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Kamisama Kiss fancifully showcases the recurring theme of human/yokai relationship. For hundreds of years, folktales about mythical creatures cohabiting with human have been a subject of interest for people. I particularly find the otherworldly tales interesting because it mirrors how our thoughts deviate away from the realm and reflect an altered world that contains humanity’s inmost desires. Plus of course as a shoujo fan, it’s always amusing to see how the romance and tension build between two different characters.

Aside from that, it is also interesting how the sense of hierarchal structure is profoundly embedded in myths—the gaps between gods, spirits, and humans are constantly being portrayed. It was said that the principle of the Great Chain of Being interconnects nature and governs all life forms. In this hierarchy, humans are less noble than spirits because of the desires of our flesh. Ironically, these desires could actually move us up in the ladder.

For instance, Tomoe, a kitsune, sees Nanami as a lowly human despite the fact that Mikage turned her into a deity. Fascinatingly through a kiss, Nanami sealed a contract, and made Tomoe as her familiar. This kiss could be construed as a sensationalized strategic sexual play. In many mythologies, humanity indulged in sexual activities with heavenly beings to rapidly climb the ladder of spiritual evolution and achieve divinity. Apparently and coincidentally, this kind of ideology is integral to so many religions.

Another thing that I noticed in Kamisama Kiss is that the animal attributes embodied by the familiars add exotic impressions to their characters—especially on how they interact with Nanami—which seemed out of the ordinary yet still convincing. Tomoe, just like any fox, is presented as a graceful and handsome kitsune; he’s extremely malevolent to everyone but exceptionally benevolent to his master. The sleek white snake persona of Mizuki could easily render a calm and aloof character. And because of Kurama’s dark crow tengu feature, viewers are easily compelled by his shady “fallen angel” pop idol gimmick.

I think in so many ways, yokais—part-human/part-animal mythical hybrids—could be pretty much seen as representation or outlet of human’s intense internalized desire. I find that in romance or shoujo, mythic creatures are often tied to human fetishes; appetites, eroticism and yearnings are perceived and ritualized as ceremony of transfiguration wherein humans envision themselves in animals—men and women make love as foxes, snakes, lions, etc… but come to think of it, no animal sees its animalistic nature in humans.

Hence, it’s really fascinating how these mythic creatures came into life. Retelling folktales and myths ponders the richness of our imagination, which bring us to a whole new different world. Stories like Kamisama Kiss exist because once in a while we want to be just like Nanami. Our magical thinking signals a desire to look at the world from fresh perspective and wish to unbound ourselves from human nature to experience something freer and bigger than us.


Side Notes:

  • I really liked Kamisama Kiss’ artsy fancy animation.
  • It’s been a while since I blogged. Going back to my regular posting schedule is still impossible… but I’m still going to post something when time permits.