Kamisama Kiss 2–Anime Early Impressions

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I didn’t bother to write a review when the first season of Kamisama Kiss (Kami-sama Hajimemashita) ran in 2012. It wasn’t that I disliked the series. It was an innocuous and rather amusing shoujo fantasy romance. But it seemed so lightweight that I didn’t feel inspired to take the time to review it.
Tomoe and Nanami
The second season seems more compelling. Maybe it’s because it is up against weaker competition. But it may also be because the new season is less episodic and more plot-driven.

(The Japanese title Kami-sama Hajimemashita actually means something like “I became a god.” I’m guessing that the North American licensees didn’t think that would be marketable.)

Both seasons are available on Hulu but I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to watch the first season in order to enjoy the second. The brief summary below should be enough to get started.

Nanami Momozono was an ordinary teenaged girl who was left homeless after being abandoned by her irresponsible father. She was left sitting alone in a park with no idea where to go.
Man in tree
Then she saw a strange man being chased up a tree by a small dog. She chased the dog away.
The man, whose name was Mikage, was very grateful. He seemed nice enough if a bit odd. When he learned of her plight he told her that he had a place where she could stay, and drew her a map.
With no better idea of what to do she followed the directions, but when she got there she found only an old, run-down Shinto Shrine.
Onikiri and Kotetsu
To her astonishment two funny-looking spirits appeared and hailed her as the shrine’s new kami. It seems that Mikage was an irresponsible god who had abandoned his shrine, and his plan was for Nanami to take over his job as the local guardian deity.

Nanami found that she could hear the silent prayers of the few people who visited the shrine, but initially she had no idea of how to answer them. Obviously if this job was going to work out there was a lot that she needed to learn.
Onikiri and Kotetsu
Onikiri and Kotetsu are two little spirits associated with the shrine. They are friendly and try to be helpful, but they are silly and child-like and not very powerful.
A bigger problem was Tomoe, a handsome but unfriendly fox spirit who serves as the shrine’s shinshi (“divine messenger”). (The official release translates this as “familiar,” but it shouldn’t be confused with “tsukai” the term for a witch’s familiar.)

Tomoe was devastated by Mikage’s abandonment and at first he deeply resented the idea that Nanami could serve as a replacement. However she managed to convince him to serve her, and over time they gradually fell in love. In anime nobody ever questions the appropriateness of a relationship between a teenager and a character who is hundreds of years older. So…(shrug.)

Many of the stories in the first season involve Nanami meeting a hostile spirit who is eventually won over by her pure heart and naive enthusiasm. Many of these spirits have the form of good-looking young men. There’s a definite shoujo reverse-harem aspect to this series. I don’t find it too annoying since Nanami always makes it clear that she is only interested in Tomoe.
One of the most important of these characters of Mizuki, a snake spirit who once served a a now-abandoned shrine. Even though he started out by kidnapping her, Nanami ended up making him her shrines second shinshi. He and Tomoe constantly quarrel.
Shinjirou Kurama
Shinjirou Kurama is a rock star who is actually a crow tengu. He initially wanted to kill Nanami and steal her power, but eventually they became good friends.
Himemiko is a lake goddess who looks like a young girl. Nanami helped her establish a relationship with a teenaged human boy she had a crush on. (Yes, another age-inappropriate-by-centuries relationship.)
Otohiko is a sardonic effeminate wind god. Though he sometimes seems hostile he is actually a close friend of Mikage and probably supports his plan to make a worthy goddess out of Nanami.
By the second season Nanami has become significantly more powerful, though she’s still pretty naive. Mamoru is a shikigami that she created with Otohiko’s encouragement. He takes the form of a tiny monkey or a mischievous little boy.
Akura-ou and Tomoe
The second season delves more into Tomoe’s dark past. Before he was reformed by Mikage he was wild and lawless, consorting with a wicked youkai named Akura-Ou. They committed many evil acts, though it was Akura who committed most of the crimes.
Nanami meets a dour, unfriendly young man who calls himself Kirihito. But it turns out that he is actually Akura-oh, reborn.

So given her past record it seems likely that she will end up reforming Akura and making him an ally. It remains to be seen how she will accomplish this.