Kamichu

August 12, 2011

Before there was a certain Haruhi that became God in the eyes of many, there was Yurie Hitotsubashi who was God of men. That’s right, a middle school girl became God. At least that is what happened in Kamichu. The God here isn’t referring to any Christian themed God that so many animes are using nowadays. A big majority of Japan’s religion is based on Shinto or Buddhism. This series is on the former. What I understand is that in this religion, there is a God to everything. Not just physical stuff but intangible ones like feelings and disposition. Well, it is going to be one hell of a crowded universe filled with God for just about anything don’t you think? I’m not saying that this series is intended to make you a believer of the Shinto religion but if you are looking for a nice and slow paced show and the kind that enjoys slice of life genres, you’d want to check this out.

Set in the sleepy town of Japan’s inland sea, Onoshima of the Hiroshima prefecture, being God isn’t a grand or easy job as you think. Yurie is a very shy and petite girl so it doesn’t really help that she is suddenly ‘burdened’ with such a huge responsibility. Aside from her God status, a big majority of this series sees her dealing with life like a normal middle high school girl. From dealing with big issues like attending Godly meetings to helping those in need to solving problems of the world, Yurie still has her own little problem to solve in her own backyard. Like summing up the courage to confess to the boy she has a crush on. And you thought it would be easier if she’d just used her divine powers, eh? Well even if there was an option (which I think not), confessing one’s feelings can be a daunting job. That’s why it always comes from the heart.

Episode 1
Yurie laments to her friend Mitsue Shijou that she has become a God but not sure of what nature. Classmate Matsuri Saegusa soon befriends her because she considers Yurie her soul friend as she lives in a local shrine, Raifuku. She takes Yurie up to the roof to find out what kind of God she has become by doing superhero poses? Embarrassing! They notice Kenji Ninomiya doing his calligraphy on the rooftop (he is the only member thus no club room). Matsuri notices Yurie’s crush on him and tells her about the legend that if she confesses on a very windy day on the rooftop, her love will come true. They continue the practice as Matsuri tells her to shout “Kamichu” (combo of god “kami” and middle schooler “chuugakusei”) to make some wind (not the wind from your other end, silly). Nothing worked. Matsuri invites them to her shrine for more training. What?! We’re continuing with this? There, Yuri takes her luck reading and it reads a little luck while her love relationship is presentment of a storm. They meet Matsuri’s little sister Miko (Miko in a miko outfit? Besides, she looks like a little version of Enma Ai!) because she believes she can tell what kind of God she is. Unfortunately she can’t so they decide to ask God. Doing up some scary ritual (at least from Yurie’s point) it ended with Yurie giving a big sneeze. Back home, Yurie panics when she sees the TV news that an impending typhoon named Yurie is heading their way! Why does the typhoon eye have her face in it? She gets a call from Mitsue to meet at school. Along the way, she sees spirits hanging on for their life as the wind builds up. She feels guilty as the cause. She reaches school and sees Matsuri who offers her assistance to stop the typhoon. After setting up and doing the rituals, however the typhoon didn’t recede. They see Ninomiya trying to save his makeshift club room (he’s doing that?!) but gets blown away by the wind. Yurie earnestly wants to save him and after saying “Kamichu!”, her hair grows long as she rides a spirit up into the typhoon. She grabs Ninomiya’s hands and slowly the typhoon disappears. As they float down, Yurie remembers Matsuri’s advice on the legend and takes this chance to confess to him. They safely land into the swimming pool but Ninomiya wonders who she is. How embarrassing! Next day, life returns to normal. Yurie goes to school and sees the spirits around and thinks it isn’t a dream. Seems everyone knows she has become a God, though she is pretty much the same. Ninomiya still the same dense guy too. He remembers Yurie’s name wrongly. Yeah, some even requesting her help to fix simple things! Being a God is tough.

Episode 2
Everyone loves teasing Yurie as the new God because she’s cute and a simpleton. Matsuri isn’t happy they’re looking down on her. Later she invites Yurie and Mitsue to her shrine as they will be holding a festival. When Miko returns, Matsuri wishes her to open the main shrine to see their local God, Yashima since Yurie has become one. As they pray, Miko then tells them the truth that she hasn’t seen Yashima for 3 months. She didn’t tell daddy because she thought she’d hurt his feelings. When they tell him, daddy decides to resign as head chief and concentrate on his vegetable farm (not the popular online game lah). Then they write and put on charms so that they can see the spirits around town and ask them about Yashima’s whereabouts. However they do not know where he is. Finally one thinks that he may be at where Gods convene at a shrine at the mountain top. Since only members are allowed, only Yurie can go further as she disappears into the small shrine. She enters the weird but peaceful world and is taken on the boat ride to ask the denizens about Yashima. However there are too many Gods so many aren’t sure who he is. Finally Yurie finds him at some bell place. She learns he is trying to form a rock band and wanted to embark on a new world because he doesn’t want to end up as a local God. Though Yurie says she doesn’t understand his complicated feelings, she likes the town and Miko is worried about him. She thinks she shouldn’t run away from home without telling anyone. He commends she has a stronger will than his and possess a pure heart and agrees to return to the town (plus, I think his music talent sucks). Yurie returns and since Miko is the only one who is able to see Yashima, she breaks down in happiness as he apologizes. Because Matsuri can’t see him, Yashima possesses Mitsue’s body to apologize. -The festival is bustling with people. Yurie meets Ninomiya at the back doing his calligraphy for the festival (he initially didn’t remember her name!). She asks if he believes in God and he replies since she is, he believes but it doesn’t matter either way. He notes that she can make many people happy and hopes his calligraphy could do the same. It’s Yurie’s turn to go on stage to officially declare herself as a God. She goes up but nervously. And before that, was that Yashima possessing Mitsue to do some helluva rock show? Man, she didn’t know what got into her!

