The Spring 2014 Anime Preview Guide
Kamigami no Asobi

Apr 5th 2014

Carl Kimlinger

Rating: 2.5

Review: I would pop out to check if Kamigami was indeed based on an otome game, but that seems unnecessary. We have ourselves here a show about a single ordinary girl, spirited away to the realm of the gods, where Zeus plans to use her to teach love and humanity to a group of beautiful man-gods with ridiculously well-delineated lady-otaku-baiting personalities. What could it be but an otome game?

As a man watching a reverse-harem show aimed at female otaku, this is my question: is how I feel in this situation analogous to how female viewers feel when watching straight-up harem shows? Because if it is, I don't feel so bad about all those poor women watching dumb jiggle-fests. Because this show is freaking hilarious. The opening, in which all of the gathered man-gods battle it out in the sky (one assumes for plucky heroine Yui's affections), is so incredibly stupid that it's quite brilliant. When Apollo does his magical-girl transformation, in which his shirt explodes off of his gleaming abs and his pants dissolve off of his perfectly-formed buttocks, I flopped right out of my chair.

It doesn't really get any better than that, but the laughs don't stop. Every time Yui, who ends up in the heavens after touching a magical sword (oh yes, Freud would be proud), meets a new god, the show pauses while a field of flowers—a different one for each guy—sprouts up behind him. By the third time you're cheering the flowers on. A god shows up, you wait for it… and pow! Flower garden. It never gets old. It helps that Yui isn't a born victim (less icky that way), though she does need to bone up on her fantasy: one should never open a glowing box or follow a white rabbit. Watch it with a mean-spirited friend. You'll have a blast.

Kamigami no Asobi is available streaming at Crunchyroll.


Rebecca Silverman

Rating: 1.5 (out of 5)

Review:

I laughed through this entire episode. So much so that several of my cats came to stare at me in concern. It's good to laugh. The only problem? This isn't a comedy.

Kamigami no Asobi is the latest entry into the reverse harem genre. Our heroine this time is everygirl Yui, a high school student living with her brothers and parents at the family temple. She's sweet, she's helpful, she's good with a sword, and she has no plans for the future or her love life. That apparently makes her perfect for Zeus' plans. You see, Zeus feels that the gods – all of them – need a little lesson in loving humans. To make that happen, he's chosen two gods from the Norse, Greek, and Japanese pantheons along with one human girl and transported them all to his magical school/fantasy kingdom, where they will learn alongside each other.

It's a silly premise, yes. But what makes it so funny is the way that it is executed. Before we've hit the 1:30 mark, a gorgeous blond man has been stripped, each burst button sparking, and with most of the transformation focused on his abs and barely concealed crotch. Each time Yui meets a new bishounen, he pauses so that flowers can slowly bloom behind him (that's Loki in the screencap, by the way), and the boys are firmly divided into pairs containing one friendly guy and one prickly guy. There's also a magic phallic symbol, er, sword, that brought Yui to the school in the first place, and two different gods, Apollon and Baldr, nearly kiss her before the beefcake-filled ending theme. If it's eye candy you want, look no further, but if you'd like that to come with plot, you may be out of luck.

There are some good details, luckily. Baldr is clearly loved by everyone as per the myths, Apollon is appropriately handsy for a Greek god, and the golden apple from the Troy legend is used in the ending theme, although with only one female in the story, there's no mystery who gets it. The art is beautiful, and every guy looks distinct. Hair is a bit too shiny and some animation is stiff, but overall the show looks good. Sadly it's all style and little sense.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a good belly laugh, Kamigami no Asobi's got you covered.

Kamigami no Asobi is available streaming at Crunchyroll.


Hope Chapman

Rating:
2

Review:
What's duller than a reverse harem anime based on a bottom-shelf otome game? Kamigami no Asobi (Play of Gods) is eager to give us the answer: a reverse harem anime that feels like watching someone play a bottom-shelf otome game.

