Kamichu! Is an Overlooked Yet Charming Iyashikei Anime Series

What would happen if a middle school girl was suddenly granted the gifts of a god? That's what 2005's Kamichu! sought to explore, though it took a more relaxed approach to the concept than other series might have. Falling into the iyashikei genre of anime, it's a slice-of-life series about a girl who tries to figure out what kind of goddess she is after gaining powers literally overnight -- and how the people around her try to help her use these abilities to aid the local shrine.

During their lunch break, Yurie Hitotsubashi announces to her friend that she is now a kami, a Shinto deity. She doesn't know what type of kami she is though, so Matsuri, whose family owns the local shrine, tries to help her figure out her powers.

Kamichu Friends

As they explore the possibilities, Yurie accidentally creates a typhoon, putting her crush Kenji in danger so she must figure out how to dispel it. As the group tries to discern what kind of kami Yurie is, their series of misadventures includes finding the missing god of Matsuri's family shrine, an economic depression caused by a visiting money god, and even speaking to a Martian on behalf of Japan's Prime Minister.

Yurie's friends give her the nickname of Kamichu, which is formed from the words "kami" and "chugakusei" (middle school student). How she got her powers is never fully explained or expanded on. Instead, the story focuses on how she learns to use them and how the town adjusts to having a young goddess in their midst. Matsuri tries several schemes to get people to come to their shrine and spend money, usually involving Yurie as she is a living deity.

The entire story of Kamichu! takes place over the span of a year, beginning in the spring of 1983 and ending in 1984. Its setting features several real-life locations throughout Onomichi, Hiroshima, much as Laid-Back Camp would do several years later. The anime ran for 16 episodes, after which it received a manga adaptation. It was directed by Koji Masunari (Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic) while the manga spanned just two volumes.

Yurie eating lunch

The idea of a human becoming a god is a Shinto concept known as arahitogami. This is different from a akistumigami, which is more of an incarnation of a god rather than a human god. The best-known example of this concept is the Japanese Royal Family, who are believed to be extensions of the goddess Amaterasu. In Shintoism, it's possible for people who have performed great deeds or displayed superior abilities to be worshipped as gods after death. An example of this practice would be Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was one of the three lords to unify Japan and was the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Despite releasing nearly two decades ago, Kamichu! is a cute, easygoing anime that can still be enjoyed today. It offers a glimpse into traditional Shinto beliefs and what life was like in Japan in the 1980s, though with a bit more magic. It doesn't dwell on huge, catastrophic problems that would come with a teenage deity or world-saving events, instead keeping its feet on the ground and acting as more of a coming-of-age story.

While Yurie is trying to figure out what type of kami she is, this acts as a metaphor for growing up and deciding what kind of person she wants to be as an adult. Even though she has more responsibilities than the average middle schooler, she's still a young girl going through the same growing pains that every girl eventually comes to know.

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