Home > Episode Reviews, Kamisama Dolls > Kamisama Dolls Episode 10 – Mad about You

Kamisama Dolls Episode 10 – Mad about You

Remember how I said in last episode’s review that I didn’t want Mahiru to play the usual obsessive childhood friend role, and that I’d be really disappointed if she didn’t have some deeper character or twist around the archetype a bit? Well, I’m not disappointed. Mahiru is exactly what I was hoping she would be.

You see, the problem with many of the women serving as romantic interests in anime series is that their behavior, in real life, would be easy to classify as insane—and topping that list is the “girl who acts like the two are already married, even though he hasn’t shown the slightest interest in her” trope. Often, it’s paired with the male lead not realizing the extent of the girl’s affections (which is its own form of insanity, when you get down to it), but regardless, only in very rare circumstances is this one-sided pining depicted as being as wacked out as it really is.

My coblogger’s already taken on one example of a show where a crazy girl’s delusion is admitted to be such. Kamisama Dolls becomes the second one this season.

Considering the abuse Kirio has taken from everyone else in the Hyuuga family, whatever Mahiru did to elicit this reaction from him must be really, really special

What I like about how Kamisama Dolls handles Mahiru is how it makes her obsession with Kyouhei a natural outgrowth of her central character flaw: her overwhelming arrogance and sense of entitlement. Mahiru thinks she should get whatever she wants, whenever she wants, for any reason she wants, and is willing to savage or kill anyone who would tell her no. Her affection for Kyouhei is thus an expression of her own out-of-control desires. She wants Kyouhei, therefore she can’t imagine a reality where she won’t have him.

These same traits mean that she flies off into a murderous rage whenever someone gets in the way of her desires, regardless of how much it will cost her down the line. She willingly takes on Utao, Kirio, and Koushirou all at once, despite the fact that two of them are from her own clan. Likewise, she is willing to alienate Moyako, whose family holds a monopoly on Kakashi repairs, even after the later threatens to withhold even basic maintenance.

The very existence of Kakashi naturally encourages a "might makes right" atmosphere. Ultimately, the only thing that can stop a Seki (besides killing him in his sleep) is another more powerful Seki, or a coalition of weaker ones

In short, Mahiru’s not willing to acknowledge that there should be any limits on her behavior. Thus, she serves as a sample of what happens when a Seki really steps over the line, with her outbursts making even Aki and Atsushi seem restrained by comparison. Why no one thought to strip her of her Kakashi, I have no idea, but it might be because she’s good enough to fight three opponents to a draw.

As a side note, one common problem in action series, which Kamisama Dolls has not quite avoided, is to have each new character/opponent be stronger than the previous one, simply to ratchet up tension and to ensure a challenge for the hero even as his power develops. While it makes for a better story, there’s no particular reason Mahiru should be better than Koushirou, for example, or why she would only appear after a series of weaker opponents. Given the strength of her attraction to Kyouhei and her disregard for restrictions on her behavior, I can’t tell why she wouldn’t have followed Kyouhei into the city immediately.

Mahiu's Kakashi can set up a field which severs communication between another Kakashi and its Seki, thus disabling it. It's a useful trump card, with a few weaknesses

This episode also reminds me of how erratic Kamisama Dolls’ pacing can be at times. Last episode felt like it was being stretched thin for content; this one is packed full. Not only do we get a proper introduction to Mahiru, but also some exposition to explain how she became who she is, and some hints as to what she might do in the near future.

Mahiru, years ago, was a freshly minted Seki when she, along with Kyouhei and Aki, accidentally awoke a seemingly autonomous Kakashi in the ruins of a mine. When the creature goes berserk and tries to eat them, the three are forced to work together to survive, but Mahiru’s attempts do far more harm than good, and it’s up to Kyouhei to save the day.

... one of those weaknesses being that using it on a sentient Kakashi is an invitation to be mind raped

It’s the event that the show has been hinting at since its premiere, and I’m happy that it doesn’t feel shortchanged even when crammed into a packed episode. The trauma obviously broke Mahiru, (Aki, by contrast, appears to have been jaded and cynical even before the incident) and also gave her an obsession toward Kyouhei, who she’s come to view as practically divine. After all, she’s just about perfect, and he did something she couldn’t. But for a while, she’s still been willing to work within the strictures set by the village, even when those rules kept them apart.

That may change. The mysterious offer Kuuko had found for Aki was that of Diet member Takeshi Hirashiro, who represents their village. He’s interested in displacing the traditional village power structure (that is, killing the village elders) and using the Kakashi for his own purposes, so he’s seeking disgruntled Seki like Aki and Mahiru to do his dirty work. Of course, he could have timed his invitations so that the two would have less of a risk of meeting.

Aki and Mahiru take remarkably little time before going after each other. Both have contempt for the weakness of the other, but it's a weakness they share

Oddly enough, despite the fact that Aki resolved to kill off the village last episode, he’s not quite at the point where he’ll do it as a part of a crass political bargain; he’s on the verge of rejecting Hirashiro when Mahiru shows up. What Mahiru will do is anyone’s guess. From her perspective, she’ll do whatever she wants, and what she wants is for her and her savior Kyouhei to be together. The question will be how easy it is for others to manipulate that.

And so I’m left confused about what exactly Kamisama Dolls is going to do in it’s remaining screen time, or how it will come to a nice interim conclusion over the next month while leaving the door open to a sequel later. And once again, I don’t care. For all the cliches that Mahiru embodies, she manages also to transcend them, or at least embody them in interesting ways.

Hirashiro only represents the latest in a series of mutually antagonistic factions surrounding the village, and each seems self-interested and villainous. Kamisama Dolls is not lacking for villains. The question is in what order they will go down

Much the same can be said of this series. Every time it appears to delve into classic anime action tropes, it manages to tweak them just enough to keep them fresh and interesting. The fact it manages it keep its plot both moving and increasingly complicated are clear examples of this. That makes me hopeful that Kamisama Dolls can finish as strong as it started.

You can watch the episode here.

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