reduced score for Series Story. In terms of Music, I never really felt a deep attachment to the show's soundtrack. It's carefree and whimsical, going well with the themes of the series. But, I just couldn't connect with it.
But, don't let such nitpicks keep you from seeing Kamichu. There's a lot of fun and charm from seeing Yurie and her friends enjoying their junior high school days with Shinto gods coming into the mix. And with the Ghibli-style artwork, you might think Hayao Miyazaki had something to do with this show like I had when I first seen Kamichu.
Last updated Saturday, December 06 2008. Created Saturday, December 06 2008.
I tracked down this series after coming across some collected works of Hanaharu Naruko, which included the manga 'Kamichu!' (I've uploaded one of the images to an episode description.) I just love the artwork in these shows, especially Hanaharu's excellent use of light and shade.
The characters here are just nice schoolkids, one of whom just happens to become a god -- nothing to get overly excited about in their world that's filled with gods. Yurie is unfailingly sweet, though she doesn't apply herself very well to either schoolwork or god-business. Mitsue is her faithful friend, always ready to lend support, and Matsuri as Yurie's self-appointed public-relations manager can be depended upon to come up with some scheme to make a little money from her popularity.
There doesn't seem to be much of a long-term plot outside of the development of the characters and of Yurie's powers. The episode stories aren't very complicated, but are richly detailed by the art, dialog, and background music. What I like most about the stories are the "slice of life" feeling I get from them. The plots generally move fairly slowly, allowing you to savor the atmosphere of the small town they're set in and the lives of the characters, time enough to pick up the details of their daily life and religion. There are a couple of exceptions to this, when it seemed someone else wrote the script and made an episode that was like most any other action-themed anime. These episodes aren't bad, exactly, but the don't fit in with the rest and felt like a jarring interruption to the atmosphere created by the others.
Favorite line: "Spring is still so far away..."
Last updated Thursday, January 25 2007. Created Thursday, January 25 2007.
Kamichu! is the story of eighth-grader Yurie Hitotsubashi who wakes up one morning to discover that she is a god (kami). Ultimately Yurie discovers that although divinity is difficult, eighth grade is harder.
When Yurie informs her best friend Mitsue Shijou of her new-found godhead, Mitsue is skeptical until Yurie accidently summons a hurricane (typhoon). Matsuri Saegusa is the eldest daughter of the priest at the bankrupt, local temple (their temple god ran away to become a rock star in the realm of the gods). Matsuri immediately spies a financial opportunity in Yurie, and Yurie soon has a second "best" friend.
This anime is the story of these three girls trying to deal with the tribulations of sudden divinity in a coastal Japanese village of the 1980's. Although the story is laugh-out-loud comedic, the humor is never at the expense of either the town or the Shinto religion. Both are treated with dignity and respect throughout the series.
In countless anime the motivating force behind the protagonists actions is the fear of having to go back to the country if they do not succeed in Tokyo, Welcome to the NHK is but a recent example, but one of the themes of Kamichu! is that small town life is literally divine.
The town is treated generously visually as well. The backgrounds--including the interiors of houses, schools and temples--appear to have been based on photographs and are rendered in meticulous pastel detail.
Because of its Miyazaki-like graphics and subtle themes, Kamichu! will no doubt appear in many top 100 lists in years to come. However, Kamichu! is also one of the least accessible animes for Western audiences ever. Nearly every aspect of Japanese coastal village life will be unfamiliar to Western audiences, but the biggest hurdle of all is the Shinto religion.
Shinto was the state religion of Japan from shortly after the American Civil War until the end of the World War II. So while it is not as widely embraced today as it once was, viewers in Japan are familiar with its tenets and practices. Furthermore as Shinto is based on Buddhist therefore Hindu beliefs, viewers all across Asia have some understanding of the religious aspect of this series; much as an American Southern Baptist would understand the religious aspects of a story about Catholics set in Ireland. So this anime worked for its initial viewers on the Animax network in Japan, southeast Asia and India, but Western audiences who have had little or no exposure to Shinto will find many of the references simple bewildering.
The best advice to Western viewers is to keep Wikipedia handy while viewing Kamichu!.
