Face Off: Ray vs. Mike on Kannagi

Mike: What is it that makes me like this show so far? Is it the very catchy OP song? (I have it stuck in my head right now.) Or the not-quite-as-cliched interaction between Jin and Nagi, though objectively speaking it’s not anything particularly new? I’m not sure, really. All that I know is that like Toradora it feels a cut above the usual anime romance comedy.

Ray: Well, unfortunately, I can’t say I share the same enthusiasm as you do. I really don’t remember the OP, and although somewhat refreshing, their interactions don’t seem that new to me – unless you can point the interesting aspects out.

Mike: Hmm. Well, let’s start with Jin. Yes, he somehow still gets all blushy and agitated when he handles Nagi’s underwear or the like (a cliche point). He also has a childhood friend to whom he has to hide his arrangements (another cliche point). But he’s actually not quite a wimp, either. I mean, he actually kicks Nagi out of the house temporarily in episode 2, for goodness’ sake. He is not instantly attracted to Nagi. Nagi herself is behaving like a fairly typical tsundere, I’ll admit.

Ray: Well, having not watched episode 2, I have no idea about any of these. I think what was funny for me was that Nagi actually cracked jokes, rather than just being plain nice or just being cute. Oh and, she’s not powerful.

Mike: Yeah. She has a taste for awful puns. And, no, she doesn’t seem very “goddess” like at all, and in a way that “humanizes” her. Like when she thinks the magical girl show is the way to do the exorcisms!

Ray: Now that’s funny. But taking a serious look at it, I find it rather stupid. What, she doesn’t remember how to exorcise any more? Has she lost her intelligence after being asleep for many years? Or wait, she didn’t sleep.

Mike: I think the theory goes that being inside the human body has diluted most of her powers. And yeah, I’ll admit it is kinda…dumb. I’m not saying that this is a brilliant work of genius or anything. It’s kind of like the first season of Zero No Tsukaima for me. Yes, I know, it’s rather stupid and unoriginal, but it was competently directed and entertaining for me.

Ray: And that’s fine. But I really don’t see how it stands out like some other offerings this season. As for kicking her out, I vaguely remember some classic shows from long ago…oh wait, I know, Nodame Cantabile! Chiaki often kicked or wanted to kick Nodame out.

Mike: That’s true. Though I think Nodame sort of belongs a different category. Kannagi definitely is a more conventional, shonen, otaku-oriented romance show, which Nodame Cantabile isn’t. Though I think both Nodame and Nagi share something in common along with other “cute, quirky” female characters.

There’s actually a really nifty label somebody invented for people like Nagi, Nodame, and Taiga from Toradora: “Manic Pixie Dream Girls.” They show up increasingly in American movies too. A great example is the Kate Winslet character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Natalie Portman in Garden State. It always works like this: a dull, hopeless guy suddenly gets this odd woman barging into his life. At first they don’t get along, but eventually they fall in love and her uniqueness and quirkiness redeems him from despair, boredom, or whatever.

Ray: Yeah, which is crap to the worst degree. XD One only gets more tired and less amused with that as time goes on, especially for men (at least me).

Mike: Well it’s a fantasy, like most formulas. It’s a peculiarly modern fantasy, though. Compare it with Belldandy: she’s definitely very “retro” by comparison. I get the feeling that the whole tsundere phenomenon can be lumped under that label too. And Nagi’s definitely a tsundere. One moment she’s squealing over how cute something is, the next she’s slapping Jin around and calling him an unbeliever.

Ray: Hah. Don’t we all love people who are overly pious in real life? But the thing is, that’s the funny part – the unbeliever. She and Jin met once when Jin was young, and Jin was catching bugs and playing around like a child. Thus, that may signify that he was innocent and perhaps had more “faith” in things. But in high school, he used the tree to make a statue – although a fairy statue – for his ordinary project. That fact means he probably still believes somewhat.

Mike: I don’t think we’re meant to take the “unbeliever” insult that literally. I think she just uses it as a generalized put-down, which coming from a goddess means a lot more. 🙂 Plus, he can still see the bugs! In fact, he handles them nonchalantly. Which is probably how the plot will turn out–he will become Nagi’s key ally in her war against the spiritual rot.

Ray: Yeah, as tree hugging hippies! Oh wait, that’s a nice pun. XD

Mike: You’re in the spirit now 🙂

Ray: Yeah, and let’s see if Jin will, too. In any event, some of these concepts sound interesting, but if they’re not as heavy or important as I painted them, then I don’t see this as having too much potential. After all, there’s already Toradora for me. Does this anime show any heart?

