Yota Narukami is a high schooler who planned to spend his last summer vacation like most others: preparing for his university entrance exams. But when a young girl named Hina approaches him saying she’s a god, his summer vacation suddenly becomes anything but ordinary.
“From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25:29 Jun Maeda, one of the most iconic anime composers of the 21st century, has managed to take all the goodwill that he’s accumulated from his work on critically acclaimed shows such as Clannad After Story and Angel Beats! and burn it down faster than Heath Ledger’s Joker burns down the mountain of money in The Dark Knight. Many anime fans have asked me, “Is The Day I Became a God (Kami Natta) really that bad?” The short answer is yes. For the long answer I can direct you towards the discussions of each individual episode on the Anime Planet forum going into excruciating detail about why this show fails at nearly everything it tries. For the medium answer, I’ll try to give you one in the form of a few summarized bullet points in this review. The story was a complete waste of time. Jun Maeda’s works are infamous for having throwaway episodes that don’t advance the plot or develop character, even a 12 episode series, and then trying to cram the “main plot” into a handful of episodes at the end. Kami Natta takes this to an extreme that I’ve never seen in anime before. It has an episode entirely focused on the intricacies of Majong with absolutely no explanation for those who don’t play the game. Did this become a major plot point later that justified spending an entire episode on it? Absolutely not! The “main plot” stays unexplained for nearly ¾ of the anime and when it finally does come to the forefront, it was not worth the buildup. Any attempts at creating genuine emotional moments were either wasted on making a cheap joke or simply fell flat since the characters were so unlikable that the audience had no investment in them. The characters had no redeeming qualities. Those who have watched the anime, I challenge you to name a single good quality about any one of the main characters. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Yota is so generic he makes Makoto Shinkai’s male MCs look unique. Hina is like that friend who thinks she’s funny but is actually just annoying and embarrassing but you don’t want to tell her because when she gets mad it ruins your day. Every other character basically has no personality or is a copy-paste of a well known anime character trope. SPOILER SECTION FOR THE LAST FEW EPISODES: Even the most interesting part of the anime, Yota trying to get Hina to remember him, was contrived and cliche. It was nothing that we haven’t seen done better in other anime or other media. Just take your pick from the whole Amnesiac Lover TV Tropes Page, which includes an example from one of Jun Maeda’s previous works. If done well, trying to have Yota develop a relationship with Hina under her new circumstances, having to change himself to meet her new condition had the potential to be something interesting, but instead the writers just decided to go for the most uninspired, typical, “I remember the MC now and I love him for no particular reason” route. The production was mediocre at best. The animation was average by today’s standards. P.A. Works anime have remained virtually unchanged since 2010. The best bits of animation were in the “movie within the anime” which sadly looked like a much more interesting way of presenting the same story than what we actually got. The music was a total mess, which is disappointing for an anime created by someone who’s mainly a musician/composer. The music was used to set up dumb gags rather than facilitate genuinely emotional scenes, so often that by the end the audience can’t trust the music that they hear. There was nothing particularly memorable about the music outside the context of the anime either. It was about as ordinary as it could be. The voice acting was fine considering the script the actors had to work with, but no one stood out as exceptionally good. In summary, the most popular clip of this anime was a scene where Hina says that she’s “So loli that [she] can practically kill a virgin.” If you somehow find this out of context scene funny (believe me, it gets no better in context), then maybe Kami Natta’s dumb jokes will make you laugh at least. Otherwise, be prepared for one of the most migraine inducing, frustrating, disappointing viewing experiences that you’ll ever have. My recommendation is that you don’t even bother, and that you be wary of any anime that Jun Maeda attaches his name to going forward.
A lot of potential that was never met. A lot of quesitons that were never answered. Characters you have to force yourself to try to care about. So many plot holes. It's like it tried to be a little bit of Haruhi Suzimiya mixed with Clannad/Charlotte/Kanon mixed with a typical "summer break in high school" anime while also trying to seem "deep" and "psychological" but actually coming across as embarassingly shallow and formulaic. Not the worst anime, no. But I promise you, if you've seen the anime I've mentioned above, you've already seen this. It does what those did but far worse. Writiing is bad, characters are severely lacking, "threat" is underwhelming, music is kind of weirdly utilized at times, animation is fine. Wasted potential. They tried to take on too many themes and direcitons at once and failed at all of them. Such a shame. If they had focused more on the first half of the anime, this could have been the next Haruhi Suzimiya. If they had focused more on the latter half (after properly developing the characters, that is), this could have been the most emotional anime of the season. Pity. 4/10. I would give the first half a 6/10 and the second half a 2 or 3...