Episode 3
Yurie is worried that her pet cat Tama has been missing for a few days. In school, Matsuri puts Yurie through some sort of God consultation service and they learn that many of their problems involve money. They summon Yashima (he comes riding on a pigeon and possesses Mitsue!) that the God of Poverty (let’s call him Binbou for short) is coming to this town based on the warning issue. Yashima and Yurie write charms as preparation to ward off the bad luck. Then they go placing the charms around town. Yashima tells Yurie that it’s impossible to fulfil everyone’s wishes as this would cause them to do nothing. He suggests she join the God Association so there will be some delivery and collection of requests that she can fulfil. That night, Yurie remembers how she first adopted Tama as a stray kitten. In the bath, she suddenly sees the entire town blackout! Misfortune befalls on the town the next day as everyone is inconvenienced, bad luck happening and business going bust. Yashima finds out that Binbou is already here and the warning issue is out-dated one (Matsuri slapped Mitsue’s head so hard that Yashima fell out!). The only way is to confront him and chase him away. They need to find the place with the worst luck to pinpoint his location and it seems their shrine is it. They prepare to confront the unknown when they spot Tama. However it’s not a normal cat as it stands on its two hind legs. Actually it’s Binbou possessing Tama. Matsuri scares it away and chases it down like a mad hunter trying to shooting it with her arrows! When Yurie finally manages to catch up with him, she wants him to give back Tama and that he is causing the town trouble. He agrees and is about to leave but Tama pleads him not to go because he saved her life. Flashback reveals Tama ran away from home to explore new possibilities but drowned. That is when Binbou saved and possessed her. He didn’t mind leaving but Tama persists. Yurie agrees that Tama could keep him if she looks after him. As Tama jumps into Yurie’s arms, Yurie’s hair grows long and she releases an aura that turns all bad luck into amazing good luck! Wow! Later Yashima explains that Binbou’s power is cast off in this town for now and that Yurie needs to fill in that power once in a while. The forecast series for the God of Poverty is even suspended. Binbou notes how Yurie is kind to keep her so Yashima says she will not abandon those in trouble, whether a person or God.

Episode 4
Tama seems to be more intelligent than usual. Though Yurie’s parents don’t mind, her brother Shoukichi becomes suspicious. A little lunchbox lands outside Yurie’s yard. A trio of spirits appear and they claims they are from God Association to help her out with the wishes. They are Team Happiness. Looks like she’ll have her first one as the TV reports a Martian UFO crash-landing in the capital. Yurie is whisked away to Tokyo. She meets the Prime Minister for the first time (he also quips meeting God for the first time). She is thrown into a room to make contact with the Martian (a cute pink jellyfish?) being held captive. “Diplomacy is guts!”. Martian uses a telephone piece so that they could communicate in Yurie’s language. She learns Martian is here to return a ‘lost’ NASA Viking spacecraft stranded on Mars. The PM is making arrangements to hand it over to US because he is some dog to Uncle Sam. As Yurie goes to buy souvenirs, she sees a couple of army helicopters trying to lift the Martian spacecraft. To her horror, she sees Martian being strapped and taken away and the PM lied and twisted his words about her release. -Yurie is taken away but she tosses a transmitter as requested by Martian. She creates a device out of it and makes everyone except Yurie temporarily fall asleep. They seek refuge inside the building as they chat about going home. The PM takes charge in capturing the Martian and orders the army to storm into the building. Yurie manages to write a charm to slow their movements to escape. The army chase them outside but it’s just a fake decoy by Team Happiness. The real duo are sneaking towards the UFO but luck runs out when a bunch of army point their guns at them! The whole lot pointing their guns at a little girl?! Pointing their guns at God?! Well, all the more reason to. How does Yurie get out of this? Through diplomacy by telling them about the exclusive defensive security policy on they have no right to attack them and the proper time to use their weapon! She’s right! They back down and so they coolly pass through but meet the final obstacle in the PM. He struggles to capture the Martian as part of his ambitions to improve relations with USA. A part of the Viking fell off and hit his head so he faints and taken away via ambulance. He deserves it. Yurie and Martian say their farewell and emotionally embrace. Martian hopes she will visit Mars. How long would that take?! Back in her hometown, Team Happiness comes with another request. Now a large submarine emerges from the sea and the news reports about the government coming into contact with people living at the bottom of the sea. Looks like she’ll miss class again.

Episode 5
Yurie’s cold causes her to collapse while doing her consultation service in class. The client thought God died right in front of her! Yurie’s mom, Akane fetches her home early to see a doctor and rest. The next day, her cold got worse so she has to spend another day in bed. Ninomiya finally gets Yurie’s name right but is still blur about her sickness. Can you consider that a progress? Shoukichi follows Miko home to buy a get well charm for his sister. Back home, Team Happiness pays Yurie a visit. Next day, Yurie’s dad, Kenkichi decides she should stay in bed for precaution though she is recovering. As Yurie is talking to Tama, her spirit suddenly floats out from her body due to the charm. Curious Yurie floats around town and is fascinated by the scenery. Of course humans can’t see her and only the spirits. One spirit in particular thought she had given up being a God and became a ghost instead! Yurie goes to see Mitsue and Matsuri in school but they can’t see her so she goes to the rooftop to fawn over Ninomiya doing his calligraphy. As she tries to touch his face, he reacted as though he knew she was there (maybe it’s just the wind). Just then Yurie disappears and the next time she opens her eyes, she’s back in her body and room. That evening, Mitsue and Matsuri pay Yurie a visit. Matsuri made a get well charm for her but it’s a strawberry flavoured lizard-on-a-stick! WTF?! If Yurie wants the get well calligraphy from Ninomiya, she has to eat it! And she does, no matter how much it sucks! That desperate for anything Ninomiya, eh? The next day, she is all better and returns to class. She remembered that she forgot to bring Mitsue’s hand-outs and tries to rush back. Matsuri thought she’s sick again and suggests a papaya flavoured charm. No way!

