Narumi is a pretty boring person, even for an average Japanese high school student. Due to him having had to move around constantly, he’s decided that he just wants to blend in without actually getting involved with the things going on around him. Kamisama no Memochou begins with him moving yet again to a new town where he would live with only his older sister. On the way, he randomly seems to find a girl jumping out of a window in front of him, and a gun poking him in the back, and a couple of other guys escorting an injured man out of a hotel. As he’s just an innocent bystander in the situation, he just gets pushed aside and left confused over what the baffling events. Later on as he’s attending school, a girl Ayaka randomly pulls him into the gardening club. She then takes him to the bizarre ramen and ice cream restaurant she’s been working at, only to discover that the three people that he had encountered in his previous bizarre encounter hang out there: Hiro, who’s pretty much a gigolo; Tetsu, an ex-boxer who now spends his time gambling; Shousa, a university student and military Otaku. A bizarre set of people, that seem to be connected only by the fact that they’re all NEETs, or at least claim to be. They end up forcing him to make a delivery of food to someone named Alice at the top floor of the same building as the restaurant. Upon arriving, he gets pulled into a completely different world.
Alice is a NEET detective, which is completely different from a normal detective. She takes on cases per request so as to “speak for the dead and listen to the voices of the living”. She does this almost exclusively from her room, which has a large set of computers and monitors, with the three other NEETs downstairs acting physically in her stead. She has a number of other quirks as well, in that she looks and acts pretty young, but also has momentary lapses of tremendous wisdom. As an example of this, she has a teddy bear that she ends up constantly getting fixed by essentially the leader of a gang. And she only drinks a special type of soda (based on Dr. Pepper). Narumi ends up getting sucked into a case that she has been working on, that also involved the bizarre incident on his first day, that involved a girl going missing, and her best friend and from there ends up becoming Alice’s assistant and a crucial member of that group.
From there, he ends up helping with a number of other cases and developing relationships with a number of other people. He helps solve a case with a girl who’s father was on the run from the Yakuza, and ends up becoming the second in command at a NEET Yakuza group. He ends up working part time at the ramen and ice cream restaurant under Master Min, and helps her discover who was breaking into her house. He acts as the lead promoter for a band backed by the NEET Yakuza group, and ends up uncovering a conspiracy involving the Yakuza groups head and former partner. He ends up saving an arcade from a tax increase by winning a baseball match through the power of video games. And he helps stop a drug ring, but pays the price of having to take the drug himself. All the while establishing new connections with people, and having major new experiences.
Heaven’s Memo Pad is a very plot oriented anime, in that it focuses almost entirely on the cases and the people involved with them rather than the people who are solving them. What I mean by that is that the characters involved in the cases get a lot of development while the ones that are not are pretty much ignored. For example, Meo ends up getting a good deal of development in her short arc in terms of her relationship with her father, despite disappearing after that for most of the anime. On the other hand, the three NEETs don’t get much development as there are no cases focused on them. The side characters are interesting varied and reoccurring, but they’re more like background actor than anything. Now, there are important reoccurring characters that do get a good amount of development, but this happens because they have cases focused on them. In addition to Meo, there’s Min in the arc focused on her ramen and father where we discover why she’s running a ramen shop despite being so skilled with ice cream. Or with Sou in the arc where he is in conflict with Renji, where we discover how he and his group, Hirasaka-gumi, came about. And possibly most importantly, Ayaka in the arc, where her brother and his drug habits end up driving her into a corner, but her good nature still comes through even in doing something terrible. On the other hand Alice and Natsumi, who were key characters, get some development, but really not all that much. Natsumi seems to get a lot of character development in the first two arcs, but then seems relatively constant. Alice seems constant for the entirety of the anime. Another effect of this, is that the actual relationship development is also focused solely on the characters that are focused on by the cases. This is mostly fine, but the relationship development between Alice and Natsumi felt really stunted. That was my main issue.
Beyond that, choosing to focus on the plot and leave characters as mysterious I think was a good choice, as the plot is strong and set in a unique setting. It starts off pretty dark, but it actually gets a good amount lighter as it goes. It still has an air of dark around it, but things work out better, and each case has a reasonably happy ending. That however does not mean that there wasn’t a lot of depth. The overall story had its point it was trying to make about the systems of the world using NEETs as a focus. To clarify, NEET stands for not in employment, education, or training, and basically just means someone that is unemployed, but has seemed to have gained a romanticized context of someone that lives on their own terms. That is the definition used here, where a NEET is shown as someone who is still having a strong positive contribution to society, despite being in position that are generally looked down upon and being useless by the standard measuring sticks of society. Beyond that, each case has its own lessons that are somewhat cliche, but work because the plot surrounding them is good. The first one was the least conventional, where the lesson was that people have multiple sides to them, and it isn’t fair to judge them based on who they should be based on your expectations derived solely from one side, which doesn’t sound that unique, but they take that in a darker direction than most. The rest of the morals were more of the standard fair. The bonds of family are strong. Friendship is important and not so easily lost. Drugs are bad. Some varying combination of all of the above. But as stated, since the plot surrounding it was good, being focused on generic morals is fine.
As for the other aspects, the art was fine. Alice was cute. The soundtrack was unique at times but not especially memorable. The OP/ED were decent.
Overall a good setting with interesting characters and solid stories, though somewhat lacking in development for some important characters, that also means a frustrating lack of relationship development for those characters.