Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens takes the fucking cake. Wow. It takes the idea of the make-one's-own "robot girlfriend" and adds a bit of Pinocchio to it just for some twisted kicks (and possible splinters in one's nether regions after one tries to get frisky with it). Honestly, I had no idea that the Japanese were THIS incredibly hard up. Impressive. They astound me with their perverted horniness on an almost daily level.
Kannagi (which will be known as "the show about the girl who came from and causes wood" in fandom from now on) is not a bad show. Really. The animation is top notch (very fluid and the designs are always on style), the characters are very fun and likeable (although you've seen them eleventy times before in other shows), and the stand-alone episodes are enjoyable (although you've already seen the likes of THEM about fiftily times before in other productions)... But like I've just hinted at above, it is absolutely nothing new.
Hey! Remember in all those other anime shows where the wimpy lead inexplicably gets tons of chicks throwing their bras and panties at him like he was a rock star on stage about to kick it with an encore of Free Bird or Stairway?!?! Yeah, we got that here (and one girl's a goddess, one's a nun [kind of], and of course one is a childhood friend who wants to diddle Jin's [the fearful-of-women protagonist himself] paint tube all of a sudden, mostly because a couple other rivals popped up like a couple of cysts inside Paris Hilton's diseased and disgusting hoo-dilly). Oh man! Remember those tons of other anime series in which the lead boy's classmates are all nosey and poking themselves into his business and he has to pretend that his new girlfriend (who he's afraid to touch) is his sister or cousin?!!??!?! OMG WTF BBQ yes! We got that crazy action going on here too. Hee-hee! And remember those oodles upon oodles of shows in which the storyline starts out with some sort of quasi-plot in which the main character has to help his new girlfriend accomplish something, but then they kind of forget about the main conflict and just do goofy things up until the last 2 or 3 episodes wherein the narrative gets all serious and dramatic and then completely ignores the silly, kooky, and wacky story devices that peppered the plot through the first 3/4ths of the thing?!??!?!??!??11111///?!?? Oh HELL yeah! Kannagi is all that and then some!
Not that it's bad, as I've said before; it's just not very original. Open your fucking ears.
Anyway, the general idea behind this baby is that Jin is an aspiring artist who — when he was a child — met the ethereal goddess of the local shrine face to face. In high school he joins the art club and takes it upon himself to carve the trunk of the recently deceased holy tree of said shrine into the likeness of the goddess he remembers. Well, of course the statue comes to life (in the form of Nagi, the blue-haired shrine maiden/goddess who immediately makes Jin's life a living hell, but he puts up with it because she's cute and pays him an ounce of attention every so often), and soon the goddess incarnate and Jin are running around stopping all the insecty impurities that started appearing around the area because the holy tree that kept them at bay got turned into toothpicks (due to "land reassignment", which is how Jin got part of it for his little goddess project in the first place). Well, they chase impurities for a little bit before just kicking back and watching TV, and having fun with Jin's classmates, and Nagi's "sister" Zange. Soon Nagi (while pretending to be Jin's illegitimate half sister) starts sneaking into Jin's school as a pretend student in order to hunt down the impurities that are creeping around (and to have fun), and then soon enough more and more chicks start appearing, turning this off-kilter spectral comedy into a full-blown harem show so fast that it made me curse the uncaring gods and drop to my knees in blasphemous fits of "why the fuck did they fall back on that sorry crutch?!" Really, the likeable leads would have been plenty to keep this thing going for a full 13 episodes on their own without resorting to "HAREM"... Ugh.
Yes, Kannagi sounds dumb and veeeeery much aimed- at- middle- schoolers... But thanks to the tone (which doesn't take itself too seriously at all... at least not until the last 3 episodes) and likeable cast, it works. For the most part... Really, I'm still pissed it went all harem on me like that, but I digress. It's helmed by the guy who did the first 4 episodes of Lucky Star before getting sacked for "not having reached the level of a true director yet." Really? Maybe it's just the source, but Kannagi blows Lucky Star out of the fucking water with humor and characters. The jokes in Kannagi are actually funny all the time, and the people in it aren't just one dimensional cardboard cut-outs of exaggerated mockeries of already over-embellished caricatures. Oh, and Kannagi has "cockroach-vision" in episode 7. LS never had that.
Other than it not being very original and turning to unnecessary drama by the end of its run, the only other problem that I had with Kannagi was episode 10. It seemed to me that they just tried to make a Seinfeld episode of their very own (i.e. an entire episode that takes place in only one room wherein all the characters just talk about nothing, or in this case sing a lot [it taking place in a karaoke room]). There were some funny lines and jokes in it (the best sight gag of its run occurred in this ep), but it just felt like it was trying something new for the sake of trying something new, without fully understanding the concept. It just didn't feel like a Kannagi episode. Kudos for attempting something a little risky, but jeers for not properly executing it. But whatever.
Why do the Japanese insist on making television shows in which sad and lonely boys "make" their own girlfriends? Then after they make them the girls "fall in love" with the anti-social twerp "for reals"... Like, no. Ick. Gross.
Why aren't there any shows about boys and girls who meet and fall in love where the boys aren't frightening examples of "the problems with home schooling," and the girls aren't totally and completely infatuated with the whiney boys for no good reason what so ever? That one His and Her Circumstances was good.... Why not make more like that?
I guess the obvious answer is "know your audience." 95% of the television-watching population of Japan simply has to be people who look and act like the main characters in these things. That's frightening! Think about it! No wonder their country's population is in decline! Nobody's going out there and making babies! All the boys are holed up in their parents' basements hoping that the statue they just carved will turn into a real girl who'll worship them when she inexplicably becomes flesh and blood.... Though they'll probably have a Doritos-induced heart attack if their creation ever does come to life and does try to unzip their fly. It's like an entire culture that thinks that Weird Science is the greatest movie ever made. It's not... The Secret Life of Bees is.
How very interesting! Now, I've tried to breathe life into dead bodies before, and even into two separate corpuses with heartbeats who I stitched together in some of my more creative days as a youth... But never had I even dreamed of turning a log into a living beauty until viewing this very special anime program that the Rossman presented me with.
After seeing the first few episodes I commissioned the Rossman to carve for me a real looker out of a tree. His design was flawless! She was 5'10" in her stiletto heels, she had the perfect rump to counter balance her watermelon-sized breasts, and her pouty lips and wavy hair mimicked the gorgeous Veronica Lake to perfection... So imagine my shock and dismay when I flipped the switch on the wires that I had connected to her and she began to burn like a book in Nazi Germany... Oh, she came alive just before then, but that only made it worse.
There my beautiful Veronica Lakewood stood, still (literally) rooted to the spot where the Rossman forgot to chisel her free from the base of the tree, screeching like a banshee, as bright as a Roman candle, and smelling like a fine hickory barbeque. I didn't know if I was appalled or hungry... It was quite a dilemma. So I chose to order my own personal Igor (well, that's what I call him... he's really just a half-monkey, half-midget with a dead badger for a hump) to put out the flames while I went out to Sonny's and got me a plate of pulled-pork with a side of Texas toast and beans. When I got back my whole lab had burned down again, apparently due to Veronica finally freeing herself from her pedestal and running towards what she must have thought was a large body of water, but in reality was my own personal petrol pit that I had made and had been storing the stuff for an emergency. Ironically an emergency occurred, only it was caused BY the stockpile of open propellant, and not FIXED by the same.