Coming out from "Kamisama ni Natta Hi" (KS) with questions is par for the course. How on earth does an original Key anime, helmed by none other than Jun Maeda himself, struggle to barely crack the Top 10 for Fall seasonals on MAL? How did a promising premise from a strong first episode morph into a completely different show in its second week? Also, why was I OK with that? Also also, when did I stop being happy with where things were going?What in god's name is going on?If you're looking for answers, you've come to a terrible place; but I'll do my best to give my take on all the above points and more. This review contains mild spoilers, so feel free to skip ahead to my Tl;Dr if you'd like to go in blind."What happens when you have both the power of god and anime on your side?" KS introduces the audience to Hina, an odd girl dressed like a nun. She approaches the unassuming protagonist, Youta, and nags him to let her crash at his place (this isn't a sus thing, I promise.) You see, Hina claims to be a god capable of predicting future events, and has foreseen that she'll be staying over at Youta's for the time being. Obviously our baffled MC has no reason to believe her audacious claims, but several demonstrations of her divine abilities force him to accept the improbable: that the mysterious Hina really is a god, and that she's offering to act as his personal genie during her stay. But there is a catch: in 30 days, the world ends. It's a great hook to kick off a series, one with limitless potential. Youta is allowed to live life in any way he chooses, with no consequences. And as a title card counted us off towards the impending apocalypse, I was left with several questions. What will Youta do with this power, and what adventures will he end up on? How exactly does the world end? Just who is Hina anyway? What would happen next? The answer? ...Nothing much, really. KS' second episode, in stark contrast with the ambitious series pilot, goes as far as to sideline Hina and spend 15 minutes doing budget parodies of '90s Hollywood blockbusters. KS only kept up this trend in the coming weeks, putting aside its promising story in exchange for an episodic sitcom. Short asides, featuring a gifted hacker tangled in a mysterious corporate investigation, would serve as the only reminder that KS actually had, y'know, a plot. The Doomsday Clock continued to wind down with every episode, but I'd never feel like KS was headed anywhere.Though KS didn't pan out the way most audiences would have expected, I was surprised to find out that I was still having a great time. As the kind of critic who finds himself with the bad habit of lamenting over missed storytelling potential, I was uncharacteristically forgiving towards KS' first half. That's because the show still managed to pack some elements that kept things enjoyable from week-to-week. The first idea that seemed interesting was the series' usage of fatalism. The world is coming to an end in 30 days, yet no one in the cast seems to care. There's something pretty funny about Youta encountering a deity, only for him to continue spending his summer in the most vanilla way possible - studying for finals and playing video games. While the characters aren't complex enough to acknowledge these philosophical ideas, I did find this theme amusing all the same. The threat of Armageddon is never depicted as a depressing existential tragedy or anything, but leans towards a somewhat optimistic direction instead. Sure, there are circumstances fated to happen, beyond our control. So let's just focus on making the present the best it can be. Another highlight worth praising is the entertaining comedy. This caught me off guard, given that it wasn't particularly an aspect of the script I was looking forward to. My previous run-ins with Jun Maeda shows involved the borderline sleep-inducing first episode of Clannad and the absolutely absurd energy of Angel Beats. Neither were really to my liking, but KS brings the best of both worlds together for a winning combination. The show walks a fine line between realism and absurdity, with a mildly-heightened reality that snowballs its lunacy to hilarious effect. KS uses Hina's powers to account for some silly contrivances that ensure each episode feels different from the next. Sure, the gags don't make a ton of sense at times and they can often drag throughout an entire episode's runtime. Yet the show makes itself really easy to enjoy, taking inspiration from Love Is War through the use of dramatization and pop culture references. Hina and Youta's VAs complement this chaotic energy well, with great line delivery from both.All these elements set a fittingly fun tone to explore KS' message: the value behind memories. Memories are part-and-parcel of the human experience. Some of them are fun and enjoyable, and those happy moments can bring all sorts of people together. But, as explored in Ep 5^, other memories can be dark and murky, causing pain as they linger in your mind. KS looks at how memories influence our thoughts and motivate us to take action. It's in those bleak places where we need to seek closure and look ahead, clinging to our past while seeking out the future. And in overcoming those obstacles with those we love, we strengthen our bonds and make new memories to look back on. This theme offers an explanation for why the show was willing to forego the big plot teased in the first episode. KS was more concerned about putting together a wild summer filled with adventure, fun