Being a Brief Discussion of Anime Dubs: Kamichu, Volume Two (Mania.com)
Date: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Hello, and welcome back for a look at the second volume of Kamichu. This show had an extremely strong start. It offered fans feel-good stories with a mix of comedy, innocence, drama, and wonder. Add to that a family atmosphere and a strong dub, courtesy of New Generation Pictures, and fans had access to a show suitable for almost anybody. This second volume doesn't quite live up to the promise shown by the first. It's a good disc of anime, but the stories in this volume are closer in line with other shows in past release. It's still an excellent way to pass an afternoon and one of the better shows in current release, but viewers expecting the same brilliance shown in the early parts of the series may be disappointed.
Megan Harvey continues to do very good work as Yurie. Her small reactions sound just as good as the first volume. They are the highlight of the performance. This volume doesn't contain as much dramatic work as the first volume, but Ms. Harvey has sufficient presence to make those few scenes work well.
Erika Weinstein's performance as Mitsue similarly sounds fairly strong. She's a good match for the most responsible of the girls. Unfortunately, these episodes don't feature as much material with her character acting as a medium. The few scenes that do take place all sound good.
Lulu Chiang does fair work in the role of Matsuri. The character doesn't have quite as much energy and vigor compared to the first volume, but that stays in line with the character's material for the most part. These episodes keep Matsuri more sedate than before. Ms. Chiang sounds like she hasn't quite shifted gears into that slower mode. She has a tendency to over-enunciate through slow lines, and often she sounds like she's ready to rip loose with faster dialog, but overall its a minor problem.
The second volume's dub is good taken on the whole, but it doesn't have the same highly polished feel that the first volume did. The cast has some minor timing and chemistry issues. A few scenes sound disjoint because a character speaks too soon even though the individual lines would sound fine by themselves. The dub's synch has improved somewhat since the first volume. It's not exemplary, but the problem is much less noticeable than in earlier episodes. The supporting cast generally does good work. Karen Thompson and Talis Axelrod do some of the best work in the supporting cast as Yurie's parents. Both performances match the characters well, and the pair display good chemistry. Carrie Savage and Dameon Clarke do good work as cats named Tama and Tyler, respectively. There's one weak supporting performance in the second episode on the disc. Yuri Lowenthal's performance as a dog is the weakest in the series so far. The performance is clearly a person attempting to imitate a dog and lacks any believability. His work as the god Yashima sounds much better.
There's a saying that performances are limited by the strength of the material. It's debatable to what extent that's true, but if it is true then perhaps it should come as no surprise that the dub would sound proficient but uninspired. The second volume has a different narrative feel. At this point Yurie is quite comfortable with her status as a deity. She has good control over her powers and can use them at will for the biggest and smallest tasks. But even for all this the stakes in the series drop to an all-time low. These episodes deal with stories much more closely associated with slice-of-life fiction than the last disc. There are no problems in dire need of solving per se. These episodes focus on simpler themes such as nostalgia and loneliness. The stories are still endearing and entertaining, but the series has lost part of what made it so compelling in the first volume.
Kamichu's first volume achieved a blend of fantastic drama and prosaic life. These episodes don't utilize the show's fantastic elements to nearly the same extent that the first volume did, and the experience feels much more similar to other shows right down to the mid-series lull. These stories feel unfulfilling because they don't need Yurie to be a god in order to work, and it feels like something is missing because we haven't seen any episodes where Yurie becomes accustomed to her powers. She goes from barely understanding them and haphazardly causing accidents to fair, if imperfect, proficiency in the story's off-camera moments. Perhaps it's unfair to judge a series on what it fails to achieve, but this volume feels unfulfilling because it doesn't measure up to the standard set by the first volume. It's still a good disc of anime, but this set of episodes doesn't have anything exceptional to commend it. It's fun, entertaining, poignant when it wants to be and quick when it needs to pick up, but it's good where it should have been great.
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Copyright 2006 by Way Jeng