3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.
I think this might be my last entry in 2020’s 3 episode rule series. I’ll say it’s a marked improvement from last season where I had three shows I meant to watch but but ended up running out of time for, this time I’ve only dodged out on the one. Maybe it’s got something to do with the quality of the shows I’ve had to go on.
Funimation has had a real stranglehold on some of the most interesting shows these last couple of seasons, interesting to me at least anyway. The Day I Became a God is yet another anime original series from them. With a story conceived by Jun Maeda and animated by P.A. Works, the series follows Yota Narukami who, in the middle of his senior summer break, meets Hina Sato; a young girl who claims to be God.
As I’ve been watching a lot of the first three episodes of anime, I’ve come to realise that they often make a lot more effort in the animation of at least the first episode in comparison to the following ones, mostly to get new, curious viewers on the hook. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show’s first episode strike such a profoundly different feel when compared to those that follow it than this one.
The first episode, where Yota and Hina meet and the girl slowly convinces him that she does, at least, have some unnatural knowledge about everything and everyone in the world really strikes a tone that hit me. Cheerfully telling him that the world is going to end in 30 days, while not making a bit deal out it. It’s a beautifully animated episode, one that managed to realise that stifling hot feeling of a baking hot summer’s day in it’s visuals and its sound design.
There’s this trope I see a lot in anime and manga that are set around kids in high school. Something about making the most of their youth, as if their high school years were the last time they’re going to actually enjoy or get anything out of life. I’ve always found it a weird concept, especially considering my high school years sucked. But there’s something about this anime that really makes that concept of limited-time feel weighty to me for the first time, in a way that something like an unrequited love moving abroad doesn’t.
Maybe it’s the actual hard time limit of the whole world ending right in time with the end of summer, giving the metaphor a literal interpretation, coupled with the suffocating heat of summer that the first episode that makes it finally hit home for me. But It’s the first time I actually feel like I get the trope of “youth” always spouted out by character in these anime. Maybe that’s exactly what this show it trying to do, that the world literally isn’t ending in 30 days, but this is Yota’s last chance to make the most of a summer break and Hina is here to help him do that.
Yota himself is a pretty run of the mill, male protagonist in a romantic comedy. He’s an inoffensive nice guy who seems average in practically every way. Hina Sato/Odin is the real star of this show though; a prepubescent, pink-haired girl in what looks like a cosplay nun’s outfit shows up to steal practically every scene she’s in. The character is incredibly charming, simultaneously an all-knowing God and bratty child. She flips between composed and mature and rolling around the floor screaming several times a scene.
It’s real goofy and had me smiling to myself pretty constantly, while she obviously seems to know everything that’s going to happen, she also continuously slips out of character and reverts to being an adorable little rascal on a consistent basis. Appearing in front of Yota, she tells him she’s going to be his constant companion for the remaining 30 days they have left and share her power with him so he can fulfil his desires. Hence the “Youth” metaphor.
Yota’s only real desire seems to be to woo his childhood friend Kyōko Izanami. She’s a character who falls deeply into the kuudere archetype, and with Hina’s help, he intends to make his unrequited love mutual. Something that fails in fantastic fashion in the end of the first episode thanks to Hina’s less than stellar advice. Culminating in a beautiful sunset scene where he confesses to her, and she promptly turns him down and just vanishes.
After the first episode though, the series kind of broadens its focus a little, introducing Yota’s parents (who seem to know more about Hina than they’re letting on) and his younger sister. From here it becomes more about Yota trying to help people around him with Hina’s help, with very mixed results. I don’t mind this aspect of the show either, because like I said before, Hina is an incredibly charming character and both her and Yota’s interactions are consistently entertaining.
Where it started to lose me a little is the ending of the third episode in which they introduced some element involving a shady bunch of business executives and some young hacker guy who they have in handcuffs. The premise for the show says they’re out to make use of Hina’s mysterious power for their own means, and it’s a direction I’m not sure I’m interested in. I kind of like the show as a screwball situational comedy with a bittersweet twinge to it. This drama element feels kind of unnecessary to me.
Verdict: I’m charmed but concerned
I almost feel like I’d been sold a set of false goods by the time the third episode was over. The first episode struck such a different feel than the third one that I don’t know where I end up standing about it. The first episode was a wonderfully executed introduction to the whole concept of making the most of your childhood years and turning them into something literal.
But as it went on, it moved away from what kind of series I had assumed it was going to be. There was something bittersweet about the ideas presented in that first episode, but as it went on the concepts became increasingly less grounded and more madcap, which caused my investment to drop.
I don’t have any strong feelings about the romance subplot between Yota and Izanami either. Considering that Yota doesn’t seem to know a single thing about her or what she wants out of life (despite being her childhood friend), not helped by Izanami’s extreme kuudere personality that has her hardly uttering a word, let alone expressing an emotion.
And as I mentioned, the shady business executives plotline isn’t doing anything for me either.
BUT, I still really like Hina and Yota’s relationship and interactions. Like I said before, I’m positively charmed by her character every time she’s on-screen and am interested to keep watching purely for those comedic beats that do actually work really well. So, I guess I’ll be keeping it up for at least a little while longer to see, at least, if the world does end at the end of it or the whole damned experience was just a fat metaphor for Yota to chew on.