What They Say:
Yui Kusanagi isn’t sure what to do after high school, but when Zeus decides that the Gods have lost touch with the mortal world, he stages a bit of divine intervention and places Yui on the path to education. Okay, it’s more like he drops her into a mysterious garden and tasks her with teaching eight moody and extremely hot young Gods about life, humanity, and love. Or else. That’s quite a burden for any mortal girl, especially when the gorgeous Godly gaggle are eight heavy hitters from Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Japanese mythology: Appollon, Hades, Dionysus, Thor, Loki, Balder, Thoth, Anubis, Susanoo, and Tsukiyomi!
But while they’re all afflicted with the angst and capricious whims one might expect from such immortal archetypes, and while their “schooling” is further hampered as the mysterious world they’re all trapped in keeps changing unexpectedly, Yui’s going to give this her all. Why? Maybe because she’s the only girl they’re going to see in at least a year and did we mention that they’re all totally babe-a-licious?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only and it’s done in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show largely plays to the dialogue side of things so it’s not exactly a really busy mix for the most part but it has areas where it steps it up nicely. While there’s a lot of action in the first episode it also has a number of smaller incidences along the way to give it a chance to flex a little. Some of it is simple and sometimes it gets to be a bit more but in general it all uses the forward soundstage well. The interactions are well placed throughout with what they do in terms of characters on screen and there’s areas where depth is actually better than one might expect. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series is kept to one disc since it’s a monolingual release and one that doesn’t have a lot of high action for the most part. Animated by Brain’s Base, the series has a really strong visual design overall with some beautiful backgrounds that are solid and well detailed while the character animation has its own good level of detail and fluidity to it at times that takes it up a notch. The end result is a series that has some very good pop that will please fans of it in giving them a vibrant and great looking release. The transfer is clean to be sure and it holds up well, especially in the final episode where it’s almost non-stop action.
The packaging design for this release uses a standard sized Blu-ray case with some really appealing artwork on the front. This goes more with an illustration style rather than a collage of character images from the show and with some good heavy line work around them it stands out in a great way just from that alone. But add in the color palette used and the overall layout of it with the cast assembled and you get something that stands out in a good way. The back cover goes for a good sense of elegance and old school about it with the framing done in a kind of Roman era style where we get a cute tagline and a few images along the top. The premise is a bit dense but it’s very easy to read even with the small font. The main piece of artwork is done in the same style as the front and that makes it more appealing. The remainder is standard fare with production credits and a technical grid that breaks everything down cleanly, clearly and accurately.
The menu layout for this release is familiar enough in its basic design but it’s done up in a pretty way with some good thematic elements to drive it home well. The left side goes for the navigation with a black marble-like background where we get the episode by number and title with a good script that’s easy to read but still stylish. The episode numbers use the same symbol from within the show with the clock tower and that’s a nice touch. The rest of the menu space is given over to the artwork from the front cover, but zoomed in a bit. This lets the design and artwork stand out a bit more but it’s one of those rare times that I think the cover art represents it better than the menu does. With little here besides the episodes and the extras, navigation is a breeze both at the main menu and as a pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the PSP visual novel of the same name, Kamigami no Asobi, aka Mischief of the Gods, is a twelve episode anime series that debuted in the spring of 2014. The show was animated by Brain’s Base working off of the visual novel that was developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by Broccoli. It’s a show that I didn’t catch when it was simulcast but one that I was certainly aware of as it kind of works the reverse harem angle in a cute way while also playing to some other familiar tropes. With as much as I watch I can’t really fault tropes because they’re in nearly everything, so I tend to look for shows that at least do something a little creative.
The premise here is one that admittedly does work well and it knows its target audience. So much so that halfway through the first episode I knew exactly how many friends and family would get a kick out of this. And that’s a good sign. The series revolves around yui, your average high school student that’s working through her senior year and is what you’d largely call a good kid with some solid life skills in general. She appears to have some friends, a decent home life and nothing untowards in her life that would make you think there’s anything amiss. And there isn’t. She’s the epitome of average (or what you believe is average) so that the viewer can basically become her and see the world through her eyes, which is what the game is about. Unfortunately for Yui, she ends up in a spot of trouble at her family shrine when in the storage room she touches a mysterious sword and is transported to a different world.
Familiar trope is oh so familiar. But what can they do here to make it its own work?
