So, it’s taken me a bit to decide on what to blog after ReverseVampire swooped in on No. 6 before I could pick it not being able to decide between Blood C and Kamisama Dolls but in the end I’ve had a lot more fun with this than the former show after three episodes. I can’t say that Kamisama Dolls is the most original or groundbreaking series thus far, and I doubt it will be, but it is quite fun to watch. The characters are fun and could turn out to be pretty interesting, the mecha-god-doll-things are cool looking, and there’s a story taking shape that’s building some interesting conflicts. So without further ado, my post on the first three episodes. This will be more of an introduction and impressions post, and normal entries will begin with episode 04.
Nice, Xenogears-esque initial event that drives everything afterwards. My village is number one!…except that now it’s on fire.
Some time in the past all the main characters were living in a secretive village where certain individuals, called Seki, are given control over ancient devices that can perform a variety of tasks for both domestic and violent purposes. Something happened when the characters were younger that resulted in a huge battle and one of them, Aki, killing a room full of humans and later being imprisoned by the village. Fast forward to when Kyouhei, the protagonist, is in college after wanting to leave the village and its secretive ways behind. However, his younger sister Utao, now a Seki, arrives with Kukuri, her ‘doll.’ Which in turn triggers a visit by a newly escaped Aki and his god-machine. The short but destructive battle then has the two siblings moving in with the girl Kyouhei has a crush on, Hibino, as her father is also from the village. The authorities back home then seem intent on hunting down Aki as the story kicks off.
College student characters? I never would have guessed that a show like this would have all but one of them be out of high school. Utao and Kyouhei in the back of the car, Hibino and her father in the front seats.
There is plenty in that premise that has been done before or very nearly so. Kyouhei getting to live with Hibino is a common dynamic, but it is a bit different since his sister lives there too. And while it may be cliche and makes it easier to have the characters interact more, the show does make good use of it. There’s a nice balance between the serious and the comedic in a lot of scenes but without pushing the comedic element too far so as to undo the serious. Utao’s energy blast that took out Kyouhei’s apartment came during a very serious moment between him and Aki, but just as Kyouhei winced it dropped a bit of comedy into the equation. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly how the show is managing the comedy so well, but it definitely works. And it keeps the show in that ‘fun zone’ since it would probably be pretty mediocre if it only concentrated on the action part of the story.
The characters are what makes this show as enjoyable as it is. With the exception of dull-as-a-butter-knife Hibino, I’ve taken a liking to all of the main and secondary characters that have been featured so far. Kyouhei’s past with Aki is more interesting than standard hero-villain interactions since Kyouhei still seems to care about him a bit, even buying some bread for him when the two meet in Odaiba. Aki for his part still taunts Kyouhei and tries to push his buttons to make him angry and return him to the Kyouhei he knew back during whatever happened that got lots of people killed. Aki reminds me a lot of Accelerator (not just visually) in that he might have been warped into the way that he is. He might have a point about how the village is run. And as episode 03 showed, he might not be the worst thing out there.
Utao is the jealous little sister character mixed with a clumsy dojikko but somehow instead of being annoying she’s quite endearing. She’s got some great facial expressions that are either funny or cute, acts jealous of Hibino but not in that way (at least I hope it’s not true brocon), and often steals the scene whether she’s the active one or the butt of other characters’ teasing. Which brings me to two of Hibino’s friends and two very fun characters: Suou and Kuuko. Suou is a future Yukari-sensei. Loud, forward, likes her alcohol, and can scheme and manipulate her friends (and Utao) pretty well. She can’t control herself over how cute Utao is and latches onto her, but then expertly manages to keep her around by offering cake…only to turn it around on Utao by turning the offer of food into teasing about her weight. The other friend, Kuuko, ‘leads’ a club dedicated to finding time travelers, aliens, and espers discovering all sorts of crazy pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. By leads I mean that she stole a clubhouse from the school and attempted to bully, seduce, and otherwise force a classmate to help her. She comes into the picture when the clubhouse catches fire and Utao has to use Kukuri to rescue her. She also happens to see Aki as he’s on the run from two Seki sent from the village to kill or capture him. And when she sees him collapsed on the ground she claims her prize and is seen dragging him away with an enthusiastic smile on her face at the end of episode 03.
Everyone loves Utao.
I’m sure that whatever deity or ancient civilization that built Kukuri had this use in mind.
Kuuko: taskmaster, seducer, detective’s daughter.
I’d ship it.
Last and very much least is Hibino. Not only is she dreadfully boring, I swear that her outrageously oversize breasts just get bigger every scene.
Visuals and Sound
Nothing extraordinary in the animation, just your average stuff. I do really like the visuals in the OP sequence though. Multiple shifting shards that color the characters and scene as they move about. And for the Seki characters you can see the design of their doll in their silhouettes when one of the shards/beams passes over them. The sound, like the visuals, is pretty standard except for one element. I thought that it was pretty cool that when the dolls are in use they each emit a different sort of tune or chant. It made for a pretty cool aural confrontation as Kukuri and Aki’s doll fought each other and the two songs overlapped.
Sort of Art Deco looking in a way.
Second to the characters, this is why I chose to blog this over Blood C. Kamisama Dolls has moved things along and shown that there is movement in the story that it’s trying to tell, unlike Blood C so far (though I hope that show gets better, I want to believe in Clamp!) The characters have all been introduced pretty quickly and effectively by the end of episode 03, with what I believe to be the last two from the OP sequence showing up by the end of that episode. I like the dynamic between Kyouhei and Aki, and between Aki and the village, and that should make for something interesting. Or at least some good fights. Utao probably has more to her in terms of how she’s linked to Kukuri and why she took over as Seki from Kyouhei too. The village has two families that are feuding, an interesting plot element to have going on in the background (and probably in the forefront before long.) I’m not expecting this show to be a masterpiece, I don’t see how it could be, but I am expecting to have quite a lot of fun watching it. So far all the elements have been solid, and sometimes it’s more fun to see a simple concept done very well instead of something new which may not work out. I’ve taken to the show much more than I thought I would and I’m looking forward to more.
Kyouhei being nice to Aki despite his provocations is an interesting scene.
If you only knew the power of the Dark Side!
The latest two Seki to show up. Koushiro who goes after Aki immediately, and as yet unnamed one who made a truck swerve off of an overpass in an attempt to kill Utao.