Mike: At this point, it’s mostly comedy more than heart. I have to admit, with Toradora 2–that really got to me. Like I was surprised to see that much emotion so early on in the show. That tells me immediately that this one will be different. And yeah, I have to admit, it’s probably aesthetically a bit better than Kannagi. Kannagi is more like the “easy to watch” comedy for me this season. I need at least one.

Ray: I’m not picking on your preferences. It’s just that this one seems lacking in something.

Mike: Well, since you haven’t watched episode 2, I’d recommend you check it out. I think on stuff like this, humor and taste is going to be very subjective. I guess one thing to note is that Nagi is definitely not character designed like the usual sort of heroine of this type. She’s not “moe.” She’s not even particularly “cute” in the usual sense. Nor is her seiyuu talking in a typical tone of voice. (Then again, neither is Rie Kugimiya in Toradora.)

Ray: Tone?

Mike: Tone, timbre, pitch–not quite sure what the word is. On one side of the spectrum, there are the girls in the Key dramas, like Nagisa. Very high pitched and cutesy. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got very masculine sounding women; think Revy or maybe Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell.

Ray: And Romi Paku.

Mike: Nagi falls somewhere in between.

Ray: She sounds like she’s an very ancient person trapped in a young girl’s body, which means the seiyuu is playing the role just fine.

Mike: That’s probably it. BTW, her seiyuu is named Haruka Tomatsu. Familiar with her?

Ray: Nope. I didn’t hear anyone that I recognized and that’s another minus for me. I know everyone was new once, but having someone recognizable helps me to like it (unless it’s special, or it’s moe).

Mike: Well, she was in Moetan. 🙂 Her list of credits is short; I take it she’s new. Those are all recent shows.

Ray: Oh, that character [in Moetan]! She sounds completely different there.

Mike: Apparently she did the theme song to Moetan too, and the ED to Zettai Karen Children.

Ray: OH! Now I remember. Shiho. I have to see kanji to remember the person. English spelling is worthless to me. In those shows, her voice is more of the cute type. Nagi is very different, dry and not endearing at all. Imagine having a few hundred years old woman trapped in a girl’s body and living with you! Oh the nag, the nag! The bitching and moaning, the bitching and moaning!

Mike: I think I wrote a story about that once, actually…or it was part of a novel I wrote.

Ray: Are you promoting your stuff in the Face Off? XD

Mike: Hah, no way. I don’t want anyone to read THAT one. 🙂

Ray: Not very powerful, though. I wonder if that’s a moe charm these days? Magical girlfriends used to be somewhat powerful, but Nagi? Weakling. I’d love her a lot more if I were a tree hugging hippie!

Mike: The tree hugging hippie part is somewhat diluted by the fact that she was created by having a tree cut down 🙂 (Yes, she complains about it. But she gets over it pretty quick.)

Ray: But she is the tree.

Mike: Well, the spirit of the tree. Or of the shrine itself and the forest around it. Incidentally, there are some pretty spectacular photos showing the real shrine and location they based it on.

Ray: So can you imagine the pun anyways? Look, if I had wood, I had a girlfriend! The spirit of my wood.

Mike: HAHAHAHAH I can imagine Nagi slapping YOU around with that line! Or maybe she’d laugh her butt off too because she loves bad puns!

Ray: I’d just light that bitch on fire. She’d burn like wood, and I’d get charcoal for my next BBQ!!! XD

Mike: “Unbeliever!” (slap)

Ray: Well (taking out a match) here’s your worst nightmare! This is you, this is you processed…to burn you! Krauser II would love this one. But in any case, what else did you like about it?

Mike: There are some surprisingly well-animated parts of the show. Though they do seem to be in parts that are relatively incidental rather than important to the story–things like limb movements and the like.

Ray: What, animating the details well is important, but not animating the rest of the story well? I see.

Mike: Anyways, any parting thoughts on the show?

Ray: Well, I probably will try to watch 2, but I doubt this one will be that much better.

Mike: And I will continue following the show, but probably not blog about it. It’s not really blog material, at least for the kind of writing I like to do. But I hope it continues to be entertaining.

Ray: Me, too.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at mike.huang@animediet.net. You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

4 thoughts on “Face Off: Ray vs. Mike on Kannagi

  1. “Nagi herself is behaving like a fairly typical tsundere, I’ll admit.”

    I don’t see Nagi as a tsundere. But that’s probably because my definition of “tsundere” isn’t yours. And I think you might be thinking a bit too hard about Kannagi, despite it being easy to watch. 😛

  2. Damnit you two, stop this war.

    On another note, I think I’ll like Kannagi a lot since I like tsunderes and I like the whole “Goddess comes to make your life better or worse” theme.

  3. @Qwerty: but war is the entire point of the Face Off! Ray and I were looking for something to actually robustly disagree on. They’re more fun that way.

    I suppose this genre of shows is an example of a real deus ex machina story, isn’t it? 🙂

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