OP: 「Birth」 by 喜多村英梨 (Kitamura Eri)
「死の谷I」 (Shi no Tani I)
“The Valley of Death I”
More mythology than fantasy. This episode introduces the world, but it doesn’t really begin to explain itself.
And On The First Day
This episode mainly introduces us to the mythology of the KamiNai’s world and explains why it is the way it is today. God made the world in six days, and on the seventh he knobbed off and said “See ya, losers!” I’ve read quite a few mythologies, some fictional and the rest…let’s call them historical, and I can’t think of one where the god(s) abandoning a world had such a direct effect on the laws of nature. Usually the whole place just descends into bone-grinding chaos and evil, but they don’t have a natural law like death just up and break! For that alone this series is interesting, even if that makes me wonder about the mental state of the author. What kind of a person imagines a world where god actually tells everybody “I have failed” and leaves? What a dick! (Their god, not the original author. Probably. I dunno, I’ve never met em.)
Enter Ai (Toyosaki Aki), the gravekeeper in charge of preparing the graves for the 47 people of her village, so they won’t have to around as undead monstrosities that definitely aren’t the zed word. (Though they get to sort of keep their minds, so that’s cool. Their heads? Not always.) A loli that digs holes…is this a new moe mode? I don’t know, but I think we should keep her away from Andy, even though she doesn’t have the big bangs that he likes. Moving on.
Taking Itself Seriously
This is probably personal preference on my part, but hear me out: if there’s one thing I don’t like about this series, it’s how seriously it takes itself. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a serious story, but it feels like this one is taking itself more seriously than it deserves. It’s acting like this is the grandest of tales – and sure, people being unable to die would be that – but actually, they can die, can’t they? Sure, they might not be able to rest without a gravekeeper, but you can sure as hell make them stop living, as silver-haired bishie murderer Hampnie Hambart (Namikawa Daisuke) proved quite well. So it really comes down to an extra, mandatory step in the dying process. Whoopdie doo.
Now, the whole no-more-children-being-born thing – which was only vaguely alluded to in how happy Anna (Watanabe Akeno) and Youki (Nojima Hirofumi) were to have a child in this day and age – is a pretty big deal. Perhaps my problem is that they introduced us to this high-flying, world-spanning crisis, and it’s hard to connect that to our main characters. I think of Robotics;Notes, which, while enjoyable, suffered from a gap between the relatively mundane main characters and the world-wide scoop of the problems they were trying to deal with.
Human, or Gravekeeper?
The one thing that could invalidate my previous concern would be if Hampnie and/or Ai are truly suited to tackle the world-spanning crisis we’ve been introduced to. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised. Hampnie definitely knows more about the world if he’s willing to go around killing (un-living?) an entire village in one go, and as for Ai, there’s the question of whether she is a gravekeeper at all. She has emotions and acts like a human, but if she’s not a gravekeeper then why did Hampnie let her bury all those people? (Though maybe he just wanted to double-check.) And how did Ai’s mother (or her “mother”) rest in peace after her burial if Ai wasn’t a gravekeeper? Okay, okay, so an easy answer there – another gravekeeper like Scar (Noto Mamiko) could have come around and done the job for her after the fact, like she probably did this episode. Still, the question remains – if Ai wasn’t a gravekeeper, why did everybody tell her? Or is she a different kind of gravekeeper altogether?
The problem right now is that the story isn’t explaining itself…yet. That’s good for hooking us in and making us want more, but I feel like too little was explained in this episode! I don’t blame Madhouse, though – this show is adapted from a novel series, and if we were reading the book then we could just turn to the next chapter and find out more. As is, we have to wait a whole week. Ahhh! Oh well, it’ll be here soon enough. Until then, at least we have plenty of pictures of Ai-chan.
KamiNai, you got some ‘splainin’ to do! Old TV references aside, I’m looking forward to digging into Hampnie and Ai’s stories more, and see if they really are as important as all that. I’ll be covering this show until Zanibas gets back from his Bigfoot hunting expedition, so expect the posts for this show to come out on Sundays for the next few weeks.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – And on the seventh day, god was a dick. The mythology of the world is laid out as Hampnie makes his guns-blazing entrance. Poor Ai #kaminai
- I like that Hampnie was actually willing to fight a little girl – that’s refreshing gender equality(?) right there. Also, loli punt!
- Naked loli, candy loli, happy loli digging graves. Weird. It’s the summer of lolis indeed!
- She already dug all the plots. Uh, what was she going to do if it rained? Though I guess they came in handy. She finished just in time…which is exactly the kind of convenient timing that annoys me, to be honest.
- “You’re very handsome.” I must admit, I enjoyed Ai yanking Hampnie around. They could have a good dynamic, once she stops moping around.
- If you liked this, you should definitely check out Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou. It also has lolis in despair, but with more emphasis on the atmosphere, the mystery, and with oodles and oodles of style. Highly recommended.
For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.
ED: 「終わらないメロディーを歌いだしました。」 (Owaranai Melody wo Utaidashimashita.) by 小松未可子 (Komatsu Mikako)