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Kamisama Kiss Complete Collection Anime DVD/BD Review

9 min read

Kamisama Kiss
Kamisama Kiss
Kamisama Kiss makes you have that warm feeling of belonging, like a blanket on a cold, winter’s day.

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 Tomow, 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?

Contains episodes 1-13

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation is perfectly fine. Being a romantic comedy, it doesn’t have to be great, but I like it. I hear everything fine and can’t hear any problems.

Video:
The video looks pretty nice, for a DVD, which I am watching for this particular review. DVDs can only look so nice, but this one looks particularly nice.

Packaging:
After looking at bunches and bunches of Sentai DVD packages, I’m glad that Funimation takes the little extra care to make something FEEL nice. The biggest difference I feel between those Sentai DVDs and this Funimation blu-ray/DVD combo pack is that the Funimation one doesn’t feel flimsy. I’m always afraid of breaking a Sentai DVD case for some reason, especially after my Gatchaman OAV case actually did break, albeit in the most minor way possible. But I appreciate this sturdiness.

The artwork is really pretty too. I review these packages before I watch the show, typically, and just looking at it I can tell the care that went into the artwork. I’m not one to only rag on something, so I’ll say that I do like Sentai’s artwork as well, and Funimation’s is on par with them here. The slip is also reversible with the episode titles on the other side.

Menu:
The menu is a cute pale(?) blue and pink combination with the selections at the bottom. Some non-vocal music plays over it. It be cute.

Extras:
The only extras here are three commentary tracks, two play over the episode and one video commentary. There are two episode commentaries, on episode one and episode 12. There’s some really cool insight into the voice acting process behind it, instead of the normal banter between these actor friends you get from some Funimation commentaries. The first episode commentary is a bit more rambly, but it’s still fun. Tatum’s insight into acting as Tomoe was much more interesting to me.

The video commentary is a cool idea, but this is the first time I’ve seen it on a Funimation disc. I think that the idea of it is way better than the execution here, because these guys don’t seem like they know quite how to be on camera yet, what with them being voice actors. But it’s cool to have a face behind the voice of these actors.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’ve heard high praise about Kamisama Kiss all over the place. Fellow Fandom Post writers Chris Kirby and Mastilo von Plume (or Ink, if you prefer) both said it was great, as did a few other friends on Twitter. When Chris dressed himself up in the Goddess Edition stuff, I knew it had to be something special.

When I first delved into Kamisama Kiss, I didn’t know anything about it, other than that the cover art was really cute, that Goddess Edition swag was pretty awesome, and the praise from others.

…But after watching the first few episodes, I was left confused. What draws people to this show? Why are they liking it so much? I thought it was cute fare at best, and mediocre at worst. The problem I mostly saw was that it was just a lot of hanging out and I’ve seen this sort of FEEL to a show done better elsewhere, most notably Fruits Basket and more recently Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha. My feelings toward Fruits Basket aside, I was left lackluster.

It wasn’t until the seventh episode that I really started to turn around. The seventh episode is where basically everything came to a culmination and it finally hit me what the show was trying to get at. The bittersweet denial from Tomoe paved the way for the rest of the series and really ramped things up in a good way.

Prior to, I felt like there was no direction. I kept asking what the driving thing in the show was. But it’s so subtle, and doesn’t really come out in full, until that seventh episode. Kamisama Kiss isn’t about Land Gods or the supernatural, it’s about fitting in and finding a place to call home. While it’s never explicitly said, it doesn’t seem like Nanami enjoyed her life at home. When her father was kicked out and ran away due to his debts, it might have been the best thing to happen to Nanami.

With her eviction, she was left homeless. She literally doesn’t have a place to stay but more importantly, she’s never really felt like she’s had a place where she can be comfortable. She happens to meet the former Land God, Mikage, as he’s being harassed by a dog. Her kindness shows as she helps the guy out and he gives her a mysterious kiss on the forehead. This imbues her with the powers of a Land God and thus begins the series.

Nanami’s journey is very much trying to accept her role as Land God. At first, she insists that she’s a normal human being. But the power that dwells inside of her says otherwise. She’s a God and she’s really the only one unwilling to accept that. Tomoe comes right out and says that multiple times throughout the series. It isn’t until her home—not the shrine, her home—is in danger from a miasma near the end of the series that she embraces this role.

