Kamisama no Inai-Nichiyoubi – 04

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I probably had more uncertainty going into this episode than any other of any show this season.

This was a very strange moment for Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi.  The show made quite a strong favorable impression on me in the first three episodes, but ended them by shockingly killing off the character who was my biggest reason for being interested.  I wondered, quite frankly, if Kaminai in the aftermath was going to be like swimming in a pool with no water in it.  You can go through the motions but it’s not really swimming, so what’s the point?

Well, happily, it’s nowhere near that bad.  Kaminai has more going for it than Hampnie Hambert and Namikawa Daisuke’s bravura performance, though the absence of both is grievously felt.  The series also had a keen ability to create atmosphere and a knack for juxtaposing the beautiful and the terrible, and both those are still in place.  There’s a bit too much CGI in this episode for my tastes, worrying considering we’re only on the fourth week – as is the fact that the episode’s production was obviously outsourced.

There’s an undeniable disconnect in the post-Hampnie world, a kind of surreal feeling that extends beyond the fantasy backdrop.  It feels weird to be proceeding in his absence, but as things stand the episode basically starts out as a road picture with Ai, Yuri and Scar in an old VW bus – Ai with dreams of saving the world, and Yuri and Scar seemingly humoring her because they have nowhere else to go.  There’s an extra passenger though – a blue-haired boy named Kiriko (Kakihara Tetsuya, winning as usual).  The interesting thing is that Scar seems to have picked him up without the knowledge of her companions, though just when I don’t know – she merely announces his presence as he’s sleeping it off in the back seat, according to Yuri having been drugged by a gang of thieves.

By far the most interesting thing in the episode is Ortus, the magnificently atmospheric “City of the Dead” that’s actually a country of more than a million undead souls.  In addition to it’s striking physicality – something like a half-ruined Italian hill town with a population full of the dead in Venetian carnival masks – it’s fascinating in concept.  These are the people that Scar was sent to give their rest and that Hampnie took it upon himself top help her do so, living seemingly happy “lives” in a place to call their own.  The outside of the city is littered with the graves of gravekeepers (ironic, that) drawn there by the lure of the unquiet dead, but killed themselves by those who didn’t wish to rest just yet.  This is a zombie story of a different color altogether, one whose shadings are hard to fully discern in the dim twilight of a dying world.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on here.  Kiriko is a government apprentice in Ortus and Yuri agrees to return him there.  But Yuri is understandably nervous about bringing Scar and Ai to such a place, and the original plan is to leave them in the ghetto that’s been set aside for the living while getting the microbus fixed.  That doesn’t sit well with Ai, and she talks Kiriko’s sempai Fox – and Rex – into letting them inside the city proper.  I have no idea just what the heck they are except very weird (“Even the dead find us creepy”) – seemingly two people sharing a body split right now the middle, another of God’s little tricks perhaps.  There’s also a princess named Urla who seems to have designs on saving the world herself, a Goddess who’s a kind of patron saint of the dead, and a strange voice which Scar hears in her head – even as she shows signs of illness for likely the first time in her life.

It seems odd to say so about a series that’s already 4 episodes into a one-cour run, but I need a little more time before I decide whether I’m going to finish blogging Kaminai.  If last week felt like a finale, this episode feels like a premiere – it’s really as if a new series has begun in many ways.  I’m still quite intrigued by the premise and love the atmosphere; on the other hand I haven’t found another character that I really like, and I’m a bit edgy about the slide in production values.  Hampnie’s absence – and Namikawa-san’s – definitely leaves a hole.  Without the character there’s a certain edge that’s missing, and the show simply doesn’t have as much weight without Namikawa’s presence.  I can say this with certainty, though – I hope the series is able to pull off this massive mid-course shift, because I think there’s a lot of imagination behind its creation and a lot of talent involved in the production, and it would be nice to be able to stay with it for the full season.

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  1. K

    I think I will wait until the end with this one and see what everyone says if it is worth continuing. Of course my decision is more because I've been so busy lately I am falling behind on other series I am watching.