The Animax network only broadcast 12 of the 16 episodes that are included on the DVD release. Episodes 8, 11, 13, and 16 were not shown; they probably made the right decisions. I have watched the entire series multiple times, but I have yet been able to force myself to sit through episode 8 a second time (and I have tried three times). This is undoubtedly the low point of the series. Episode eleven is the only episode that I have never seen in its entirety, so I will not comment on Animax's judgment in this case. Although episode 13 is one of the funniest in the series, its theme of religious divisiveness and intolerance is not exactly exactly the message you want to be sending into India and southeast Asia these days, so they probably made the right call there. Episode 16 appears to have always been intended as a DVD extra; there is a big finish at the conclusion of episode 15 that is unquestionably the end of the series.
Despite its largely female cast and sedate pace, Animax broadcast Kamichu! in a time-slot usually reserved for anime aimed at a young adult male demographic. Perhaps they thought the fantasy elements appealed to young adult males. Personally I believe that the target audience for this series is difficult to specify. It has an Alice in Wonderland kind of quality that gives it a universal attraction.
In the end Kamichu! is a great show. Although most Western viewers will have to put some effort into this series, the effort will be well rewarded. It is obvious that the director cared not only for the town and its people, but for each one of the characters. By the end of the series you will care for them too.
Kamichu! viewing tips:
1) Episodes 1 and 15 are bookends; pay very careful attention to the the dialog and events of episode 1. Even better: re-watch episode 1 before you watch episode 15.
2) "Benten" is Benzaiten the goddess of eloquence and music and one of the top dogs in the goddess biz.
Last updated Tuesday, August 29 2006. Created Monday, August 28 2006.
Many Characters are quite simple... a children's show of sorts (and episode 4 almost plays on the level of the Powerpuff Girls). Then again, the leads remind me a bit of of Uchuu no Stellvia - a shy but ultra talented girl and a handsome, calm, passive guy. Yurie is very moé but a bit too naive (given the immense power she possesses), she needs to develop quite a bit. It's funny to watch her reluctantly doing the "god business" while at the same time not being immune to catching a cold.
The Story is a somehow a magical girl show without villains; therefore most of it is slice of life and shy romance (while episodes 3 and 4 provide some "adventure interlude"). Fortunately, the German fansub did a incredible job of adding tons of footnotes to explain cultural references - it would have been almost impossible to understand certain parts of the story without these.
Art reminds me of Ghibli style; there's a lot of movement to animate and the series does pretty well here so far. I dislike both the funny OP song and the Rock'n'Roll ED song, so Music may well be the weakest attribute of this series.
With Characters, Story and Music being my most important attributes this series may end up with a weaker rating from my side than it actually would have earned - children might like certain parts of this anime very much, for example, and the "first love" arc of Yurie would probably be great for young teen-aged girls. But with time I begin to like the protagonists, some of which show a little more development during later episodes in the series.
And now the flaws: Two full points deduction from Series Story for blatant and uncritical glorification of the Japanese role during WW II in all of episode "Crossing the River of Time" i. e. 9 of 16 - and that's even one of the episodes that aired on TV! Such militaristic propaganda shouldn't have a place in a children's story IMHO; this alone kicked the series out of the "Buy" range for me. I don't consider episode 13's message xenophobic or intolerant (who exactly decided that Coca Cola has the right to wipe out every other country's culture for the mere sake of their investor's dividend?) but its political message doesn't fit too well into this series either. Without these two episodes this anime would be on par with Piano and Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto.
Last updated Tuesday, February 05 2008. Created Wednesday, June 21 2006.
8 R1 Episodes Watched
Wow, this is nice little title.
I got a hold of a few new english releases and this was in the pile. It's to cute, it reminds me of a Miyazaki. After 2 episodes I was oh this is so,so but Episode 3 changed everything and Episode 4 was great!
2nd Release is here! And it's just as good as the others. Love, Sickness, and 'Fight Club' all are included.
It's still keeping it up. I don't know if it is a <BUY> but it defintely is in the <RENT> for me and it's not about cute girls with guns!
Last updated Wednesday, August 16 2006. Created Monday, June 12 2006.
The first three episodes of this quiet gem of an anime tale have been released as fansubs, and I am really enjoying this series. The characters are interesting and innocent, the animation is amazingly detailed and the apparently simple storyline is a fairytale adventure in a very strange wonderland.
It needs to be mentioned (to those of the West) that when Yurie becomes a ‘god’, she does not become one of western or Greek gods, but rather she becomes one of the hundreds of Japanese Shinto Nature deities that exist in the Japanese culture. The smallest these deities might have ability over the flowers in a meadow, while the strongest influences earthquakes and tsunamis, and there are hundreds of others credited with taking care of mountains, forests, villages and many other important magical points of nature.
