Kamisama Kiss continues with Nanami’s story as she settles more into her role as land god of Mikage Shrine. The previous season followed her as she was abandoned by her father and kicked out of her home to wander the streets looking for a place to stay. After saving a mysterious man from a dog, she was gifted with the powers and responsibilities of a god. Now Nanami has to toe the line between human and god as spirits, youkai, and other gods come to her with their troubles and wishes. In this season, with the help of her fox-youkai familiar Tomoe, Nanami travels to distant places to meet with gods, save a man from the netherworld, and help a community of Tengu. But will her growing feelings for Tomoe start to get in the way?
If you haven’t already read my review for season one, go here before continuing.
Where season one focused on the change becoming a god had on Nanami’s everyday life, season two delves deeper into her responsibilities and powers as the god of Mikage Shrine. The season is semi-divided into three main events: the Divine Assembly, her journey to the netherworld, and the Tengu mountain arc. There are a few other events here and there, but I think these three really make up the main focus. Through these arcs we get to see what I was wishing for last season, a deeper look at Nanami’s powers as a god and a bigger focus on magic and Japanese mythology. What we also get in addition is a harsher comparison between gods and humans and a look into the male-dominated Tengu society.
In terms of animation, I didn’t really notice much of a difference between this season and the last, though I will say there was some improvement in cinematography. That could also be because there were more moments that benefited from altered camera angles and color palettes. In the netherworld arc especially, we see a lot of this to bring a heavier and more sinister mood to the episodes. It not only provides a certain degree of impact for a scene, but it also creates this dividing line between the above-world and the netherworld. It’s also a nice change from the general bright and colorful palette that has been the norm as the show makes sure we remember this is supposed to be a shoujo romance. Additionally, I thought the opening improved at least a little bit. It’s still not up to par with a lot of other animes, but it doesn’t rely as heavily on stills and art that doesn’t really have anything to do with the plot. Instead, it employs walk cycles and dances to mix up the animation, which is okay I guess, but I wasn’t really thrilled. The theme for this season is “Kamisama no Kamisama” by the same artist Hanae, which turned out to be just as good of a song as last season.
This season of Kamisama Kiss turns its focus onto Nanami’s power as resident god of Mikage shrine. What got me really excited though was not only seeing her use her new powers but also the series’ use of Japanese mythology. In the beginning of the series, Otohiko comes to her with a test. If she can hatch an egg into a shikigami, then she will be allowed to attend the Divine Assembly with the rest of the gods. This test of hatching a shikigami from an egg has appeared before in another more popular though older anime, Yu Yu Hakusho. There, Yusuke had to hatch his egg in order to return to the living world, but wound up hatching it too soon to save his best friend Keiko. In Kamisama Kiss, it is much the same. The egg acts as a test, feeding off of Nanami’s energy in order to grow. It too hatches early, but more on accident than anything else, to reveal a monkey who aids her in casting protective magic. Additionally, many of the gods that appear throughout the series have their basis in the Shinto religion. Most notably is the story arc in the Netherworld where Nanami meets the goddess Izanami. This goddess is most known for being the mother of the Japanese islands and rest of the gods before she died and moved on to the underworld. Nanami’s journey is reminiscent of the journey Izanagi (Izanami’s husband) makes to get her back, journeying to the underworld where he sees her veiled in shadow. She is also warned to not eat any of the food there as she will become trapped in the underworld, a fate Izanami faced in the myth. Even the ending is similar where the gods block the entrance off with a giant bolder, trapping Nanami and Tomoe inside the Underworld. I would highly recommend reading some Japanese myths if any of this interested you.
