Home > Episode Reviews, Kamisama Dolls > Kamisama Dolls Episode 13 – Something Worth Fighting For

Kamisama Dolls Episode 13 – Something Worth Fighting For

With so much of Kamisama Dolls’ backstory left unearthed and so many conflicts left unresolved, there was always a question of how much closure the season finale would, or could, bring. I think Brains Base was more or less aware of their limitations here, and so the show openly admits that many of its plot threads have yet to be completed. Like Deadman Wonderland, a show which I’ve compared Kamisama Dolls to more than once, there’s too much story here to fit into one cour.

So there is the question: What does Kamisama Dolls resolve, and what does it leave open? Tidy up too many loose ends, and it will feel like the show is forcing its own resolution on a plot that clearly isn’t done. Tidy up too few, and the viewers are left without any catharsis at all, just a feeling that they’ve been jerked around for the past thirteen episodes.

It takes remarkably little time for Kukuri to annihilate its opposition. I can see why everyone admired Kyouhei's skill as a Seki

Perhaps the most crucial decision is to make sure Kyouhei’s repossession of Kukuri is kept secret. He remains unconscious while his Kakashi literally tears Magatsuhi apart, leaving Mahiru utterly bereft. When he comes to, he has no idea what happened, and because Utao was quasi-catatonic during the same period, neither does anyone else. The idea he could have been responsible for it never enters anyone’s mind.

To a certain extent, that’s the show just dodging the question, putting off the moment where Kyouhei must face the ultimate decision of the show: whether he will embrace the power he once abandoned, and whether he’ll do any better with it the second time around. That’s a slightly harsh reading of the situation, as that conflict as central to the series as the “will they or won’t they” unresolved sexual tension is for countless American shows. Removing it would remove the heart of the show.

There also do seem to be repercussions for Kyouhei's actions. Kukuri stops responding to Utao's commands entirely, something Moyako is at a loss to explain

On that note: It’s precisely for that reason that the unresolved sexual tension of this show can reach some resolution, as Kyouhei and Hibino officially hook up. That was a plot point I wasn’t expecting to see resolved, given the usual anime track record of keeping the designated couple from coming together until the series end. (Not that anime is alone in doing this, of course.)

But one of the unique elements of Kamisama Dolls is that its cast of adults—well, not high school students—are allowed to act in mature ways. Once Hibino decides that she does in fact like Kyouhei, and gets some clear signals he likes her back, there’s no need for tsundere antics and blushing denials. She just goes for it. Given how most anime girls can only openly express love for someone in the way that Mahiru does, this display of healthy affection is a breath of fresh air.

Yes, anime kisses are still awkward. I'm happy to see it anyway

This episode also digs a bit deeper at Kyouhei’s past as a Seki, filling out the reasons why he gave up power even as it dances around reintroducing the question. The young Kyouhei, it seems, was about to intervene just as Atsushi and his gang were going to accost Chihaya, but he loses his nerve when he finds out that she was sleeping with Aki. This hesitation leads to Chihaya being kidnapped, raped, and ultimately killed, and it puts Kyouhei’s own incredibly conflicted motives for protecting Chihaya in the worst possible light.

It also shows that when he confronted Aki, Kyouhei was so full of rage that he nearly started slaughtering innocent villagers himself when they try to restrain him. Only Utao’s intervention keeps him from acting just like Aki, showing why Aki has such an interest in him. It also is part of the story that he didn’t choose to share with Hibino. I wonder what will happen if she finds out.

The younger Kyouhei was so filled with rage that he lashed out at anything and everyone. But his rage was really directed at his own failures, as much as it was directed at Aki or anyone else

And these are only the leftover links of the established plot. Like Hana-Saku Iroha just a couple days before, Kamasama Dolls ends a silent montage of the characters as they go their separate ways, but the effect could not be more different. The former show opted for a humorous but touching display of how all the cast members were doing ok. This time, all the characters seems to be spinning out new plot lines for themselves.

Unfortunately, this means the ending of Kamisama Dolls just can’t be satisfying in the same way that Hana-Saku Iroha’s was. There’s no way around the fact that this is clearly not the end. It barely qualifies as an ending. And that only makes me want to see the next chapter of the story all the more.

Both Mahiru and Kirio go AWOL after the final battle. Mahiru looks to be just running away from a world where she's nothing but a former Seki, but Kirio's turn to the police is far more intriguing

Series Review: It’s a bit too simple to call Kamisama Dolls a shounen action story for adults, and perhaps unfair as well. Character development and worldbuilding are hardly alien to the genre, but the breadth of that development, the ambiguity of the setting, and the willingness to have a deeply flawed, almost powerless protagonist taking center stage make it unlike any mecha show that’s ever aired.

The themes are also utterly unlike what is standard for the genre. My coblogger once mentioned that all Gundam shows are filled with “mildly hypocritical monologues on the evils of war”—hypocritical because it’s a show inviting boyish glee at the seeing giant robots beat the crap out of things. But even Gundam shows have never really questioned the value of power, or called into question the whole “learn to be a badass” hero’s journey that characterizes every action show where the hero isn’t already omni-competent.

There's a flash forward scene where someone who looks a lot like a long-haired Kuuko is riding her own Kakashi. Her credits scene also hints that, Hibino's rescue aside, she's generally up to no good

The journey Kyouhei is asked to take is something different. It’s a journey which isn’t about gaining power, but about realizing what power is for. It’s a journey that suggests, although it hasn’t come to a definitive answer on the subject yet, that power itself can be the problem.

That’s a very daring theme for a series to take. It’s also one which has the potential to make Kamisama Dolls out to be far more than “mildly” hypocritical, depending on what answer it ultimately provides. (And the ending flash forward scene makes it clear that Kyouhei will eventually embrace power once again, so the show will have its work cut out for it.) But just for daring to broach the question, Kamisama Dolls deserves praise. That it does so with a unique story, excellent and innovative “mecha” designs, and sharp characterization makes it one of the better offerings of the season. I look forward to the next installment.

There's also a closing conversation between Aki and Kyouhei, which doesn't accomplish much, but des seem to allow them to reach some form of rapprochement. That doesn't mean they won't try to kill each other later, of course

You can watch this episode here.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: