REVIEW: ‘Child of Kamiari Month’ Takes On Healing from Grief

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Child of Kamiari Month

Going into Child of Kamiari Month (Kamiarizuki no kodomo) I didn’t expect to be hit with grief, or rather the uncovering of it. The latest in Netflix’s Original Anime line-up, Child of Kamiari Month is animated by LidenFilms directed by and written by Teruro Takita, Ryuta Miyake, and Toshinari Shinoe.

Child of Kamiari Month is the story of a 12-year-old girl, Kanna, born as a descendant of the Gods. After her mother’s sudden death, Kanna has to take up her family’s legacy as the Idaten, a mission of delivering offerings to deities throughout Japan for the Gods’ gathering in Izumo. Tasked with traveling across the country and in-between time, Kanna has isn’t only racing to complete her family’s mission, but to her mother, who she hopes to find waiting for her in the Gods’ land.

Now the cast isn’t just Kanna. Our lead gets help from Yasha, a demon born to a rival family, and Shiro, a magical rabbit who serves as Kanna’s guide. That said, these uniquely designed supernatural characters and the equally wonderfully designed gods, aren’t what this story is about. Instead, Kanna’s grief and healing is Child of Kamiari Month’s main focus. Kanna is the Idaten. Living up to this title and accomplishing her mission is a backdrop for Kanna. The real motivator in the story is why Kanna embraces the title of Idaten —to be closer to her mom.

The title Itaden is what moves Kanna through the story. She embraces it when she thinks it’ll reunite her with her mother and she rejects when it looks like all is lost. Having internalized her mother’s death and tied it to her performance in a marathon, Kanna has to learn two things at once. She has to learn how to remember her mother in a way that helps her grow, but she also has to let go of the grief that comes with her mother’s death. It’s a delicate balance that is deftly explored as Kanna embraces and then rejects the Itaden title.

Child of Kamiari Month explores how grief warps our memories. How we internalize grief as guilt, and how hard it is to heal and run away from it all. Kanna has flashbacks of her mom, remembering running behind her, her smile, and of course, the day she died. Over the course of the almost two-hour film, we see each of the memories repeatedly as Kanna develops a deeper understanding of them. Kanna’s journey isn’t about delivering the magical chisos to the Gods, but rather stepping into her mother’s memory and embracing it and the fact that she’s gone.

As a character, Kanna’s grief is explored through different moments. In one she’s appreciative and happy, in another she’s scared and sad, and in another still she’s angry and selfish. Kanna’s grief isn’t linear and the need to see her mother changes at different times in the film. And that messiness, those oscillating emotions are very much what grieving is. It’s a unique process to each person going through it, and Child of Kamiari Month captures that.

Child of Kamiari Month is fantastical and gorgeous, but it’s how it thrives in small moments where Kanna confronts her emotions that truly hold your attention. While this isn’t a knock on the beautiful animation we see from LidenFilms, especially where the Gods and demons are concerned, the animation is secondary to the story. Kanna, her words, and her grief are what make this a great animated feature, the beauty is just the setting.

Child of Kamiari is available now exclusively on Netflix.


Child of Kamiari Month
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Child of Kamiari Month is fantastical and gorgeous, but it’s how it thrives in small moments where Kanna confronts her emotions that truly hold your attention. While this isn’t a knock to the beautiful animation we see from LidenFilms, especially where the Gods and demons are concerned, the animation is secondary to the story. Kanna, her words, and her grief are what make this a great animated feature, the beauty is just the setting.