Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens
Jin Mikuriya is a typical teenage boy who recently carved a figure of a girl from a sacred tree. One day, the wooden figure comes to life, releasing a goddess named Nagi. Her mission is to clean up the impurities in the area with her own magic abilities. Unfortunately her powers have been weakened because of the sacred tree being cut down, leaving her unable to defend herself. Because of this, she enlists the help of Jin to help her clean up the impurities, after discovering he can pick them up safely with his bare hands. She also ends up living with him, which causes Jin's childhood friend Tsugumi to wonder about his "half sister" suddenly moving in with him.
Upon first watching Kannagi and its opening theme, I thought I was walking into another idol show or something had I not seen the manga before starting this series. (The cutesy opening theme almost drove me off from watching the anime the first time I heard it, honestly.) After it's done, though, I was surprised to find a laid-back, thoroughly enjoyable show, despite an all though typical plot, which is essentially Oh My Goddess! if Belldandy acted somewhat like Haruhi Suzumiya.
Kannagi is a hard anime to review, but I'm going to try. Part of the reason it's so difficult to review is because there aren't really any standout moments in this series. There are no moments of brilliance or a truly bad filler episode or anything. Even its characters don't stand out much.
Still, at least Jin isn't a spineless wuss. In fact, he's actually perfectly capable of living out on his own, and is able to cook and clean as well. He is what you would call "someone who has his act together". His childhood friend, Tsugumi, is also a perfectly normal girl, looking after Jin and generally being helpful and kind with a few rare exceptions. These exceptions typically revolve around Jin and Nagi's living together, with Jin claiming that Nagi is his half-sister - a made-up relationship that actually plays something of a role in the story near the end of the series.
Speaking of Nagi..well, there isn't much to say. Like I mentioned before, she comes off as some sort of bootleg Haruhi Suzumiya to me, and is just as pushy and demanding at times as her namesake. (One episode has her locking herself in Jin's closet in protest for not recording a magical girl show for her.) Even her voice is somewhat similar in tone to Haruhi. Still, I'll admit I laughed with her attempts to drive away evil spirits with a glorified magical girl baton, and more often than not she's at least tolerable, if not likable. Also, unlike Haruhi, Nagi eventually grows as a character, and her childish personality is mercifully downplayed as the series goes on.
There are a few other characters as well. One of them is Zange, Nagi's twin sister who, unlike her sister, still has her powers intact. Her cute looks and cutesy attitude have won her many fans, and of course you can guess at this point she's a bit of a two-faced brat - a lot of her screen time with Jin is basically driving her sister jealous by her flirting with him.
Probably my favorite side character is Daitetsu, a huge figure of a high school student who makes Jin look like a grade schooler. He's a scary-looking but kind character (who also has a soft spot for cats), and he's a refreshing change of pace from all the perverted idiots that typically make up the main lead's best friend in a lot of other anime. There's even a bit of friction between the two's friendship during the series, which I enjoyed seeing, especially because it doesn't involve them fighting over the affection of a girl. (Yay!)
In fact, of the entire cast of Kannagi, there were only two I had problems with; Takako and Shino. Takako is loud, pushy, and mean-spirited to Jin, while Shino is basically an observer who never opens her eyes, and I got tired of their antics faster than you can say "spaghetti and meatballs". Later on the series they also establish a club for Nagi, who becomes the school's unofficial mascot to the point that they give her a uniform, despite her not attending school! The only other student side character is Meguru, an otaku who's in the art club and swears he's not an otaku. He swears it, guys, despite being as subtle as the cast of Genshinken about it. Really.
The cast of Kannagi might not be the greatest out there, but the art certainly is. It's actually well-animated at times, almost at the level of an OAV or even a movie at certain points. It's not consistent, though, which is a downer. The art itself is great, with some very well-colored backgrounds. At times I felt like I was actually there with Jin and Nagi as the backgrounds are just that detailed, and I don't think that often when watching anime. Audiowise the music is good but not spectacular, but the voice acting itself great. Noone's voice feels out of place or awkward, and the cast does a good job conveying the different emotions the series' characters have when they need to.
For all the things I like in Kannagi, there's one aspect I don't; the otaku pandering. One whole episode revolves around Jin getting angry at Nagi for working at a cosplay cafe in an attempt to win her fans to increase her power. This stuff not only comes out of left field with little to no warning, but it (in my opinion) destroys the overall flow of the show. The constant badgering Takako does to closet otaku Meguru doesn't help, either.
Despite its moments of what I like to call "selling out", Kannagi is definitely more good than bad, and most of the series is actually pretty charming. I'm not quite sure if I'd buy it, but I would recommend renting it if you're mildly interested in the concept.
Not a bad show by any means, but it could've told its story a little better. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Despite how tame the series typically is, there are some scenes of fan service here and there. There's also one episode where the cast question the relationship of Jin and Daitetsu and the implication of them possibly being a gay couple. For older teenagers and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Pre-license fansub
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens © 2008 Eri Takenashi / ICHIJINSHA / Aniplex
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