Kamigami no Asobi
Whisked away by the magic of an old sword, Yui Kusanagi finds herself in the company of the Greek God Zeus and tasked with learning a class of young Gods about humanity and love, hopefully reigniting the relationship between human beings and the Gods.
And so, Kamigami no Asobi becomes the second reverse harem show I've watched, fairly fresh off the heels of Neo Angelique Abyss. Two shows where the main female leads gets her pick among a litter absurdly handsome men.
In that way, the two shows have everything in common, but there's still a question of delivery. Of the males, that is; for where in Neo Angelique Abyss the men sought out Angelique like a female-seeking missile so they can whisk her away to a life of luxury and home baked cookies, Kamigami's Yui has to work for the attention of her own harem, as not all the guys in this show are as friendly as in Neo Angelique. And certainly not as accomodating.
Which is not to say that Kamigami no Asobi is a dark show. It's got the same kind of doofy lightheartedness that Neo Angelique did, with the same level of intentional and unintentional comedy and the same group of hilariously unrealistic men. In fact, Kamigami tones down some of the ridiculousness of the men themselves, slathering the show in high school romanticisms instead, which... is one of the things bringing the show down, to be honest. Mostly because too much of the dialogue gets squarely put in the "insincere mouth service" file cabinet. I was recently introduced to a rather interesting piece on why the Japanese romanticise high school as much as they do, which does put it in a better light for me, but among the earlier episodes, there are still segments that made it hard to keep from rolling my eyes.
That said, one of the things I really appreciated about Kamigami no Asobi is that it's a very good-natured show. Neo Angelique Abyss had a bit of a survival aspect to it, which added a more immediate danger to the proceedings. Still, the sealing of powers and the threat of more severe punishments if the menfolk doesn't learn their lessons within their semestral terms does add a certain... je ne sais Damocles to the proceedings, and, of course, there will be a more pressing matter regarding one of the characters before it all ends.
One of the things about Neo Angelique that didn't exactly impress me was its lack of animation quality. Not that I normally care too much about that, but Neo Angelique was largely action-based, so the terrible animation really hurt that aspect to it. Thankfully -- for Kamigami, that is -- the animation here is a whole lot better than Neo Angelique's, and there's no better indication than when action sequences actually end up looking pretty good. And sounding good, for that matter; Kamigami's soundtrack is quite impressive. Kind of game-like -- I can't tell whether they just imported the OST from the game or just made a new one for the show, but there is a lot of orchestral stuff, occasionally with a celtic feel to it, and sometimes with a certain swelling reverence set to choirs that's almost too much given the goofy nature of the show. This does not extend to the opening and ending theme, though, which are both goofy pop songs that fit the rest of the show to a tee.
And more than that, I just like this show's style. Yui isn't the drop-dead gorgeous beauty that Angelique was, but she's a lot more active and involved in her dealings with her situation and the men surrounding her, which makes her a more sympathetic character. Nothing is handed to her on a silver platter; she doesn't solve her problems by wishing really hard for them to take care of themselves or wait in her room until they all bake cookies for her. Instead, she takes a more proactive route by talking to the men and learning to know them. In turn, it makes the guys warming up to Yui more realistic and believable, and, by that extent, the show becomes appealing for more than just its goofy lack of sensibilities and the hilariously overwrought drama. Or the show turning said men into glorified butlers.
Not that I've watched a whole lot of reverse harems -- I mean, there's this and Neo Angelique, and I guess Free!! counts if you're the kind who like to fantasize about yourself among the main cast -- but I was even able to pick out favorites among the guys in this one, and that's pretty damn unprecedented. The fact that the lot of them have been picked from a great selection of male deity from various mythologies is an... odd choice, but the show takes to the subject like Ah! My Goddess takes to Norse mythology altogether; curiously accurate character traits and roles from the original legend coupled with rather free interpretations. Well... as far as I can tell regarding the Norse characters, at least. The three available in Kamigami; Thor, Loki and Balder, are given last names. Loki is named Laevatein, after an old sword mentioned in the Edda, while Balder is named after his own ship. And Thor... well, he's named after his belt. It sure makes me wonder what kind of last names the others woulda gotten. Maybe... Heimdall Gjallarhorn? Odin Gugnir? Freya Brisingamen? And what, if any, connections does the Japanese and Greek deity have with their surnames?
Furthermore, I like the dress sense the show has. Outside of the school uniforms (and by extent my general disinterest in uniforms in general), a lot of the guys wear regular street clothes from time to time. I was particularly fond of Loki's patterned hoodie, but the others brought their own sense of informal style, and it makes the show a more relaxed affair.
As accuracy goes; Kamigami points out that Balder has been made basically immortal in that nothing can hurt him, except for mistletoe, which is entirely correct. Then again, the show does take some liberties by adding some other aspects to him that never was a part of the original edda. Which is fine; I don't really have a problem with that, seeing as the main show is well within its "loosely based" element, and constitutes the more heartwarming parts of the show; the way the characters from each source of faith plays off on each other. This helps the cast turn into a more interesting bunch compared to in Neo Angelique Abyss, because most of them already have personal relationships beyond being colleagues. Sure, they feel a bit token at times, the kind of token that will certainly give birth to some... bedroom mano-a-mano sessions, if you catch my drift, but the effort is still appreciated. And, like I mentioned, they kind of tie in with the original mythos. Sorta.
The "help the poor guys get over their mental ouchies" tropes are still there, and you better believe they're mostly romantic ones. Tragically romantic ouchies so saccarine, it makes me want to throw up. Thankfully, they're also mostly hilarious, and yes, I know I'm a bad person for yukking it up, but seriously... how can you not laugh at the ridiculousness of it all?
Put it all together, and Kamigami no Asobi actually becomes a great big ball of hilarious entertainment. I said the show was a good-natured look at high school life with... somewhat unusual students, and it is. The main cast is a good number of different personalities with various levels of initial jerkitude and post-win-over drop rates. It occasionally gets a bit disconcerting when some of the guys go all stalkeriffic and possessive over Yui, which is the only real downside to this show. Thankfully, they're relatively quickly dealt with, leaving you to relish in the goofy, unrestrained fun that is Kamigami no Asobi. So, as a closing nod and a bit of a service to you ladies reading this, here's six of the potential conquests you can probably make in the game, presented in all their flower-sprouting glory.
As near a four star rating as shameless entertainment can get. If you're in it for the boy candy, though, you ladies can feel free to add another star or two. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Kamigami no Asobi is fairly innocent for the most part, though there is the occasional bit of manservice for you ladies out there. (Bare chests, mostly.) Some of the pasts of the main characters tend to lean towards the mature side of the spectrum, though, as does the stalkerish parts mentioned above.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Kamigami no Asobi © 2014 Brains Base, Kamikawa Corporation, Kamiaso Partners.
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