Sometimes that first kiss is a whole lot more than you bargained for.
What They Say:
Nanami was just a normal high school girl down on her luck until a stranger’s lips marked her as the new Land God and turned her world upside down. Now she’s figuring out the duties of a deity with the help of Tomoe, a reformed fox demon who reluctantly becomes her familiar in a contract sealed with a kiss.
The new responsibilities – and boys – are a lot to handle, like the crow demon masquerading as a gorgeous pop idol and the adorable snake spirit who’s chosen the newly minted god to be his bride. As the headstrong Tomoe tries to whip her into shape, Nanami finds that love just might have cute, pointed fox ears. With romance in the air, will the human deity be able to prove herself worthy of her new title?
The audio presentation for this show is pretty good overall as it uses a fairly standard design to it as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo and the English language adaptation in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. While there are some action parts to it, a lot of it is the usual kind of dialogue/comedy piece where it’s the interactions, which get frantic at times, that dominates the soundstage. There’s a lot of fun to this since the frantic aspect of it plays across the stage well and the mix of characters that comes into it works nicely. The bigger action pieces aren’t exactly audio busters when you get down to it, but they play well with the overall surrounds and it makes for some definite impact with the supernatural aspects of things. With some good music to be had, beyond just the opening and closing sequences, that area has some solid warmth to it which makes for a pretty engaging mix all around. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this thirteen episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with ten episodes on the first and three on the second, which is where most of the extras are as well. Animated by TMS Entertainment, the show has a very good look to it here but doesn’t go above and beyond. There’s a softer color palette being used here but it avoids looking washed out but also sticks to looking solid and clean. The show has some good detail to it with the backgrounds and with some of the character designs but it also has some really fluid moments when it gets all supernatural. It’s the kind of show that handles the balance well of action and comedy and the quieter dialogue pieces and the transfer definitely lets it shine through in a good way. I like the look of the show and the kind of atmosphere it creates and that definitely comes through here.
The packaging for this premium edition release is pretty good, though it doesn’t quite hit some of what we saw a decade ago with premium boxes themselves. The heavy chipboard box is designed as the ones we usually see but it’s a bit more than double the size here as it holds the two DVD sized keepcases as well as the pack-in box within it to hold all the premium items. The box has the same kind of look that the show does with its color design so there’s a lot of truth in the advertising here with it. We get a good cast shot on the main panel that’s upbeat and fun but also shows a lot of its nature there. The back panel is a bit more personal as it gives us a very intimate shot of Tomoe and Nanami together that’s quite endearing since it also makes it clear that the show does move towards this path whereas so many never get close.
Within the box we get the two cases where one is for each format. The DVD set uses Tomoe as the main character on it by using a zoomed in version of what we saw on the front of the box while the Blu-ray case uses the Nanami artwork from the cover, which when paired together looks pretty good. The back of the covers are done in the same simple layout which has a bit of the whole shrine aspect to it where it breaks down the discs by episode number and title as well as what extras are on it. Each case has artwork on the reverse side as well which basically uses the same kind of approach so that both Mizuki and Kurama can have their own covers if you want to showcase them but still have the same back cover information. They’re really laid out nicely if simply but it sells it well and looks good for the show.
The pack-in box has a lot of great stuff to it, which you can see us talk about here, but it’s definitely a great addition for fans of the property. Nanami’s hair stick has a good heft about it and feels worth including, as does the tote bag which made me smile more after I watched the show. The amulet pouch is pretty nice and I definitely liked the seven postcards that were included. There’s also the fan and it has a pretty good quality about it overall.
The menu design for the release follows the usual pattern from FUNimation in that we get a few clips playing throughout it and it definitely fits into the larger theme of what the set is doing. The use of the sparkly-ish purple backgrounds works nicely and we get some cute character bits in it, especially since it starts off with a chibi sized Tomoe that’s just adorable. The navigation is kept to the lower left with a big widget that has quick and easy menu navigation which also doubles as the pop-up menu. The navigation itself is pretty smooth overall though I do find myself more and more preferring a pop-up menu that directly shows the episode navigation when you select it. Language selection is a breeze and the tracks and subtitles are not locked.
The extras for this release on disc are pretty good overall but with some fun standout pieces for me. The usual materials are here in that we get the clean opening and ending sequences, but since each episode has its own character based one, we get a lot of those. There’s a few audio commentaries included as well with the cast and crew talking about the production. But we also get an episode length video commentary that is just a whole lot of fun to watch since they all interact a little differently when it’s being filmed. We’ve had a couple of these in the last year and they’re definitely great parts to see how the actors are when talking about the show that they worked on.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Julietta Suzuki, Kamisama Kiss is a thirteen episode series animated by TMS Entertainment. The manga began back in 2008 and, as of this writing, is still ongoing. and this series does a pretty good job of adapting it and doing something that’s hard for an ongoing series – it feels like it has some closure to it. There’s a lot of nods towards this show fitting into the same kind of group as Fruits Basket and it’s definitely easy to see that, but every show has to stand on its own. And Kamisama Kiss does just that, but I think the comparisons are warranted and it definitely works in Kamisama Kiss’ favor. Fruits Basket has held up well over the years but few shows have that kind of appeal. Kamisama Kiss should fit that need nicely, even if it doesn’t go quite the same distance in terms of the cuteness factor.
