Based on a shounen manga by Takenashi Eri, serialised in Comic REX.
Our unlucky protagonist, Jin, uses the trunk of a sacred tree to carve a statue for a school project. When he takes it outside, to his surprise it begins absorbing the surrounding earth and transforms into, hold your breath on this one, a girl! So like all similar setups this guardian deity is pretty pissed that her tree was cut down and lives with Jin while she takes out her anger on squashing bugs....er, cleaning the "Impurities."
At first glance Kannagi might appear to be just yet another school harem romance comedy and for the most part that’s about all it is. However once you start it becomes apparent that there is a little more to it to separate it from a genre that is overcrowded by bland and average titles.
The premise is pretty typical of any other show of this type, only the names and the origins ever seem to change. Though I did find it to be a bit unique with this one. Our lead Jin Mikuriya has just completed a wooden sculpture of a tree
spirit he saw as a boy for his art class. Shockingly the statue dematerializes and substituted in its place is a girl, Nagi. Nagi claims to be the god of this area and an amnesiac who needs Jin's help to purge the area of impurities that have arisen because the sacred tree she was bound to has been chopped down. It’s an amusing start and Nagi herself is instantly lovable as a character.
Kannagi's story though soon gets off track. Instead of developing the stories premise it stars to meander along and becomes basically a slice of life comedy. Some interesting plot elements that are brought up early seem to be pushed aside and forgotten about altogether. The ending is also slightly disappointing in that it changes focus again and gets serious and doesn’t really end decisively. What saves it though is that I really didn’t care because Nagi and many of the supporting cast are just so much damn fun. There is a lot of great comedy and even though I complain about the poor plot development the episodes, particularly in the middle part of the series, are extremely amusing. That’s the real charm of Kannagi is that despite it being shallow it has a special feeling about it that makes it stand above most other series of this genre. Kannagi also manages to be titillating and sexy without resorting to tasteless fan service. If you’re hoping for a bevy of boobs and panty shots you’re going to be extremely disappointed.
As with most harem shows the most interesting characters are usually the harem itself and not the male lead. Kannagi's appeal begins and ends with Nagi. She carried the show and makes it as interesting as it is. I find it doubtful that anyone watching this wont love her from the start. Her personality oozes out from every scene she’s in. Overall I thought she was pretty unique, moe without being helpless, tsundere without becoming the typical stereotype, and a quirky weirdness without coming across as a Haruhi clone. Sadly though because of the shows plot failures and slice of life pacing through the middle episodes we just don’t get enough back-story and development a character of this importance deserves.
For the rest of the harem the reviews are mixed. Though I found all of them amusing and enjoyable several are archetypes that frankly I am becoming a bit tired of, namely Tsugumi. You know who she is; the childhood friend who's in love with and secretly pines for the lead. (usually a tsundere though in this case she’s not) Girl, I have no sympathy for you. Admit your damn feelings already or get out of the way! Zange was also a tired and overused archetype. She was also poorly developed as none of the issues regarding her characters situation are ever satisfactorily addressed or resolved. Among the supporting cast, Takako steals the show. As the perverted otaku type she manages to be very funny without feeling like a cliché.
Finally Jin is adequate as the lead. He manages to not be the dull weakling who has no business attracting this harem of beautiful girls. Though he certainly has some of those character attributes, I found him to be amusing and interesting. There is great chemistry between him and Nagi and I really enjoyed watching them interact with one another. Again as with Nagi, there is very little overall development of his character which was disappointing.
The styling and animation in Kannagi was excellent. It’s one of the big appeals to this show. I loved Nagi's look and the settings and fashion designs were really cute. The voice cast is outstanding and in my opinion the OP animation and musical number is one of the best I have ever seen. If you watch it and don’t come away wanting to see more then I seriously question your judgment.
Kannagi is light on substance but high on enjoyment. I recommend this show to anyone who is looking for a few hours of mindless entertainment. Despite its failures with plot and some tired overused character types it stands out as a show that shouldn’t be missed.
