ADVISORY: Destiny of the Shrine Maiden (Kannazuki no Miko) is a series that features mature subject matter. I would not reccomend the show be watched by anyone under the age of 16. I'd say 17 just to be sure. It is most definetly not for young children.
This is a show I should have never enjoyed. A show that had such a weird case of false advertising it wasn't even funny. With a theme song by KOTOKO and mecha, what could have gone wrong? Easy. A lot of things.
Destiny of the Shrine Maiden, or Kannazuki no Miko (Preistesses of the Godless Month) is a show based on the manga by the duo Kaishaku. Yes, the same Kaishaku that brought the world things like Steel Angel Kurumi and UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie.
I came in expect a Super Robot show with music by KOTOKO and being based on a manga. What I got was more of a love story with loveable characters, incredible music and an all star voice cast on both sides of the Pacific with some mecha (midly awesome mecha designs too!) thrown in on the side.
Now; when I say lovable characters, I mean it. Even though the show was only 12 episodes long, over the course of the plot, I saw characters develop, redevelop and develop again.One of the main leads in this show, Chikane Himemiya(CV: Ayako Kawasumi/ VA: Michelle Ruff) is a prime example. Chikane is one of the two main protagnists of the show and it shows. If anyone develops, it's Chikane. She's the every-girl. The girl every guy wants to date, the star athlete, the brainiac. Her relationship with our other main heroine, Himeko Kurusugawa (CV: Noriko Shitaya/ VA: Stephanie Sheh), a unconfident and shy schoolgirl, does show in the later half on our extradonairy levels. Over the course of the show, Chikane begins to like Himeko more and more. Yes, I mean that "kind" of like. This show has a boat load of yuri material. But that's beside the point. Himeko eventually becomes the most important person in Chikane's life. To that point, the girl gets the girl. The complete opposite of what I was expecting. My only complaint of this relationship was the later half of Episode 8. It was excessive. That's all there is to it.
From stunning visuals (for a 2004 series) to the astonishing soundtrack by KOTOKO, lovable characters and a plot that explores Japanese mythology to true love, no matter the gender, Destiny of the Shrine Maiden is a show worth watching. Don't take reviews or my word for it. Check it out and see for yourself. Opinions may differ as some people call this show crap and others say it's decent. I found myself midly enjoying myself.
Overall, Destiny of the Shrine Maiden recieves my thumbs up. Well, swords up.
Get it? Swords. Shrine. Maiden. Robots.
Boot to the head on anyone's thoughts but my own! V
Destiny of the Shrine Maiden is avaliable streaming online from The Anime Network in English or Japanese Audio (Subscriber-only). The DVDs have been released as a box set by Sentai Filmworks.
Kannazuki no Miko (Destiny of the Shrine Maidens)
Plot: "Gentle Himeko and reserved Chikane were born into very different backgrounds, but still became the best of friends. Their fates, they would soon come to discover, are intertwined in a fashion that they can't possibly imagine -- they are the reincarnations of two priestesses who once sealed the god of darkness Orochi in their past lives. Set to revive again, his giant robot-riding agents have set out to destroy the girls, one of whom is Himeko's friend who is in love with her. Riddled with memories of their past lives, the two try to survive long enough to cast the seal on Orochi again..." (site synopsis)
Before starting with the review i want to say a few words as an introduction/opinion about Kannazuki no Miko.This anime officialy enters in my top 3 shoujo-ai animes and for sure in my top 10 favourite animes.Its not to good like other shoujo-ai animes but its still very well made, very touching and with a strong, emotional and captivating yuri aspect.
Story: In terms of story this anime isnt quite that good (dont get me wrong, this anime has a story to begin with and to end with but at some points it gets rather complicated, confusing and with stuff that dont have connection but this is just around the begining because near the ending it clears up kinda fast, like forced ending).Whatever, the story is centered on a beautiful and gentle girl named Himeko.One day she gets to meet Chikane one of the most popular girl in high school who is a member of an important and wealthy family.Of course if we watch the first episode we see that Chikane and Himeko were born in different backgrounds with different life styles but who would have thought about the connections between those two.Who would have thought that Chikane and Himeko are the reincarnation of two priestesses, who in the past they sealed the god of darkness Orochi.Due to some unpleasent events like the revival of Orochi, Chikane and Himeko are informed that they possess the powers of the Sun and Moon Priestesses and they are the only ones that could stop Orochi from destroying the world.However this task didnt prove to be so easy, Oogami one of Himeko's friends is the seventh neck of Orochi who plots to kill the priestesses but because of his strong feelings towards Himeko he doesnt obey Orochi and decides to fight against him to protect Himeko.As the story develops more characters appear who have a significantly influence at the ending and more events take place that endangers the relationship between Himeko and Chikane.The thing that makes this anime interesting is that Chikane developed love feelings towards Himeko but because girl x girl love relationships were forbidden she kept her feelings locked inside of her in order to not cause problems.But this also didnt prove to be so easy to bear since Himeko and Oogami were dating very often.The story of this anime is engulfed with drama.It is nice at some points enjoyable but around the ending it gets realy dramatic, almost tragicaly.The thing is that the ending isnt that sad, but i recommend to you guys that if you happen to watch this anime be sure to check after the credits because it ends in a nice and happy way.
