Kamisama no Memo-chou Review

Kamisama no Memo-chou Series Review

Seeing as to how this series has just ended last week, here is a my review and thoughts on Kamisama no Memo-chou.

Plot Summary:

Narumi Fujishima is an ordinary high school boy who remains isolated from his fellow classmates. One afternoon fellow classmate Ayaka Shinozaki invites Narumi to join the gardening club and introduces him to a reclusive detective named Alice. Alice hires Narumi as an assistant and puts him to work solving the strange mysteries of Angel fix, an illegal drug. Little does he know it could put him and Ayaka in serious trouble. -ANN

Review

The Plot:

The general consensuses for this show is that the rest of the episodes never lived up to the what the first episode had promised this series to be. Instead, it went down the road of being more character driven than plot driven and each mystery pretty much lacked substance. Another general consensuses that you will hear around the net would be that the last case would be the 2nd best case of the season (with the first case being the best).

This is a 12 series episode series and out of all the series this Spring, I felt that the show that disappointed me the most would have to be Kamisama no Memo, then again, it is a toss up between this and another Kamisama series that has yet to end – Kamisama Dolls.

The show starts off strongly with the first case incorporating a nice balance of slice of life, semi-intriguing and untypical characters along with a realistic mystery set in a well-animated present world. Sadly, no show is able to escape the clutches of fan service and the only ridiculous thing about the show was the moe character – Alice (but I shall leave that for the character part of the review).

However, with each passing case (and passing case-related characters), we start to realise that this show had probably used up all its magic in the first episode and is desperately chasing after its own shadow. The cases never managed to balance itself out to be as engaging and the atmosphere always seemed lacking. Also, not all of the main characters were fully developed during the span of the series and the series simply did not seem to know what it wanted to focus on.

The funny thing about the series was that the best episode (1st) was not even written by the Novelist/Creator but is an anime original story. (source) Now, I am not sure what happened after the first episode but they should have stuck with the formula that they had at the beginning of the series.

Another ridiculous instance with this show is that with only 12 episodes, they manage to squeeze in one filler story and one semi-filler case. Why this was necessary? We may never know.

However, despite all my complaints, the show does has its redeeming moments during some of the cases and no case is absolutely terrible.

The series in general seems to take pride in itself in being as close to reality as possible when it comes to the general atmosphere, character development and its cases.

The Characters:

So, somewhere along the way, the show turned into a very character driven series focusing on the development of the main character Narumi and his relationship with certain selected members of the group.

All in all, Narumi is a normal human being who basically grows from being a wuss to being somewhat of a man. If one were to contrast his attitudes from the beginning of the series to the end of the series the biggest change would be his outlook on life. From being a person who views himself as simply being one of the billions in the world to someone who actually understands that he can make in the world. Thankfully, the series does this development tastefully and progresses at a constant pace which means that you won’t see any sudden changes in attitude nor anything unbelievable when it comes to character personality.

On the other hand, we have Alice. Oh Alice…. she makes me want to slap her around. I feel like kicking her pompous ass into the next century. (Sadly, that might hurt my foot.) The best part of the series for me was when someone actually told her to shut up (apparently the writers were feeling irritated as well). The main point of her character seemed to be data collection via the computer (although she does not do all the data collection and relies heavily on many others), oh, and lets not forget that she is meant to have the brains that allows her to speaks for the dead (which is a cryptic way of saying that she solves the cases). Her trademark characteristics would be her inability to speak like a normal human being without beating around the bush in a cryptic manner, hates to shower (and probably stinks) and love to treat humans like trash.

As for the rest of the characters, I really love the Fourth’s character and his clan of yazuka’s who seem to be like overgrown misfits. The rest of the NEET team is left in the shadow during the span of the series without any cases revolving around them and they only seem come in handy when the writers feel like giving them the time of day. This is quite sad as I would have rather the cases revolve around the NEET team rather than Narumi + Alice + Outsider since the show is meant to be about the NEETs.

The Animation:

This is the redeeming factor of the series. I believe that we are very visual people and it is surprising how lenient one can get when judging a show when the animation attracts us. We can watch a series with a mediocre storyline if the animation suits our taste but struggle to watch shows with funky crazy/terrible animation even if the story is meant to be amazing.

The animation is one thing the show did right. The semi-detailed textures used to create the world of Kamisama no Memo-chou help to build on the realistic and somewhat dreary atmosphere of the series. The pastel tones and crisp animation with the especially nice use of lighting in this show makes it entertaining and pleasant to watch.

The Soundtrack:

Sadly, this show has a habit of being incomplete in its execution and throughout the series I have complained about the lack of background music.

