Kanon, Air TV, and Clannad (TV) with his involvement in their writing. These titles were well known for having light comedy mixed in with heavy drama, romance, and fantasy elements that pushed things rather heavily with suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, pushing out the same type of storytelling formula with all your works can lead to audiences tiring of someone’s creative works over time. Such is the case with Maeda’s most recent anime made, The Day I Became a God, focused on high school student Yota Narukami meeting a strange girl in nun attire named Hina who claims that the world will end in 30 days and promises to help Yota with his affairs in the time they have left.
The name Jun Maeda might ring a bell to fans of anime adaptations of visual novels from Key that were popular in the 2000s and early 2010s like
Roughly the first eight episodes of The Day I Became a God focus on Hina aiding Yota and several of his friends in helping them out with their various problems. She shows a superhuman level of predictive abilities that help aid the characters with resolving whatever personal issues they are facing. This storytelling focus has its equal parts of the light comedy and emotional drama you can typically expect out of Maeda’s works. However, the biggest issue with this angle to the series is that much of this focus on Yota’s classmates feels irrelevant in the grand scheme of things as their developments feel a bit rushed, they largely remain the same characters once their dilemmas get resolved, and they get pushed back into the background once their story is over. All this feels largely done to show off how impressive Hina’s abilities are, pad out the TV anime’s runtime, and reminds me of the issues that the anime adaptation of Air had back in 2005 with its focus on Kano and Minagi’s story arcs.
The side story of the series involving a mysterious organization investigating someone related to Hina serves as the actual focus to the series, though even this is ripe with a number of issues. This angle to the series implements the fantasy elements of Became a God, but more into the sci-fi realm as said organization relies on the hacking abilities of a young man with superhuman calculative abilities to aid them in their goals, serves to eventually reveal the source of Hina’s superhuman predictive abilities, and lead into the more serious developments of its final four episodes. This unfortunately creates a rather misleading direction for the show’s story as a whole with the direction its drama goes and does a rather sloppy and unconvincing job of developing a romance direction that early episodes never hinted to or smoothly developed. It also dabbles into some complicated themes like government corruption and the ethics of technological advances and uses, yet Maeda never bothers to dabble further into these themes as he’s more fixated on the unconvincing romance he sloppily put together at this point of the series.
But perhaps the one element to the series that made me personally disgusted with the final few episodes of Became a God was its handling of medical treatment for the disabled. Limiting spoilers, one major character gets heavily disabled enough to the point where they get admitted to a medical facility for treatment of their disorder and require regular support from nursing staff to maintain their everyday functions. My issue isn’t so much with the nursing staff in question as the series believably depicts the delicate handling of treatment for the character in question, the nursing staff genuinely caring for the character’s well-being, and how anything outside the scope of regular care they are receiving can be a negative risk to their physical and mental condition. My issue with this angle to the series is that because of Maeda’s storytelling approach, he tries to manipulate the audience into thinking the “power of love” can overcome whatever issues this character is experiencing while ignorant of the various accommodations, amount of therapy time, and necessary needs that would have to be in place for the living environment of said character to be able to live comfortably outside of a medical facility. Having experienced developmental and physical disabilities personally growing up, I’m aware of the struggles both personally and within society that occur when going through the effort to go through therapy in improving both my physical condition and my ability to properly interact with others. The fact Maeda thinks he can just gloss over this harsh angle to reality to create his idealized romance personally ticked me off and made my viewing of Became a God’s final few episodes a struggle to get through.
In short, The Day I Became a God greatly exposes the issues with the storytelling approach from Jun Maeda with having a good deal of storytelling issues, pushing suspension of disbelief too heavily, a good chunk of its story from its first half largely feeling pointless and feeling like filler, misleading audiences with its haphazard change in story direction, the sloppy romance it tries pushing for, and glossing over some serious themes to focus more on said sloppy romance. While I would typically rate this as a weak series and just move on from there, Maeda’s handling of treatment for the disabled in pushing for his romance angle personally ticked me off enough as such where I’m actually rather disgusted with this series and this now ranks among my all-time worst anime as a result.
Last updated Wednesday, November 22 2023. Created Wednesday, November 22 2023.
