Summer season, start.
LiA kicks off the season with another “earlycast” from Niconico, with the usual craptacular quality. If I decide to stick with Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi it’s going to be a similar decision to RDG: watch the netcast and blog, or wait for the HD releases?
That decision is still a ways off, though, and I can’t say for sure whether it will come at all, though based on the premiere I’m cautiously optimistic. In a season short on sleeper candidates this was one that struck me as a possibility, and while the first episode wasn’t captivating it was solidly entertaining. It’s hard to tell from the Nico stream but the visuals are pretty eye-catching as well. I’ve liked the premise from the moment I heard it – a world abandoned by God (“On Sunday, God forsook the Earth”) where the dead cannot die and children are never born.
I wasn’t too favorably disposed to heroine Ai-chan (Toyasaki Aki), the little girl who’s been told by her village that she’s the Gravekeeper – the one responsible for preparing graves for all the undead villagers. The details on how all that works aren’t clear yet, but Ai comes off as pretty much a stock loli character, and Toyasaki is putting on her most grating voice for the role. She’s the weak link so far, but things get much better (as they usually do) when Namikawa Daisuke arrives on scene as Hampnie Hambart the self-described “human toy”. Turns out that’s the same name Ai-chan’s dead mother (still no explanation for that) told her was her father’s, though Hampnie tells Ai the name is one he made up, taken from a toy that runs on springs and never stops moving.
Hampnie is the driver of events in the premiere – he uses a shotgun to blow the heads off the villagers. Ai accuses him of killing them (including her guardians Youki and Anna) but he says he merely “stopped them from moving”. He also tells Ai that she’s no Gravekeeper – real Gravekeepers aren’t human and don’t have parents but “show up from nowhere, like flies” (we apparently meet a real one at the end of the episode). It’s not clear why the villagers lied to Ai or even just what a Gravekeeper is, but as usual Namikawa brings a restless, dangerous energy to his role – he commands the screen as few seiyuu can.
Like the cast, the pacing of the episode is a mixed bag – there was moments that felt a bit draggy, but it generally held my interest. It’s just too early to say whether there’s enough here to power an interesting series – I definitely see potential, with an agreeably dark tone and commensurate shadowed visual palette. The premiere was engaging but not engrossing, very much in the conventional scene-setting mold – a fair amount of unexplained exposition being the main thrust of the narrative. I’ll check the episode out in HD to get a better read on the visuals, but I see some decent stylish flair from director Kumazawa Yuuji. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi definitely slots into the “maybe” category for now.