「三年四組III」 (San-nen Shikumi)
“Class 3-4 III”
Wait, so Dee isn’t really dead, or is she? If Alis saved her, then why did she assume a ghost form when entering the real world? If so, then why does Alis get to keep a corporeal form? Is it because the wish causes them to materialize in the form that they believe is reality? So does that mean the Deus ex Machina at the end mean that people can wish hard enough to bring people back from the dead, even if they’ve been buried? WHAT!?
Unfortunately Kaminai has fallen prey to what I suspect is a hastily done anime-original ending, where contradictions are ignored for the sake of closure. Someone in the department thought that people wouldn’t like it if Alis just died honorably, so they decided to create these flaming hoops for the story to jump through in order to keep Alis alive at the very end. I’m deeply saddened that the story took this turn, because what was ending up being a quite good arc just got horribly butchered in the end. It’s hard for me to say what could’ve even happened for the arc to end cleanly, because this whole episode did a 180 on the logic behind everything being built up so far.
Alright, so it’s understandable that Dee fell into a pit of despair, wanting to effectively kill her current self to free herself from the pain, as well as resetting everyone else with her. It’s understandable that her sadness at that moment lead her to psychologically torture her fellow classmates as they re-enacted what was believed to be the truth at that time. What’s there to lose if Dee has lost the one person she can anchor herself to? However, from here on out, things get weird really fast. It’s unclear if Dee actually died or not with Alis’ efforts considered, as well as why the entire class had two layers of deception applied to them. What made these chains of events happen? It’s understandable if Dee actually died why they would revert their memories to supress it, but why replace Alis’ death with Dee’s death? What purpose did this serve to fulfill their wish?
It’s all such a sloppy mess that it hurts that this show is probably not receiving a second season. No one will get the chance to repair the damages done with a second season especially considering how badly paced most of the show was. The award-winning source material this was based on has been completely lost in the omission of details and the inadequate execution of key events. Kaminai tried hard to create an emotional journey, but this journey fell flat for almost every arc except perhaps the first.
Beautiful backgrounds. That is what the take-home positive for Kaminai is. With a gentle yet detailed style to it, the background artists always outdid themselves in every single episode. Whether it was highlighting the day and night of Ortus, the deepening despair of the dream world, or even the sunset that accompanies many grave scenes, these artists always did a wonderful job. It’s wasted potential really, as such backgrounds are much more deserving of a more evocative story that utilizes these scenes to full effect. Not often is it that background art is pointed out in an anime due to its well, background role, but the fact that this was the most well-executed part of this show brought it to the foreground.
Aside from the art, the themes of morality and the ways gone about it helped define the show story-wise. Ai’s constant doubt of her goals in life as well as her perceptions of life and death, those were the most compelling parts of the storytelling. Nothing in Kaminai was ever set in stone, and that constant sense of destroying and rebuilding one’s perceptions of the outside world was refreshing. It’s easy to create a protagonist who’s sheer will towards one goal is unshakable, but it’s a welcome challenge when that character instead has to actually search for the right answer they’re looking for. For Ai, it’s always been her goal to save the world from a post-divine end, but it is what that exactly entails and how she should go about it is the constant question that haunts her. As soon as she believes to have found a solution, the story provides a moral dilemma that challenges her view. Ortus was an excellent example of this, where there was no real antagonist to the story, only beings trying to find their new purpose in life. Ai thought she had to save those being killed, but after seeing their willingness and the alternatives they had, it wasn’t so easy to condemn Ortus for enforcing their rules. This sort of self-struggle continued throughout the show, but sadly lost focus when the arc stories themselves took the lead, leaving Ai’s thoughts unsaid to the audience.
If only everything else stayed at an acceptable level, the above two elements would’ve been enough to make this a good, even great show to watch. However, with all of its plot holes, sudden plot twists and additions, faulty pacing issues, and of course the ending, Kaminai is at best a show that’s for the hardcore fantasy watcher. It had potential to explore the dilemma of forming new moralities in the wake of a radically changed world, but instead weak plots and unsatisfactory character development diluted that potential greatly. Kaminai overall hasn’t been too flawed to be unwatchable, but it definitely is not one that stands out too great. It was a struggle to find words to speak on certain weak episodes, but overall, the experience has been satisfying to blog (especially in capping those beautiful sceneries). Thanks dear reader for following thus far, and I hope to see you guys again next season!