• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

This Week in Anime
“So Bad it's Good”? Why KamiKatsu Doesn't Cut Close to That

by Christopher Farris & Steve Jones,

KamiKatsu had a lot of potential as a manga-based isekai anime with a promising premise. But its bizarre, lackluster execution has only butchered the show to a point it can barely pass off as another “so-bad-it's-good” production. With only half a season left, how will the series hold up to its glaring issues that can be hard to look away from?

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @BeeDubsProwl @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Well, Steve, the bad news is that we have to talk about the uncontested lemon of this anime season. The good news is?
You know, it's appropriate that this is an anime dealing with gods and religion because, after catching up with KamiKatsu, I feel like I need some divine intervention.

Or an exorcism.
A lot of ink has already been spilled here on KamiKatsu's many infamous failings. Nick has been handling weekly reviews of the show, the ANNCast crew laid eyes on it, and you and Nick even covered the beginning of it back in the perennial isekai round-up column.

But since those auspicious beginnings, things in this series have certainly...gone to places.

And how! I've been writing for this column for a long time—longer than most medical professionals would recommend—and I've seen a lot of strange shows: incompetent productions, straight-up crap anime. So I want to stress that I kinda know what I'm talking about when I call KamiKatsu one of the most bizarre viewing experiences I've ever had for "This Week in Anime." It's hard to categorize, and it's even harder to know where to begin.
If we begin at KamiKatsu's genesis, it might not seem like a series destined to be such a trainwreck. It's a rare isekai anime based on a manga, rather than a light novel, and its concept contains some unique ideas with some potential twists that could have made for an interesting ride.

Unfortunately, when you take that sort of source and hand it off to a director who has barely directed anything, in a studio with hardly any credits, you get... well, pretty much exactly the level of quality control you would then expect.
Yeah, you really can't talk about it without addressing its execution. This holds true for any anime, but KamiKatsu takes its flagrant disregard for the basic tenets of proper filmmaking into an art form. It gets fundamental things wrong in a manner I can hardly recall witnessing before. For instance, consider this inconsequential example: there's a basic continuity error with the placement of a spoon between cuts.

This stuff happens all the time, but it rarely smacks dab in the middle of the frame.
There's a lot wrong with KamiKatsu in bigger, more obvious ways. We've all seen the screencaps of those misplaced GameCube-graphics monsters or that absurd photo-filtered tractor footage. However, it's the subtler, more basic stuff that can't be fully conveyed without actually watching the show. For example, the way scenes are edited with jarring, dissonant cuts and awkward, abrupt audio shifts.
There are hugely noticeable mistimed cuts! I'm talking about scenes freezing for multiple frames before jumping to the next one. I'm not an editor by trade, so if I can see that something is wrong, then they're really royally screwing it up.

It begs the question of how a televised production could end up looking this terrible, which naturally leads to an even bigger and potentially more important question: are they intentionally making it bad?

If you're some sort of god-forsaken defender of KamiKatsu's material, wanting to believe in the "good" word it's preaching, it's natural to want to jump to that defense. And there are certainly arguable signifiers of that. The harvester footage is undeniably funny and meme-worthy, and they even used it multiple times, which would seemingly indicate they were in on the joke to some extent.

The show's already irreverent towards its chosen subject of reverence for deities, so why not push that approach to the adaptation all the way?
I think that particular example is undeniably intentional. The outlandishness. The reuse. The drawn-on bits don't track perfectly which gives them a funny wobble on top of everything else. Roy slides onscreen and even comments on how it's "faster than doing it by hand." The author apparently changed his Twitter banner to this very scene at one point. They're clearly having a giggle.
And that's fine! KamiKatsu is consistently a goofy show, so experimenting with animation styles is fair game. But when you see bits like the regular deployment of pixel-art segments, or the pasted-on CGI of the characters' adorable animal companion, you start thinking it might be a crutch masquerading as a joke that hasn't had its intent properly calculated.