Episode 6
The test results are out and Yurie’s position fell as low as 96 though she won’t have to do a retake. We know a certain person’s consultancy service is to blame for getting her busy. However Matsuri continues to “think about the future” so poor Yurie has to attend more consultancy service, this time it’s the summer love fortune telling special. Can a girl who lacks the experience give proper advice? As she hears out another client, Kiyomi Noto, Yurie is surprised to learn she has a crush on Ninomiya! Short flashback reveals he ‘saved’ her from a harassing dog. In a dilemma to help or not. She accidentally does so by suggesting she join the calligraphy club. In order not to be left out, Yurie also thinks of joining it as an excuse to help her though we know it’s to keep watch and not lose out. Going to his club room at the rooftop, Yurie gets the shock of her life when she seems him shirtless! No air-cond lah. He is delighted with 2 new members and they get a taste of his bad memory of remembering their name or existence (too focused on calligraphy?). Ninomiya takes the duo on a jogging practice (so that they can experience different calligraphy writing?) while Mitsue and Matsuri are just bored tagging along. More training like writing blindfolded and doing chores for an old lady in return to see her calligraphy works. All the while, Kiyomi notice Yurie’s reaction towards Ninomiya and gets suspicious. That guy too seems to be spending more time closer to her (though unknowingly). While Ninomiya goes to get more paper, Kiyomi confronts Yurie and asks if she has feelings for him. Yurie flusters and couldn’t answer. Oh dear, God lied! Oh the way home, she seeks advice from Mitsue but she can’t give any specific answer but to do what she thinks it’s best. Next day, Yurie is to hand her club resignation when she spots Kiyomi handing her confession calligraphy to Ninomiya. That guy isn’t as dense as he is. He realizes what she is trying to say so he apologizes. Heartbroken Kiyomi wants him to take responsibility and accept her feelings. She resigns and runs away. Passing by Yurie, she tells her that it’s her turn. Yurie soon turns her resignation but Ninomiya is okay with it. Back to like how it was, isn’t it? In the hall as the principal gives his speech before they break for the holidays, Yurie notices Kiyomi seems to have gotten over her heartbreak and chatting happily with her guy classmate.

Episode 7
Shoukichi is getting more suspicious about Tama’s behaviour but Yurie brushes it off as summer mirage and pesters him to get ice cream. Just when he gives in, Yurie’s pals arrive to bring her to the beach so Yurie doesn’t need the ice cream anymore. How vexing. Since the beach is crowded, they head to the cove and they have the entire beach to themselves. Maybe it’s just me or the drawing because Mitsue looks fat in the swimsuit. It suddenly rains so they take refuge at an abandoned beach house, Hamakaze. They notice the very old equipment and photos on the wall. Once the rain passes, they resume their fun. Back home, Yurie is in pain due to sunburn. Team Happiness crash in to remind her about the God Association’s meeting tonight for her welcoming party. Apparently it was buried under her summer cards so she missed it. In the land of the Gods, Yurie is given a warm welcome and a special robe by the President of the God Association (another funny little weirdo). She continues to meet the Gods that attend and find a bunch of retiree Gods of Hamakaze. As they chat, they talk about a boy and girl who loved each other very much and wonder if they have become a couple and found happiness. Upon the President’s advice to test the powers of the robe to grant their wishes. Outside Hamakaze, Yurie gathers all the photos and after yelling “Kamichu!”, the robe’s powers lights the night sky with fireworks and those photos enlarged. All those who patron Hamakaze before have a strange feeling to return to it. First to arrive are Yurie’s parents. They are surprised to see each other so as Yurie kisses their foreheads, they are transported back to Hamakaze’s bustling times and relive the nostalgic memories. Seems they are the legendary couples that the retirees are talking about. Talk about twist of fate. Soon the other people come streaming in as they relive the good times. Oddly when Yurie and her parents reach home, they have a serious case of sunburn. I thought it was just an illusion and in their mind? Sunburn at night? Apparently the nostalgia was real. Damn real alright. Better than your 3D TV. You can even feel it…