What we get here is that she ends up in a small floating shelf of land, a decent sized one overall, where she gets to meet Zeus. Now, Zeus wants to show his old school bad self but he also has a few other forms that we see here. He’s brought Yui to this world for a very specific job. Because of the way that the world has turned, the gods are a bit out of favor at the moment. He believes a good part of it is because they no longer understand how the human heart works and have lost touch with the people. So he’s created this academy, a really decked out place that’s right out of the pages of your wealthy class private institution style, and has “captured” several gods that are under him in order for them to learn. Being the all-father has its advantages.
In order to make this work though, he’s come up with some interesting rules. Yui gets to serve as a teacher of sorts by interacting with the gods but she’s also a student of sorts there. Within the school, these gods are given your pretty good looking high school boy design and they have different ornaments that they get attached to them that seal their powers. With this all taking place out of time so as to not cause Yui to miss out on events in the real world, they have a year in which to get these gods to understand the human heart and grow into something more. If they fail then they’re stuck there for all eternity. Zeus doesn’t have time to deal with failing gods anymore. So there’s definitely some pressure there all around, including Yui, because none of them asked for this. Over the course of the twelve episodes it essentially follows a year of time as she gets to know the gods and they get to know (and sorta kinda fall in love with) her. But because they’re gods, their kind of love is different from what you’d get from a normal fellow student so it doesn’t truly feel like your usual harem show in that sense. We get them getting closer and understanding each other but it’s not a romantic “I want to marry you” kind of love. It’s a bond and a love that’s something more.
What makes this interesting is that Yui gets to work with a pretty good if small range of gods. While Zeus rules over all of this, we get more than just his type. The show brings in Apollon and Hades and they’re night and day with Apollon taking on the role of student council president while Hades avoids everyone so as to not infect them with his bad luck. We get the welcome addition of Susanoo and Tsukiyomi for the Japanese side, ones that are very rarely used overall and that made it a lot more interesting. The norse side brings us Balder, Loki and Thor and they have a wonderful little bond that ends up becoming the big serious event in the last two episodes that really works better than it should. Often I hate those kinds of ending arcs because it’s out of place but within this context it works. The Greek side also adds Thoth who takes on a kind of administrative role for Zeus here and even Anubis gets a little bit of time. I wish Dionysus had more time though since his couple of wine incidents were very amusing.
What we get with the show is a lot of the usual getting to know you elements combined with the school setting. There’s trips to the beach, the culture festival, a school play that has to be put together within a day and a small host of other little things that anyone who watches any amount of school based series will see instantly. The question comes down to this: does it work? Largely, I think it does, provide you’re not predisposed to hate this kind of material. That makes it a non-starter right there. But if you’re open enough to things I think there’s a whole lot to like here. While Yui is shallow – and that’s on purpose, it’s the interactions that makes it work. The silliness with the other gods, the interpretations of them that will make history/mythology majors both laugh and frustrated, the actual designs, it’s all towards the expect pretty character with hearts of gold that our lead must get through to. It works through all the familiar material but the execution for it is spot on. There’s some good polish here with it that they’re able to do all of this material and to still make the big action episode at the end feel utterly right and natural within it.
And boy do they go all out for that final episode. It’s just fun to watch these varied gods and their varied powers come to life and to see how Yui finally factors into it – all under the watchful eye of Zeus. The quality of the animation for the last episode with these gods going at it is almost worth the price of admission alone because it’s done so well and not skimped on. I’ve long enjoyed Brain’s Base’s work in the animation department whether they do slice of life material or something with a bit more action but they find a good balance throughout the show and then pull out all the stops at the end. Those that are partial to history and mythology might get more out of it in general but even if you’re not wedded to that material you’ll find it fun.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Kamigami no Asobi overall but it turned out to be a pretty fun if mildly light experience. There’s some good exploration of each of the characters and what they need to learn in order to pass Zeus’ overall test and I like that within the confines of this space it runs over the course of a year of their lives. And that it actually ends with real closure and finality so that you’re not left hanging. The show is one that plays familiar to the genre and the characters in a lot of ways but it finds small areas of creativity to play within and the end result is a show that’s certainly elevated because of the animation and the performances throughout. Though shows like this tend to not go really mainstream outside of a rare exception or two, Kamigami no Asobi ticks all the right boxes and executes its design perfectly, making for a very fun show for those open to it. This release brings it to life in a really good way, though I lament that we’re not in the days when everything would get dubbed as I imagine that would take this series to another level with fan interest in it.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Running Time: 300 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.