Especially when the show's default quality control looks like...uh...
Yeah, I believe the answer is more complicated than "they purposefully made it wrong as a joke." Instead, it seems like a situation where they attempted to make lemonade out of lemons but only managed to squeeze out one or two cups before the rest of the crate went bad. So now they have a pile of rotten lemons with just a few drops of lemonade to mask the taste. This belabored metaphor of mine serves to illustrate the current state of the anime industry being an absolute mess.

Respects to them for acknowledging the shortcuts they had to take and trying to have fun with them, but it's akin to trying to plug a dam with a band-aid.

It makes an odd comparison to some of KamiKatsu's bad anime contemporaries. For instance, just this past week, a clip from the legendary punching bag Hand Shakers was making rounds on social media, created by the MVPs of this kind of material - studio GoHands.

Their shows tend look like this because an astonishing amount of effort was put into making them motion-sickness-inducing. It's far beyond slapping a photo filter over some stock footage for a laugh.

GoHands is truly in a league of its own, where ambition far outstrips ability. To point towards another recent-ish example, there's the misguided disaster from the ground-up that is EX-ARM, which managed to make itself infamous even amidst the already motley crew of CG anime. You only get something this monumental miss from a team that not only never worked on an anime before, but also bragged about it too.
It needs to be stressed that EX-ARM was such a disaster that it allowed the aforementioned GoHands to release an entire show in the same season with almost no attention called to it.

It's like a matryoshka of more powerful terrible shows sequentially devouring each other.

In both of those cases, however, there is a sense that the core creative teams were dedicated to their craft despite how drastically their aesthetic instincts went astray. On the other hand, KamiKatsu's production exhibits a level of shameless self-awareness that actually works against it.

I mean, intention - or the lack thereof - is a basic tenet of so-bad-they're-good movies. You can't artifically create a "so-bad-it's-good". Otherwise, it just ends up being bad.
That's absolutely the biggest issue hobbling KamiKatsu here. It might have the intent, but it's utterly outstripped by its ability.

For contrast, take a look at something like Pop Team Epic, which prides itself on being a "shitty anime". But it represents that via a kaleidoscope of some of the most powerful, unique creators in the medium coming together to produce high-fidelity shitposts.
Plus, KamiKatsu has issues that run deeper than its production, and which aren't assuaged by its jokey approach. The characters and narrative exhibit an unsettling juvenile quality, which is further exacerbated by the story's frequent and abrupt shifts in tone and content.
Right, any attempt to pass your anime's issues off as one big joke will crumble the instant you expect us to take it even remotely seriously.

Exactly, you can't just start dropping ominous portents about a character who was previously defined solely by the bizarrely emulating visual novel presentation.
Okay, one bit that I got a huge kick out of was the recycling of that exact VN pose in a later scene.

I feel like I should be a mark for this show too. A comedy about terrible people that lampoons organized religion and attempts to do something novel with the isekai genre? I could be on board for that! But the humor so often regresses to lowest common denominator-type gags.
It regularly tries to deploy and intertwine bawdy humor and fanservice. It's incapable of getting either to land.

It turns out that when your editing consists of a cacophony of mistimed cuts, your comic timing struggles to function properly. Who would have known?
I saw that the writer also did scripts for shows like Killing Bites, the Danganronpa anime, the 2015 Rampo Kitan show, and a couple of KONOSUBA episodes, which reified a lot for me. Obviously, he loves schlock, and that's okay - I do too! But the anime's attempts at manic horny energy just end up feeling desperate and pathetic. There's occasionally a line or two that are inspired, but overall it makes for a glib and rather a rote package.

I'm just saying, it lacks the spark of the sudden onset pregnancy that, for example, Big Order delivers.
The most I can get out of it is repurposing its regular mentions of "followers" to reflect my own social media woes.

Maybe it's an issue of commitment that's causing KamiKatsu to struggle like this. Unlike Hand Shakerses or Big Orders, its heart never seems to be in it. Even in its fifth episode, which drops a massive, absurd plot twist, just gives way to more irreverent goof-off flashbacks that simply repeat the same kind of material the show had coasted on so far.