Episode 8
It’s odd that Yurie needs to use the pencil for her MCQ questions. But it’s all the same answer! Divine retribution? Matsuri tells them about rumours that cats in this town collectively disappear and run wild against the elderly. They seem to confirm one case when they pass by an elderly man’s store being attacked by cats. Shoukichi spots Tama doing a Shouryuken and Bruce Lee moves, punching the leaves. Yeah, he may be really seeing things. Yurie asks Tama about the strange coincidence but she didn’t reveal much. That night Tama sneaks out thinking Yurie is asleep but she tails her to an abandoned shipyard whereby she sees lots of cats gathering. Just when the cats think they spot an intruder, Yurie turned into a cat. Tama knows Yurie followed her. She explains this place is called Cat World, a utopia for all cats to mix around indiscriminately. The cats’ leader, Tyler returns as he showers the cats with food gifts. Tama continues that Tyler gathered followers from his great leadership and trained everyone to defend themselves from dogs and schoolboy bullies. However when he targeted humans to be their enemies, the cats are split into 2 camps though more are joining him. Tyler announces of announcing their independence of Cat World (for real?!) so Tama opposes him, thinking it would be a mistake as this will lead everyone to be captured. Tyler suggests that they duke it out in a Cat Fight to determine the new boss. Erm… The Cat Fight seems more like tag team wrestling. How can Tama stand up against the big fat cat Dave? Oh sh*t! Size does matter… Not. Yurie tags Tama in time so Tama gives Dave her Shouryuken and knocks him out. When Tyler enters the ring and reveals his twin tails, they realized he is a cat God. No wonder he’s got brains. Tyler’s swiftness catches Tama off-guard and nearly won. Yurie and Tama tag each other in between. When Tama is pinned down, Yurie summons her Kamichu powers to land all the sour umeboshi into Tama’s mouth. The sourness wakes her up totally and accidentally knocks Tyler out. Everybody couldn’t believe it but Tama is the winner and their new boss! Yeah, “The taste of victory is sour”. Next day, Tyler decides to leave for another town to start anew because he wants to do things his way (rather he doesn’t want to be bossed around by her). And so we have a complicated relationship for Yurie and Tama now. Who is the real owner?

Episode 9
Ninomiya leaves class early because he’s got a date. SAY WHAT?! A date with old man Gen to fix his roof. Phew. However he slipped and hurt his hips so the gang temporarily take care of him. They learn he was a soldier aboard a warship, Yamato. He tells them about his days serving proudly on it. Back home, a fishing boat spirit, Mitsubamaru requests Yurie’s assistance to help Yamato’s spirit to come home. Currently Yamato is at the bottom of the East China Sea. Though he is helping out other sunken ships, recently he has been talking about returning to his birthplace in Kure, Hiroshima. Yurie speaks to Yamato to find out about his feelings. It’s weird to see her speak through some seaweed as a communicator. Yamato feels okay to remain since he doesn’t want to return in an embarrassing dilapidated state. Mitsubamaru disagrees and wants him to be honest with his feelings. Yurie mentions that there are lots of people who remember and are proud to serve on board him. Since she will do what she can, Yamato agrees to return. Yashima advices that Yurie needs to get ‘in tune’ with Yamato by understanding and learning his specifications, purpose, etc. Yurie reads up a lot on Yamato with the help of Mitsue and Matsuri even does some measuring to get an idea how large Yamato is. She evens get confidential info from the PM! Yeah, he’s in her debt after all. Can a girl like her digest and absorb everything? Then they go back to Gen and listen to more of his stories. He mentions about wanting to see that ship again. Yurie leaves her body in the care of Mitsue and Matsuri as she travels in her spirit form with Mitsubamaru to see Yamato. Upon arrival, she uses her powers to restore him to his magnificent state and surface it. Grateful Yamato thanks everyone and leaves it to Mitsubamaru to watch the sea in his place. Ninomiya and Gen are invited to the riverside. Matsuri places charms on them so they could see the spirits. All the spirits are eagerly waiting for Yamato’s arrival and when it does appear, Yamato parades through with pride. Gen feels happy to be able to see Yamato once more. Since Yamato and Yurie’s heart are in sync, she can read her thoughts about Yamato and her crush about Ninomiya. However embarrassed Yurie tells him those are confidential matters! Ninomiya continues to help Gen fix his roof as he thanks Yurie for giving him inspiration on what to write for his calligraphy. Gen wonders if they’re dating (Yurie flustering) but Ninomiya mentions that they’re just friends (now she’s disappointed). Mitsue and Matsuri’s teasing report status: Petite warship Yurie sinking into deep silence, over.

Episode 10
Yurie for student council president! Yeah, part of Matsuri’s scheme. She is against it but after Matsuri’s smooth persuasion that she’ll be able to give Ninomiya a club room and be grateful, Yurie is giving it a shot. The only other candidate is Ukaru Nishimura isn’t happy. How would you feel if you’ve been doing all the hard work all year long? Plus, you’re up against God. Well, everyone in school has a right to step for its presidency. Back home as they discuss their ‘strategy’, Matsuri mentions how Nishimura plans to scrap low activity clubs like the calligraphy and her Raifuku Shrine and impose some strict moral laws. So the only one who can save this school from turning into a prison is Yurie. Now she’s really into it. They make leaflets to distribute to students. Nishimura with the newspaper club catches them red handed distributing leaflets with envelopes. However it isn’t bribe money as he thought and just a luck fortune reading. Nishimura is embarrassed and apologizes. Matsuri wins this round. At the rooftop, Matsuri and Mitsue hint that somebody may give him a club room as a present, prompting Yurie to blush. However that guy is so dense and thinks it’s Santa Claus! He can’t even guess who when they hint it’s somebody closer. As Yurie resumes her consultation service, Nishimura enters to plead to God that he wants to be president no matter what. What an ironic situation. She’s in a pinch. Yurie thinks it isn’t fair since he’s trying to manipulate her. However he disagrees that everyone has a right to ask God for help and if she can’t help a single person, she can’t help the entire school! Matsuri appears and gives that grumpy kid a divine intervention chop on his head. The argument ends when Matsuri nails right in the head that offerings and wishes don’t mean a thing if one doesn’t put in effort! Wow. Matsuri just sounds like her over-enthusiastic manager. She’s all fired up and should be running for president herself. She should be. Nishimura apologizes and leaves. Round 2: Matsuri wins. After a week, the day of the elections come. Nishimura gives his passionate speech about change and make this school a role model in the prefecture. He’s so good that he can be a politician if you ask me. But is it enough to motivate the students? They don’t seem impressed. It’s Mitsue’s turn to give her speech as representative. She decides not to use the pre-written speech she wrote with Matsuri and tells her earnest feelings of Yurie, even embarrassing stuff that had them laughing. In the end, it isn’t because Yurie is a God the reason why she helps those in trouble, but rather her nature. Everyone applauds Matsuri’s speech and this gives Yurie confidence to do hers next. However she blunders at first go by banging her head on the microphone. Bummer. That’s why everyone loves her and finds her adorable. So it’s obvious that Yurie won the seat but Mitsue and Matsuri aren’t happy. Seems she gave a status quo order on all club activities, which means Ninomiya will remain roofless. For Matsuri, her dream of settling her Raifuku club into the student council is dashed. So that’s what she’s scheming. Plus, she has turned the entire school into some spirit funfair. Nishimura is the new president due to the revote and wants Yurie to wake up from her sleep and turn the school back to normal (because he’s swamped with work). Yeah, she’s sleeping for a week already. Her hair is damn long!