The show introduces us to high school student Nanami, a young woman who truly has some rotten luck that’s not of her own doing. With no mother and a father that has put them into significant debt, things have gotten so bad that said father has now simply disappeared from her life and left her all alone in the house. Which lasts all of a few seconds before that gets repossessed to pay the debts. Nanami essentially has the clothes on her back and her school uniform and nothing else at this point, though she does remain surprisingly upbeat considering what happened. But that clues us into her personality quickly and easily as she’s a very positive person that does what she can to help others. Which plays into the change in her situation as she helps a man stuck up in a tree that’s afraid of a far too tiny dog that’s chased him up there. As it turns out, the guy is actually a land god named Mikage and he’s going off on a journey and wants to be away from everything. To repay her, he transfers his position as a land god to her by a kiss on the forehead, sealing that particular contract.
She doesn’t quite believe it, but it doesn’t take long until luck puts her at the out of the way shrine that Mikage was from and she realizes it could at least be a place to stay. There’s a couple of pint-sized odd spirits that work as servants there that she can’t quite grapple with at first, but it’s when she’s introduced to the guardian spirit of the shrine, the fox yokai Tomoe, she begins to realize how real all of this is. Tomoe isn’t exactly pleased by what Mikage has done, as the two of them had a lot of history, and it’s a very grudging acceptance over the first half of the series that he deals with Nanami. Part of it stems from the fact that there’s almost nothing going on at the shrine as it’s been viewed as spooky or abandoned so there isn’t a lot of prayer going on there, which keeps its strength low. And for Tomoe, since he does end up in a contract with her through their early interactions, he finds himself having to deal with the unusual problem of the land god being human. One that wants to go to school and do things, which means she’s regularly away from his protection. Naturally, the way to fix that is to go to school himself.
The story does focus a good deal on these two characters and we see across it how Nanami comes to accept more of what she’s become and the kinds of abilities that come with it, especially since the shrine has a focus on bringing together relationships and that appeals to her. Her personality is one that definitely gets to Tomoe as it goes on and he softens more and more, becoming more protective than beyond what a familiar would be and truly caring for her, which he shows in small and awkward ways. It’s rooted in a past that’s difficult for him with how humanity has treated him, a love he had before and the way Mikage had rescued him and spent so much time trying to rehabilitate him. It’s pretty nicely dealt with, even with the awkward time travel story so Nanami can see it first hand, but you really do come away with a feeling of closeness between the two of them that’s natural and well groomed. It’s even better because the end of the season doesn’t leave you in a will they or won’t they situation but rather just the start of the next phase of their relationship. That gives a sense of closure about it, but with the potential to do a lot more.
Thankfully, it’s not all about just these two as a few other characters pop up along the way. An amusing one hits early with Kurama, a teenage male idol that ends up enrolling at Nanami’s school who causes a lot of trouble in general, but more so because it turns out he’s a tengu yokai who gets a particular interest in Nanami. There’s also Mizuki, another familiar who had lost his own land god and ended up in a bad place that Nanami helps him out with. While Kurama is just a catalyst for trouble at times, once you get past the initial introduction, Mizuki makes for a fun addition as a snake yokai that ends up making a contract with Nanami as well and moves into their place. There’s a few others as well and some that impact the end storyline that gives it all some weight, but mostly it’s the others that factor into it. They enhance the show and unlike other series where new additions dominate, they don’t do that. Which makes me like them all the more because of that. There’s a very good feeling about the show with the way it connects the characters in this way, brings in both drama and humor and blends it all together.
I was a bit leery of this show going into it since it does have some hype behind it and we’ve seen a number of shows over the years trying to be the next Fruits Basket. Kamisama Kiss is the first one that comes close to legitimately trying to take that title. The show works well when it focuses on the two main characters but it also has an easy and enjoyable flow when the rest of them are around as well. There’s drama to be had to be sure, but it’s not confined to the final arc nor does the earlier parts of the season feel like they’re done to just work through the usual routines. The whole thing has left me feeling very good about the show and thinking that it definitely deserves more to explore this group and their bonds. FUNimation has a pretty solid premium edition release here with the Goddess Edition as we get a lot of great pack-in goodies that the fans of the show will love, especially with its limited run out there. The release pretty much hits everything right and will be a great addition to any collection.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Select Episode Commentaries, Video Commentary, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78;1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.