With all the work that the animators had placed into creating such a pretty world you would wonder why there are so many scenes without background music to help elevate the atmosphere. It felt like the show was happy being mediocre did not want to aim to be something more. Maybe it is the suffering animation industry which is compromising the quality, but it does not change the fact that those moments of silence destroys the good work put into the scene.

I do like the piano segment of the OP song since it was nice and quite memorable. However, this falls into the category of series using OPs that sound nice rather than OPs that create the tone/mood for the episode.

Overall:

Despite all my complaints this show is consistent each week. You will probably never find a case in this series that would satisfy your craving that the first case had created but you will not be too pained by the show either. The closest the series has come to the first would be the last case but the ending for that case destroyed what could have been good.

If you are looking for a mystery series, this might not be the one for you. It is more Slice-of-Life than <ystery in my opinion and the cases are not that great nor all that mysterious. However, if you are looking to kickback and relax and just need something to watch, then this would be an easy and light watch for you. Apart from Alice’s rambling (which you can zone out on) the show itself is not mentally taxing.

Series Rating: 6/10

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About Saranaufogus

An Anime fan who can't seem to keep her thoughts to herself. Find me on: Instagram | Twitter

Posted on September 26, 2011, in Anime, Kamisama no Memo-Chou, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Good review. I felt the series had a difficult time developing likable characters. Although somewhat mitigated by character development, Narumi is too inept to be the main character. He isn’t strong, he isn’t particularly smart, and he doesn’t have any special skills to speak of. Granted, it’s a very atypical character but when your most distinctive feature is how you aren’t good at anything, that’s not MC material. One wonders if the only reason he is the go-to guy for the different cases is that he is too meek to get pissed off by Alice.

    And then Alice. Like you described she is pointlessly cryptic (which is rather counter-intuitive if you are a detective) seemingly just to justify the title of the anime. The ‘voices of the dead’ represent information you dig up from the past and the ‘voices of the living’ represent the people in the present. There, was that so hard to describe, Alice? Unfortunately, Alice’s limited capability as a NEET detective (Why NEET? Is there a point to this distinction?) makes her arrogance a personality quirk to step up the tsundere element of her character. Speaking of tsundere, her over the top reactions to some of Narumi’s innocent comments are absurd. “Alice, I don’t find you all that annoying so I’ll stick by you.” “OMG DOES HE WANT TO SLEEP WITH ME!?!?” I get the feeling that they wanted to make her socially awkward like Sherlock Holmes balanced out with a brilliant mind but instead of brilliance we got moe instead.

    The rest of the NEET team could have used a lot more development. They just didn’t get enough screen time and their characters could be simplified down to their special skill, a womanizer, tech genius and boxer, respectively. Having a case to flesh out their personalities and back story would have been a welcome addition.

    I liked the Fourth and his group but their benevolent nature made one forget they were actually yakuza. Characters act surprised when things get dirty and rival groups attack them. I’m still at a loss for why the Fourth’s gang looks up to Narumi.

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  2. “Granted, it’s a very atypical character but when your most distinctive feature is how you aren’t good at anything, that’s not MC material.”

    I agree that it is not MC material, but he does a good job of not becoming too much of a main focus with each episode and the co-starring characters have their own chance to shine through. =/

    “One wonders if the only reason he is the go-to guy for the different cases is that he is too meek to get pissed off by Alice.”

    His ambiguous r/s with Alice is just odd.

    “which is rather counter-intuitive if you are a detective”

    True, oh so true.

    “I get the feeling that they wanted to make her socially awkward like Sherlock Holmes balanced out with a brilliant mind but instead of brilliance we got moe instead.”

    I think you meant that instead of brilliance we got retarded instead. Even a normal character like Narumi ended up becoming more of the main reason why the cases were solved towards the end of the series (and though that was meant to represent the character development of Narumi I felt that it just showed the retarded-ness and uselessness of Alice.)

    “The rest of the NEET team could have used a lot more development”

    You are right with that but I think that what they needed more were stronger personalities. All the personalities here are pretty… normal apart from Alice. (and that suits the story but I just wish Alice were normal too)

    “Fourth’s gang looks up to Narumi.”

    Because he can use the computer. LOL. Remember that scene?

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  3. You make an interesting point about Narumi’s… non exceptional qualities allowing other characters to shine. I’m reminded of Final Fantasy 12 whose decoy protagonist was so irrelevant to the plot that he was just a viewing piece for the more interesting characters. To Narumi’s credit, he does grow somewhat as a character (unlike the protagonist of FF12) but the respect he gets doesn’t match up to his accomplishments. I mean, a gang of bruisers respect him because he can use a computer. The yakuza boss considers him a sworn brother. Renji considers him a sworn brother. Narumi even takes over leadership of the gang in the fourth’s absence without a single objection. He’s almost an anti-sue.

