Anime Spotlight: Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Kiss is an anime based on a manga series written by Julietta Suzuki. The anime is directed by Akitaro Daichi and was produced by TMS Entertainment. The first season aired on Japanese television from October 1-December 24, 2012. The second season aired on Japanese television from January 5-March 30, 2015. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American license for Kamisama Kiss.

The series focuses on a high school girl named Nanami Momozono. Her father racks up big gambling debts and is unable to pay off the loan sharks. One day he runs off, leaving Nanami on her own. As she discovers that her father’s gone, Nanami is told that she is being evicted from the apartment. She finds herself homeless and spending the night on a park bench. While in the park, she “rescues” a man named Mikage from a dog. After Nanami shares her story with him, Mikage draws a map to his home and tells her she can stay there. He also gives her a kiss on the forehead before he leaves.

Nanami discovers that Mikage’s home is a run-down shrine. She learns that Mikage was the land god, and that he has been away from the shrine for 20 years. Onikiri and Kotetsu, the two shrine attendants, realize that Nanami has Mikage’s mark on her forehead (which came from the kiss he put there), and this now makes her the new land god. The two attendants say she can stay, but Tomoe, Mikage’s fox familiar, refuses to acknowledge Nanami and leaves the shrine.

When Onikiri and Kotetsu take Nanami to the demon realm to talk to Tomoe, Nanami is attacked by a hag. When Tomoe hears of her plight, he comes to watch Nanami suffer. However, she learns that she can seal a contract with Tomoe by kissing him. While this isn’t what Nanami would prefer to do, she decides she needs him to be her familiar. Nanami manages to catch Tomoe off guard and kisses him, binding him into a contract with her.

Over the course of the first season, several new characters are introduced. First, there’s Kurama, a fallen tengu who is a teen idol and is in Nanami’s class. After initially trying to replace Nanami as the land god, he ends up kind of becoming an ally to Nanami. Himemiko, the Imperial Priestess catfish yokai, comes to Nanami to ask for help to reconnect with a human boy named Kotaro Urashima that she had met 10 years earlier. Mizuki is a white snake that Nanami rescues, who turns out to be a yokai and a former familiar. Mizuki later becomes Nanami’s familiar because he kisses her without her consent. Not surprisingly, Tomoe and Mizuki are antagonistic toward each other, but sometimes their conflict serves as a source of comic relief. Ami is one of Nanami’s classmates who has a crush on Kurama, and the two girls become friends. Otohiko is a flamboyant wind god, and his appearances in this season test Nanami as a land god.

During the episodes in the first season, Nanami has to deal with the fact that she’s a human teenager without any real spiritual powers but is now expected to serve as the land god. She spends the early part of the season trying to learn the duties expected of her as the land god, as well as trying to find a way to develop spiritual power. As she is going through this, though, Tomoe helps her out of some of the situations she finds herself in. Tomoe takes his job to protect Nanami seriously enough that he transfers into Nanami’s school and class in order to keep an eye on her. But even saying all of that, Nanami isn’t totally helpless, because there are also times when the situation is reversed, and Nanami finds ways she can save Tomoe with her limited power.

About halfway through the first season, Nanami discovers that she has developed romantic feelings for Tomoe, even after Mizuki uses an incense to show Nanami what Tomoe had been like in the past. The tension that her feelings for Tomoe create, especially after he tells her that love between a human and a yokai is forbidden, is a running thread through the remaining episodes of the season.

The second season of Kamisama Kiss basically continues where Season One left off. Otohiko pays Nanami a visit to invite her to the Divine Assembly, the annual gathering of the gods in Izumo. However, he tells Nanami she can attend under one condition: she has to raise a shikigami from an egg for seven days. Unfortunately, Mizuki accidentally steps on the egg and causes it to hatch way too early. Inside the egg is a small monkey.

Meanwhile, a tsuchigumo is residing in the school’s library. While Tomoe saves Nanami from it, she doesn’t want to rely on him all the time now that her divine powers have increased. After learning that she needs to raise the shikigami instead of relying on her talismans, Nanami names the little monkey “Mamoru” (the Japanese word that means “to protect”). Nanami and Mamoru are able to save Tomoe when the tsuchigomo attacks him.

