(Review contributed by Misya Danielle)
Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Kaminai) is an emotional and thought provoking anime series produced by Madhouse and licensed by Sentai Filmworks, the series aired in 2013 from early July to late September as an adaptation of the Japanese light novel series written by Kimihito Irie. While all of the volumes of the anime series were released to dvd and bluray in Japan by the end of February 2014 it wasn’t until later that year that it was released on dvd to North America, unfortunately the dvd release to North America was an overpriced 3-disc set in a very plain case that is no different than one for a single volume of any other series. I recommend simply watching this series on a site such as Crunchy Roll considering that the bonus OVA included with the dvd set is incredibly undesirable and seems like a whimsical afterthought targeted to those looking for fan service. The series itself is full of beautiful art that reflects the beauty and sadness of the story and an emotional soundtrack with a great deal of variety, the cast of characters is very unique and each character has their own very different personality and feelings towards the sorrowful world they live in.
The series takes place in a world abandoned by its God where no more children can be born and the dead walk the earth unable to rest unless buried by special beings called grave keepers, before the world was abandoned God granted the wishes of the people and created grave keepers as a final gift to the world but many of the dead decide to continue as they did when they were alive. The young 13- year old heroine Ai Astin is a half human- half grave keeper who lives in a small village that her mother started prior to her death and burial by her own daughter. Ai was only seven years old at the time of her mother’s burial and had never met her father and with her mother buried she only had the rest of the villagers to rely on and take care of her, Ai continues to live in the village and continues to dig graves every day unaware that the villagers have been keeping a secret. Soon a mysterious man name Hampnie Hambart who happens to have the same name as Ai’s father arrives at the village and in a violent display shows Ai that the other villagers are actually among the dead and have been continuing as though they were alive. Hampnie forces her to bury the villagers that he damaged but does not believe that she is actually a grave keeper, Hampnie is quickly proven wrong when Scar who is a full grave keeper arrives and confirms that the villagers were properly buried. After Ai realizes she can no longer stay in the village she follows Hampnie but soon a man named Julie appears and attacks Hampnie claiming to want revenge for Hampnie forcing both his wife and his child to be buried years after their death.
As Ai continues her journey she eventually teams up with Julie who has sworn vengeance on Hampnie but ends up helping Ai and Scar in their attempt to save him later when one of his fans kidnaps him and begins torturing him. Ai, Scar, and Julie continue to travel together with the same goal of saving the world as they uncover the truth about the reality of their world and its many secrets which are uncovered when Alis and Dee join them towards the end of the series. Alis and Dee are both from an alternate world where only one of them is alive, Alis much like Ai wants to save the world but he hopes to accomplish his goal by destroying the world as a means of saving it and Dee who does not have a physical body outside of their alternate world accompanies him both as an ally and an enemy while she attempts to cover up the truth about her existence as a ghost outside of their world. Through their journeys together Julie and Scar grow romantically close and a possible romance forms between Ai and Alis though their ideas of how to save the world are different.
Ai continues to grow as she sees more of the world and quickly begins to understand more about both the living and the dead as many of them strive to continue existing peacefully in a world full of chaos. She learns about the reason why her own mother who was the first grave keeper created the small village that became her home and why the villagers kept their condition secret from her. Although grave keepers exist to bury the dead Ai and Scar learn that the dead exist much like the living and continue to feel the emotions they had while they were alive leading them to continue existing as though they are still alive with those they love. Ai also begins to understand the feelings of those who have kept their dead loved ones from being buried by grave keepers and those who have died in order to exist side by side with the dead as she tries to save the dead who are most precious to her.
Kaminai’s unique story is complimented well by the beautiful art, emotional soundtrack, and interesting cast of characters. The opening theme Birth sung by Eri Kitamura and the ending theme Owaranai Melody sung by Mikako Komatsu are among some of the amazing music in the anime’s soundtrack. I highly recommend this anime series to those who enjoy anime that is emotional and thought provoking in all areas from the music and scenery to the story and characters without all of the excessive blood, gore, and fan service. This anime will surely make many of its viewers cry and leave you wanting more and its only con is the occasional sidetracking from the main story.
PROS: Beautiful Art, Emotional Soundtrack, Interesting Characters, Deep Story, Unique World
CONS: Occasional Sidetracking From Main Story
SCORE – A