Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai – Tenri-hen
Being a huge fan of the manga, and having nearly no hope of a continuation for the Kami Nomi anime due to the poor sales of the first two seasons, I must say the announcement of both this OVA and, quite some time later, a third season, came as a pleasant surprise.
My doubting started when I related the content of the OVA with the existence of a third season. Is it ok to animate a major arc in a OVA? Is it fine to skip two arcs to do it? To put a arc so full of plot development in a media not everyone will pay attention to sounds somewhat questionable. So, did my opinion change after watching it? It certainly did.
Tenri-hen, literally Tenri’s arc, contains the introduction to some important characters from Heaven and Hell – Diana and Nora, respectively. The simple mentioning of Heaven happens for the first time here, actually, which is what makes this such a pivotal point in the plot.
All starts as quite the regular day for Keima as he’s ecstatic with summer vacation, for he now has all the time to play games to his satisfaction. Games are waiting but he first must fulfill the unfortunate social duty of greeting a childhood friend he didn’t even remember and happened to be visiting. And this is where we meet Tenri, a girl so shy she pops to avoid focusing her attention on social interaction. Keima claims not knowing her, and only wants to get out of there as soon as possible, with the obvious intent of going to buy games, as that’s the only interest in that guy’s life. Strangely enough, Elsie’s sensor goes off, but only for a few seconds, stopping right away as if the runaway spirit had gotten out of range. Keima discards that as a fluke, refuses to look into it, giving a lengthy and humorous explanation as to why Tenri cannot be considered a true childhood friend and tells Elsie not to report it to hell.
Later, as Keima is shopping for games, replenishing the stock for his ideal Summer playing games, which he was looking forward so much, he meets Tenri once again, except this time around, she strangely pushes him towards the road, putting him in danger of being run over. He obviously tries asking her about her motive for such a radom and hostile action, but the girl runs away as quickly as she appeared. As curious as such event was, Keima still head to the game store, where he once more meets with Tenri and Elsie’s sensor goes off for a moment yet again, shortly after which Tenri jumps of the first floor only to be seen getting out of the store as if nothing happened. In the meantime, another demon, named Nora (a horned demon, by the way), has claimed the assignment for Tenri’s supposed runaway spirit.
Quickly enough it is revealed there’s another personality inside Tenri. She’s called Diana, appears in mirrors and can apparently take control of Tenri’s body for short periods of time. (Also, Diana is a cool character. Just saying.)
As Nora pursues Tenri to close the gap in her heart, we get to see that not all new demons are as heavenly (as in, good-natured) as Elsie, pretty much as Haqua’s appearance shown not all demons are as dumb as Keima’s cute buddy. The contrast is actually quite big, as Nora uses all means necessary, with disregard to any other consequences, as long as that leads to the capture of the runaway spirit. Granting the host’s greatest desire, nulling that which opened the gap in their heart without considering the root emotional predisposition – that’s her way of working. The fact that she has the ability to read minds actually makes this quite the convenient route to follow, though.
Analyzing Tenri, Nora hastily decides that she must hate Keima, therefore she should just get rid of him. As such, she ends up abducting him and taking him to a boat, entrusting her buddy the task of leaving an invitation for Keima’s “public execution” to Elsie and Tenri. I was slightly disappointed that they cut the joke about Ryou’s name here, but I guess it wouldn’t be understandable for western viewers such as myself anyway, since the manga required a translator note to get the joke across. Though they’re most likely not concerned abot western viewers in the first place so it’s still mildly disappointing. To be honest, the jokes were probably the worst adapted part in the OVA – for instance, not only this was missing but so was the loading screen that appeared before Yokkun when Nora was trying to get into Keima’s mind, even though the rest of the joke was relatively well handled. I would have been pretty freaked out too with Keima’s crazyness if I were in Nora’s place.
And that’s when Nora gets fixed on killing Keima no matter what (even if it means poor Elsie will die as well), and also when Diana decides that Keima is good enough to protect her and Tenri. And thus they start running from Nora, with Keima understanding she won’t give in unless she gets the runaway spirit out from Tenri and thus telling Elsie if she couldn’t use a runaway spirit she had previously captured to deceive Nora. Unfortunately, all of those had already been sent to Hell, so Elsie flies away, trying to go ask Haqua for one. In the meantime, Keima is stuck running from Nora with Tenri. And that’s when Tenri leads him to a cave in the school theater, which brings him recollections of a day, 10 years ago, in which he and Tenri were in that same one cave. Diana later reveals Keima that she isn’t a ranaway spirit, but a goddess from Heaven, the one who sealed away the demons from old hell and how it was on that day, 10 years ago, that the runaway spirits, referred to by the goddesses as weiss, were unsealed, bringing the goddesses back to the world as well. Apparently, when Keima and Tenri were in the cave, an earthquake happened along with the breakout, a a boulder knocked Keima unconscious. With the impossibility of running away with Keima, Tenri asks for help, and that’s the moment Diana enters in her body, taking control of it at that moment and getting Keima and Tenri out of the cave.
But then, their conversation is interrupted by Nora, who’s still trying to kill Keima. While running, Diana says she holds a weak runaway spirit with her – as such, Keima devises a plan which implies Elsie buffing up the small and weak runaway spirit and staging a capture with Tenri. While the later doesn’t play along dat first due to not understanding the situation, Nora’s claim about her hating Keima gets a felt confession out of her, as she was in love since that day where she thought he was so strong and calm inside that cave. The the staging is perfectly executed and they manage to fool Nor, Tenri fainting of joy in the process (xD).
And thus ends this two episode OVA, with Keima wanting to know more about the goddesses and Tenri moving to the house next to him. Not diagonally across, thus fulfilling yet one more requirement for being considered a childhood friend in an ironical way. Unfortunately, this requirement wasn’t pointed out in the anime, which is actually one of the two major flaws I see in this adaptation and defeats the point of pointing out so clearly how hae moved next door, the other one being the lack of the scene at school, to where they first runaway to before entering the cave, with Diana shielding Keima from Nora’s shield. I just thought that panel was damn cool, so I have to say I missed it being animated here.
However, apart from those little flaws pointed out along the episode description, it close to being a perfect adaptation, just as the two seasons before it were. Just the fact that they managed to fit 9 chapters into 2 episodes without it feeling rushed or making too many cuts is a great feat.
So… Did this work? As you might have understood by reading the above paragraphs, this was an OVA with more plot development than the two seasons before it had together. Putting it into a OVA was, as I pointed out in the beginning of this post, a dangerous move. That said, the ED of the 2nd episode put most of my worries to rest. Seeing as the girls from the arcs before Tenri’s appeared, that means they won’t simply skip those (actually, I was dumb in even thinking of such a possibility – if you’re a manga reader you’ll know why), and will probably be showing Tenri’s in the TV series as well. As such, this OVA ends up being more of a publicity maneuver without the aforementioned disadvantages attached. With its quality and showcasing of plot, it might even work well for that purpose. Not to mention how finally having one of my favorite arcs animated made for quite a pleasant watch.
Now I’ll just have to quietly wait for season III, with the hope the ED images weren’t just for show and they actually reach that point in the story with this season. We’re probably not seeing the Mai-High Festival arc just yet but… it’s getting close!
Dusk’s Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great)