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)