In the entry which put me in the current animation quality bend, I managed to catch Mai-Hime creators with their pants down. Indeed, Mai's ugly mug was extraordinarily badly drawn. But it was just one shot, and at least mid-zoom in Mai-Hime looks pretty good later. If we look at the level of details in Kamichu, it's either the same level, or worse -- for an HDTV show! For example look at Mitsue's kerchief here:
Her face is quite featureless there either, faithfuly reproduced by the DVD technology. It remains such in close-ups as well. This is how they used to do it (Dai-Guard):
And this is how they do it now (Kamichu):
Edge shade is degraded, mouth is hinted, nose is almost gone. Even glasses started to dissolve. Not to mention the hair. And no, it's not a blow-up. Both pictures are to the same scale.
Aside from the prettiest painted backgrounds, creators of Kamichu tried to compensate the sketchy art with the 3D eye. In 3/4 turn shots, you can look inside eye's iris.
The 3D eye is an impressive invention, but when contrasted with the overall art level, the effect is creepy, and thus does not add a whole lot.
Other than the art, Kamichu is quite nice and warm. Characters are nice, and I think the comedic element helped, too. I am not so sure if it's still the best series of 2005, I'd need to complete Honey and Clover before calling on that.
Rewatch: Not much, but yes.