There will be no comparison between this anime and the manga
Kannagi is a 13 episode series that drives its plot through comedy and character interaction. When the fall season started, I originally wasn't going to watch this show since the whole goddess popping out of nowhere fiasco has been done numerous times. Once I saw the OP however, I decided to take a look at the first episode and I was definitely glad that I took this up. It takes the conventional "boy meets girl" theme and builds it up with plenty of interaction, parody, and drama.
Story: The plot starts off rather strong and fast
with our protagonist, Mikuriya Jin, encountering a goddess called Nagi that has taken its vessel out of a carving Jin made from the local shrine's holy tree. The plot contains no action packed scenes of Nagi trying to banish great evil impurities but it instead drives the plot with comedic devices. The comedy is the show's main driving force. The interactions between the characters are all amusing even if they're bickering over the simplest things. The pure randomness of the humor adds in the extra feel that makes the comedy even all the more funnier.
The original plot unfortunately gets lost in the middle of the series with several episodes dedicated to nothing but comedic interaction between the characters but it ends with a strong finish in the last two to three episodes.
Art: The animation is not exactly the most crisp and clear cut state-of-the-art work but it's the way the animation flows seamlessly together that makes it great. Each scene has many small intricate movements such as a flick of hair waving about or background characters that actually move to even the sleeve of a shirt moving about in the wind. This makes the scenes appear to be natural and alive, not stiff and lacking.
Sound: The soundtrack is not a great memorable collection of BGM that'll have you scrambling for the OST. The high points of it would have to be both the OP and ED. Both of them shows a sharp contrast in how the anime is driven. The upbeat OP details the slice of life and comedic moments while the mellow ED details the seriousness and melancholy of the show.
The VAs are great too in bringing out the emotions in each scene, whether it be comedic or serious. Tomatsu Haruka not only does a great job at both OP and ED, she truly brings out the character of Nagi straight off the paper.
Character: There are only very few characters who actually receives an ample amount of development but the great supporting cast just brings everybody together. The various dialect between the characters just seem natural and it shows a lot of personality to all of them even if they don't have any large amount of development given to them.
And not to mention the main male character is actually pretty damn normal (except for his strange ability to see impurities). He's not a hot-headed brawns-over-brains idiot. He's not an annoying arrogant bastard. He's not a self-righteous piece of shit. He's just a completely normal guy who goes to high school. Nagi is a great character herself. She may appear to be slightly arrogant but the way she goes about doing things is just pure hilarious. She'll go off on how she's a great goddess and doesn't get all bitchy when Jin will occasionally smack her upside the side.
Kannagi has a great cast of supporting characters too. The supporting characters have some of the best lines in the whole show. From Akiba's "It's a Sony" line to Takako's karaoke concert, the supporting cast gives great development towards the main characters.
Enjoyment/Overall: Kannagi may have had its plot get lost somewhere in the middle, but its comedy more than fulfills its part. It's supported by a great cast of different characters and the different little scenarios they get themselves into is great. Kannagi is a fun little show with some very lulz moments and is able to deliver a strong finish too with its plot.
"A great series that started with a bang but could have ended better."
A first glimpse of Kannagi will make you think the anime is overly simplistic and cliche. Don't be fooled! The everyday comedy throughout the early half of the show, plus the references to certain other anime/show, makes Kannagi a good one-day-marathon candidate. In fact, I would recommend even to those who are not interested to just spend a few hours to watch the entire series (takes no more than 5 hours of your lifetime).
As to be expected from a 13 episodes series, the story was a bit lacking, especially when attempting to clarify
who Nagi really is at the end. Surprisingly it did not feel like the show was rushed, however the lack of explanation and the blurry conclusion really hurt the show near the end. As expressed by a fellow MAL member, "...and true the series did take a nose-dive when things got too serious [in the latter half]." - Master_M2K
But from a comedy anime perspective, Kannagi was an outstanding piece of art. Of course, there are other factors that also contributed to the overall success of this show as this review continues to break it down into components.
