The Day I Became a God – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: Yota Narukami had a life to live—or at least he did until he meets young Hina, who declares the world will end in 30 days. Scorning her prophecy, he refutes her prediction but questions himself after seeing her abilities in action. Moving in, they find a common bond most unexpected. Is it true, is it really the end? More importantly, why did she pick him to spend their final moments together? (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The Day I Become a God offers up a lively set of leads, both eccentric and excitable in their own ways, that craft solid comedy through the very shenanigans Hina puts poor Yota through. Hina claims the world is ending in 30 days, and thus wants Yota to live life to its fullest, which means anything from confessing to his childhood crush, or perhaps meeting a celebrity he’s always fancied through a bizarre game of mahjong. Hina claims to be the god Odin, and displays incredible powers of prediction, making some of these unlikely feats entirely possible. Yota’s life is effectively turned upside down with Hina moving in with his family and becoming a permanent fixture during his summer, or perhaps final, days.
Linny: The Day I Became a God is at its best when it’s being really playful with low stakes situations. Some examples include when Yota gets roped into helping a struggling ramen place and ends up playing a really eclectic consultant to hide his identity and earn the trust of the young girl running the ramen shop. His flamboyant outburst and gestures as he reacts to the food being served or doles out advice are pure entertainment and will leave the audience howling. Then in the very next episode, he finds himself competing in a top tier Mahjong competition on TV without knowing a single thing about the game. As we get to see the absurd advice Hina gave him regarding gameplay strategies and how he then decides to implement them, even if you yourself know nothing about mahjong, the acting, the reactions and the execution alone is enough to have you shaking your head and chuckling in disbelief. Aiding that superb storytelling is some top notch acting, specifically by Yota’s Voice Actor. This actor puts in real energy and effort when delivering his lines and really elevates the material. He succeeds in selling the more exaggerated lines that Yota spouts throughout the show while sweeping the audience away with his gung ho theatrics.
Tom: The end result of all this is a series of solid, episodic comedy, where each week Yota ends up in an unlikely situation, with Hina guiding him towards an even more unlikely success that’s oozing with hilarity. But understand that this is a Jun Maeda series. Jun Maeda is far more prolific as an anime composer than he is as a writer. The Day I Became a God marks his third outing as creator (Angel Beats and Charlotte being his two previous titles.) Jun Maeda isn’t one to let a solid premise lay still without further twists and reveals. The twists often add a whole extra layer to the series, completely changing directions from set expectations. They also often try to turn a drama-comedy into an emotional rollercoaster that’ll leave you a bawling mess. Unlike, say, Charlotte, where the reveals aren’t well hinted ahead of time, The Day I Become a God is already dotting in little teases that signify major revelations are waiting at some point down the road. Most of these scenes are filled with theoretical jargon, or pseudo-science, making them feel a tad impenetrable or perhaps off-putting, depending upon how open you are to the series taking a hard turn into something more overtly sci-fi or fantasy. I think it’s a bit of a shame we’re bracing for a wild reveal that’ll turn the series on its head, as I think Jun Maeda’s strength relies not so much in game changing or tear-jerking revelations (I actually don’t find his writing all that emotionally impactful to be honest) but rather his strength lays in the relationships and banter he manages to foster between his characters. It’s their relationships, and how they play off each other that feels the most fun, especially if we’re keeping things on the more comedic side. That said, right now, whatever the series ends up revealing in the late game is the least of The Day I Become a God’s problems. Currently the series has suffered a dip in quality, with two clunker episodes back to back as it heads into the half-way point.
