Kamisama Kiss 2
by Amy McNulty,
Is Akura-oh so evil that he'll sacrifice anything to achieve his goal of getting his original body back—or has inhabiting Kirihito made the demon more human? The first segment of this week's episode has the answer. Back after a three-week absence, Kirihito ventures into the Netherworld through a stone mirror in his home. Yatori, fresh from his exploits on Mount Kurama, tags along to reveal a little more of his strength and connection to Akura-oh. They get closer than Kirihito ever has to reaching Akura-oh's body, only to be forced to retreat. Once they return, Kirihito faces a tough choice: destroy his best chance of getting back to the Netherworld, or doom his human family to certain death.
Although Kirihito/Akura-oh hasn't been as prominently featured this season as I expected, the series has done a good job of establishing the conflict he feels inside a human boy's body. The aforementioned choice may have been inevitable, but the episode is moving in its portrayal of the sacrifice the villain makes when executing this decision. He doesn't show love like a human would—in fact, he's rather cold to his human mother—but exiting the segment on that shot of the shattered mirror in the dark room is powerful. Unfortunately, it may be the last we see of Akura-oh in anime form.
Most likely in the hopes of a third season, all chance of resolution to the Akura-oh storyline has been thrown out the window with the penultimate episode's second segment, which is to be continued in the final episode. This story involves Nanami, Tomoe, and Mizuki paying a visit to the Year God's shrine and encountering a hiccup when Nanami gets stuck in a required ritual flashback through the past twelve years of her life. That means Mizuki and Tomoe find Nanami in preschool form and get to witness what her life was like before becoming a Land God. Changing a character into a child isn't the most original trope, but it works here. Kamisama Kiss has always been infused with comedy, and the fact that Nanami's dad abandoned her and left her homeless has mostly been played for laughs. Here, we get to see the more painful aspect of that reality, including Nanami's final days with her terminally ill mother. The story is solemn without being overly dark and makes a good addition to the Kamisama Kiss anime.
Choosing between an anime-original ending and leaving the ending open in case the series is renewed is a tough one, and neither option will satisfy every fan. The first season skirted the issue by giving the Nanami-Tomoe relationship an ambiguous but clearly romantic resolution. However, that backfired when the show came back for a second season, forcing the characters to take a step back in their relationship. Perhaps leaving Akura-oh's story hanging is the better choice. However, since the Akura-oh storyline isn't likely to be resolved in anime form, the Nanami flashback story is a strange choice to end the series on. Next week's episode will have to prove me wrong.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.
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