Yui is an average high school wallflower who spends her days working at her family's Shinto shrine when she's not busy studying. But all that changes when she runs across a mysterious glowing sword in an old storeroom that transports her to a mysterious dimension with flying horses, mystical flora, and an enormous academy at its center! One by one, she encounters a series of gorgeous men with bizarre personalities, and just when she's had enough of being wooed by these mysterious kidnappers, she runs into the real culprit who has summoned everyone to his cloud-top conservatory. It's the King of Gods Zeus, who is concerned about the distance humanity and the divine have grown from one another. Yui is both a regular human girl and a soul with an unusually high connection to the heavenly plain, so she will be a student teacher of sorts for the young men surrounding her, who are really incarnations of troublesome gods from around the world. There's Baldur and Loki from the Norse realms, Tsukiyomi and Susanoo from Japan, and Hades and obvious main love interest Apollo from Greece. (Soon to be joined by Anubis and Thoth from Egypt, apparently.) Yui must re-educate them in loving compassion for humanity, through "private lessons" no doubt, before she can return to her family.

That plot summary is really all there is to say about a tale of pubescent titillation this derivative and dry. Sadly, it's not the first lazy adaptation to play out like this; Brothers Conflict and Amnesia come to mind, and Kamigami no Asobi probably won't be the last to try and cash in on the fujoshi market with no effort. The heroine has some semblance of a personality, and moments of character and humor shine through in places, mostly in the bombastic opening scene that shows us that the story will eventually end in fireworks, so it's not as dreadful as BroCon, Amnesia, or many worse cousins. Still, there's nothing to really recommend here either, unless you're fresh out of otome shows and desperate for a new pretty-men fix. The game it was based on was reportedly a low-effort hack job with loads of traced-over art assets, so that poor pedigree combined with fairly boring execution just isn't a good sign.

Kamigami no Asobi
is available streaming at Crunchyroll.com.


Theron Martin

Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Review:
Yui Kusanagi, a third-year student-to-be, has always been close to the gods since her father is the head priest of a shrine, but since she has older brothers to inherit the shrine-running duties she has no clear future plan beyond continuing to practice with the sword, as she has done since she was little. (She finds it fun rather than an obligation, however.) When a special sword stored in the shrine's warehouse flares up and seems to be calling her name, she finds herself transported to a different world, with the sword turning into an emblem on a necklace. As she wanders around what turns out to be a fancy school, she encounters several dashingly handsome young men, most of whom are standoffish to some degree. Eventually she encounters the person who called her here: the god Zeus. He is concerned that the connection between the gods and humanity has been fading over the years, so he has chosen a pair of gods each from Norse, Greek, and Japanese mythology who seem to have the most trouble with that connection and summoned them here to be educated about humans. Yui's role is to educate them about humanity through interacting with them as a fellow student, a task she finds overwhelming.

Goddesses being part of harems are hardly that unusual, so why not a reverse harem series where all of the guys are gods? Beyond that premise, though, this is a very typical set-up episode as reverse harem series go. All of the guys are maxed-out bishonen with a standard assortment of hair colors and basic personalities, although the somewhat amusing aspect here is how those personalities are matched up with particular gods; Loki is naturally the playful jokester, for instance, and Hades is the sullen one. Their initial interactions with Yui are also very typical, although the “clumsy one” shtick so commonly seen in female moe characters seems weird when applied to here to a male character. And the whole “summoned to a special school” approach is really nothing more than a gimmick to isolate the heroine and her guys from outside distractions. The prologue suggests that things will eventually come to blows on an almost apocalyptic scale, but for now it looks like several episodes of Yui being charmed by the guys is in order.  Yui is shown being capable with a sword, but will the series allow her to do anything with that or not, even if it's something as simple as enabling her to show more fortitude than the typical reverse harem lead? And the reference to her hands being soft, when she regularly trains with a sword, is a curious inconsistency.

The one thing that makes the series stand out is that the production values, courtesy of Brains Base, are uncommonly high. Character designs – even Yui's – are beautifully-rendered, and background art is a grade above normal as well. Even the animation is pretty good for a series like this, and the closer offers some distinct fan service shots for the ladies. There's even a very magical girl-like transformation scene. Overall, this is one of the best-looking reverse harem series to date. Still, Kamigami no Asobi will have to show more than that in upcoming episodes to retain viewers beyond the normal crowd of reverse harem fans.

Kamigami no Asobi is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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