Kamisama no Memo-chou 12 (final) ~ all I can do

September 24, 2011

At its best this series provided an interesting insight into the seedy underbelly through the eyes of its young protagonists.

Rather than recap the final episode of Kamisama no Memo-chou (God’s Notebook), I’m going to start right in on my final thoughts. I will try to avoid spoilers, however for those who just want the bottom line, this was an interesting show, that didn’t always live up to its potential; at a mere 12 episodes, it was worth a watch as a mystery series, particularly for its depiction of the darker side of modern city life.

Alice (AKA Yuuko Shionji), the NEET detective.

Alice’s thoughts on what it means to be a detective were profound, and I found her dialogue to often be quite interesting. It is a bit of a shame that she ended the series almost as much of a mystery as she started. It was common, as KamiMemo started to air, to see comments comparing her to Victorique from Gosick, but I do think this was a mistake. In particular, I think it is wrong to think of Alice as a tsundere-loli, Alice is more of a precocious child, which, I think is a good thing, because she comes across as a more unique character. In addition, KamiMemo is much more of an ensemble work, and Alice plays just one role amongst a large and varied cast.

Narumi Fujishima.

Largely this series was a story about the growth of one character, Narumi Fujishima. As it turns out, he develops quite a bit throughout. I think one of the major problems I have with this series is actually that the order of the arcs was reshuffled to end with a bang, and by doing so, Narumi’s character growth seemed a bit inorganic. In retrospect, seeing how the arcs originally fit together, some of the motivation and critical development comes in what was presented as the final arc, thus arcs that appear earlier in the anime show Narumi “ahead of himself”. Regardless, he is much more impressive as a character than he initially seems, and the growth of character is handled better than many shows that attempt to show a similar trajectory.

Ayaka Shinozaki, gardening club president, and part-time angel.

Another of my disappointments with the series is that several intriguing side characters were never fully utilized. One of them was Ayaka, who had a really great personality, as evidenced by the first episode, and eventually gets an arc to herself, but is lost amidst the rest of the cast for most of the series. I think I understand why that happened, but it is a shame. Another character that I wish had gotten more development was the Major. He seemed to be an interesting character, who barely managed to break out of the crowd. I suppose this is the downside to having such a large cast, and then refusing to take a formulaic approach — that is, some shows evenly parcel out character development episodes to side characters, but KamiMemo manages to avoid such a contrived approach.

The series was competently animated. The artwork and character designs were pretty decent (although characters tangential to the plot were pretty generic). The urban environment was convincingly depicted. This really wasn’t an action series, but the animation flowed well, and the direction kept the presentation engaging and intelligible.

I haven’t heard the soundtrack, but there was only one piece of background music that really stood out to me, a mysterious track that sounded like bells or maybe even a toy-piano. I expected much more from Taku Iwasaki (Witch Hunter Robin, Read Or Die, TTGL, etc.). Perhaps I’ll get a chance to hear the OST someday and that will change my mind.

On the whole, I would say this was an entertaining diversion, but it doesn’t stand out as one of the best series of the year. I suppose that it was operating at a disadvantage against a series like Gosick, or Steins;Gate, which had twice as many episodes over which to develop. It also had much more ambition than many shows, in terms of the length of the arcs (one of which covered 4 episodes), the number of characters, and the gritty reality of the atmosphere. While it doesn’t possess the crazy brilliance of the first two episodes of Kore wa Zombie desk ka? it also didn’t utterly fall apart like it either. I would have to say that KamiMemo was a show that exhibited a lot of potential, and delivered an entertaining, if flawed, experience.

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