Well, that sure happened. It was only a matter of time before this show finally dipped its toes into Maeda's bread and butter, and it makes that swerve hard and fast. “You promised that this year you'd visit mom's grave with me” Izanami says to her father in the first 10 seconds of the episode, and if that's not a jab to the nose after an episode of trying to get Yota laid via mahjong, I don't know what is. That's a heavy line that implies a lot of difficult, thorny emotional topics in the span of less than a dozen words, and I was immediately curious how The Day I Became a God was going to handle all that. The answer is...odd. Let's go with odd.
So like every prior episode, this leads into a story of Yota and Hina using the god gremlin's supernatural powers and Looney Tunes understanding of the laws of physics to flamingo their way into this conflict. But instead of a conflict like “my sister wants to make a movie” or “we have to revamp a restaurant” the conflict this time is “my not-girlfriend's dad has spent a decade as a taciturn shut-in unable to move on from grieving his dead wife” which is...less amenable to cartoon hijinks, I think we can agree. To the show's credit the humor here is mostly light and the characters are largely respectful of how touchy a topic this is. That doesn't make the scene of Hina pretending to be Izanami's dead mother calling from the underworld any less uncomfortable though. Even if it is just to give her an impetus to confront her father about the video messages he's been keeping from her, I think we can agree it's pretty god damn questionable to impersonate a dead loved one, right? This juggling act of grounded, extremely mundane loss with the elevated wackiness of an omniscient anime girl is not an easy or confident one, and was harder to sit through than any of the cringe comedy that came before it.
But okay, that's awkward and weird, but then we get into the back half of the episode, which is all about the Izanamis finally sitting down to watch those videos together and it's...fine? Knowing Maeda's penchant for high melodrama I was expecting something at least a bit more intense than what are essentially just some short birthday messages. It doesn't help that this show came out the same year Kakushigoto pulled off nearly the same thing to a way, way more devastating result, but there's just nothing to sell it or make this family feel relatable. Izanami's largely been a background character who occasionally no-sells punchlines until now, and her father is only barely developed himself, so outside of the innate sadness of death there's nothing to get me invested in any of it. The final message they receive is at least sort of touching, with the mom pretending to cast a spell to “make them a happy family forever” and asking them to move on from losing her, but with how this show's treated its supernatural elements I was also bracing the whole time for the reveal that the magic was real, and they'd both forgotten her after watching it. That's kind of a consequence of mixing your magical realism metaphors I suppose, but it totally sucks the air out of what's supposed to be a sentimental montage in lieu of the end credits.
I'm once again at a loss for just what to make of this. On paper it's a pretty typical bit of heart-string pulling that Maeda's done a million times before, but something in the execution keeps it from ever landing. I can at least give props to Yota for not biting at the chance to confess his feelings again – impersonating a dead relative's messed up as-is, you don't also need to use it to get a girlfriend. But otherwise this doesn't do much to develop our cast, further the vague mysteries surrounding them, or work as a one-off storyline. It's a bizarre dud in an arena Maeda should be a veteran in, and the first episode that has really got me worried about where we go from here. I'm all for weird, overambitious storytelling, but if Jun Maeda's totally lost his knack for sentimental cryfests, we're in some serious trouble.
The Day I Became a God is currently streaming on Funimation.