Perhaps the first thing that caught your attention about Kannagi is the high quality animation and superb soundtrack in the OP. Later you may find that the scenery too, are of exceptional quality. But strangely, there seems to be some slight inconsistency with the level of animation throughout the series leading to some attractive looking characters end up looking rather ugly at times. Fortunately, for the most part the background animation quality remain unchanged.
The CV of Kannagi, while most of them being fairly new to the industry, did a fantastic job in performing each character to their fullest. But if you are knowledgeable in the seiyu world and and are looking for big names, then you will probably be disappointed (well Mai Nakahara being perhaps the only exception, but her role in Kannagi was pretty limited in many ways).
The main casts have a decent amount of character development in the show at the expense of the side/supporting casts. Most of these developments were through daily interaction with one another as the viewers slowly take a deeper understanding of the general concept of the show. However, it gives the impression that the sidelined characters are somewhat "hollow" as very little was actually revealed about them. For instance, it would have been great to actually get a clear view of how Shino actually look with her eyes open.
Overall, Kannagi has proven its worth as one of the more entertaining show of 2008. While it may not top the chart in any particular category, it is still one that should not be missed by any anime lovers or hardcore otaku.
Kannagi is a Supernatural, Slice of Life, Romantic, Comedy with the kind of story set-up that any hardcore anime fan is familiar with. However this particular anime is highly enjoyable with a unique charm to it that helps justify its fandom.
It is about a teenage boy Jin Mikuriya, who carves a statue out of a sacred tree and in your typical anime fashion the statue turns into a cute girl, clad with a standard top and extremely short miniskirt. Well this guardian deity is fuming at the fact that her sacred tree was chopped down but with no other choice she decides to intrude upon
our unfortunate? young adolescent boy’s life by living with him. Nothing ground-breaking here, just your average abnormal girl cohabiting with an ordinary boy and being mostly filled with random misadventure you’re bound to wonder what makes this 13 episode series so special. Sure I say Kannagi has supernatural and romantic aspects but it’s really just the comedy that makes it such an enjoyable series. With a mix between subtle references that only the otaku would get and the outlandish slap-stick comedy anyone could laugh to, makes this into an anime series with a diverse audience in mind. And to me it is the Nagi in Kannagi that brings such a dull premise to life.
Haruhi needs to take a step down from the podium as there’s a new idol in town and that is Nagi. Sure she is based off some popular character archetypes but her hot, foxy attitude is what makes her so entertaining to watch. Her interactions with the protagonist Jin are some of the highlights of the show and it’s to no surprise that Jin falls into the average teenage boy role but he’s a lot more relatable than most of the losers found in this kind of genre. Sure there are several other characters like Zange-chan & Tsugumi that give the series a harem feel at times but it’s more or less about Nagi & Jin.
Another strong point of the Kannagi anime series is the animation, as it is almost un-par with some of the quality Kyoto Animation shows. The settings & scenery usually range from the typical high school setting to Jin’s home, but it’s really the character animation that stands out. Their actions & reactions are animated so well and the studio truly does a lot to bring its characters to life. The music and voice acting of Kannagi can be compared to the likes of the Melancholy of Haruhi, as they both have memorable OP & ED themes but their BGM’s uninspiring. This in turn allows the voice actors to shine, most notably Nagi’s voice actor who’s able to pull off the most unique one-liners resulting in some truly hilarious moments.
Overall Kannagi is one of those obscure comedies that come about every year and is destined to be a hit amongst the Japanese & Western audience, like the well-known Lucky Star phenomenon. With all the comedy it is easy to forget what this series was originally about but later on when it tries to remind us; those serious, emo-driven episodes really didn’t feel like a part of the show I fell in love with. Well even though the last 3 episodes disappointed me in some way, this was still a remarkable series that warrants a sequel.
Scores of anime characters can level mountains, resurrect the dead, or perform similar feats but few possess the level of power necessary to truly be called a god. From warping reality as they see fit to changing the course of history for fun, these deities can influence whole worlds on a whim.