These two series are a textbook example of extremely different approaches to storytelling.
Kamisama Hajimemashita – 11
Kamisama Kiss continues to be a marvel of consistency, providing solid entertainment every week while maintaining a near-perfect balance between humor and emotional depth. It’s easy to see that this is the work of a master director.
Another big component of why this series is so successful is the way it’s nurtured and developed its outstanding supporting cast, but even given that it was still a surprise to see an entire chapter devoted to Mizuki so close to the end. It was well-worth it – he and Kurama are first among equals when it comes to the side characters, and Mizuki makes for a fascinating contrast with Tomoe. Of course his love for Nanami is always going to be unrequited, but he has a naïve curiosity about humans that Tomoe – far more experienced and once burned, twice shy – lacks. His trip to the city (we sure see a lot of Shibuya in anime lately – or is just me noticing it more because I commute there every day?) is a classic fish-out-of-water tale, but it has some very funny moments with a country girl trying to break into show biz and Kurama – as he so often seems to do – stepping up to the rescue when there’s someone in trouble.
The second half of the episode brings the story back to Tomoe and Nanami with a charming amusement park chapter. Of course I thought the same thing she did when she found the hair pin in his room, but the really interesting thing is that his ignorance when Nanami mentioned Yuuki’s name seems quite genuine. With his memories of her apparently purged and Nanami quite possibly being her reincarnation, that’s a situation rife with potential I fear we’re never going to see in anime form. They’re an interesting pair, these two – not exactly what you’d call a romantic couple, but there’s something between them that’s more substantial than most anime couples can offer.
Sakurasou no Pet no Kanoujou – 11
If you’re going to try and keep as many plates spinning as Sakurasou does, you better be damn good at it. While the series is in fact pretty good at being different things at different times, we have had a few missteps – but that lends an interesting air of unpredictability to things as well. While it seems pretty obvious how the first cour is going to wrap up, I can honestly say I have no clear idea of what the second is going to focus on.
I confess my biggest fear going into this week was that Rita torturing Ryuunosuke was going to be a major comedic theme – it’s not the sort of humor this show tends to fare well with – but thankfully that was all pretty low-key and in the background. In fact, it was Nanami that made him wear the maid outfit, not Maria, and the focus of the episode was mainly on the mad dash to get Nyaboron finished in time. It was life a SHAFT production come to life.
Considering Sakurasou had what felt like a finale in the 4th episode (still the creative peak of the series, I’d argue) it’s no surprise that its pacing is a little unusual. What’s refreshing is that things between Sorata and Mashiro seem to be clarifying themselves with some expediency. He seems to have accepted his feelings for her, and there’s never really been any doubt of hers for him. There are complications of course – there’s Nanami, though I see no chance she wins the day – and then there’s Rita. In addition to harassing Ryuunosuke she’s still scheming to get Mashiro back to the UK – and proactively too, as she seems to have worked out a deal with her Dad to ship her home on the last day of the school festival. She also implies that Mashiro “has someone waiting for her” – but I don’t think that means what Sorata thinks it does.
As much as any show this season, this one could go either way – we’ve seen ample evidence of what it’s capable of, in ways both bad and good. And there’s a lot of plot out there to sift through – we can add Misaki’s big sister Fuuka (Hayami Saori) to the mix, and she’s Jun’s ex-girlfriend to boot. There’s also the recurring game designer Fujisawa Kazuki (the excellent Asanuma Shintaro) who seems to turn up every time Sorata’s motivation needs a kick in the backside (or the nuts, as was the case earlier). Can the series handle so many threads for so many characters? At this point, the best I can say based on the evidence of the first cour is “maybe”, but it should be interesting finding out.