After a one-week winter sports hiatus, Kamisama Kiss makes a return to the airwaves, and there’s nothing like a separation to make one appreciate how likeable this easy to take-for-granted show is. Whether it’s delivering perhaps the best facial expressions in anime or delivering threat that’s just real enough but not too real to feel forced, KamiHaji always delivers – and you don’t realize until it arrives just how anxiously you’ve been awaiting it.
In no time at all we’re whisked back to Nanami’s travails in Izumo, where she’s managed with Mikage’s help to make her way into the assembly at last – but awaiting her there with an un-warm welcome is the War God, who seems to have appointed himself as her personal tormentor. But it’s at this point that a crucial figure makes his presence felt in a big way – Ookuninushi (Morikubo Showtaro). He’s a first-tier Shinto Kami, important in any context, but specifically here because he was the ruler of Izumo, and later of the Underworld.
Ookuninushi is Nanami’s savior in the short-term, but it’s immediately clear he has an ulterior motive for his chivalry. The assembly of the Gods at Izumo means the gate to the Underworld at Yomotsu Hirosaka is unguarded, and while that’s normally not that big a deal, this year there’s an especially fearsome youkai rumored to be trying to fight his way in (we know who that probably is of course, and we’re right). Since the Kami all refuse to get their hands dirty by getting too close to the Netherworld’s miasma, Nanami can be useful to Ookunnushi by checking it out herself. It’s interesting that she’s thinking on her feet enough to demand a favor in return – that Ookuninushi help her find Mikage (for Tomoe’s benefit) – but even more that she’s already suspected that the entity who helped her find the assembly might have been Mikage. This is a pretty strong moment for Nanami’s character, who’s really coming into her own this season as a force to be reckoned with (well – taken into consideration, at least).
The other thread unspooling her is another look into Tomoe’s past. He’s still raging about being left behind to handle the idiot work while Nanami and Mizuki are at the biggest party in Shinto, but soon decides to take advantage of his newfound freedom to visit an old haunt – which by appearances is a tanuki geisha house. Every peek into the past shows us the same thing – that Akura-oh was a sick bastard, and that Tomoe was always conflicted by the life of violence he was leading. Seeing Nanami getting directly involved with Akura-oh now certainly suggests the past and the present are going to be colliding in a big way, and soon.
If there are themes dominating this season so far, I would say they’re twofold – Nanami finding her own strength, and the aforementioned convergence of the past and present. This is really where Kirihito and Mikage become crucial cogs in the story, because along with Nanami they represent the main figures in Tomoe’s life story – and it’s Tomoe’s life story that ties everything in Kamisama Hajimemashita together.