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.
Part of my job as an anime blogger is to make predictions about what I think is going to happen next. (It’s one of the reasons, even though I have a crunchyroll subscription and can watch ahead, I try not to watch a new episode before writing on the previous one.) Last time I predicted that the show would use Hirashiro’s conspiracy as the major external conflict; foiling that would be the main project for our heroes.
That’s true in part; Hirashiro’s plot is unraveled, but with frightening rapidity, and mostly due to Kuuko rather than Kyouhei or Utao. The first part of the episode has Kuuko tip up Kyouhei to Hibino’s location, rescue Hibino from her would-be rapist, get into a struggle with an armed Hirashiro, shoot him, and pin the whole thing on Shimoyama. (Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.) The final episode likely won’t spend much time on it at all.
Instead, the show is pointing back to the primary internal conflict that has been on display throughout the entire series run. It’s a conflict that’s particularly notable for where it appears, in a seinen action show that otherwise does much to ape its shounen counterparts. Despite the similarities, Kamisama Dolls manages to be different in the way that matters most.
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.
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.
Only a couple episodes ago, Kamisama Dolls illustrated why both Aki and Kyouhei wanted to leave the village behind them and never come back. Of course, just leaving behind your past isn’t something people can do, particularly when the past is following you around. Hibino’s father has reflected on how his own attempt to escape the notice of the village has ended in failure more than once. For once honored Sekis like Aki and Kyouhei, the pressure is far greater.
Externally, that conflict is illustrated by Kyouhei being followed out of the village by Kirio, Koushirou, and Moyako. Although the three are technically there for Aki, their lives become intermixed with Kyouhei’s yet again, as each has a compelling reason to stay in contact with him. And he has a reason to contact them as well, as he tries with Kushirou’s help to work out the tension between his younger siblings.
It would be hard for Kamisama Dolls to trump the angst and tragedy of the last episode, so it doesn’t bother. Instead, this episode starts off with what, I assume, is meant to be comic relief, before returning to the generally sinister atmosphere that characterizes the show at its best.
Like episode five, this episode is another time when the transition from manga to anime has combined two different stories within the bounds of a single episode. It’s not quite as bad this time, however. For while tone of the two parts vary radically from each other, the theme throughout is constant. The first half of the show gives answer to the question posed in the second.
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.