Animation: Not bad, not bad at all, Kannazuki no Miko isnt a masterpiece in terms of animation but it isnt of a low level also.The character designs were very well made i realy liked how Chikane, Kazuki and Tsubasa were designed which realy fited their role.Im not a big fan of mecha animes, but i dont hate them also i enjoy animes that have mecha aspects but not placed randomly and too often.
Sound: Well in terms of sound this anime is briliant.The opening song and the ending song were realy on my taste, i didnt like them from the begining but after listening them like two, three times i started to like them.The background sounds also arent that bad as well because it realy fits the anime environment.
Characters: Related to characters in this anime we can speak about a good character development but under my expectations.At the begining we see new characters appearing but as we pass throught episodes no more characters show up.A thing that i need to say here is that individualy most of the characters werent developed.Except for Himeko and Chikane and something trivial about Tsubasa and Oogami, the other characters were completely left behind treated like side characters.
Overall: Watchable, enjoyable, funny and warm at some points with a nice shoujo-ai aspect, sad, dramatic, almost tragic at the ending but it didnt proved to be that way, infact it ended in a nice, i can say even happy way (again i mention that it is wise to watch after the credits because if you dont then you will think that this anime is unfinished, uncleared, unsolved and confusing).For shoujo-ai fans this anime is a must to watch, but i recommend it to other anime fans as well since this anime in my opinion is kinda hard to hate.Rated it abit more because i realy enjoyed watching it.
~Enjoy and Cya Around~
Ah, Kannazuki no Miko (KNM), what a ride that was. I am into anime since early 80’s and I got to live through all kinds of fads, even before the internet era. This happens to be a show that created a sort of tsunami when it first aired, because yuri anime were still rare back then and the weird blend of mecha with lesbianism and mysticism made many to believe it was the greatest thing ever conceived.
Of course a few years later all the lackluster faded away, and so did the interest in this show. You see, it didn’t need much for the greatest anime era of all times to come along (2006-2007) which offered a mountain of REALLY good shows. Comparing them to KNM was like the Hanging Gardens next to a flower pot. And that is what is was actually, a small flowerpot which instead of one flower sprouting on it, it actually had three (mecha, lesbianism, mysticism). Needless to say, it felt special only because most of the fandom has no idea of good storytelling (as usual), knows no similar (and better) shows, and bites the premise and spits pacing and quality like they are unneeded elements. Sorry to disappoint them but I am not an idiot.
Seriously, I never liked this show, neither was ever part of the fan club, even back when everybody wanted to part of a group and this was the hottest title yet. Because I learned to appreciate the finer things in a show and not the superficial exterior, a thing which makes KNM look like a huge coconut with an extremely thick exterior and very little juice inside.
But allow me to be more specific. The story of KNM is about two teenage lesbian shrine maidens in need to prevent an eight-headed snake from destroying the world, through the use of magic and huge robots, while battling each head individually, which is practically a huge robot divided into eight machines and respective pilots, all incarnated every X number of generations in an attempt to eat everything (or something). To make things more complicating, one of the heads is a teenager boy in love with one of the lesbians and thus renegades to their side, while at the same time one of the two heroines gets fed up along the way and decides to join the villains. All of which happen within 12 episodes full of mecha battles, mystical training, erotic/romantic moments and funky soundtracks. Yeah, the premise is indeed awesome and on paper it’s a masterpiece.
In practice, it leaves much to be desired as all its cool points end up being average at best.
-The mecha action is just there for no reason at all. It offers nothing plot-wise and it’s not even good action-wise. You can remove it without a problem and take along with it 20% of the total duration.