[Warning: Major Spoilers for Episode 5 to Follow; Skip Ahead]
Linny: Part of the trouble is The Day I Become a God has started its descent into heavier, emotional material and that’s where issues are most likely to crop up for viewers. With Episode 5 we learn that Yota’s longtime crush and childhood friend, Izanami lost her mother at a young age, which is in part meant to explain her muted personality. We also learn that this turned Izanami’s father into a recluse who refuses to leave the house. This has caused a divide between him and Izanami. However, when Yota tricks/convinces Izanami’s father into going out to the shopping district with him, as part of a plan to help Izanami, he goes from a quiet and gloomy introvert to an over excitable foodie who runs into every new restaurant he finds. The show plays this segment out with clear intention that it is meant to be funny, yet it becomes hard to really empathize with a man who has been a recluse for almost a decade yet is now like a hyperactive pet eager for his next treat. The show throws in curve-ball after curve-ball, starting as Yota manages to somehow convince Izanami that he is in possession of a phone that enables her to talk with her dead mother. This requires an enormous suspension of disbelief, as Izanami is 18 and it seems unlikely she’d fall for such an obvious lie (Even by episodes end she seems to believe it was real.) She also doesn’t seem desperate enough to be reunited with her mother, especially as Izanami is more troubled with her father’s inability to move on, rather than any extreme lingering attachment to her mother. In fact, the whole exchange between Izanami and Yota feels unnatural, as someone is more likely to feel mocked at the suggestion of ‘hey I have an app on my phone that would let you talk to your dead mom.’ It’s an utterly absurd proposition, one that someone still struggling with loss would be far more likely to erupt with anger at the mere mention of. But the lack of sense doesn’t stop there. Izanami learns her father had hidden a video tape with messages her mother had recorded specially for her all these years. Despite hindering her own acceptance of their loss, Izanami never lashes out at her father for having kept this from her for over a decade. The explanation as to why he did this is yet another curve-ball clearly meant as a significant emotional gut-punch; when viewing the video we discover that Izanami’s mother had left instructions that the tape be destroyed once they got to the end, and then both Izanami and her father are to forget about her completely and move on. Her father couldn’t bear the thought of destroying the tape and hence had never shown it to Izanami, nor watched it to the end himself. It feels like the show is trying to milk the emotional baggage of losing a beloved family member, while refusing to acknowledge the potentially ugly outcomes such a situation would be far more likely to have. The problem isn’t so much that the series goes with the more improbable outcome, but rather that the series expects this to pull at your heartstrings, when there’s so much suspension of disbelief required to believe this wouldn’t instead drive a wedge between Izanami and Yota.
[End of Spoilers]
Tom: Episode 5 is, in a nut shell, the problem with introducing The Day I Become a God as a comedy, rather than a drama. If Episode 5 wasn’t so set at trying to match the tone of the previous episodes, maybe then some of its more emotional content might work. At the same time though, that lack of grounded understanding for how people react when being lied to, or offered up impossible solutions to very real and tragic problems, is a real deal breaker for anyone who needs emotional developments to feel honest, rather than artificial. Episode 6’s issues pale in comparison, but are a black mark on the show none the less. Following Episode 5’s attempted emotional rollercoaster, Episode 6 is a more bog-standard offering; the all too typical Festival episode. The episode lacks much of the charm from Episodes 1 through 4, and what character moments do shine are otherwise wrapped up in generic festival shenanigans you’ve seen in just about every other anime. Heck we even force the inclusion of a seeming one-off character from Episode 4. The explanation for doing so is shoddy, and what she adds to the episode is even less worthwhile. The more memorable aspect to Episode 6 is its climatic finale, where Hina finds herself in a spot of trouble and Yota must rush to save her. How she got there though is bordering on outright idiotic, making the tension again feel forced.
Linny: Lastly, for a show that starts off with our two protagonists meeting and one of them declaring that the world is ending in a month, there isn’t really much being done to address that apocalyptic fate. Yes, the looming incident is used as an impetus or catalyst to urge Yota into all sorts of situations but nobody ever really bothers to question how the end of the world is going to happen and if anything can be done. For those who thought that it would play a bigger part in proceedings, this is just a heads up that 6 episodes in, it really hasn’t had much significant impact on anything. The show has also introduced some characters that still feel somewhat random and underutilized halfway through its run so there’s no denying that The Day I Became a God doesn’t have the smoothest storytelling. Most of the episodes so far feel more like the daily random and quirky life of Yota and while that is entertaining, it might not be for everyone. I was wholeheartedly engaged by the premiere episode but halfway through the series, my enjoyment has dampened thanks to its tendency to lean on contrived elements and outcomes for its more serious and emotional plots. Thanks to its somewhat uneven and clashing content, aka the more whimsical slice of life like Yota centered segments mixed with the more erratically mysterious non Yota segments, it has become somewhat hard to decide how to recommend this show. If you enjoy outrageous comedies or acting, with lots of exaggerated expressions and absurd situations, you might still find enough to consider parts of The Day I Became a God a worthwhile experience. Otherwise, it may be best left off your watch list for now.
Tom: I’m actively torn on how I feel about The Day I Became a Good as we hit the mid season. On the one hand I do think the first four episodes are easily some of the best content available this Fall. But Episode 5 requires a certain mindset to appreciate, and over look some pretty glaring flaws in its character work. Episode 6 is a real clunker too, yet I’m not willing to write The Day I Became a God off completely, at least until we see where the series ends up. Jun Maeda’s Charlotte didn’t exactly end on a high note, but there’s always room a for a writer to improve, or a director to add a certain level of nuance that makes an ending that shouldn’t work, work. Right now I think I have to give The Day I Became a God a take it or leave it, but I’ll be sticking with the series to see if it turns itself around from this slump.