and heart. Those days of sun were presented really well, thanks to great work from P.A. Works. The studio hadn't quite topped themselves or anything, but average P.A. visuals still look more stunning than most studios' best works. Na-Ga makes a comeback with KS' character designs, so be sure to look out for those if you're a massive fan of Key instalments. Personally my favorite inclusion to the show was its soundtrack. Nagi Yanagi shines with all her song performances and accompanies the cast on their Summer holidays. As the world neared its end, these friends made great memories, which geared them to face the uncertainty of KS' second half. And here's where things start to fall apart.KS did deliver some good material in the early stages, but cracks were already beginning to emerge. If I were to summarize KS as a whole, the phrase I'd come up with is "don't worry about it." There's no need for a grand overarching plot that fully utilized Hina's powers, there was no need to worry too much about generating big conflict. It's all about having a good time! It's a chill approach that I could get behind, and didn't turn out all that pointless either. However, a couple of problems persisted, taking this thoughtless construction to an unhealthy extreme. Characters felt largely one-dimensional, and the unnecessarily large ensemble cast made matters worse. Youta is a boring blank slate who's in love with his childhood friend, and has to rely on gimmicky stage-impersonations (ramen connoisseur, mahjong prodigy, etc.) to disguise his one-dimensional nature. Not too much I can say about Hina^^, but the other main characters don't fare all that well; given that Izanami and Kokuhou are supposedly Youta's best friends, it never feels like he gets a lot of time with them. Things get sillier when we look at the rest of the ensemble, which feels even more inconsequential. The biggest offender is Miss Tengan, who adds absolutely nothing to the story. All she does is act grumpy and show up for the most asinine of reasons. Sora's entire, like, personality is totally based off, like, how a boomer author thinks pre-teens talk IRL. Oh, and there was this loan shark dude who started off as a bad guy, had his entire character arc take place off-screen, and showed up uninvited and reformed a handful of episodes later. Having the core characters underwritten isn't a huge gripe for me, but seems mildly puzzling given that Maeda is supposedly an expert at tugging the heartstrings. This problem, coupled with the overbearing number of side extras, means that the script has no choice but to give important characters rushed flashbacks that introduce their backstories. Speaking of the script, it follows the aforementioned trend of not really giving a shit. Due to the nature of the first half, there's little in the way of objectives or goals that Youta and the gang need to work towards. Maeda's idiosyncrasies as a writer also means he takes any and every opportunity to elicit an emotional response, at times to the detriment to the story. But eh, subtlety is kinda thrown out the window sometimes. If there's an extreme road to take, you can count on Maeda to stack his chips and go all-in. Suspension of disbelief doesn't really matter, "don't worry about it."These issues are further exacerbated in KS' second half. The guise of a "turn-your-brain-off" comedy comes apart quicker than one of Youta's silly impersonations, leading me baffled at several of the show's writing choices. As it turns out, the reason why Maeda overstuff KS with cast members is for a big attempt at emotional payoff in its penultimate episode, reinforcing the message of finding strength through good memories. But while thematically sound on-paper, it landed pretty weak within the show, because the characters that shared those moments with Youta didn't create much connection with the audience. Poor pacing made me feel that the show was still spinning on its heels, even in the most vital of moments. The script doesn't go full-Charlotte, and the final episode manages to stick a somewhat satisfying landing. However, it does find ways to go off the rails in other areas. Hina's powers are far from the dumbest plot contrivances in the show, which Maeda crams in arbitrary conflict and bizarre choices that only serve to further pad the runtime^^^. A couple problems that could be solved with a simple conversation instead are dragged out across 15 minutes, and other obstacles are thrown in a messy way to generate artificial issues that are less tense than confusing. These strange issues distract from what would otherwise be powerful moments on their own right. Earlier this year a Tweet circulated, claiming that Maeda had penned the "most heart-breaking anime of all time." Props to him for the attempt, but his questionable writing makes me wonder if those emotional beats ever reached their fullest potential. With all this being said, I've decided that the biggest weakness of KS is a lack of direction. Outside of its central theme, audiences don't have much to latch onto other than a mystery box hanging over their heads. Unfortunately the box is opened far too late into the story and forces Maeda into a corner, resulting in poor writing choices that ensures that the entirety of KS is lesser than the sum of its parts.Tl;Dr:Kamisama is unquestionably at its best when spending its carefree time in the summer. A neat theme about cherishing memories is accompanied with entertaining laughs. While seeing a wasted