Episode 11
A classmate spots Shoukichi and Miko taking a train together out of town and skipping school. She reports this to Yurie, Matsuri and Mitsue so they go tell the teacher. Mitsue suspects that they may be eloping so the teacher calls their parents to school. They discuss if they notice anything different about them lately (Akane did mention he changed his underwear from briefs to trunks though that isn’t really the point). The classmate mentions that Miko may have been depressed after missing an important shot in her archery semi-finals competition. They think of reporting to the police but Yashima possessing Mitsue tells them not to get other parties involved. She wants them to get their belongings so that Yurie can use her powers to track them down. Just like a police dog, eh? Isn’t the map too small even if it’s the entire Japan? Yurie uses her “Kamichu!” powers as it pinpoints that they’re still in the same prefecture.  Should have got a prefecture map. Yurie falls asleep after using lots of her powers. Miko and Shoukichi are in town, attracting lots of stares from other adults. They take a break at a fast food joint. It’s funny and cute to see Miko struggling to eat a burger! Shoukichi spots someone familiar and takes Miko by her hand and run. After a safe distance, Miko says that she didn’t run away from home because of the tournament. Matsuri gets worried about Miko’s wellbeing so Yashima/Mitsue comforts her that she is stronger than she looks. He knows because he talks to her on a daily basis. Flashback that they were talking about Miko wanting to do something with her life. She seemed embarrassed to say it but was cut off when Matsuri came by wanting to form some band with Yashima (and that was just yesterday). Yurie must be having a tiring day because each time she wakes up, she has to do “Kamichu!” to pinpoint their location. By that time, Shoukichi and Miko has already been to the movies and used up whatever money they have left for roadside stall food. At the park, Shoukichi suggests that they go back but she says she can’t. She wonders why he’d go so far for her. His answer is simple: Because they’re friends (I was thinking he liked her or something, hehe). Further talking reveals that Miko looks up to her sister very much but the next time she sees her, she may hate her. Something about Yashima likes Matsuri and Miko herself likes that deity. Shoukichi wonders if she would be okay not telling her sister or anyone else about how she’d feel. I think at that moment, he wanted to confess (big probability) but a bright light appears before them. Seems their family have arrived (finally got it right, eh Yurie?). They happily reunite as Matsuri breaks down in relief. Miko apologizes as both sisters emotionally embrace. This brings back memories when their mom died and Miko was inconsolable. Matsuri comforted her that she and dad will protect the shrine. Everyone goes home together. Miko hopes to see Shoukichi tomorrow.

Episode 12
As mentioned by Yashima, there is a God convention, Kamicon at Izumo for a month so Yurie has to temporarily transfer school. Everyone there seems to be very formal with her since everybody here is God-worshipping to a point that they are afraid to approach her. A funny part was how she went to buy bread at the school shop. You know, all the rowdy kids pushing and shouting to get one. Then when they realize that God Yurie is there, they immediately pave a path through and the seller even served her the bread! Ninomiya learns that Yurie is gone for Kamicon so Matsuri and Mitsue wonder if he’s got any business with her. Not that he has any but he mentions that something is missing without her around. The duo get excited because it is a sign that he is acknowledging Yurie’s existence. Yurie attends the convention and learns she has to attend some courses to power up her divinity powers. Heck, there’s even a stamp for each course she attends. Yashima is also there (more like interested in that goddess Benten rock group). He offers her some advice to take those that interests her so that she can decide on what kind of God she wants to be in the future. Yurie attends both the convention and school. She must be a very busy girl running here and there in both worlds. After the mid-term exams results are out, Yurie’s position turns out dead last. She sinks into depression, feeling lonely and nostalgic that she wants to return home. At the convention, Benten comes sit by her and talks to her about her godly dilemma. Well, Gods can’t ask others for help, can’t they? So it’s ultimately they have to rely on themselves and their friends. Soon a month pass and on Yurie’s last day, she’s supposed to give her final words of blessing. Instead, she apologizes for being a coward and couldn’t take the initiative to make friends with everyone. But her classmates also do the same and express their wish to become her friends. They wish that she will return here again next year. This raises Yurie’s spirits. Yurie returns home and is happily greeted by Matsuri and Mitsue. They wonder if she was lonely there but she says she made lots of friends.