-The mysticism part is important to place the setting into a pre-existing context, as the story is based on old Shinto myths. Who doesn’t like Shinto with its rich mythology and its philosophy which defines the Japanese mentality? Not to mention, Miko uniforms are in the top 10 most famous sexual fetishes. But again, it’s not as if the story couldn’t be defined with a fictional mythology. It’s not as if you will become less wise without it; it’s loosely using the myths to begin with.
-The lesbian part ends out being its most strong point. The core story is after all love and how a heartbrake can lead to despair, destruction and betrayal. But again, it is not as if the exact same thing couldn’t be done with a heterosexual couple. The element of the lesbians is nothing but a bait for those easily swayed by such superficial taboos (and boy is the anime fandom full of those). I bet the show wouldn’t be half as thrilling back then if it had a (plain, boring, typical) normal relationship but at the same time it’s not as if it’s what makes the anime stand the test of time. Because as we can see today, it failed.
What I am trying to say here is that the only thing that was somewhat interesting back then was the weird blend of technology with magic and erotic taboos. It’s otherwise not doing a good job at being anything other than the usual fuss.
- If you see at the three elements separately, you can easily tell how average it plays out. The mecha battles are performed in the stereotypical way of special attacks and occasional power ups, mysticism is nothing but a vague background element, and the lesbian relationship follows the exact same pattern most similar stories do. They don’t even combine with one another in order to be in need of all three at the same time. You can easily make three separate shows with them.
-Add to that all those following mecha shows like Aquarion or Demosbane or Asura Cryin’ which also combined weird elements (and are equally terrible as anime) that took away the uniqueness of the whole deal (in terms of lameness).
-Add to that the dozens of yuri titles that the industry is so overflowed with today to take away the interest in KNM’s more than typical couple.
But that is not enough, there is even another annoying thing in it. Besides the main couple, all other characters remain nothing but blunt archetypes, with the snake head pilots to be all some lame sexual or shounen stereotypes with a blank character sheet. Yet for the lulz of it, in the final episode we get 3 seconds of each one of them in a flashback, explaining why they have a grudge with the world. By the way, at that time they were all dead and we were seeing that postmortem, in a lame attempt at fleshing them out. Thanks a lot idiots; they are already dead (in fact this famous Hokuto no Ken phrase is quite true to the series, as even there the villains would also be fleshed out in a similar fashion, moments before they kick the bucket).
As for the art, well, it looks average today with the attention to the shrines and that funky moon backgrounds to offer a dreamy feeling that make the artwork look better. Otherwise, the action has jerky movements and boring-looking explosions, with all the attention being given only to those tender romantic moments between the two lesbians.
Finally the soundtrack is VERY good and practically the best thing in the anime. It has many good funky tunes and songs that contributed a lot to the illusion that the show is more than it appears to be (when it’s not).
Bottomline, it is an average anime with bad use of its elements, little reason in rewatching or even remembering it in the longrun.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 4/4 (very good)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 2/3 (quite famous as an interesting retro title)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch it after so many similar titles came out)
Memorability 2/4 (the overall themes are interesting but other than that no reason to remember it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (looks unimpressive)
Sound 2/2 (sounds good)
Story 1/3 (interesting themes but handled poorly)
Characters 0/4 (all of them are generic)
Story | 7.5/10
First of all, I enjoyed this anime and its story. But its concepts aren't all that original. I've seen the miko (priestess) theme in a few anime before. However, the story was little crumpled altogether. The ending was puzzling, but I will not spill the details. Given it's such a short anime, I find the general details too spoilerific to share.
Animation | 8/10
A little choppy when it comes to the battle scenes, but still considerably action-oriented. But I do love how much color there is throughout Kannazuki no Miko. The character designs are lovely, but at the same could have a little more work. Every scene is nicely done, despite any flaws I may have noticed.
Sound | 8.5/10
I loved the opening and ending songs. The music is well-timed for each epic moment and battle scene. But sometimes the music could seem a little off with the subject matter in some scenes. Kannazuki no Miko has catchy or simply nice music as well as music that just pulls on your heartstrings.
Characters | 6.5/10
I love the two main characters Chikane and Himeko. They both develop in their own way, but also barely change at all. Though I adore Chikane Himemiya and Himeko Kurusugawa, I must say the villains and a couple other characters are rather flat or static. The villains hardly have any character development at all... The same goes for the characters who have romantic feelings... To be blunt, I feel as if the villains and a few other characters served little to no purpose whatsoever.
Overall | 7.5/10
Like I've said, a lot about this anime simply cannot be told of. I recommend this anime to anyone who enjoys something a little different from anime that have a priestess(es) and romance. I enjoyed this anime myself, yes, but Kannazuki no Miko could have been a little better.