This post about how Dennou Coil evokes Hayao Miyazaki (which raises interesting points) reminded me of when I watched another anime that some have said also reminded them of the renowned director. The premise of a middle-school girl suddenly becoming a god and all that followed (attempting to discover what her ablities were, using them for good and for awesome, and balancing that with normal school life) was interesting. It was slow-paced and nice slice-of-life, two things that I really like (friends noted this, calling Kamichu! “my type of show” before I watched it). And a couple of friends stated that for some reason, he just felt happy for a while after finishing the series. So Kamichu! piqued my interest, and it helped that my college anime club was showing it this past spring semester. When we completed it, I did like what I saw, but something nagged me. Despite many nice ingredients, the series didn’t push the right buttons for me to consider it as something really great instead of only a pretty good show. As if that’s a bad thing though. 😛
In my opinion, the main annoyance was how the god world and the normal world fit (or to be more accurate, didn’t really fit) together. Watching, we see that gods do appear in Kamichu’s world and that Yurie (and Miko) can seem them regularly and all that jazz. And we also observe that the two realms as decidedly separate, such as when our heroine made her trips to the other side to introduce herself/learn how to become a better god/etc. Only Yurie can regularly traverse the two and we get to see how she acts as something of a medium for both sides. But what I think Kamichu! in 16 episodes failed at that Dennou Coil is succeeding at so far (only two episodes in for me :P) is in the connection of the two worlds.
Coil shows, in a way that I can find believeable within the presentation of their world, that the digital world and reality, though different in many ways, can be seamlessly interwoven with each other. Seeing Densuke do his thing and still have characters interact with him in the real world despite him being a cyber dor is pretty cool. To me, Kamichu! attemps to do the same thing, but it doesn’t work quite as well. Everything still seems disjointed, even as we get to know that both of the realms have many similarites with each other. Unlike in Coil where it seems as if everyone with AR visors can interact with the digital, in the scope of Yurie’s world, she’s the only one we see with freedom to normally travel and interact with gods. It seems very isolated even when she brings her friends into the act, and even if a point of Kamichu! is about highlighting how special Yurie’s position is, the isolation creates a disconnect that was offputting to me. I can only see all this stuff happening to her, and not to anyone else. The worlds are seamless only to her, and so I annoyingly can’t believe that it can’t happen to anyone else, which takes the fun out of it for me.
One thing I believe that Miyazaki succeeds well at is blending the surreal and the real, regardless of how much there is of the two elements, and no matter the number involved; somehow, these events could seemingly still happen to others even if it’s just a one time thing. That creates a state of believeablity, making movies along a range from Porco Rosso to Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke work well, though some work better than others (BTW, I favor Porco Rosso and Kiki’s Delivery Service of the director’s works, probably because there’s no really really important world-saving goal involved :P). Kamichu!‘s disconnect (or maybe misconnect) made me feel like a passive watcher, when I much prefer to feel involved with what I watch, and Miyazaki’s movies were often the latter for me. While Kamichu! had a great premise and good execution of that premise, I never felt like I wanted to know more about the world of the gods and how it worked with Yurie and crew (granted, Yurie feeling the same way sometimes helped with that IMO). While that’s not a problem, it did kill some of the enjoyment I had for it, and it probably also says a little bit about myself as an anime fan. 😛
Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable watch if you sit back and let it just happen (which I think that’s how it’s supposed to be done in the first place :P). Most characters, though one-dimensional, have their own eccentricities and traits that make them endearing (my faves are the common-sensical and bored(?) Mitsue and the overbearing and strongminded/willed Matsuri). While some episodes felt really out there to me (the ones with the alien and the ol’ battleship), most were enjoyable, and some were amazing to me (the runaway episode and the episode of Yurie’s quest to remain under the kotatsu the whole time; that was admirable). And while off sometimes, you couldn’t really have major complaints about the animation, art, and music. Despite all of that though, my feeling after watching Kamichu! wasn’t one of pure happiness, but a sense of longing in thinking that more could be done. :3