Kamisama Kiss Blu-ray Review
Kamisama Kiss is the latest anime directed by Akitaro Daichi (Fruits Basket, Now and Then, Here and There). The
production of the anime started in 2012 and it was produced by TMS
Entertainment as an adaptation of the manga series written by Julietta
Suzuki and released throughout North America by VIZ. The anime
adaptation has been dubbed and released by Funimation Entertainment.
The complete series runs only 13 episodes (though two OVA's were also
created and are not found on the set) and it doesn't cover the entire
span of the original manga.
For a dedicated anime fan (in any capacity), it's easy to see that
there are many Shonen and Shojo anime productions that are not
original. The rare gems and classic series are far from the norm within
the world of anime as there is so much duplication of ideas with many a
series simply joining a long-list of anime that resemble something that
came before. This prevents several possibly intriguing stories from
ever feeling that original. The best bet then is that a artistic
design, implementation, and style will unfold with a solid set of
characters that will keep things interesting.
Unfortunately, there are a number of productions which are reasonably
good but seem to float down an average quality stream without enough
standing distinctively aside so that viewers can have a genuinely
unique and worthwhile experience. Kamisama
Kiss joins this crowd of productions. It's a enjoyable truffle
of an anime series with decent entertainment and a sweet natured tone
that carries it through a lot of good moments. Yet the basic design of
it isn't original. It's your typical Shojo anime where a unexpected
circumstance throws the lead into a surprising environment where they
also receive a special gift or ability, and find themselves in a
situation that leads to a slow-burning romance with a cold-shoulder
male lead. Having seen similarly designed anime series many times
before it's a bit unfortunate to find yet another anime series is
joining this group.
The 13 episode story begins when Nanami (voiced by Tia Ballard in the
English dub) becomes homeless at the start of the first episode because
her father ran out due to gambling debts. Yet minutes later she is
meeting a mysterious stranger who gives her a kiss on the forehead, who
informs her that she can live at his house, and gives her instructions
on where to go. She's quickly one to discover that she has been given
the gift of being a land god who can give blessings and aid to people
who come to pray at the temple. She meets two bumbling if pleasantly
mannered assistants at the temple and a fox-god named Tomoe who is also
a individual working for the shrine's survival but who is upset as the
former land god abandoned the temple many years ago (this being the
stranger Nanami met, whose name is Mikage).
Throughout the series, Nanami continues to go to school and her new
acquaintance Tomoe becomes a fellow classmate. She begins to work at
the shrine, at school, and around the area helping those who ask for
help from the land god, but mostly the series is a sequence of those
typical school-comedy hijinks found in many anime series with an
undercurrent of a standard romance with Nanami falling for Tomoe, even
though he barely shows any interest in her and usually is actually
rather rude and unpleasant. The rest of the show focuses on the
characters continuing in this mini misadventures and that's in
essence the flow of this series, with the concluding episodes leading
to a final confrontation with a giant monstrous spirit (which is
something that also occasionally recurs on the series) and a final note
on what happens between Nanami and Tomoe. (Will the romance blossom?
Kamisama Kiss is well
produced. The animation style is clean, impressive, and stylistically
polished. The character designs are not the most distinctive thing
about the show but they are pleasantly realized nonetheless. The
background art and details are pretty strong (if not show-stopping). I
essentially found many elements of the series to be finely produced if
not too far beyond what realm exists for decently made anime series.
This one is a notch above average. I liked the art style. The music is
quite good. The direction is often laid back and interesting enough to
keep things flowing on the show. All things told, the series excels in
more ways than it disappoints.
Unfortunately, it's the storytelling itself and the bland
characterizations which cause the series from truly excelling as
something entirely notable and worth checking out. Instead, I would be
genuinely surprised if most anime fans (outside of serious fans of most
shojo anime productions) consider this series to be essential. This
isn't a badly made series. It's a light and fluffy anime show that is
enjoyable in parts. The series just lacks a distinctive voice and it's
a somewhat bland creation with characters who feel more like anime
archetypes than anything remotely interesting emotionally.
With better storytelling, the series would have been much better. Alas,
Kamisama Kiss does not live up
to its potential and will be best enjoyed by any viewers who can tune
out the underwhelming critical qualities of the series and enjoy in its
decidedly light and pleasant tone.
Kamisama Kiss is presented
across two Blu-ray discs in this Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release. The
transfers retain the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio from broadcast. While
this is a native 1080p High Definition release and is not another
upscaled presentation, the picture quality could be better than what
Funimation presents. The bit-rates are uniformly unimpressive with many
moments teetering around 11 mbps or so, and the series somewhat
frequently dips to around 8 or 9 mbps, which is no better than DVD
encoding (on a high quality DVD release). The image is clearly
actual High Definition and it has a smooth, clean quality that is
impressive. Yet there is also something lacking in the amount of detail
and crispness which could have been achieved with better compression
methods and a few more Blu-ray discs.
For the record, I'd be entirely happy to ditch the DVD edition in favor
of a higher quality Blu-ray presentation. Unfortunately, the
compression methods utilized do not even seem to be entirely because
the capacity on the first disc is limited with so many episodes (the
first 10 being on disc one in the set), because the encoding is similar
on the second disc too (which only contains three episodes).
Funimation should at least consider changing their compression methods
and splitting the episodes more evenly between discs. To make things
even better I suggest to the studio to consider adding a third disc to
similar releases and allow some more breathing room for the transfers.
As it stands, this is a decent if unremarkable presentation.
The last episode on the set (Episode 13)
only had the first two seconds of the opening successfully play before
the episode began. I checked and it seemed to be an encoding error.
Regardless of whether or not I picked the episode individually or under
'play all' there was a error in playback (and the run-time seemed to
remain unchanged so it literally seems as if the opening is essentially
missing from the final episode). Funimation should offer a replacement
disc to anyone bothered by this encode issue. If a replacement disc
program is made available this review will be updated to reflect that
The English language dub is presented with 5.1 Dolby TrueHD surround
sound. The addition of surround sound is appreciable in this decent
quality surround sound mix that occasionally has interesting sound
effects utilized. The 2.0 Dolby TrueHD Japanese language dub is equally
as clean, crisp, and well-defined but lacks some of the more immersive
qualities of a surround mix. Both dubs seemed to be of good quality. I
was quite impressed by the English dubbing (it was a high quality dub
in all respects). Regardless of which language dub option is picked,
the series is presented with a decent lossless audio mix that gets the
The only extras on this set are two superfluous commentaries from some
of the English dub cast during the first and last episodes of the
series (where they make jokes and talk about the series without any
degree of seriousness at all), a special 'video commentary' (which is
slightly more amusing if also unnecessary), textless opening/ending
credits (songs), and trailers promoting other Funimation releases.
The release is packaged in a five disc Blu-ray case with 2 Blu-ray's
and 3 DVD's. The release includes an o-card slipcover.
Kamisama Kiss is a decidedly
average Shojo anime with some comedic moments and some beautiful
animation but a less than stellar plot and an aura of poor
characterization. It feels unoriginal and generic even when it is being
a tad entertaining. I suggest most anime fans consider renting it
first. Decide from there if it is worth purchasing. It's a decently
entertaining, lighthearted, and occasionally fun show but I felt it did
not live up to its potential.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.