The next four episodes focus on Nanami and on her time at the Divine Assembly. Ookuninushi, the host of the Divine Assembly, personally asks Nanami to go to the portal to the Netherworld for two days to prevent any yokai from passing through. At the same time, a human named Kirihito appears at the portal. It turns out that this is the body of someone who has already died, and the soul of Akura-Oh (Tomoe’s friend from his “wild fox days”) is inside. Kirihito is trying to get into the Netherworld to retrieve Akura-Oh’s body. Both Kirihito and Nanami fall into the Netherworld, and the two are taken in by Izanami, the Goddess of the Netherworld. In the end, Tomoe has to save both of them by using Ookuninushi’s hammer to turn back into a yokai in order to go in and save Nanami. Unfortunately, by turning back into a yokai, Tomoe breaks his contract with Nanami.

After this adventure, Nanami participates in the remaining days of the Divine Assembly, and during this time, she mulls over the idea of a human and a yokai being in a relationship. At the end of the conference, Mikage makes an unexpected appearance and has a conversation with Nanami about Tomoe. Tomoe also spends some time mulling over whether or not he should renew his contract with Nanami to become her familiar again.

The next five episodes serve as character development for Kurama, when a young tengu named Botanmaru comes down from Mount Kurama in order to find him. After learning about what’s happening on the mountain, Kurama, Nanami, Tomoe, and Mamoru go to see what, if anything, they can do. Several tengu are introduced during this story arc, including Jiro (who is acting as the leader while Kurama’s father is sick and near death) and Suiro (a tengu with a connection to Kurama). A character named Yatori is also introduced, and he wants to work with Kirihito in order to retrieve Akura-Oh’s body. It turns out that Yatori has a connection with what’s happening on Mount Kurama, and that there’s more going on with Kurama’s father than there appears. During this storyline, Nanami gains another character who becomes interested in her, and Tomoe is forced to start to truly examine his feelings for Nanami.

The last two episodes see Nanami, Tomoe, and Mizuki go to the Year God shrine to receive a new talisman for a new year. Each character must go through their own tori and examine the past 12 years of their life. Tomoe and Mizuki get through theirs quickly, but they see that Nanami, who went through hers first, hasn’t come out. They go into her tori and find her… but she’s about 12 years younger. Tomoe and Mizuki, along with the audience, get to see important times from Nanami’s childhood that helped to shape her into the character that we know. I thought this was a great character development arc for Nanami, as well as for Tomoe. As he’s watching young Nanami and starts interacting with her, he comes to realize how he truly feels about her.

The first season of Kamisama Kiss was successful in establishing the characters and their world. The progression of the story feels realistic, and I thought that Nanami and Tomoe both received strong character development. The second season of Kamisama Kiss continued to develop Nanami and Tomoe as characters, but Kurama also received an impressive character development arc as well.

The ending of the second season, though, is a little frustrating since I’ve read the entire manga series. Since the manga was still ongoing when the second season of Kamisama Kiss was being produced, it’s not surprising that there isn’t a “true” ending for the series. But with the way the second season ends, there’s a major loose thread hanging out there: Kirihito retrieving Akura-Oh’s body from the Netherworld. That was the main purpose for this character to be introduced, and while we see him make two attempts to achieve his goal, he doesn’t succeed. But after the second attempt, the audience can tell that Kirihito intends to return to the Netherworld and try again… and that’s the point the character is left at when the season ends.

Unfortunately, it’s been almost seven years since the final episode of the second season of Kamisama Kiss aired, and a third season has never come to pass. It’s disappointing that the anime never continued, because there are still some very important plot points that the anime never touched on because they happened near the end of the manga. Fans of the series who have only watched the anime and have never read the manga are missing out on a lot of the story. While I wish that the anime series would continue, I just don’t see it happening after seven years have passed.

Even though the anime series doesn’t end, I would still highly recommend Kamisama Kiss to viewers who enjoy shojo romance anime and also have an appreciation for yokai.

Additional posts about Kamisama Kiss:

3 comments

  1. patriciastreeter · 5 Days Ago

    Have you watched the OVA? Its not available dubbed but it appears to pick up where Season 2 ends. I recommend reading the manga too.

    • Lesley Aeschliman · 5 Days Ago

      Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the OVA. 😦 But I have read the entirety of the manga series. After reading the whole series, it made me wish the entire story had been adapted into anime. Seeing the amount of time between seasons for some anime in more recent years (such as Log Horizon and The Devil Is a Part-Timer), I’m not entirely giving up hope on Kamisama Kiss.

  2. patriciastreeter · 5 Days Ago

    Agreed. Especially, since the story is complete. So they don’t have to worry about filler episodes for the anime to keep pace with the manga.

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