Co-star Tomoe on the other hand has a home and he has a role. He’s the familiar to the former, and now current, Land God. He literally lives to serve. But it is perhaps Tomoe that holds the biggest secret within him. He’s clearly been affected by Mikage’s departure, seeing as how they keep flashing back to his one line over and over again. That much is blatant, but the depths of his pain go further and we don’t realize that until Nanami inadvertently says some hurtful things to Tomoe. She says she’s leaving, just out with her friends or wherever, and he’s reminded of this moment. It’s at its worst in the last episode when she runs away and can’t be found due to a talisman she’s using. Tomoe isn’t just worried, he’s distraught, though he would never let anyone think that. He’s already lost Mikage and he won’t lose Nanami, and the mystery girl from centuries past before that.

So when we see him in that final scene, not-so-subtly asking for a kiss from Nanami, it’s beautiful. We’ve been building to this point and we know that Nanami loves Tomoe. But perhaps because of the scars Mikage left, he can’t commit to anything and denies her, claiming that he’s not interested in any human. But this is his own little way of convincing her his answer is no and telling himself that his answer is yes. He knows it can’t be because it is God and familiar; there’s probably some ancient rule against. But he doesn’t see Nanami as a human, and therein lies the key.

Third main character Mizuki is perhaps more tragic on the surface, but he too is looking for a place to call home. The God he once served has long been dead and the shrine is non-existent. It’s only standing because he’s using his own magic to keep it up. But it’s Nanami that brings him out of this shell, even though she was kidnapped by him. This further shows her kindness in but episode four.

There’s a familiar trend going on here, though, and it’s that no one here knows where they belong. It’s a scary feeling, for sure. It’s really through each other, and of course the two attendants Onikiri and Kotetsu, that everyone finally feels at home.

The story, then, is everyone feeling together and that final scene solidifies Kamisama Kiss as being great. Without it, the show might just be another fun shojo adventure. With it, it’s a tender story about knowing who your real family is, even if you don’t have one.

The dub track on here is really good, by the way! Veteran voice actor Jerry Jewell takes the director’s seat, and it’s only his seventh directing role, but maybe not the seventh he’s ever done. It looks like A Certain Scientific Railgun S is listed on Anime News Network. But anyway…

I was hesitant on Tia Ballard at first, because she kind of sounded like every other female actress Funimation puts in their generic girl roles. However, she really grew on me by the end of the show and fell into the role of Nanami better than anyone I could think of.

Michael Tatum is a veteran of voice acting by now, playing like 500 anime roles by now, at least, and he really works here as Tomoe. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed it wasn’t John Burgmeier, given my love for the Kurama character from YuYu Hakusho. But, of course, my unfair criticism was completely unfounded. Tatum works the ups and downs of Tomoe well and his experience shows when he does.

Little Onikiri and Kotetsu were perfect with Jad Saxton and Josh Grelle playing them respectively and they really provided a nice contrast to each other and to the rest of the cast with their bubbly cartoonish acting. The secondary and tertiary actors were great here as well, and I’m glad that they take the time to make those sometimes background actors sound at least believable. Overall, this is one of the best Funimation dubs I’ve heard in a while.

In Summary:
Like I said, those first few episodes left me a little lackluster, but they were necessary to set up what they did in the final episode. Families like this don’t just materialize, they grow naturally through friendships and Nanami and Tomoe are far from friendship in the first episode. I’ll love revisiting the series down the line to see what I think about those first few episodes, but they don’t damper my experience of the rest of it. I loved watching Nanami, Mizuki, and especially Tomoe grow from the first to the last episode and I’ll be glad to do it again someday.

Features:
English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and Japanese stereo (DVD), Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0 (blu-ray), English subtitles, Video and audio episode commentaries, Textless songs, U.S. Trailer, Trailers

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 11th, 2014
MSRP: $54.98
Running Time: 325 minutes

Review Equipment:
Radeon 7850, 24” Dell UltraSharp U2410 set at 1920 x 1200, Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II

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