Episode 13
Matsuri is anti-Christmas because at this time of year nobody visits Raifuku Shrine.  But does she have the rights to impose her plans on Mitsue and Yurie too? Yurie’s Year End Thanksgiving? Yeah, dragging her pals along with her scheme, she even gets Ninomiya to speak his mind about Christmas. Actually that guy said he isn’t that interested so I don’t know why Yurie find that manly. Mitsue, better wish to get a boyfriend next year. Oh wait, there’ll be exams then… God damn… Matsuri’s plan is to hold an event at Raifuku Shrine brighter than anywhere else. They distribute leaflets at the shopping district but the manager isn’t happy she’s obstructing with business. Yeah, this has nothing to do with religion. Even back home, Matsuri imposes a ban on celebrating western festivities to her family! They continue to put up posters everywhere but Matsuri goes overboard by pasting over other businesses! Part of the Raifuku is event sees Yashima wanting to do a rock concert using Mitsue’s body. Mitsue is dead against it since not only it’s embarrassing but it affects her reputation (she finally gets to speak to him without being possessed via some charm). Yeah, Guitar Demon Mitsue-chan. A demon at a shrine? A mascot? Mascot her foot! Release his new single? His talent sucks. That strikes right in the heart. Yashima agrees to postpone the concert and go on a journey. Not thinking of stopping for good, eh? Soon the manager comes looking for Matsuri and her dad and complain about her interfering with their Christmas efforts. Her dad could only apologize but since she won’t trouble them anymore, he wishes that they could allow her to do what she wants since he believes she’s working hard for her cause. They agree as long as she doesn’t get in their way. Yurie’s grade has a slight improvement. She musters up the courage to invite Ninomiya for Raifuku’s event. He can’t since he has a job so he pats her head and wishes them to do their best. Now that’s the best present she’s ever got. The event is a success and back at home, Miko gives daddy and Matsuri a present. Matsuri is still against this western customs but Miko says she just wanted to give them presents as thanks for everything. While Matsuri gets a butterfly hair clip, daddy gets a hair growth tonic…

Episode 14
This whole episode sees Yurie trying to things from her kotatsu without leaving it as she is tired after working hard at Raifuku. For instance talking to Tama/Binbou and making the cat get her breakfast. Then as Tama is trying to eat like a human, Shoukichi spots her. Tama tries to resume acting like a cat but tumbles on its way out. Well, Shoukichi couldn’t care less anymore. Then Yurie has Shoukichi give her a pen after mentioning about some fortune reading from Miko. However Yurie’s supposed to hand it to him but it’s missing now. Upset Shoukichi just walks away and just tells Yurie to on the TV herself. She improvises by using a rolled-up newspaper! Her parents return from visiting the grave, Kenkichi seems to be taking pictures of Yurie (she mentions he should take parts that are ‘growing’ – sorry Yurie, it’s not there yet). Then she gets a call from Mitsue and remembers her New Year’s present. Before Kenkichi could run away, Yurie pins him down! And she’s still attached to the kotatsu! She bugs him to give him one even if New Year’s Day is well over so he agrees. Then she reads New Year greeting cards from the PM, Martian and even Yamato but the card she’s anticipating for isn’t here. Matsuri calls her and Yurie learns that she got Ninomiya’s card and even Mitsue too. Though Matsuri says that she can’t decipher his message, she tries to console disappointed Yurie that maybe he is late in replying or got lost in the mail. Yurie is excited to find her New Year’s present to be a 5000 Yen bill but when Binbou touches it, it turns into a 1000 Yen bill! Poor luck. Shoukichi returns from shrine visiting and shows Yurie the fortune reading he drew. Just like his name, he has little luck. Then he gives Yurie Ninomiya’s greeting card from the post office since they can’t decipher the address. Happy Yurie can decipher what he is trying to say. She decides to do some service and changes Shoukichi’s luck reading to super luck. Shoukichi isn’t happy because he prefers status quo.  Then when Akane explains how she left a fortune reading from Yurie’s pocket in the freezer (the one from Miko), Shoukichi rushes there. He opens it to see it as bad luck. How disappointed. Was he lucky in that sense? That night, Yurie writes a reply greeting card to Ninomiya when Team Happiness crashes in with loads of greeting cards from the association. It flooded the house so will Yurie have to reply them all? It’s going to be a busy year…

Episode 15
It’s that day again. The day girls give their chocolates to the guy they love. Unfortunately, Yurie has made Valentine chocolates every year for Ninomiya but she was too afraid to give it to him and ended up eating them herself. Besides, Ninomiya doesn’t consider Valentine’s Day an important event because that day is for dried sardines. Say what?! Yurie tries to make some chocolates back at Matsuri’s place and also talk about their future. That night after dinner, Yurie receives a bunch of romantic requests from Team Happiness. There’s even one from the PM! Yurie decides to give them all chocolates, making them happy. Next day in school, Yurie seems pretty confident it’ll go well. Till she realizes she forgot to bring her chocolate. However Matsuri and Mitsue are going to help her as they enlist the entire girls in their class to help out by gossiping about Yurie near Ninomiya and keeping him from leaving. During recess, Mitsue cycles back to get the chocolates so Yurie has to time to work up a confession. Yurie wonders why everyone is doing this for her seeing they should have their own chocolates to give. Yurie is still nervous so Matsuri gives her words of encouragement and tells her that everyone is supporting her. Even the entire townsfolk are praying for Yurie to succeed! Their answer is simple. It is thanks for all those consultation services. Meanwhile Miko gives Shoukichi chocolates as she too leaves some for Yashima at the shrine. Mitsue finally gets the chocolates and rushes back just in time. How come nobody got surprised when Tama/Binbou came running in on 2 legs while carrying the chocolates to Yurie? Well, at least till it spoke. Yurie goes up to the rooftop to meet Ninomiya who is deep in thought on what to write for his big calligraphy project. Ninomiya seems doesn’t want to be disturbed but this time Yurie becomes a little stubborn and manages to divert his attention to her. Then she does it. She confesses her feelings and wants him to go out with her. Err… Does that guy understand what she said? Why is he staring at her for so long? Then it hit him. He finally understood. He finally gets inspiration to write the enlarged word ‘love’ on the paper. When that is done, Ninomiya turns to Yurie and says that he too likes her. The entire school who was watching from afar bursts into a wild cheer and applause. Then a huge gust of wind blows Yurie and Ninomiya into the sky with the ‘love’ paper. It’s like they’re sitting on a magic carpet.  As they soar through the sky, the see all the spirits cheering them on. Matsuri notes that legend of confessing on the rooftop during a big wind will be a big hit. Yurie wants to confirm if what Ninomiya said is true and not a fluke. He assures that he really likes her. Why? Because she’s weird. Take it as a compliment. Besides, it takes one to know one. Hey! His girlfriend is God! How is that for respect!

