"The Valley of Death II"
This is somehow fascinating.
I realize I'm still hugely behind this season, but somehow I'm finding myself captivated by the shows there's not quite as much interest in elsewhere. I haven't really heard much on the Kaminai front fandom-wise, nor do I have much of an indication as to how popular it is, but at least among bloggers, I've not really seen a lot of interest, for the most part. That's interesting to me considering how much I'm coming to like the show after this episode, even if I'm still not quite as fond of Ai as I'd like to be. There's definitely something quite beautiful about this series atmospheric-wise, and the mythos is beginning to unfold in a rather elegant and interesting way. It also feels somehow nostalgic to me, as if I were watching a fantasy plot of the type more common in an older day. Regardless, I'm quite pleased with the way the series is being presented two episodes in, and hopefully the rest holds up just as nicely.
I don't think I'd ever watch a show that made the idea of zombies rather wistful and atmospheric rather than horrifying, but that's precisely what Kaminai does, and I find that rather hauntingly beautiful. This isn't a world where the undead eat the living, but rather where they slowly lose themselves and their humanity over time. They cease being people, and become increasingly selfish beings, but if Hampnie's theories are true, then that's ironic. If God has merely granted humanity's wishes, then people have merely gotten what they wished for, and lost themselves in the process. If that isn't grand dramatic irony, I don't know what is, and I think that's the sort of beautiful sadness that fits a series like this one perfectly, even if it's also a series that's hugely strange in other ways.
For one thing, Hampnie is humanized a little bit when he tells Ai about his own wish and how he came to be immortal, but his behavior is certainly erratic as he brutally tries to kill her on and off on what seem to be whims. Their relationship is certainly a bit bizarre, especially since Ai follows after him despite all of this, yet remains wary of him, and it's also complicated by the fact that she is, in fact, a gravekeeper after all. Whether she is special because she was born of a gravekeeper and a human isn't really expanded upon, but her village certainly was hiding something, if Hampnie is to be believed. Whatever truths are faced here, I think it's safe to say that the melancholic atmosphere truly makes this series, and personally, I'm finding myself slowly drawn in, the way a good fantasy novel might.
N.B.: Thanks to Ivan for the beautiful caps!