Kamichu Is Really Good

Working on my “short” list of things to watch when I have the time, as recommended by others and reaffirmed by my own investigation and feelings, I’m nearly done with this ZOMG HOW CAN IT BE show. Yea, Kamichu, the high-production-value slice-of-life series from 2 summers ago.

If you read reviews like how this guy writes it, then this sort of show will probably get labeled as some kind of “little gem,” “nice find” or something flattering but not really deserving your full attention. And case in point; he hasn’t even “found out” about this show yet.

And it bothers me–not that he hasn’t, but so few people did generally. And it isn’t really off to say that Kamichu is a “little gem” or what have you. To translate it into specific, non-layman,  critic-language, the overall enjoyment value (as Star Crossed seems to do reviews around that perspective) of Kamichu is actually relatively low for the mainstream viewer. It is by no means a page turner; it is very much a show aimed at an older crowd who knows a thing or two about politics, history, and their heritage (as Japanese…and maybe other cultures too). The fact that it’s about a bunch of 8th graders in Hiroshima back in the 1980s isn’t going to hit home for most people.

But to call it a gem is injustice. It’s not even a “diamond in the rough” but just plain-o diamond. It is episodic–so automatically that’ll turn away probably half of the western anime fans who feed on serial discourse and plot-driven stories. It’s masterful. It’s cute. It’s just oozing with goodness (albeit also often mixed with some sort of awkward pitch at…some kind of nasty subcultural segment–lolicons, sisucons, even hardcore Japanese right-wingers?). It wins awards.

Strangely enough I remained unconvinced of all the things I just said, in a way, at least until last week. Well, if you asked me back in 2006 if Kamichu was any good, I wouldn’t hesitant to say yes. But it wasn’t compelling for me; I had seen just the first half of the series at the time and while I can recognize that Kamichu is that rare little gem, it isn’t anything that special to me. Heck, it’s a 2005 series that I had seen only half of by 2007. I didn’t feel the magic.

But after watching the episode about Miko and Shoukichi I was floored. If Asatte no Houko episode 8 did anything for you, then you’ll see that this episode of Kamichu is a reprise (well, Kamichu came first), but with sugar on top. They managed to express as much in your usual 22 minutes of late-night TV as a typical arthouse OAV could.

And perhaps “arthouse” is the right qualifier for Kamichu. It hasn’t transcended below the ceiling of common, everyday sensibilities in the way how Azumanga Daioh (or better yet, Yotsuba&) was able to translate its strange worldview in a way we all understand. It paints a picture of adolescence that is wrapped and coated by its slice-of-life tension (ie. not much) and all that ZOMG-She-Is-God nonsense that is a little bit “out there” to say the least. But for those of us who can see beyond that, Kamichu is a masterful reprise of a childhood to remember and the fun people had growing up. It’s just too bad most people are hung up with the details, like myself, to go far enough and see Kamichu for what it is. But hey, I eventually got past it. Thanks a lot to those people who did see it and push it like the mad good anime that it is!

It easily is one of the best anime anyone can buy right now in the US I think. If you call yourself a slice-of-life fan, well, add this to your “very short list” already!


12 Responses to “Kamichu Is Really Good”

  • ojisan

    Kamichu is really God. Jeff’s review on Hop Step Jump set me onto it a few months ago – it reminds ma a bit of ‘Whisper of the Heart’, in that the neighbourhood is practically the main character. Just to be cranky on details, the setting is Onomichi, a bit east & north of Hiroshima. I’ve got to go there someday, & see me some convenience-store kami waving their tentacles at passersby…

  • waffo

    Hmm, I never thought of how similar Yomi and Mitsue are. Anyways, Kamichu is definitely one of my most favorite shows. I just love the atmosphere. ^^

  • maglor

    My son is watching Kamichu dvd right now.

  • omo

    ojisan: “Kamichu is really God.”

    … LOL nice typo. I think Jeff need to pimp this show harder, though.

    TBH I didn’t really see the connection between Kamichu and Azudai until I started writing this thing. Then I thought about it.

  • Link

    Now you understand why I’ve been pushing Kamichu for the past 1.5 years. It became an instant favorite of mine and will continue to be. It will only get better when I rewatch it sometime in the near future.

  • Link

    Kamichu is also one of the reasons why I almost decided to start a blog, back when it was airing,. Obviously, I decided not to at the time. Maybe that was a mistake. Heh.

  • omo

    I’m not sure blogging is all that people crack it up to be. TBH it’s something that I’ve been doing for years, albeit not in this capacity, which is why I even started this one as a sort of experiment.

  • dm

    Slowpoke.

    Though I should talk, it’s taken me forever to get into Aria only just now (even with having had the manga for years).

    Kamichu is a ge— oops, not supposed to say that. Kamichu! restores my faith in the ROD team. It had a lot of originality and innocence packed into its episodic nature. I think it really took the DVD release for the series to come into its own — I think all the best episodes were DVD-only extras.

    It’s also a series that it is pretty easy to show to new-comers. The quirky Japanese-ness of a “middle-school goddess” puts people off-balance in a way that’s pretty conducive to overlooking the fact that it’s a cartoon.

  • Link

    I think you can’t deny the fact that a popular anime blog influences the viewing habits of quite a few. :)

  • omo

    dm: Yeah, the first half of Kamichu was good but nothing of it was really pushing my buttons. Not until the second half, anyways. Maybe the beach episode with Yurie’s parents came close…

  • TheBigN

    Kamichu! is really good, but not great nor something that sticks really strongly in my memory… and I’m actually thinking of stating why it didn’t completely work for me in my blog soon~

    But I do recommend it for slice-o-life fans. :P

  • KamichuUltimateFan

    This anime is the greatest!!! Great setting in Onomichi, almost identical!!
    I will definitely visit this place in Japan!!
    Japan is the greatest country out there full of traditions and hidden things!!
    Kamichu! just served the purpose that I should visit Japan and I will!!!
    I love Japan more than my own country :D

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