KamiChu! - Little Deity
If you enjoyed Miyazaki's "Sprited Away" or the TV Series "Someday's Dreamers", you'll love this new anime series from the creators of "R.O.D. The TV" - a sweet and comical look at Japanese culture and Shinto mysticism that is a coming-of-age play taken to an interesting extreme.
Yurie Hitotsubashi was just an average middle school student living in the city of Onomichi on Japan's inland sea. She spent her days worrying about exams and trying to get Kenji, the clueless boy she likes, to notice her. Then during lunch one day she suddenly announces to her friend Mitsue that the night before she had become a goddess.
Their classmate Matsuri quickly latches on to Yurie's newfound divinity as a way to promote her familyís bankrupt Shinto shrine. She hopes that replacing their hapless local god, Yashima-sama, with Yurie will make the shrine more popular (and profitable). Now, with Matsuri as her manager, Yurie has to grant wishes, cure curses, meet aliens, and attend god conventions (and even join the "Union"). All the while attending school and working-up the courage to confess her love to Kenji.
The dynamic of the 3 girls is one of the most interesting aspects, as Yurie is quiet and shy, while her best friend Mitsue is level-headed and pragmatic but considers herself dull, and new friend Matsuri is outgoing, beautiful and fearless. Also fascinating is that Yurie can see the other spirits and demons that inhabit the town, but her friends cannot (unless they perform a special ritual). These other local characters add to the unique and special flavor of the series.
The look of the show, with highly-detailed, elegant, watercolor backgrounds makes the small town they inhabit look quiet, lush with beauty and fresh air - the kind of place anyone would love to live in. And it's all highlighted by a charming, serene soundtrack of flute tones and calming melodies that wash over you and bring about a sense of well-being. Overall the production value of the series is excellent; it's as if Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli had decided to make a TV series.
The title is an abbreviation of "kami" (god) and "chuugakusei", (middle-school student). The DVD includes a production gallery (including sketches and doodles) in the extras as well as a free mini-pencil board, and the Collector's Box is a Yurie Shrine starter set. This simple, gorgeous series is a joy to behold, and one of the best things we've seen so far this year.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, August 2006
Below: Screen captures from the KamiChu! movie