I searched about for some review material, and I stumbled across a very thoughtful and insightful review at a certain web site. And after wasting more than a few minutes trying to create a 'good' review, I decided to share with you Scott’s admirable and detailed review, because he gives this series far more credit and thought, than I might be able to.
(Thank you, Scott)
In my few months of blogging, I have never had the privilege to talk about a series as good as what I present to you today. The reason why anime is such a joy to me is because of all the magic and deep meanings expressed in just a medium of entertainment. But it takes a truly great work of art to really blow me away, and when it does, it fills me with such emotion and happiness that I remember just why I became the otaku that I am. Kamichu (short for “The Goddess is a Middle School Student”) is such a series. It’s so filled with magic and meaning that I consider it one of my favorite series of all time. Why? Well, let’s see…
“I became a god.”
“I don’t know, it only happened last night”
“Have an offering”
“I don’t need it.”
“Well, gods can’t be picky.”
Yurie is a sweet but very shy middle school girl who, like the dialogue says, became a god. While this might seem like a strange thing to the most of you, in her world it is a fairly common event. Exactly what does she do now that she’s a god? Well… she doesn’t quite know yet. But her friends gladly offer her advice as to how she can use her powers. Going for the superhero approach, they come up with the name “Kamichu”, “Kami” as in god and “chu” as in middle school. And so Yurie takes a deep breath, and like a Dragonball character mixed with a Pokémon, screams out, “Kaaaaaah, Miiiiiiiiiii, CHUUU!!!” While the effect of the yell is only a little wind at first, it ends up becoming a huge typhoon. Now she has to use her unknown powers to fix the mess that she accidentally created.
And yet behind all the magic and cuteness lays the work for some very deep storytelling and symbolism. I recently talked to a member of my extended family about religion in anime. He is a professor at a famous religious college in America, and he specializes in Japanese language and culture. He recently showed Miyazaki films to his students to show its Shinto and Buddhist themes and symbolisms. Well, I can’t wait for him to see Kamichu because Shinto isn’t just a theme of the series, it is the series! I wonder how he would interpret it.
The biggest thing that one will notice about this series is that the setting appears to be the day-to-day normal life in Japan. However, the outrageous notion of being a god is no big deal, and many non-human spirits roam around and cohabitate perfectly with humans. While many are turned off by the oddness, I find it’s clever and fun. Since the characters take gods and spirits so casually, eventually so does the viewer. It’s really a pleasant world to enjoy.
But what is also very pleasing are the characters, particularly our protagonist, Yurie. My history of favorite anime characters includes Shinobu from Love Hina, Nodoka from Negima, Yuri from Ichigo 100%, and Aoi-chan from Ai Yori Aoshi among others. Basically, I’ve always liked the sweet, shy, and cute girls in anime (and in real life as well ^^). So it’s a pretty big deal when I believe that Yurie is the sweetest and cutest girl ever in anime. Her short hair and roundish head are adorable, and her shy mannerisms and frequent blushing facial expression just melt your heart. But the biggest winning point for her character would be the voice acting, done by the 18-year-old actress, Mako. Mako is a member of the J-pop group Bon-Bon Blanco, but this is her first time at voice acting anime. Well, she fits the part perfectly, using her voice to add a whole other level of cuteness to our young heroine.
But even beyond the religion lies a completely different take on human life. One thing they make very clear is that Yurie is in middle school - they even put that in the title! What so significant about being in middle school is that it’s the time for change, which all of us painfully remember as adolescence. Yurie becoming a god is actually a symbol for her going into womanhood, which includes all the confusion and awkwardness one can expect. It’s a theme used in previous anime works like Kiki’s Delievery Service, SaiKano, and the whole magical girl genre in general. In each one, a young girl struggles to control her budding powers, which is an obvious symbol that I’m surprised is not mentioned for often. Such is the case the Yurie, and I’m looking forward to see how this girl eventually discovers her own identity as the series continues.
I can’t stress enough how much I love this series. This world in which the gods and spirits of the Shinto religion exist is very fun and entertaining, the main character is an absolute sweetheart, and the series also has some really in-depth symbols that I love to find and admire. But most of all, it’s just the magical feeling I get from watching it that really makes me enjoy this show so much. My motto for this website is that “we all need to escape into fantasy sometimes,” and that’s just so easy to do with Kamichu! (^_^)
Last updated Saturday, June 10 2006. Created Wednesday, August 03 2005.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site