(All episodes watched):
I watched the first episodes of six new series (four full length and two shorts) on a Thursday night, and this was without doubt the best of the lot. I detected a sort of clever comedy coming from not just the punchlines of jokes but also from the chemistry between the characters and the way they acted. The humor in general was better than most anime; I burst out laughing after the scene at the baseball diamond. The dialogue was sophisticated and fun--not the sort of stuff ordinary characters say. The artwork was pleasing too, thanks in part to well-chosen colors. Perhaps best of all, there's clearly a plot to this story. Youta hopes to use Lady Odin's gift for foreseeing the future to make the girl he desires, Izanami, fall in love with him. But that may be pointless, because for all the jokes and hijinx, Lady Odin says the world will come to an end in 30 days (we are reminded of this deadline at the end of each episode). There are some suspicious holes in her story; for one thing, she's a Goddess yet needs a place to stay. But the three main characters have ingratiated themselves by the end of the episode. It even seemed like it might just be the best comedy of the 2020 Fall season--perhaps because it's not just a comedy.
Episode two wasn't as much fun; I think what happened was we didn't learn anything about this supposed threat to the world, and Izanami's personality seems pretty bland. The explanation is that she became 'introverted' after her mother died, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The fact that she shows little emotion is often played as a joke, but she needs some sort of personality--at least in my opinion. So, the plot didn't really move forward much and while this show is funnier than most, it still needs one. Episode three begins in such a way that I thought I might have missed an episode and actually be watching number four (never skip the little bit after the credits!). Youta and our goddess attempt to revive the fortunes of a floundering ramen restaraunt operated by a relative of his. Also, an expert computer hacker is introduced, though he has yet to meet any of the main characters. In episode four Lady Odin arranges an opportunity for Youta to compete in a mahjong tournament to impress a woman he admires. Since I don't know how to play the game myself I didn't understand either what he did wrong early on or how he made a comeback later on. In episode five he helps a girl come to grips with her mother's death several years ago. But what's the point of all these things if the world is rapidly nearing its end? And what do they have to do with the theme of 'The day I became a God'? Who is going to become divine, so to speak, one of these days? Is Lady Odin just a faker who will attain true divinity eventually? Or was that a reference to somebody else? I wish this show had remained focused on a small cast of characters as it seemed it would back in episode one, and how getting help from a Goddess might affect an ordinary human, instead of going for wacky humor in a scattershot pattern. Although I guess this show is a little funnier than average, average isn't a very high standard in comedy anime. Episode seven was truly funny as Yota's little sister wants to make a short movie for her club and Lady Odin volunteers herself, him and many others to help. Most revealing, however, was the part about some silver-haired hacker teen who is conducting an investigation into what seems to be Lady Odin's father. Could her ability to foretell the future be a manmade skill rather than a divine one?
Things get serious in episode eight as we are treated to a flood of information about Lady Odin's past and her actual parents. We learn more in this one episode than we have in the seven previous ones combined. What remains unexplained is how she is in perfect health and able to foresee the future when she definitely shouldn't be. Perhaps the previous episodes served a necessary purpose in allowing us to get to know her, and the revelations of this episode wouldn't have seemed nearly as startling otherwise. But I can't help feeling that this almost feels like two different shows, one comic and one dramatic, have been stitched together to make one. Still, I was glad we were finally getting some answers and the mystery behind Lady Odin's origins was starting to be solved. In episode nine we likewise learn about the silver-haired teenage computer hacker who has been tracking her down, and get a semi-plausible explanation of how she can foretell the future and survive an incurable illness. That was sort of unusual, but what happened next seemed kind of stereotypical to me, with the big bad corporations and government agencies that are typically greedy for the secrets Lady Odin has. When Yota finally finds out what has happened to her, she is a mere shadow of the person she used to be. This is sort of shocking, but I suspect not as shocking as it was supposed to be. I had yet to be convinced that the explanation we were given about how she had become 'divine' in the first place really held water, so I was more confused than appalled. Still, you can't help feeling sorry for her. So, if I understood this show, (spoiler)what made her 'divine' was the brilliant device invented by her grandfather, which both cured her illness and made her able to foretell the future. That was kind of hard to believe--actual divine intervention would be just as likely. It seems that the only way to restore her to the happiness she once knew will be either by re-implanting the device within her brain or by some genuine miracle, not by teaching her how to play video games again. And the story doesn't exactly have a happy ending; the bad guys have gotten away with what they did, and while she has made a little progress towards recovery, Lady Odin is still in a pathetic state. Something definitely seemed to be missing. What, for example, was the moral to the story? It all seemed far more tragic than uplifting to me. We can only wonder what the makers were thinking. If I had known back at the beginning that things were going to work out this way I wouldn't have watched at all.
Last updated Tuesday, January 05 2021. Created Friday, October 16 2020.