Probably one of my most anticipated shows in the season, Shinigami no Ballad doesn’t disappoint with it’s first outing.

The first episode tells the story of Mai and Kouta, two close friends, who one day find a kitten dumped in a park. Mai decides to help the kitten and with Kouta’s help, they bring the kitten to a nearby shrine as both their parents won’t let them keep pets, especially Mai, who’s got asthma.

Working together to feed and visit the kitten, who’s named Blue by Mai because of its clear blue eyes, Kouta starts getting teased by his friends because of him being too close to Mai. Mai notices this and tells Kouta it’s fine to spend time with his other friends as well, so one day, Kouta joins his friends for a soccer game as a payback for his friend for helping out with his homework.

Leaving Blue’s feeding for the day to Mai, Kouta enjoys the game but it’s halted midway thanks to a sudden shower. Returning home, his home gets a call from Mai’s parents as she’s not back yet and a worried Kouta rushes out to look for Mai at the shrine. Failing to find her there, he desperately searches around until he finds an ambulance, just departing for the hospital.

The next day, Mai’s gone and a bunch of flowers are at her table instead, signifying her death. Kouta later heads for the shrine and brings Blue back to the park where he and Mai first found it and blames Blue for the Mai’s death. At that moment, a girl in white and red shoes appear in front of him and introduces herself as a shinigami, named Momo. Momo explains her job to Kouta, which is granting death, or simply taking away lives. She asks Kouta if it’s OK to take Blue’s life away to which he replies he doesn’t care. Swinging her scythe, Kouta tries to stop her and saves Blue from Momo’s scythe.

Momo then tells him that she’s actually here for Mai’s soul, who doesn’t want to leave yet because Mai’s worried about him and Blue. Mai’s soul then appears infront of Kouta and she asks him to raise Blue because it’s her hope and then leaves. Momo hugs Kouta, saying “Ganbatte ne, otou-san” and leaves, slowly floating up and crying, saying that dead people can’t cry, so she’s crying for them.

Not exactly tear-jerking, but quite touching still, especially Momo’s last line, *”Shinda hito nakenai kara…. atashi ga kawari ni… naite ageru no”*, which is both very kind and poignant. They seemed to have chosen the right *seiyuu* to pull off Momo’s role, as Akiko Kobayashi’s slightly husky vocals manages to infuse this role with enough passion.

Opening and ending songs sound OK, but I still liked Hantsuki’s ones better, especially **Kioku no Kakera**, the ED theme. Art looks amazing and the animation is pretty fluid, especially in the Momo meeting Kouta scene where the rain was animated amazingly. Can’t wait for next week :).

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