    I can't say I loved Hampnie but he was the only character I was really interested in and with him gone, I am not sure if there is anything else to hold onto. There were a lot of other characters in the opening and I guess one of those could be a potential favorite but for now I think it is best to see with this one.

    If everyone starts saying this was the best thing ever, well it will be easy enough to marathon.

  2. T

    To me, the draw of this anime is not Humphery/Mr Aistin.

    Rather, it is the mystery that pervades the entire setting and world that is drawing me in, and that made this episode every bit as engaging, in a different way, from the third episode. The first glimpse of the wider world of Kamisama seems to demonstrate that the author DOES have the worldbuilding chops to make it pay off. And certainly, if he could, in the first volume craft a character as compelling as Humphery, I wonder whether he could pull off the same for the rest of the cast.

    In many ways, Yuri alas pails to Humphery. If the first three episodes was the dying days of a main male protagonist, then Yuri is nothing more than a wingman, in the hierarchy of characters forced into the main male lead role, after the author boldly kills of the main male lead early in.

    Still, it's a testimony to the strength of Humphery as a character that the three character driven episodes proved incredibly interesting. Given that many LN authors actually improve in later volumes, I am willing to hope that the author can not only replicate, but surpass that character.

    But for now, it seems that we are in the world-building phase instead. I don't expect the plot to make huge headways during the Cour though, given that this seems to be a long running LNs. And most LNs first cour seasons with decent pacing rarely manage to more than scratch the very beginning of their plot in one cour.

  3. i

    You know when LNs where actual fantasy/sci-fi novels and not about a bunch of people making a club or making a harem or making out with their sister. Those were good times for LNs and Kaminai has some of that throw back feel when LNs were good and not formulaic BS for pandering seeking dipshits.

    It might have lost my favourite seiyuu but it doesn't seem to have lost much stride. Plot is still a bit of a mess for me but I like the godless world quite a bit. Madhouse seem to just be able to make things work better than if they were in the hands of lesser lights. I also love the art. PA might actually have changed their style for the first time in history (also to great effect) but Madhouse made sure there remains some lovely, translucent BGs in anime. I also love how the world seems to only ever exist at sunset.

  4. Yeah, that sunset thing really is noticeable isn't it (though it was nighttime in Ortus, not coincidentally). It really sets the tone of a world where the sun is setting on the human race.

    As I said, I did see some troubling corner-cutting in the animation this week, though the art was indeed lovely. One need only look at the 5 LN adaptations announced this week to see why the emergence of LNs as the dominant source material for anime (at the expense of manga) is a depressing trend. But shows like this do prove that it doesn't have to be that way.

  5. S

    Yeah, so true. If anything, you could call this series simply beautiful. So far, a great story (though, there's little problem with the pacing), backed up by striking visuals, a marvelous soundtrack, and Great art. Brilliant work by Madhouse.

    Actually, save for Monogatri, this was the only anime I had any expectations on this season. And so far, it has mostly been living up to them, though, the death of Humpnie was blow.

    Looking back at the PV, besides Humpnie, what captivated me the most was sun setting theme they used. I really liked it. For some reason, it fills me with a sense a nostalgia. It was simply beautiful.

    With that said. It's really sad to see the anime industry getting taken over by third rate Harem LN's. It just goes to show the influence those mindless otaku's have on the industry. IIRC, all those 5 LN's that were adapted were harem's weren't they?

  6. E

    Not just harem, but the standard formula of "boring personality-less guy getting superpower for free, plus a magical girlfriend to boot."

  7. A

    Certainly the setting and the atmosphere is what draws me into this story.
    In some ways I find myself being a little reminded of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, and a little of Kino no Tabi – the summer twilight decline of one, and the voyage of discovery of the other, in small doses.
    The city of Ortus was both beautiful and scary with its million masked dead.

    I'm definitely interested to see where this show goes in its beat up old VW…

  8. Damn, now you made me said again that we never got a proper anime of YKK.

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