Episode 16
Yurie and Mitsue are going to help clean Raifuku. Since it is big time cleaning, they’ll be sleeping over. Akane is happy since this would leave her and Kenkichi alone. Urm… Did they forget about Shoukichi? Operation spring cleaning starts as they find certain things like Matsuri’s dad was some rocker in his heydays. He gets nostalgic when he sees a hoola hoop and tries it out. Rock and Roll! Love and Peace! Seems fun till he hurt his back. Out of action. They need some guys to move things so they call Shoukichi over (if not for Miko, I guess he won’t come). Matsuri also took the liberty to call Ninomiya to come so this flusters Yurie. However he seems to be looking at all sorts of brushes even if Yurie is being left alone with him, she’s nervous. Then a stray dog comes barging their way (because it accidentally got poked by a prickly spirit). Ninomiya saves her by pushing her away but this has him fall on top of her in an ambiguous position. I’m sure her friends will have lots to say when they see this. It’s not over yet as the dog runs off, still in pain. Ninomiya goes after it because it has his brush in its mouth. So that’s more important? Anyway Ninomiya and Yurie chase the dog throughout town via bicycle. They finally catch up to it at a rock on a high place. All tired out. Once they catch their breath. Ninomiya wonders if Yurie is tired with him because she seems so tense all the time. Of course not. She asks him the same question since he never called. The reason is because he has no business so he can’t call even if he wanted to. She says she’ll pick up the phone if he calls before 8pm and wants to hear his voice. He agrees. They return to the shrine as Kenkichi stops by to give them ingredients for their dinner. Shoukichi decides to go home despite Miko inviting him to at least stay for bath and dinner. On the way back, Kenkichi wonders who Ninomiya is so Shoukichi says he is Yurie’s boyfriend. Kenkichi got so shocked that he nearly fell off the stairs! He wants him to come to his place and judge him by himself! Even if Yurie is God, she is still daddy’s girl. Yashima, who has been out all day, returns after buying a limited edition of Benten’s guitar model. In a magazine article, it seems Yurie has won an award for being the rookie God of the year. That night when the 3 friends sleep, Matsuri and Mitsue pester Yurie on what she did with Ninomiya. She was shy to reveal but eventually mentions about managing to get each other to call. The duo become disappointed that it wasn’t something like holding hands or kissing. Yurie nails right in their hurt spot when she mentions she is the only one with a boyfriend. Her friends jump on her and I don’t think they’re going to let her sleep tonight. Next morning, Yurie takes a fortune reading as it reads average luck and watches the sunrise over the hill. She wishes for them to do their best this year.

Even God Is Having It Tough…
This is such a heart-warming series. It may not be much but the important thing here is to help out those in need. Yurie does not actually need to be God or even a high ranking person to do good. She’ll gladly help out those who asked. At times, Yurie may seem slow and dense but she is not stupid. It’s just the way she speaks in a soft spoken and shy manner. Maybe it has got something to do with her God status? That’s why she’s somewhat cute when she blushes or when she puckers her mouth. She may overall be the same self but ever since, I think she has made lots of big improvements and step forward. For instance, confessing her love to Ninomiya. That is one big hurdle cleared. She has to. With all the support from her friends and townsfolk, she can’t go wrong. See, sometimes even God needs to rely on others. So it’s not the fact that she grows into a better God, but a better person as well. That is what is most important. Better than some characters who get such status to their head and misuse their powers so much so the need of a hero (and anime story lah) to come forth and bring down the power abuser. The other characters are equally amusing and likeable. Matsuri may seem like the bossy type and is always thinking about ‘exploiting’ Yurie’s consultation service to clear her Raifuku Shrine’s debts. Probably it’s her assertive but friendly nature that gives Yurie the much needed push. Or else that little teenage goddess won’t even budge herself. Matsuri is also the type that isn’t afraid to speak up or say back, even if the other party is a God like Yashima.