Besides showing off some cool Shinto myths, season two brings us a more in-depth look at what I consider the biggest conflict or theme of the series: the difference between godliness and humanity. Nanami makes a comment at some point in the season along the lines of “they’re gods, they wouldn’t do that” as if the mere fact that they are gods means that their actions are always full of kindness and goodwill. In fact, it seems as if the gods of this series are prone to more human emotions than maybe Nanami even is herself. Many of them displayed selfishness, mistrust of those who are different, and almost general lack of caring for how their actions affected others. In contrast, Nanami displays a powerful sense of caring for others and tries her hardest to help those that come to her, even breaking long-held taboos to make sure they are happy. Her shikigami is even given the purpose of protection and purification, blazing a golden trail behind him as he sets down a barrier. Her kindness and fresh eyes is what drew Mikage to her in the first place, seeing her as someone who would bring new ideas into a stagnated environment. Going further than this, Nanami is the bridge between human and god as she has the power to look through both lenses and relate better to her human subjects. Where the gods of air and sea may not need to understand humans, as a god of the land, her primary responsibility is helping both humans and spirits living in her area of influence.
Moving to the Tengu arc, I think we see some of the best and fastest growth in the whole series. Kurama and Nanami are called to Mount Kurama to help the male-dominated Tengu community after their leader falls ill and a more militant Tengu is expected to take over. This Tengu is Jirou, who believes that only the strongest deserve to live on the mountain and that he deserves to rule because he is the strongest out of all of them. Many in the tribe had been banished before Kurama and Nanami got there because of their weakness, and many more were fearing that they would be next. But Jirou does have one weakness and that is women. The tribe is made up entirely of men who have never interacted with a woman before, so when Nanami shows up she is seen as a celestial nymph come to save their village as well as something that is forbidden. Through their interactions we see a harsh contrast between Nanami’s kindness and Jirou’s merciless nature, but I think this makes the romance even cuter as he loses concentration and becomes distracted with thinking about her. His hard façade slowly begins to crumble under her presence, and he slowly comes to realize just how much of an effect his actions were having on the rest of the Tengu. This was by far the fastest growth I have seen in the series, and I absolutely loved this particular arc. I think that’s probably because I have a soft spot for the tough guys though. Jirou practically does a complete 180 in terms of personality as he realizes his mistakes and discovers that ruling with fear won’t do any good and will only be a detriment to the tribe as a whole.
Kirito also gets a significant amount of attention in this season. You may remember him as the once famous youkai Akura-Ou who had to put his soul into a human body in order to escape the Underworld. So many similarities to Yu Yu Hakusho are popping up in this series probably because of its focus on youkai, but I still love pointing them out. We can easily compare the character of Kirito to the character of Kurama in YYH. Both inserted themselves into human bodies in order to keep living and both soon came to love their human mothers even when they had previously displayed a general hatred or apathy towards the human race. I wouldn’t say Kirito’s growth is as drastic as Kurama’s was, but he at least cares enough for his mother to break the portal to the Underworld that would have continued to make her sick even if he wouldn’t have another chance to try and retrieve his body again. His growth was pretty slow throughout the series, but I think it was still very significant considering that he’s supposed to be a semi-villain.
One thing I will say is that I wasn’t as impressed by the ending this time around. The ending to season one absolutely made the series and was a huge turning point in me actually giving the season a more positive review. This ending was good in that it provided us a much-needed look at Nanami’s past but it still didn’t hold the same impact that the last season did, and so I think it fell short of my expectations a little bit. Where season one’s ending was energizing and brought everything to a real climax, this season’s ending was more subdued with a sleepier feel. We get to see a lot of background for Nanami though, which is great, and it leads to some final characterization for Tomoe before the series ends off. The whole story is pretty sweet as Nanami is brought back to the past to relive her childhood and we see Tomoe trying to take care of her childhood self. We also get to see her formative years that really shaped her personality and her unique brand of stubborn optimism that is evident throughout the series. I definitely think this story was long overdue considering how much backstory we had already gotten on the other characters so far, but it lends itself to a nicely wrapped-up ending.
If you enjoyed the previous season of Kamisama Kiss, I really think you’ll enjoy this one. It takes a deeper look into Nanami’s powers as a god and delves more into the mythical side of the story. Where season one focused more on her everyday life including school and friendships, season two looks at her responsibilities as a god and the powers that are still growing. I do think some things improved, namely the cinematography and Nanami as a more independently powerful character. If you’re looking for some youkai romance in the future, I would highly recommend checking this series out if you haven’t already. There is also a four-episode OAD after this series and around 125 chapters of the manga that I’m sure goes beyond what the anime has to offer.
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