Welcome back, Old Friend. I can’t say I remotely expected a second season of Kamisama Hajimashita – the first one didn’t exactly sell like hotcakes and it’s been two years since it finished airing. So the announcement was one I greeted with a good deal of surprise and delight, given just how much esteem I held the show in by the time it was finished. It was a slow build, and this was never a series that blew you away with its brilliance – but when it was over, it was clear you’d just watched something pretty special.
Among other things, Kamisama Kiss is a fairly difficult show to blog because it thrives on charm above all else. “Just serious enough when it’s funny and just funny enough when it’s serious” is about the best way I can describe it, and in that it shares much with other Shinto-themed hidden gems like Gugure! Kokkuri-san and Nekogami Yaoyorozu. Every schedule is better off when it’s blessed with a show or two like this – ones that are simply a pleasure to watch and easy to enjoy.
Kamisama Hajimemashita returns with much the same feel as it did when it left, and as a result there’s very much a feeling of picking up right where we left off. Of course a great deal of that is due to director Akitarou Daichi, who for my money is the greatest shoujo director in anime history. This show is always perfectly paced, brilliant at creating atmosphere and a feast for the eyes – it’s a gorgeous series and full of sight gags and memorable facial expressions.
With that said, there’s a sense that things may be a bit more plot-forward this time around. We open with another look at Kirihito, the character who briefly appeared in the S1 finale and is obviously an important part of Tomoe’s past, and hints that Mikage-sama (who always casts a large shadow over this story even though he’s rarely present) is still very much on the minds of all concerned. And the season immediately kicks off with a couple of important developments. We learn that Nanami is a candidate to attend the annual gathering of the Gods at Izumo in the missing Mikage’s absence. That is, if Nanami can pass a test administered by the mischievous Wind God Otohiko – the successful raising of a Shikigami he gives her in the form of an egg.
Mamoru stands to be a significant addition to the S2 cast, and he “hatches” in the form a tiny monkey. In this form he’s played by Kusunoki Hinata, but when he’s in the form of a human boy he’ll be played by Yamashita Daiki (who’s made a great impression as Onoda Sakamichi in Yowapeda). The dynamic we see at the start of all this is very much a carryover from S1 – Nanami is still rather helpless as a God, and that’s just fine with Tomoe since he very much prefers the role of her protector. But – perhaps somewhat surprisingly – Otohiko (who Nanami has taken to calling the “Guy-Girl-Guy”) proves a rather helpful facilitator in Nanami’s development. He teaches her that rather than waste her limited powers on white talismans, she can imbue Mamoru with her powers by naming him – and the choice of name (Mamoru means “Protect”) is a crucial one. By doing so, she’s able to fight off a vengeful spirit who’s possessed the school, and stained Tomoe’s hands once more with blood.
There’s a lot of interesting development that can arise from this, given Tomoe’s feelings about being the strong and competent one. The undercurrent of romance is always present between he and Nanami, and when he impetuously tells Nanami “I am yours” the vibe is thick enough to cut with a knife. The rest of the returning cast is minimally involved in the first episode, but it’s a safe bet they’ll be important factors as the season progresses – though things will always revolve around Nanami and Tomoe. There are really no red lights here – the cast of characters is a great one, the staff is top-shelf, and there’s enough new stuff going on to ensure things aren’t going to stagnate. It’s great to have Kamisama Hajimemashita back, and I find myself looking forward to it as much as any series this season.
ED: “Ototoi Oide (おとといおいで)” by Hanae