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  4. @Ren:

    Although somewhat mitigated by character development, Narumi is too inept to be the main character.

    Narumi was the average Joe-type, I think, the point of sympathy for the audience it can identify with. As such character-types go he could’ve been worse (for example Gosick with its idiotic male lead) but I still agree with your opinion that he seems somewhat useless. Not only because he isn’t intelligent but also because he’s too competent. That may seem paradoxical but the point of his type is to get from Alice the necessary explanations to understand what’s going on but with him winging it later on in the series he couldn’t do that anymore and Alice stayed in her own mystic jargon without showing what’s going on in her head. But where he wasn’t intelligent enough was to challenge Alice in other ways than embarrassing her by revealing her lack of common sense. To take again the Sherlock Holmes example, Watson wasn’t just a random gorilla who knew Holmes, he himself wasn’t stupid to be completely in the dark and he knew when something didn’t make sense by his standards and that’s when then Holmes can shine by being the genius he’s supposed to be. These geniuses aren’t just there to spill the beans about the script, they have to convince the audience of their brilliant mind. And in that regard Narumi may have been a step in an interesting direction but it didn’t really help the mystery-aspect of the series.

    Unfortunately, Alice’s limited capability as a NEET detective (Why NEET? Is there a point to this distinction?)

    Well, I think, that the basic concept of the series simply makes no sense… I mean, we’re talking about NEET’s, that means they’re supposed to be unemployed so how the hell could someone have a job while being a NEET? Just adding “NEET” doesn’t mean anything or otherwise we soon have NEET-lawyer, NEET-bus-driver, NEET-teacher and so on… Like that it simply makes no sense…

    The rest of the NEET team could have used a lot more development.

    Hmm, I got the feeling that this series was mainly concerned with its moral message about what’s good and what’s evil. And it did that by being overly sentimental most of the times which led to a kind of simplicity that occurs when someone just wants to state an opinion without debating it in the story. Like that the “good yakuza” had to be good when they were supposed to support the good guys. And the NEET-term wasn’t anything negative in this series either, it was more of a call to show that everyone can be a little angel fighting for justice even the guys you might wanna call a “waste of space” if you’re mean.

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  5. @ren:

    I’m reminded of Final Fantasy 12 whose decoy protagonist was so irrelevant to the plot that he was just a viewing piece for the more interesting characters.

    I actually liked the FF12 game but like you said, the protagonist was highly forgettable. But like morgoth had said, the character of Narumi could have been crafted in such a way that the audience would be able to relate to him. (you know… being somewhat normal. Afterall, all of us are sworn brothers to a yakuza boss and run around solving life/death mysteries with a young and moe female for a partner) =P

    @m0rg0th:

    more of a call to show that everyone can be alittle angel fighting for justice even the guys you might wanna call a “waste of space” if you’re mean.

    Lol, I call that breaking the law. =P

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  6. @m0rg0th
    It seems a lot of series are wannabe Sherlock Holmes derivatives. Aria of the Scarlet Ammo was this in name only, Gossick followed it a bit closer except the male protagonist was a total idiot. And now with Kamisama no Memo Chou we have Alice standing in for Holmes and Narumi for Watson. The problem with this is, neither are smart enough to fit those archetypes. I can see Narumi as an everyman character but even they generally make up for their ignorance with determination and/or the Power of Friendship. It seemed like Narumi’s relevance to the cases relied on chance encounters and him running to contact competent individuals.

    Unless I’m mistaken Alice doesn’t get payed for solving cases (which makes me wonder how she or the other NEETs continue to live there) so technically she isn’t employed. Even so, Alice’s insistence on being called a NEET detective is pointless. It would be like you calling someone a firefighter and having them correct you “Ahem, that’s ‘volunteer firefighter’ to you.”

    @Saranaufogus
    I liked FF12 too, but more for the gameplay than the story or characters. The moral dilemma provided to Ashe wasn’t very impressive. “Nuking an entire country for revenge is bad.” Mmmkay, glad that was made clear. I can like even a bad or mediocre story so long as the characters are interesting but Vaan was a pointless character, Penelo was a satellite character to Vaan, and Fran seemed to just chime in in the most monotone voice possible whenever MIst entered the conversation. “The. Mist. Is. Thick.” Yes, yes it is. That leaves just 3 characters left.

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