I’ve done a pretty piss-poor job of being actively writing these first impressions on time, I’ve noticed. I don’t know what gave it away, aside from the fact that I’ve only written about Shinsekai Yori so far, but I thought it was time to rectify these evil ways by talking about two things that Scamp loves best: Shoujo anime, and Hidamari Sketch. Plus, I’d like to think that mirroring the amount of time it took to hardsub the first, pixilated mess of an entry is retaining the spirit of things. So here we go, actual first impressions that nobody else on the site has done yet!
What do you get when you take Ah! My Goddess, replace the vague allusions to Norse mythology with a not-so-vague Shinto element, and throw in the tragic backstory of a teenage girl evicted from her apartment due to a mix of parental abandonment and a lack of monetary funds? You get a comedy in the form of Kamisama Kiss, which is hardly the first thing I would have thought of when piecing these elements together, but I’ll take whatever succor I can in the arid, unforgiving wasteland of anime with flimsy premises. And to be fair, of all the flimsy premises out there, this is one of the few that I can see holding water, so long as the characters get a fair amount of development to balance out the overwhelmingly schadenfreude-tastic humor.
Even taking the above passing comparison into account, the show I’d compare it to the most is Inu x Boku, which somewhat similarly involved a reclusive teenage girl residing with several eccentric supernatural beings. Unlike Inu x Boku though, which hinted at an undercurrent of tragedy early on, Kamisama Kiss outright promises that it’s a comedy, in spite of, or perhaps because of its hilariously bleak premise.
The crux of this comedic success is the fact that the lead suffers a fair amount of special treatment, though less in the way of everybody treating her like she’s made of glass that could break any moment that anybody levels any sort of criticism against her. Throughout the first episode, she’s beaten, bruised, almost eaten, and otherwise treated with contempt or apathy by nearly everyone around her, mostly due to her newfound, involuntary status as an earth deity. It’s not that she deserves this treatment; hell, from what’s been shown, she’s nothing but an upstanding member of society with just a few demons in her past to conquer, which makes the scenario all the funnier.
In contrast, the bishounen opposite her isn’t a cold tough guy with a heart of gold often seen in shoujo; he’s crass, fickle, and none too happy about working again under new management… and then he pulls the “cold tough guy with a heart of gold” thing. Oh well, guess I can’t have it all. Not much chemistry has happened between them thus far, but with this being the first episode it’d be kind of disappointing if it did and that’s all it built up to. Still, I couldn’t have asked for a better start from something that I thought would’ve left me cold and apathetic, even if apparently it’s made of super brittle paper and nobody’s daring to pick it up to translate.
Hidamari Sketch Honeycomb
Speaking of cold apathy, here’s Scamp’s favorite show of the season! What’s there to say about Hidamari Sketch that hasn’t been said so many times before? It’s one of my favorite shows, one of those anomalies that are more entertaining for the fact that they’re almost dull. While it never approaches Sketchbook levels of blissful boredom, in part helped by the signature quirky presentation, it’s still one of the most relaxing watches out there that somehow never ceases to entertain in one way or another. When it doesn’t have the characters do the regular “cute girls talk about cute things” shtick, it peppers the viewer with some wonderful visual gags courtesy of SHAFT. It may have been a smart way of having style over substance before in order to cut expenses, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t still smartly done.
Aside from a coat of gloss and a honeycomb pattern of character portraits replacing the countdown flowers present in the past few seasons, Honeycomb is almost exactly the same: Same wide-faced cuteness, same quirky visual gags, same criminal underuse of Aoki Ume’s voice. And yet, it doesn’t feel the same. It’s like having a stranger in my house that claims to be a long lost uncle, and even though I can vaguely piece together who they were based off of hazy childhood memories, it just doesn’t feel like I know him as well as my other three uncles. But then it turns out these four uncles are the same person who likes getting minor face alterations every few years to fuck with me. Hidamari Sketch is this uncle, and Honeycomb is him after a slightly ill-fitting nose-job; pretty much the same as before, but somehow not quite as warm and familiar.
However, I don’t think anybody who’s slogged it through the past few entries will particularly mind whatever flaws the show has at this point, and nothing I say can convince them otherwise. For those who haven’t seen it yet and have read this far into my post for whatever reason, I hope I convinced you to at least give it a whirl. I mean really, what’s the worst that can happen?