Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions, Kamisama Dolls > Kamisama Dolls Episodes 1 and 2 – Gods and Men

Kamisama Dolls Episodes 1 and 2 – Gods and Men

Brains Base is the closest antiotaku has to an officially approved studio, and some of our most favorably reviewed shows have come from that producer. This season, its taking on a total of three new shows, more than it’s ever tried to do at once. We’ve already talked about Natsume Yujinchou and Mawaru Penguindrum, which are among the best new shows this season has to offer. It’s only natural that the last would fail to get quite the same amount of attention and love.

Let me stop right here to clarify: Kamisama Dolls is by no means a bad show. The concept is about as original as you can get for what amounts to a mecha action show, and the characters manage to step outside their cliche roles as male lead, overly endowed romantic interest, etc. I think that one of the reasons that Brains Base has the reputation that it does is because they choose unique light novel and manga series to animate, and Kamisama Dolls at least attempts to fit into that mold.

The show has a great cold opening, one of the best I've seen in a while

Kyouhei Kuga is college student hailing from a sparsely populated village, who is trying to put as much distance between him and his hometown as possible. Unfortunately for him, just as he seems to be making some headway at a social mixer with his lovely classmate, Hibino Shiba, the two of them find a corpse. In rapid succession Kyouhei reunites with his little sister Utao, who has been tasked with capturing a killer from the village who, it seems, was also responsible for this most recent murder.

The particular catch of this series is that both Utao and the killer, Aki, are linked to Kakashi: floating, teleporting, superstrong … things that Seki (their handlers) can manipulate by willing it. (Kakashi are seen by some in the village as gods, giving us the title of the show.) Aki then shows up and has it out with Utao, trashing Kyouhei’s apartment before being captured and sent home. This of course leads to Kyouhei moving in with Hibino and her father, who is also from the village.

It's implied that Hibino has reciprocal feelings for Kyouhei, but in one of the show's relapses into shounen cliche, both are two reluctant to admit it. Okay, I suppose unacknowledged crushes are common in college, too

Okay, the boy and girl under one roof thing has been done to death, but the show manages to avoid the most dreadful aspects of the trope. Hibino and Kyouhei are college students, close enough to adults that Hibino takes a few awkward moments as an opportunity to establish boundaries, rather than beating in Kyouhei’s face in shock. That degree of restraint, much like the restraint the show takes toward Hibino’s chest size (which is absurd, of course, but surprisingly not featured where one would expect it would be), is one of the little touches that makes me favorable to the series.

If the first episode is about rushing out the action, the second is more about establishing the setting, including the new home life of Kyouhei, Hibino, her father, and Utao. Fortunately, the show isn’t going to linger on matters of daily life. Aki doesn’t take long to escape, and he’s clearly intent on revisiting Kyouhei. The two apparently have some history together back before Aki butchered dozens of fellow villagers and was imprisoned; Aki views Kyouhei as something of a kindred spirit and constantly appealed for him to come to his (Aki’s) level.

The character designs for the Kakashi are unique even compared to each other. They also make a unique song when they move or fight; when Utao's Kukuri and Aki's Kuramitsuha go at it, the melodies duel as much as the dolls

Kyouhei is a former Seki himself, and it appears he gave up his role as Kukuri’s handler as much to prove Aki wrong as to escape the confines of the village. (If Kekashi can switch Seki, I don’t understand why no one would have relived Aki of his—maybe it has to be voluntary.) The exact nature of the conflict has yet to be established, but I’m guessing that resolving that internal struggle will be the main plot for the show. Alongside the action scenes, of course.

In all, it’s a solid production, with solid action, good voicework, and a more mature feel than your standard teenage fare. The main exception to this is Utao, whose character design and range of facial animations differ significantly from the adult cast: much larger eyes, more likelihood and greater range of mild superdeformity, that sort of thing. It’s an interesting way of establishing the age gap (beside the usual markers of size difference), but it’s also a visible connection to the shounen shows which Kamisama Dolls derives from but is trying hard not to be.

Utao's purpose seems to be the cute mascot character, even though she's officially the only protagonist who can fight. She's allowed to be the immature one, which is somewhat scary when one realizes she controls an device of unknown origin that is easily used as a weapon

Aside from that, my only real complaint is that the introductory parts of the series aren’t done with fast enough, which is more a problem with me than with the show. The second episode introduces Kuuko Karahari, the university’s resident X-Files wannabe, who is rescued by Kukuri and is clearly wants to know more. The (incredibly stylish) opening sequence has several other characters we’ve yet to meets—including some identities which are being deliberately concealed—so the show is still setting up whatever external conflict (or several) it has to drive along the internal one.

Kamisama Dolls, as I said above, isn’t the best show debuting this season, or even the best one by Brains Base. It might, however, be the best action show among the new crop, and is a solid production in its own right. The show is certainly worth a further look.

Kuuko Karahari, far from being your standard starstruck "I want to believe" type, is rude, overbearing, and occasionally downright manipulative. Even if I didn't know how further episodes would develop her character, I'd still be interested in seeing what she does

You can watch the episodes here and here.

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