Home > Episode Reviews, Kamisama Dolls > Kamisama Dolls Episodes 6 and 7 – You Can’t Go Home Again

Kamisama Dolls Episodes 6 and 7 – You Can’t Go Home Again

If anime is to be believed, Japan is filled with isolated little villages in the mountains and valleys of Japan, each with its own insular community and dark secret which the otherwise pleasant townsfolk would kill to keep. Having returned to his home village, Kyouhei is instantly reminded of all the things he doesn’t like about it, and why he quit being a Seki and fled to the city. Among them is that the townsfolk here don’t even try half the time to be pleasant.

These episodes, ultimately, are about how everyone—Kyouhei, Aki, Utao—became who they are today. While the show is still holding some of its cards close to the chest (like the circumstances behind the original flashback which kicked off the series), these two episodes give enough of a glimpse to put things a bit more into perspective.

Another aspect of the Kakashi (how the Seki can control them) is covered this episode, with Moyako Somaki, heir of the family charged with repairing them, showing off some of the details

Unfortunately, having considered all the very heavy drama of the past couple episodes (and knowing of the heavier drama that is about to drop), the show decides to spend episode six on comic relief. The result, as is typical for anime comedy, is remarkably uneven. There are some gags that work, or at least don’t fail. Others revisit long since overdone tactics, like having some girl treat Utao as a personal plaything, or putting Hibino is a compromising position with Kyouhei.

Underneath all that, however, is a collection of grievances Kyouhei either has or should have with the village. His own parents have excuses for why they didn’t know of Kirio’s existence, but having discovered it, neither lifts a finger in behalf of their unknown son. This is a place where you don’t ask questions or step out of line, and where the words of the two ruling clan chiefs and their Sekis are absolute.

Unlike the last few times this has happened, Moyako's sister Yurako should be sufficiently intimidated by Utao's status as a Seki to treat her with respect

The hierarchical nature of the village leads to all sorts of abuses from those with power and resentments from those under them. This comes out most clearly as Kyouhei finally relates to Hibino the story of how Aki was originally imprisoned and Kyouhei gave up being a Seki. What surprised and pleased me the most about it is how much it avoids being a simple morality tale.

There’s a clear villain of the story: Aki’s half-brother Atsushi, the legitimate son of his particular branch of the family who was always infuriated that a bastard would become a Seki before him. When Aki loses his status and Atsushi gains his Kakashi, Kuramitsuha, that victory isn’t enough. Aki has to scrape and grovel as well, and Atsushi is increasingly infuriated as Aki refuses.

Aki was stripped of his rights of a Seki for killing animals, but given his treatment his newly acquired dog (rescued from Atsushi's brutality), it's possible he was set up. Aki never cares enough about the opinions of others to defend himself

All this comes to a head around the person of Chihaya Senou, a young school teacher who comes to the village to escape her own troubled past. When she stands up for Aki, Atsushi starts aggressively pursuing her, and using his status as a Seki to make the rest of the village follow suit. Before long, the story of the romantic liaison that ruined her previous career is out in the open.

All this causes Senou to identify with Aki even more, as a fellow outcast. This leads to an incredibly unwise affair with Aki (avoiding statutory rape only because Japan has a lower age of consent), which gets her first fired and then made into far too temping a target of opportunity for Atsushi—a target not in the “tarnished woman who has no virtue left to lose” sense, but the “thing Aki has that I can take from him” sense.

At first I didn't like the brutishly and self-defeatingly aggressive way Atsushi pursued Senou; it seemed too much like the show trying to establish him as a villain. But if Atsushi's actions are really targeting Aki, his date-rape style of wooing makes far more sense

The confrontation that ensues leaves Senou dead at Atsushi’s hands and then Aki regaining control of Kuramitsuha by sheer willpower, slaughtering not just Atsushi in an act of self defense, but practically his entire immediate family, who stumble onto the scene just in time to die. Kyouhei arrives late, to subdue Aki and then wash his hands of the town.

Although, as I said, the villain of the story is obvious, the hero is absent. Senou is outwardly the classic beloved teacher figure whose death has launched thousands of stories, but she’s far less admirable or wise than these figures usually are, and she dies not for the protagonist but his rival. Aki is the sullen and withdrawn teenage loner, but he isn’t won over by his lover’s sacrificial death, but instead falls deeper into depravity.

I openly wondered in my first review of the series why the village didn't transfer away control of Kuramitsuha from Aki as punishment for his crimes. Now I know the answer: They had already tried

Kyouhei himself comes off as weak and indecisive. He has the power to intervene, but lets himself be talked out of it. He wants to help Senou, but more due to his own illicit (and completely unrequited) attraction to her as due to any noble or righteous motives. In the end he can’t forgive Aki even after learning that Aki didn’t kill Senou but avenged her. Kyohei’s anger with Aki now seems as much about what Aki had that he didn’t, as it is about Aki’s actual crime.

No one comes out of the story looking good. That’s a perk, in my opinion. It highlights the inherently corrupting nature of the village’s power structures and doesn’t shrink from showing Kyouhei’s flaws. His desire to abandon the village, much like Aki’s, is perfectly understandable. But it also shows how he is running from and not confronting his past. Rather than learning from his mistakes and growing as a result, he abandons his responsibilities and flees.

One thing I liked in episode six over episode seven: The first only suggests that Moyako was/is in love with Aki; the second one spells it out in big neon letters

That also gives us the central internal conflict of the show. Eventually, Kyouhei will be forced by events to stop running, to regain control of Kukuri, and start saving the day. This is an action show, after all, and just because Kyouhei is a flawed protagonist doesn’t mean he won’t, at the end of the day, be a protagonist. We even are given an established way in which he can assert control of his old Kakashi in a pinch.

But those events, if they are portrayed well, will not just force a change in Kyouhei’s behavior. They will change him as a person. Kyouhei and Aki both are shaped by their short time with Senou and the abrupt and tragic way it ended. (Just as, I suspect, both are marred by an earlier event in their childhood which has yet to be fully covered.) Kyouhei’s present experiences are meant not to undo those events, but help him to transcend them.

Hibino cries at the end of Kyouhei's recollection, although for whom isn't clear. Her budding romance with Kyouhei will likely be the primary cause behind his eventual heroics

You can watch the episodes here and here.

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  1. September 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm

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