Kamichu Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2006
What They Say
Being a god is a lot of hard work. Yurie must find the time to communicate with an old war-vessel, run for student office at school and locate Matsuri's missing little sister. Her hands already full, she is then requested to attend a god convention in order to learn more about her godly responsibilities. Yurie's got her work cut out for her if she wants to become a respectable god, but will she be OK out on her own, far away from her friends?
Settling into a bit more of a routine, Kamichu lets us explore more sides of Yurie's life and her job as a god.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a rather good stereo mix that makes use of the various vocal and incidental across the forward soundstage that gives things a good bit of life. The show is primarily a dialogue piece but there is a lot of little moments that sneak in with the way the stories are woven to bring interesting sounds to it. The track overall is pretty good though and we didn't have any problems with either language track with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the show primarily taking place in the real world, it has a lot of the standard colors we're used to seeing in small town and school settings. But there is just such a richness and depth to a lot of the colors that when some of the very fluid animation kicks in, it simply looks gorgeous. The show is fairly slow in how it plays out which allows for it to really shine when things pick up. The transfer for this release just looks gorgeous with beautiful colors, great solid looking areas and a lack of problems such as cross coloration or aliasing. The opening sequence is also kept in its original Japanese and soft subtitled due to the creative nature of its design.
With the fall season episodes on this volume, having the front cover use the shot of the three girls in that seasons uniform while cleaning up the shrine looks really great. It's rich in the earth tones while the flesh tones and the uniforms bridge all of that. Like a lot of the artwork for this series, it feels relaxing and just looks solid. The back cover features more of the background setting but is covered up with the usual features such as listing the episode numbers and titles, a few shots from the show, the summary and what to expect on the disc. It's all nicely laid out and the text is done in a cute font that's still readable which is a plus. This area gives us a bit better of an idea of what the show is like as it shows off the quirky nature of it. Due to this being a review copy, no reverse side artwork is available here.
The menu layout is nicely done as it has a similar feel to the front cover with images of the characters and their setting running through it while framed by shrine related items and materials. The relaxed feeling from the menu works well to again accent the kind of show that is on the disc while managing to keep to some good basics by being quick to access and very easy to navigate. The disc didn't read our players' language presets correctly though and defaulted to English with screen text subtitles.
Continuing from the first two volumes, the extras for this seem weak at first but once you get into it, it's a great piece to have. The production art gallery covers the materials used to make up this volumes packaging and details their origins which is a real plus and then it goes into various other illustrations and character artwork but with additional comments by the staff about what they are.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moving into the second half of the series, Kamichu! doesn't really hit much in the way of new ground here but it continues to expand on the mythos that the show is setting for itself. We've seen some of the big events in Yurie's life so far as a god but the repercussions of all of it are still making their way known.
One of the things that appeals greatly to me about shows like this is the bit of simple cultural themes and the way a different historical context can bring about more understanding. Kamichu! plays well in the cultural side of things but it also hits up the historical a bit, particularly in the first episode on this volume. With the butterfly effect that Yurie caused back in the first volume with the storm that she created, it's caused a bit of a stir among many of the spiritual in her "district." Our in the sea, the spirit of a small sunken fisherman's boat has spent the last four months journeying to Yurie's place to tell her about the Yamato, the famous battleship from World War II that was sunk there. In the fifty plus years since it ended up there, it's been a great leading spirit of sorts for those that have come since.
But since Yurie's ascendance to god status and her movements since then, the Yamato is eager to move on to its final resting place and get home. The previous god, something we hvaen't heard much about, found the situation that the Yamato in was amusing at the least and wouldn't help him move on. Yurie though is more inclined to help and begins an interesting method of learning more about the ship and its dimensions and build in order to help it. We get some small but charming tales from the past with an elderly man who once served on her as well as seeing how the ships in the area have come to love and respect the Yamato over all this time. It's a bit of a quaint tale and like most of the stories it has a happy ending. It's the way it touches back to things Yurie did early on that makes it all the more charming.
The school based side of the series is pretty strong again in this volume but they do mix things up a bit. An event that happens every year has come around again and it's time to vote for a student president. The event takes a bit of a different turn this time though as there's an active push to get Yurie to run for it, something her opponent is adamantly against since he was doing well in the job the previous year and usually runs unopposed. Most people seem to have a lack of interest in the position (something that's universal it seems) but they're able to get behind Yurie pretty easily since having a god in that position seems like it would be a really good idea. Yurie's not really keen on it but everyone makes a good argument about it. The competition between her and her opponent is nicely done and some the nods to school politics are amusing, especially in how Matsue seems to excel at the pressing of the flesh aspect.
A nice twist to things in this volume though is that Yurie gets to spend a month at another school when she's in that area for a gods convention. The change of schools for the duration is a lot of fun to watch since she and everyone else have to deal with who she is while trying to be as normal as possible. In her regular school, everyone knew her beforehand so there wasn't as much of a transition to go through since she just seemed to know a few more things but was otherwise the same. Here though, she's got the double whammy of being an unknown as well as being powerful. She goes through much the same at the gods convention though where she finds herself going through a number of courses in trying to utilize her powers better and the role she has. What's come up more and more in this volume though is that she's going to have to decide what kind of god she really wants to be in the future, something that looks to be really interesting to see how it gets resolved..
Sometimes the balance of the spiritual and the real world is uneven in the series but when it comes together right it's beautiful. When it doesn't come together right however, we're treated to a very fun and enjoyable show still. The secondary cast of characters and Yurie's friends are a big boon to balancing everything since they keep things very much real for her as she tries to figure out what she really wants to do. With great looking animation, a very enjoyable series of standalone episodes that are all connected and great performances in both languages, Kamichu! is a real treat and a treasure of a show that doesn't play by all the normal rules and clichés.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Staff Articles and Actor Comments,Production Gallery
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2