premise felt somewhat disappointing, this unexpected approach made me curious to see how KS would balance its more emotional elements later on. However, the script by Jun Maeda appears ill-equipped to deal with the storytelling potential teased since Episode 1, favoring to leave aside a majority of its hefty pacing responsibilities to the very end. This "mystery-box" storytelling necessitates weird plot contrivances and limits the places our story could go. Our already-messy script then undergoes more padding, which leaves more questions than answers and distracts from the emotional moments. There's no clear goal throughout the series, and it's a trick that worked… until it didn't. 5/10~***STRAY RAMBLINGS (SPOILERS):- ^Ep 5 is quite easily my favorite episode of the series. The comedy was less balls-to-the-wall, no absurd disguises or whatever, so I really appreciated the relatively lowkey break from all the shenanigans. Which was fitting, given the more serious subject matter. Definitely took some cues from Kakushigoto and the infamous Violet Evergarden Episode 10. Not that I'm complaining, of course, those were great stories. It proved to be one of the few times KS was capable of balancing its gags with the emotional beats.- ^^If you've made it this far, I've take it you've made it to at least Ep 9. Last warning. With that out of the way, let's talk Hina. My feelings on her are kinda mixed, and I'm not sure if all I have to say is very constructive, given the subject matter. Please forgive my ignorance if I hit a wrong nerve. First, we're gonna have to address her romantic attraction to Youta. To me, it looked like a clear example of how Maeda was cramming in plot points for the purpose of hitting us in the feels. It was a decision that made zero sense to me and had no buildup before it was brought up. Although, I'm not sure how much of my conclusions are impacted by my biases, given her… less than attractive stature. I've seen enough of the Uzaki-chan debate to be scarred from coming near a similar discussion, so hopefully acknowledging my potential biases will be enough to state my case. The other aspect I wanted to touch on was the portrayal of Hina from Episode 10 and onwards. Logo's Syndrome seems to be a fictional condition, borrowing symptoms from muscle atrophy and mental handicaps. While I'm probably not fit to judge how true-to-life the performance was, I do find the hypothesis posited by Hina's caretaker rather interesting. Memories do make up a big part of our identity, so seeing that realisation dawn on Youta in Ep 11 was pretty impactful.- ^^^Wow, what a needlessly convoluted script. Please allow me to nitpick away… It started off strong by throwing away the Doomsday clock and skipping ahead past New Years' and Finals. While the pacing felt unpredictable, the joke setup did not, as Suzuki played around as a Hina stand-in for the first half. Suzuki screams less "genius" and more "BVS Lex Luthor," but minus Jesse Eisenberg's chaotic energy. His ploy to force memories onto Youta for no reason other than to callback to prior episodes in a sentimental manner makes zero sense. I get it, the show has this big nihilist theme about futility and predestination or whatnot, but passively accepting a sad outcome doesn't excuse the characters for dragging out this pseudo-intellectual plan for anywhere up to 5 MONTHS. If you wanted to pretend to have friends, there was no need to pull out a 20-step 400-IQ chess move that nearly backfired because your mark was being emo and stupid. The messiness doesn't end there. Apparently all those escapades as a mahjong pro and a ramen critic were mere training for Youta's big mission... getting into a remote hospital. How is it that he's able to just wear a key card and waltz his way into disguises wherever he goes? If you're not gonna make him put in effort to conceal his identity, why make it happen in the first place? Apparently HIna's rehabilitating after her brain surgery, which left her with a light scalp of hair and a sudden fear of men. Why the surprise phobia, you ask? Because the plot allowed Youta to take Hina in as a legal guardian of sorts... but only if Hina gives consent. This too left me hella baffled. If a patient is not in a mental state capable of making decisions, it's up to the guardian to exercise control over the situation (this extends to extremes such as euthanasia.) So if this boy who looks way too young for his age is arbitrarily given provisional guardian rights... what was the point in shoehorning in this conflict to begin with? Maeda could have easily just left those provisional rights out of the question and the scene would be nearly unchanged.- Ep 9 had easily the WORST hacking sequence of all time. Fish? Really?- BEST GIRL: Hmm, as I mentioned earlier, none of the characters stood out to me. Now, let me have a look at the candidates… wait, you're telling me Sora's a film buff? MAD. Gee, now I feel terrible for dissing her in the main review, but I thought it was a funny bit. Anyways, hats off to her! ***And that's all I have to say about Maeda's latest work. Apologies if I seemed a little too hard on the guy, his reputation really precedes him for all the right and wrong reasons. Although given how entertaining some of this show was, I may finally be inclined to give his older works a second try. If you happen to like my verbose rants, feel free to check out my other reviews for seasons past and present, peace~
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