I wouldn't expect a show that regularly portrays people drunkenly partying to make me yearn to go to bed, but here we are.
Yeah, like, good schlock is constantly reinventing ways to be tasteless. It reaches for depths more depraved than skimpier outfits for the female characters. KamiKatsu's problem is that it keeps bobbing back towards a flat status quo. That earth-shattering twist may as well not have happened because it barely affected the trajectory of the story.

Even the new gyaru goddess introduced this week feels phoned in. If they can't sell me on this, then something is direly wrong.

Ooohhhh "phoned" in, because she's on her phone. I see what you did there.

I think that leads to a bigger question about the (lack of) quality in KamiKatsu's: What does it say that, for all its universal ineptitude, it can't even function as a fully entertaining "so-bad-it's-good" production?
It doesn't say anything good! Again, in my estimation, this is where its tongue-in-cheek nature backfires because deliberate incompetence is still ultimately incompetence, and it sticks out all the more when you can feel the show nudging you in the ribs that hard.

Also, if it wanted to go for the "so bad it's good" angle, then I would have liked it to be a lot campier. It has a pretty darn stacked voice cast, for instance, but only Megumi Ogata really plays up how much her character lives for the drama.

Plenty of shows before have wasted Aoi Yuuki, but that still doesn't excuse this one.
I should also note that KamiKatsu can look kinda cool when it wants to. It has the wherewithal to reallocate resources toward making particular scenes or gags work better. It's not exclusively uninspired—which, admittedly, adds to my frustration.

Even the sore-thumb CG works in an otherworldly sense in certain contexts.
It's weird how that also undercuts the show's supposed "We're doing it bad on purpose!" defense. Even that first episode caps off with a decently nice (if oddly sped-up) sequence of Mitama's descent.

But even in its best moments, KamiKatsu never hits the right kind of calculated dissonance of "Shitty show suddenly animated way better" that you get as a proper gag, in something like the aforementioned Pop Team Epic. Instead, it just comes off like the people behind it have no idea what they're doing.
The whole thing is a muddled mess. Another example along those lines: the episode titles/previews are always cut off mid-sentence, which is a cute enough gag. But it feels weird to have this juxtaposed against all the other mistakes in editing that pepper the show properly. Are they trying to excuse this stuff by calling attention to it? If so, I guess I appreciate their moxie, but their follow-through consistently leaves me cold.
That really is the central frustration of the show. Because you can absolutely see where there might have been a version where it could have been appreciated as an irreverent anti-isekai, or a properly composed absurdist comedy that wielded its animation shifts with the same deft hand as something like Bocchi the Rock! or Kaguya-sama: Love is War. Hell, even something with the energizing camp factor of King's Game or Mayoiga: The Lost Village would have been preferable.
I genuinely love watching bad movies or baffling anime mistakes because they often provide an unvarnished insight into the weird people who made them. There's authenticity in the failure. That's not something you can manufacture. No Sharknado will ever topple a Neil Breen production. So KamiKatsu, more than anything else, just feels like a comedy that fails by trying too hard. And unfortunately, that's one of the most insufferable things you can be.
We've already said it a dozen different ways, but that is the central reason for KamiKatsu's failure: It's not funny on purpose, and it's not funny by accident either.

There's still half a season to go of this thing, and even with the introduction of new characters and a whole-ass sex cult, it doesn't feel like there's any new way this particular train could crash that would motivate me to follow up with it.
It's still a fair degree better than the bottom-of-the-barrel isekai slop we get served every season. I feel like I owe its unconventionality that much recognition. But overall, and in other aspects, I'm ready to leave this behind in a manner that's poorly composited with the background art.
You do that, and I'll pour one out for our poor pal Nick. We'll be counting on him to let us know how KamiKatsu turns out!

discuss this in the forum (11 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

This Week in Anime homepage / archives