Home > Episode Reviews, Kamisama Dolls > Kamisama Dolls Episodes 3 and 4 – Monster Mash

Kamisama Dolls Episodes 3 and 4 – Monster Mash

Well, two more episodes into Kamisama Dolls and I’m still wondering what to make of it. The show isn’t lacking for interesting action, tense confrontation, or plot progression. I’m just not quite certain where any of it is going. Given how much we at antiotaku dislike predictability and cliche, perhaps that last bit should be a compliment, rather than a critique.

Another complement for the show is that it doesn’t waste much time. After giving us barely an episode and a half of downtime and character building, the show jumps right back into the main plot with Aki making a return to threaten and reminisce with Kyouhei, before the show reveals there’s more than just two Seki running around.

The first half of episode three reintroduces a friend of Hibino who we first saw drunk in episode one. She doesn't do much besides harass Utao, so I'm not going to spend time on her

Aki doesn’t have too much time alone with Kyouhei before Koushirou Hyuuga shows up. Another Seki, he’s not from the Kuga family (like Utao or even Aki) and thus represents the alternative base of power in the village. Obstensibly, he’s there to recapture Aki, but really, he has two other outcomes in mind: bring him over to the Hyuuga family, or kill him outright.

Kuoshirou seems slightly more skilled than Aki, but that only makes the battle as much one of wits as of strength. Aki manages to play a weak hand well and nearly defeats Kuoshirou, only to be blocked at the last moment. Granted, he does so by endangering a innocent bystander, but it’s still far better than winning by virtue of his strong fighting spirit or something equally stupid.

Koushirou and Aki are both amoral, but with different interests. Aki wants to escape the confines of the village, while Kuoshirou, accepting that the Kakashi aren't indestructible or omnipotent, merely wants whatever share of power he and his can eek out

That “innocent bystander” is Kuuko Karahari, who proves to be neither. She winds up sneaking away the unconscious Aki for information about the Kakashi, and is perfectly willing to employ force and dirty tactics to get him to talk. She’s up for far more than she bargained for, of course, and by the end of the episode it’s Aki in a position of power over her. Yet somehow I doubt she’ll be disadvantaged for very long.

Kuuko is the sort of character you wouldn’t expect to see in this sort of show. Ordinarily, “the truth is out there” crazies like her are comic relief characters forever denied the chance to know the deep abiding mysteries of the universe. Instead, she gets dumped into the thick of it almost immediately and holds her own surprisingly well. Of course, it helps that she’s also exceedingly unscrupulous, regularly engaging in illegal behavior and unafraid to get her hands dirty in pursuit of power. In fact, she’s very much like Aki in a way, which makes me wonder how their relationship with continue to evolve.

What does it say about Kuuko that she manages to be one of the scariest people around? Nothing good about her, and everything good about the direction of her subplot

Aki, of course, seems attracted to those equal to him in depravity, which is probably why he keeps trying to appeal to some bestial side he thinks resides in Kyouhei. These two episodes strongly imply he might be right. Kyouhei becomes downright wrathful at least twice, with seemingly only a few key mentions to the past sufficient to set him off. When he pummels Aki after the latter finally manages to set him off, it shocks everyone, not because Aki doesn’t deserve it, but because Kyouhei has clearly lost control.

He’s not the only one. When Utao and Kyouhei split up to search for Aki again, Utao runs into a mirror image of herself, claiming to be her brother. We’ve already seen him working for the Hyuuga (he saved Koushirou when Aki got the drop on him), but it seems to be the revelation that the Kuga, too, concealed the existence of Utao’s twin from her that causes her, inexplicably, to lash out.

Kyouhei's few scattered moments of rage show that Kuuko's not the only one who can look scary

The episode ends with Utao in a match where she is severely outclassed, goaded into fighting her much more skilled twin. It’s actually, depending on how you want to count it, the third cliffhanger of the series, with Aki’s escape at the end of the first episode covered in depth at the start of episode three, and Aki’s fight with Koushirou shown in part at the end of episode three and then again with some of the blanks filled in in episode four. I’m not certain if this is original to the manga or part of Brains Base’s adaption of the material to the small screen, but its fairly well done as a narrative tease.

That being said, the show also can’t quite get over either playing the cute klutz card with Utao, or occasionally dropping in fanservice of the most cliche kind. Having the protagonist barge into a bathroom where his romantic interest is soaping up is one of those scenes that I never want to have to see again, yet anime writers still seem to think it’s fresh and original.

At least Kyouhei didn't know that Hibino was in the bath, and (again) she just gets embarrassed, rather than lashing out with violence. But no amount of minor tweaking will make stupid fanservice good

Putting that aside, the show has shown the narrative chops to shift the narrative to a completely different focus than it looks like it would have in the premiere, while at the same time keeping the core of the previous conflict intact. Aki and his threats have gone on the backburner as the Kuga and Hyuuga families come into a direct confrontation. Yet the pressure he is putting on Kyouhei is only continuing to build.

With the Kakashi battles only becoming more involved and well choreographed, and the stakes rising even as old conspiracies come to fruition, Kamisama Dolls continues to impress. As I said above, I’m not quite sure where this journey will take us. But, baring a disastrous misstep or two, the show has convinced me to follow it the rest of the way.

I suppose I should also comment that the "lost, evil twin" is also a bit overdone. Here, however, it seems to be done rather well

You can watch the episodes here and here.

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