Kamichu Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • 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.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kamichu

Kamichu Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 22, 2006
Release Date: December 19, 2006

Kamichu Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
God in the springtime.When you're a god, every holiday just gets busier and busier. Unfortunately, Yurie celebrates New Year's Day the lazy way by staying home. Then we see how the Raifuku Shrine must combat the Christmas consumer frenzy, and before they know it Valentines Day, the single most stressful day of the year for every student in love, hits them full force. Will Yurie finally be able to confess her feelings to her true love?

The Review!
Kamichu comes to a close with a relative whisper but also with a very good emotional bang.

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.

The cherry blossoms are falling for this seasonal cover as it has a shot of the three girls in their school uniforms atop a rock overlooking the beautiful landscape. With the bright smiles, light colors and very relaxing looking, it's a great way to end the series. 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. The insert has a good illustration of the trio alongside one of the waterways while trying to keep warm and opens up to a two panel piece with the final two overviews of the series. The back panel has a cute winter illustration of the four girls along with the release dates for all the volumes checked off. The included pencilboard for this volume is fantastic; one side has a good illustration of Mitsue painting some rocks but the other one is where it really wins out. Done to the cherry blossom tree blooming, the various characters from the show are sitting underneath it with a very light illustration style that just has them looking even richer than general. It's a beautiful piece and much like a lot of the artwork from this series it's something you want to have on your wall.

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.

The last volume essentially concludes with the way the others did in just having the single but very solid extra. 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)
Kamichu as a whole has been a very mellow and relaxed series, even when you have Yurie getting all anxious about certain things. This relaxed atmosphere, which compares very favorably in my mind to good chunks of many Studio Ghibli movies, is just as strong in these final four episodes. When airing in Japan, it ended with the fifteenth episode so that people went out on a sense of finality and a high note. When the DVD release came out, a sixteenth episode was added to it that served as an epilogue but is just as well done as the rest.

Continuing to follow Yurie throughout her school year, the episodes tend to focus on the holiday's that come along. As mentioned by the Kurata in the overviews, the show isn't specifically about Yurie the god, but Yurie the school student who just happens to be a god as well. The balance they struck has worked for the most part, with some episodes providing a bit more in the wondrous department. Christmas comes first in this volume and that has some very amusing things going on with it, generally sparked by Matsuri as always seems to be the case. With her taking care of the shrine these days since her father is now basically a farmer, Christmas is her enemy since it keeps people away from the traditional shrines and events. So she takes this to task by having a celebration on the same day for Yurie called Yurie's Thanksgiving. This doesn't go over well with some, and Yurie's really uncomfortable with it, but it delves nicely into the small moments of gift giving while still giving a nod to the way religion and holiday's are changing all the time.

Naturally, they follow this up with the new year holiday but this is fairly minimal as well and tends to focus more on the characters just going through their lives. Yurie's brother gets a bit more obvious about his interesting a particular shrine maiden while Yurie just wants to be left alone for awhile so she can decompress from everything. At the same time, she's still internally stressing about her interesting in Kenji who is now absent from her life during this break. This relationship-to-be does start to move forward though when Valentines Day is around the corner and the events leading to it are some of the best. By this point in time, Yurie has made such an impact on the lives of all the students in the school in some small way, they've all gotten to know her a bit more. So when Matsuri puts a plan in motion to have Yurie confess to Kenji when she gives him chocolate, all the girls help out. It proves once more just how calculating and cute they all can be.

Watching the slow evolution of this relationship has been the other very enjoyable part to this show since the two people are just so... unusual in their own ways. When Kenji tells Yurie that she's strange and he likes that because he's so normal, it has just the right kind of worldview that Kenji would have about others but not realize that he himself is just as strange. When the two of them finally reach the point in their relationship that they have to actually talk about their feelings, it has a kind of honesty to it that you don't find in a lot of shows. I hate to keep making the comparisons to Ghibli movies, but it has the sort of innocence to it that just makes you smile and really care about the characters.

The little moments of the series are what continue to make it even more of a special show. The little spirits we see or the other gods that populate the world just outside of a normal persons view are scattered throughout these episodes once again. Some of them are a bit more obvious, such as the one that rides the dog and causes all sorts of trouble, but it's the smaller ones that just have me grinning from ear to ear. How can you not love the little tofu block thing or the fish that's always rolling around an empty can? Through these kinds of characters they're able to bring in a bit more humor for the viewer that doesn't impact most of the cast. Well, other than having Yurie sometimes look strangely at the things that they all do.

In Summary:
Kamichu is quite a special series both in how it tells its story as well as the visuals. The show had a misstep or two early on, notably the awful alien episode, but it recovered well from that and managed to keep most of the magic those early episodes had. The show could have gone any number of ways but rather than delving into the fantastic or having some sort of cataclysmic ending, it keeps it all just to the characters and lets their inner nature shine through. Each volume of this show has had me smiling from ear to ear when it plays as it has drawn me in completely. This is a real gem in Geneon's crown of titles and one that really needs to be seen far and wide. Completely accessible to an audience young and old, it has some of the best magic that a show like this can have. Very highly recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Staff Articles and Actor Comments,Production Gallery

Review Equipment
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.


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