The ever polite Mitsue ironically laments that nothing exciting actually happens in her life. Doesn’t she consider getting possessed by Yashima to be exciting? Oh right. She doesn’t remember being possessed. And that rock guitar hero thingy too doesn’t cut it because it really embarrassed her reputation. Oddly, she seems to be Yashima’s target for being possessed. Well let’s see. He can’t possibly possess Yurie because she’s God. How can a God possess another God? The Raifuku sisters, not likely because it’s not right to possess miko priestesses. That’s my opinion. Besides, Yashima has that uncanny look to Gintama’s Gintoki, don’t you think? I thought he would play more significant role than just bumming around in town (since it’s his job to stay put in this town to protect it) but I guess he just gives Yurie some Godly advice, that’s all. As for Team Happiness, I find them amusing each time they come crashing to Yurie and greeting her with some sort of hip shaking dance. Ninomiya is another weirdo we love. His mind is clouded with nothing but calligraphy so much so you don’t even know what this guy is thinking. He is so dense and clueless about Yurie’s advance that sometimes you just want to smack him and tell him straight. But even so, will he even understand? You can’t help feel pity for poor Yurie sometimes. Unlike many other guys his age who are interested in other stuffs like girls or cars or doing things that normal teenagers would, it’s no surprise that Yurie takes a liking for him. You know what they say about birds with the same feather. Who am I to judge others weird? Another ditzy character is Akane. The way she speaks and says things is like she’s quite carefree. This doesn’t mean she isn’t a good mother to Yurie and Shoukichi. Speaking of that kid, I thought there would be another side romance blossoming with him and Miko. But for now, I guess they would just remain friends. I did mention that Miko do look like Jigoku Shoujo’s Enma Ai. Ironically their school’s winter sailor uniform which is black, has that striking resemblance to Enma Ai’s too! If you’re not careful and in the middle of the night you see her…

The pacing of the story is at a calming pace and the episodes may sometimes look like independent of each other. There are some things that do not make sense or seem implausible for instance the visit by the Martian. But I suppose with a series dealing with spirits and the likes, there’s nothing wrong with doing so. Hey, look at the anime Bleach for instance. Speaking of the Gods, I just kept wondering how many types of them there are seeing that everything and everywhere there are weird looking Gods. I don’t want to say it’s for the artists to get creative with their design for the different types of Gods but sometimes they look weird enough to constitute that they are from some horror movie. At one point, I even tried guessing what kind of God that particular strange-looking God is. Well, if that God has game pads coming out, then it must be the God of video games, right?! Haha! So with the new invention of the iPad, I think a new God is in order. I wonder how it would look like. It also made me wonder where do retired Gods go and how they are being replaced seeing that this is possible here. Well, in that case the universe is going to get a lot more crowded than usual. Another left unexplained is what kind of God Yurie became, though I am pretty sure that I have read somewhere that she became the God of men. Plus, why she was chosen was also not explained. But that isn’t important. Hey, it could have been anybody. Hmm… I’m just wondering why there wasn’t any celebrity-kind of hype with paparazzi and people around Japan flocking to see Yurie considering she has gained popularity with her God status. They’d want to meet God in person, right? Literally. But as I have mentioned, probably with the big majority of people in Japan are Shinto followers, so having learned of a new God isn’t something that will make heads turn. At least that is what I think for this series.

Seeing that this is a year 2005 production, the drawing and art of the sceneries of the town is acceptable. They won’t make you go “Wah!” but enough to provide you the scenic eye candy of any Japanese towns located by the inland sea. Hmm… Perhaps it is my hardware issue. Another bonus is the calm and soothing background music. I really like the gentle acoustic plucking of the guitar and some of the tranquillity of the piano. Of course there are faster beats but the slower ones are those that are worth it. I have to admit that dialogue-wise, this series has got the best short lines as compared to other animes. Not only Yurie, but the other characters too. Because of so, it really does tickle your funny bones. You may not laugh out loud but it’s enough to make you chuckle. Plus, they may not say it in an exaggerative manner and a calm way but the meaning and impact is there. On a trivial note, I didn’t realize this till I do a little reading up. The titles of each episode are taken after Japanese pop idol songs of the 80’s and 90’s. Well, I’m not really into that music that time so I guess I don’t really know. The opening theme for this series that greets us with a nice harmonica play is Hare Nochi Hare by Maho Tomita. For that moment, I thought it was Hare Hare Yukai… (of Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu for those who don’t know). The ending theme feels more like rock pop idol material, Ice Candy by Mako. By the way, she is the voice of Yurie and she fits the character role to utmost perfection. Though she has been in this anime scene for a long time, her resume isn’t that ‘long’ (sorry). Her other roles include Akiha in Sora Wo Kakeru Shoujo and Koume in Hanamaru Kindergarten. Issei Miyazkai as Ninomiya is also perfect because he really makes the character sound like a dense blur case, if not someone who is a dreamer. His other prominent role is as Gen in the movie Barefoot Gen. Ai Nanoka was recognizable in her role as Miko (Fuura in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series) and likewise Chiwa Saito as Tama (Rebecca in Pani Poni Dash). Other casts include Rika Morinaga as Matsuri (Sousei Seki in Rozen Maiden), Kaori Mine as Mitsue (Tomoko in Muteki Kanban Musume), Kousuke Okano as Yashima (Recca in Flame Of Recca), Makoto Tsumura as Shoukichi.

So Yurie may not be as popular as Haruhi and if you were to mention her name, many would just give you a blank stare. But if you have a problem that needs some solving and a touch of divine intervention, we know a little middle school girl can be more reliable than your local two-faced bomohs with ulterior motives. She has done almost anything that has been requested from her from granting wishes to curing curses and even diplomacy with extra-terrestrial life forms. There is nothing impossible that she can’t do. If God willing, I would even suggest her to cross over into other animes and solve its problems and issues! Though I’m not saying she’s 100% effective and accurate but hey, it all works out well in the end, right? We need more ‘Gods’ like her. As for me, I won’t go so far to say that Haruhi is my God and manga is my bible (because I don’t read them, hehe), but I can say that anime is my religion. And I have been an avid follower of it ever since I finished school. So just keep those animes coming for the years to come and I’ll be just fine and faithful, you’ll see. I wonder if I could request Yurie to grant me a 2D girlfriend too…