Summary: A show really trying to be Durarara!!, yet apparently made by people who didn’t understand what Durarara!! was about. Interesting, but not necessarily for good reasons.
Streaming: Nowhere that I know of. Actually, so far NOTHING is streaming this season….
Possible Alternate Titles: Durarara!! +Lain= Moe!, Victorique Buys a Computer, Psuedo-Intellectual Detective Hour
I’ll be the first to admit, there’s a pretty fine line between “interesting food-for-thought” and “pretentious drivel”, so when I say that the first episode of Kamisama No Memo-Chou jumps between the two with abandon, I know it’s not entirely clear what that means. Let me just say that, sometimes when Alice, our oh-so-moe hacker heroine, opened her mouth, I thought “hmm, that’s an interesting way of putting it,” and sometimes I thought “stop being pretentious, writers, that doesn’t even make any sense.”
I haven’t looked at the source material for KamiMemo and based on this episode I have no desire to, so I don’t know what the light novels are like. However, I got a strong vibe that this show was trying to be like Durarara!!– both on the surface, with the detailed urban environments and the eccentric ensemble cast that traverses them like they own the place, the emphasis on the power of mobile communication and an ‘innocent’ getting dragged into a strange underworld he can’t hope to understand- only, none of the interesting questions of identity that Durarara!! traded in seem to be on display here. I am keeping in mind, however, that Durarara!! hadn’t set much up by its first episode either, so it’s not really a fair comparison. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about that particular anime during this episode.
There’s also the problem that this show apparently deals in mystery/detective stories, yet most anime writers seem perennially ill-equipped to deal with that. I barely saw any of Gosick, but my understanding was that a lot of the mysteries were completely oblique, and the audience had no chance of solving them before Victorique because she had access to information that the audience wasn’t privy to, and that seems to be the case here- we probably would have figured out missing-girl Shouko’s whereabouts a lot sooner if we found out that the boyfriend was buying ice at the convenience store at the same time Alice did, but no- the unreliable narrator kept that tidbit from us until she explained it.
Because of this cheating-the-audience-out-of-vital-information problem, when Alice “solves” the mystery she seems more like a smug pain in the ass who benefits from getting knowledge we should have been given but never received, rather than the genius I assume she’s supposed to be. Actually, I found Alice to be a kind of loathsome character in general, her filibusters sounding more like self-aggrandizing tripe than anything like wisdom. She was charming for about three seconds when she first met Narumi, and that was it.
Speaking of Mild-Mannered Protagonist, Version No. 6,023, I’ve already seen complains online that the character is a typical boring “everyman” protagonist, and the show would be better without him, which may be true. However, one of the things I did like was the fact that Narumi’s backstory gives him a reason for being so detached; moving constantly, he never gets a chance to get himself established anywhere, so he tries not to get too involved in anything to save himself time and effort. Yet, as socially closed off as he is, when he gets into the NEET detective group, by comparison he’s the most well-adjusted; he’s the only one in the group who’s willing to approach someone involved in the mystery directly for information, like a decent human being. I do kind of like this “the barely socially competent guy is king in the land of the maladjusted loli hacker-bitch and her peons” angle.
On a surface level, this show also has a problem with characters looking alike; I was confused as to whether or not Miku and Alice (and to a lesser extent Satoshi and pimp-guy) were the same person for about half the episode.
Despite all of this complaining, there were some lines of dialogue that I liked, and Narumi’s inner monologue actually isn’t completely superfluous so far, unlike other shows I could name. I’m going to give it a few more episodes to win me over, but while I have to credit the writers with being somewhat ambitious, so far I’m not convinced that anyone involved is either smart enough or invested enough in the material to make this show work.