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06/27/2006 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Kamichu, Vol. 1 (DVD)"

Kamichu! Vol. 1 (DVD)

Review by Tom Good

One day Hitotsubashi Yurie has the feeling that she has become a kami, and it turns out she is right! While learning to use her powers, she accidentally summons a powerful typhoon. But even as a godlike being, she still faces the typical challenges of middle school. She struggles with her grades. She hopes the cute boy in her class will like her, but he can't even remember her name. "Ichihashi, right?" he says. (Ichihashi and Hitotsubashi would both be written with the same kanji, so at least he is close.) And Yurie gets teased by other kids, who criticize her for not doing anything "splashy and godlike" lately to impress them. The title Kamichu! refers to the fact that Yurie is both a kami and a chuugakusei -- a middle-school student.

In the world of modern anime, a show about teenage girls without any sexual content almost seems abnormal, but this show is pleasantly sweet and wholesome. It promotes the values of sincerity, compassion, and kindness. I kept thinking that it might become cloyingly cute or boring, and I looked for flaws, but instead it kept making me smile in spite of myself. Kurata Hideyuki, who also wrote Gun X Sword, wrote the script.

The art does not go out of its way to be especially edgy or groundbreaking; nevertheless, it is skillfully executed and very effective. For example, many of the backgrounds are familiar set-pieces: the shrine, the school, the rooftop, the cityscape. But all are constructed with attention to color, composition, and detail. Some examples of the art can be found in the downloads section of the Kamichu! site. The English voices sound believably young without being shrill or annoying, and the translation makes good use of informal English and slang.

In one episode Yurie visits the world of the kami, and the story takes on a mythic quality like Alice In Wonderland or Spirited Away. We see that there are even kami for things like laserdiscs and wrist exercisers. In fact, the whole disc reminds me of Spirited Away, not just for the plot, but also for the high production values. With rock-solid art, music, voiceovers, and writing, and a plot that is appropriate for all ages, this disc easily gets my recommendation.

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