Kamisama Dolls Episode 11 – A Dim View of It All
Well, unless Kamisama Dolls decides to try to wrap up its entire plot by the end of the season with an unsatisfying, anime-only ending (which would be a major mistake), I now know how the remaining few episodes will play out. The conspiracy that threatens to destroy the Kurakami village elders and use the Kakashi for their own ends will be unearthed and either dealt a major setback or destroyed entirely. The only question is who will get hurt along the way.
At the moment, that list includes Aki, whom Mahiru abuses for her own amusement, and Hibino, whom Mahiru kidnaps when Aki tips off Mahiru to the fact she has a romantic rival. Not that Hibino or Kyouhei have admitted their relationship yet, but I think Aki has more of the right of it when he affirms something is going on between them than when Hibino or Kyouhei denies it. Besides, Mahiru’s jealous enough not to believe them anyway.
More importantly, this episode explains how Mahiru is being manipulated by Hirashiro: Once the traditional power structures of the village are gone, there won’t be the social taboos between the Hyuuga and Kuga families intermingling, and she can be with Kyouhei. Of course, there won’t be much of the Hyuuga or Kuga families left at all after whatever purge Hirashiro is planning, but those deaths don’t matter to her.
It’s things like this that make me very annoyed at the prospect of Mahiru coming over to the “good guys” later in the narrative. When Kyouhei says (after learning that Mahiru has kidnapped Hibino) that Mahiru won’t hurt her, and that she’s really not that bad of a person, I had trouble not laughing in disbelief, but the show seems to take those words seriously. The fact Mahiru, through a combination of caprice and coincidence, has failed to kill anyone yet, is another hint that the writers intend to redeem her at some point.
I’ve spoken against this sort of cheap redemption of openly psychotic characters before, and the more I think about it, the more likely it seems here. I really hope it doesn’t happen any time soon, though. A wild Mahiru is an interesting, unpredictable, and still convincing villain and antagonist. A “tame” Mahiru is another girl with a stereotypically over-the-top romantic interest in Kyouhei, and that’s the one thing the show really doesn’t need.
Another sign that Mahiru is going to be redeemed is that the writers are creating another, greater threat to Hibino. Hirashiro’s lackey assigned to Mahiru, Shimoyama, is also from the village, and he gets it into his head that a way to mess with Kyouhei (whom he despises due to the messed up power relations in the town) is to have his way with “Kyouhei’s girl.” I don’t know what it says about Kurakami village that multiple people from there think the best way to get at a disenfranchised Seki is to rape a girl he cares about, but whatever it is, it isn’t good.
That means, however, that when Kyouhei, Utao, and Moyako stage their rescue, they’ll have something to rescue Hibino from even if Mahiru is ultimately harmless. And while I wish that the show wouldn’t try to pretend that Mahiru is harmless, all the signs are pointing to the fact she’ll be made that way. And, if nothing else, the show will be far less fun when she is.
Although I’m mostly disappointed with the direction of this particular episode, there are some things to like. The larger plot is continuing to unfold in a logical but not entirely predictable manner, with everything making sense even if the audience didn’t see it coming. That’s a hard balance to match. Also to be liked is the relative openness of Kyouhei with his inner demons; Kamisama Dolls isn’t trying to force Kyouhei silent to keep secrets longer than it should be kept or to cause unnecessary character drama by having others misunderstand his motivations through ignorance. Given how common those happen in anime, it’s nice to see it avoided here.
I also like how Hibino remains as mature and insightful as she is. Unlike the other people obsessed with Kyouhei, her affection for his is kept to realistic levels, and more importantly, she understands what makes him tick in a way that others don’t. Aki and Mahiru are both obsessed with Kyouhei for his power and skill as a Seki. Only Hibino understands why Kyouhei would give it up: because the might makes right world of the village isn’t a place normal people want to live, even if you are the mightiest. For all the show might wind up failing to characterize Mahiru properly, it has a good handle on its protagonist.
And frankly, this is a bridging episode, connecting Mahiru’s introduction and the background story dump of last episode with the conflict that will play out in the two episodes that follow. It means that, once again, the show’s pacing feels a little rough, so this isn’t going to wow me as some of the other episodes have. But it’s set up what it needs to in place, so the only question is how well the next couple episodes will play out.
Perhaps it says something negative about me that I hope the answer is “not too well for Kyouhei.” The show has been at its best when inserting an element of dark drama, and that requires things to go wrong. Beyond redeeming or not redeeming Mahiru, the end goal of the show is for Kyouhei to reassert his powers as a Seki in the process of claiming the responsibilities of an adult. And I think a new tragedy might just be the thing to get him started along that path.
You can watch the episode here.