Jan 12, 2021
deadoptimist (All reviews)
Kamisama, Kisama wo Koroshitai. left a sour taste in my mouth. One should listen to our possum overlords and be more selective with their trash. It has certain good qualities, but at its current state of discontinue it’s a disaster few people should or deserve to engage at all.

Firstly, it was axed right in the lowest point of the plot, with all remotely sympathetic characters outsmarted and dishonored, dead, or on the way to being violently murdered. So you will be disappointed even if you like everything else.

Which is not guaranteed at all, considering the flippant attitude this manga has to killing – it’s totally in awe of murderous psychopaths and makes them look special, even superhuman. And considering the uncomfortable sexualization of the main male character and the commodification of women. Whenever fanservice happens, and it happens most of the time in this manga, it’s really distasteful. As in it makes the whole manga unpleasant to consume, despite its rich art and its brutal political satire.

The armed smiley brat on the covers – you are supposed to fawn on him, I guess. The characters constantly comment how cute he is, and he often dresses as a woman with multiple leery panels panning over his panties, lips, and feet. The one thing we get to know about him besides his murder talents is that he doesn’t have pubic hair. After learning it the female lead immediately comments that he has a “cute butt”. So yeah, the implication is we are to look sexually on a psychopathic teenager with prepubescent features, sometimes directly on his crotch in a gender bent disguise (I feel weird specifying this, but I know it's important for some readers: no, there is no bulge).

The female lead gets less visual admiration, more attempted rape. That’s basically the plot for her – she moves from one attempted rape scene to another, occasionally an attempted murder for a change. The terrible things that happen to her in the process of the manga are sorta hand waived because she’s suicidal and willing to sacrifice herself for vengeance, which is seen like a valid goal. A whole collection of bad things had happened to her before it all began, so much that it feels manipulative. She is a sad being through and through.

And then there are female props. To build a corrupt politician as this immoral tyrant the author makes him have sex with women in lowered positions in front of his employees. Say, we see buttocks of one woman, to whom he makes sex doggy-style, then he gets distracted, and she gets abandoned, her naked butt on the forefront of a comic panel with “twitch” sound effects. Or once our male lead gets sad, paints his face a la Joker (yeah, it all does feel very imageboard culture), and when he runs into some prostitutes he randomly murders them – to make the next scene look more impressive amidst a heap of mutilated tits and asses. It is cheap, gratuitous, and cringey, even for the depicted world. I know some people would ask me, why chastise this but not murders, but you see, the murders advance the plot at the very least, and these girls were included only to be chopped as decorations. It’s sick AND pointless, it’s not even all that aesthetic.

This manga becomes somewhat better, occasionally good, when it leans on its over the top worldbuilding, on the wacky characters tearing apart the landscape with exaggerated violence.

The best part of the story, one that feels raw and inspired, is its dark political aspect. Politicians, the court, the mafia, and the police are united by greed into an all-encompassing world of corruption that is so bad a maniac does look better, seems more pure. The writing delivers striking moments sometimes. A yakuza bends to admonishments of a political leader besides a lavish koi pond. The old man sounds wise and benevolent when he talks about the betterment of the country – but his words are a signal for kidnappings, torture, and deaths of innocents. According to the fan traslators’ notes the manga may have been discontinued because of its political themes. And it is indeed not far from real life news.

Kamisama, Kisama wo Koroshitai. is also not so bad when it is a clash of opposing forces. Its cast is thriller stereotypes taken to the fun extremes. The aforementioned “pure” and “innocent” super murder kid, who’s explained as a natural predator, the way he is just because. (The manga does jump between him being cruelly dismissive or simply cruel to the girl lead and him being a protector whenever it sees fit, sadly.) A hunting maniac grandpa, ya murderous Crocodile Dundee, ya shady Bear Grylls. An OCD inspector, who is so mysophobic he is in a respirator all the time and so cool he wears a suit and a mohawk haircut together. The Yakuza has a short devious sadistic megane bishounen and a giant brawler in a Jason-like mask to offer. They act in an over the top way too – call a helicopter randomly, wreck a whole highway of cars, use a morningstar on a rope to fight, torture with dried wakame. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it plays into the image of an immoral rotten upside down world they inhabit. But then you have to stare at the panties of a cross dressing boy for some reason or observe twitching lower halfs. You have to switch your brain off to agree with the heroine protecting the murder kid despite knowing that he will kill her later.

What I cannot criticize is the quality of the art. Backgrounds are detailed, full of personality, clearly modelled after real lived-in places. The characters are distinct, the action dynamic. You can see the experience of the mangaka, his accumulated skill in the confident, seemingly effortless direction. It’s the big cinematographic seinen art it’s hard not to respect and like. The art is probably what made me pull through till the end.

And in that end Kamisama, Kisama wo Koroshitai. left its main team in the worst shape ever. Maybe it was the pivotal moment, after which they were supposed to rise again. Or the mangaka butchered them out of spite knowing it was the end. Either way it was disappointing to drag through all that nastiness with no emotional payoff. Maybe I could have overlooked the fact that the manga departed in a wrong moment, tbh, if it hadn’t been so sleazy too. Kamisama, Kisama wo Koroshitai. as a whole, as it is now, feels like it asks obnoxiously for your attention, then falls into dirt and rolls in it, rubs it in some places it shouldn’t, and then hits on you physically. Titillation touches you directly emotionally, chemically, unlike fictional fighting, and here the thing that touches you is at the minimum questionable. I should straight warn people about the big amount of attempted rape scenes, for example.

In short, Kamisama, Kisama wo Koroshitai. goes so far in its god-defying edge that even if you are in the non-judging murder shlock headspace, it is likely to cross your lines, offer unneeded fetishes, or be outright unpleasant, especially for female readers. And it doesn’t have any aftercare. I would save your energy, if I was you.