So many anime struggle to give an interesting synopsis, and there’s several anime I’ve skipped solely because they sounded dull, but the small bit of information describing Kamisama Dolls sounded truly intriguing.
The first episode was great and thrust me immediately into a world of supernatural mystery and action, and slowed down for the next couple of episodes which introduced visual gags and much more comedy. The pacing can be slow at times, but it quickly picks up again midway of its thirteen episode run, where questions are answered and even more questions are raised.
Kuga Kyouhei, the main character of the show, has moved to Tokyo to escape his dark past and Karakami Village which has deep spiritual roots; mainly in that some of them can control ancient wooden Gods which are called Kakashi. Kyouhei is an ex-Seki who didn’t want to be related to the spiritual world anymore. His crush, Hibino Shiba, is a well-endowed (like, I’m confused as to how she’s able to walk, honestly, they’re massive) beauty who attends the same University as Kyouhei. Hibino and her father give Kyouhei and his younger sister Utao, the Seki who replaced Kyouhei, a place to live after the dangerous Seki Aki tracks Kyouhei down.
I liked the characters, especially Kyouhei who’s an undeniably nice guy but is prone to violence when his patience is pushed, which was refreshing to see; whilst I don’t agree with violence, I understand why Kyouhei brutally lashed out during moments in the anime and everybody has their limit. Utao is cute and hard-working, and like an older child sometimes can be, she’s a bit of a pain when it comes to her emotion. Hibino is understanding and a relatively normal woman who acts as a big sister to Utao, and it’s easy to see why Kyouhei likes her. Characters begin truly developing midway through the series, and there’s always hope for a Season Two!
One look at Hibino and you’ll realise that there’s a fair bit of fan-service to be seen in Kamisama Dolls. There’s a shower scene but, the major scene has to be when Hibino falls from Kukuri, Utao’s kakashi, and both brother and sister try to catch her but end up pulling her top up and her trousers down; just a day in the life, right? I don’t mind fan-service personally and thankfully, the overall animation remains consistent throughout the series with the help of the brilliant studio Brain’s Base (Durarara!!, The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behaviour, D-Frag!) although I didn’t feel Kamisama Dolls was as well animated as the examples listed above.
The action scenes and blood look great, and this is where the animation truly shines and tends to look more fluid. It packs a punch, makes good use of CGI effects (probably why the 2D animation isn’t as good as Brain’s Base other works), and is creative. The use of the Kakashi in battle is grand and explosive, and being able to see the reactions of the public is interesting despite the fact they can’t see the Kakashi. Whilst it’s not very graphic, there’s a lot of stabbing and people losing limbs which is accompanied by spurts of blood rather than guts. There’s an episode set in the past which is incredibly tense and sometimes uncomfortable, but it’s one of the finest episodes in the series with great character development and action.
You have your choice of English or Japanese voice-overs, but when given the choice I always opt for English. I only recognised a couple of voice-actors and it doesn’t have any of the names that many will be familiar with, but I thoroughly enjoyed it although sometimes it fell a little flat; funnily enough, the voice-acting seemed to get better as the series continued as if they were getting used to it. The OP is both beautiful in both visual and song, a stark contrast to the less-than-impressing ED; the ED’s visuals seemed to be scraping the bottom of the budget barrel. The OST thankfully has some nice tunes to listen too, and the battle music is pretty rocking!
Once you’ve finished the series, you can watch the six animated shorts which are each roughly two minutes long and deal with humourous subjects such as Hibino wanting to lose weight for when she wears her bikini to the beach – the fan-service is real. These shorts are only available in Japanese though. Considering the bare-bones extras series’ tend to pack these days, usually consisting of trailers and clean OP’s and ED’s, it’s refreshing to see mini-episodes and an art gallery brimming with gorgeous artwork.
I like boobs as much as the next guy, but seriously, I can’t begin to fathom how Hibino can take two steps forward without stumbling over as if she’s being attacked by a powerful gust of wind; characters who don’t know her name refer to her as the woman with the big boobs because, well, you’re not going to mistake that description for anybody else in the show; not that I mind the chest, especially being a fan of series’ such as Senran Kagura. She’s incredibly thin so I spent the entire series waiting to see if she was hiding a Kakashi away… but enough about Hibino being a babe as it’s time to wrap this up.
I enjoyed Kamisama Dolls and hope for a Season Two, although Season One originally aired in 2011 and there’s no hint of a sequel yet despite having twelve manga to work from as source material. The plot is truly intriguing and well-told, even if the pacing is somewhat iffy, and I’d like to see more of the cast as they continue to delve further into the mystery of Seki and the Kakashi, and even more so into Kyouhei’s and Hibino’s relationship.
There’re matters unresolved by the end of Season One (and a massive cliffhanger!), so I hope a sequel is created eventually although I’ll likely check out the manga now. I may not have gushed over Kamisama Dolls as I have done with some other series’, but there’s plenty of potential that we’ve completely yet to see, and I definitely want to see it.
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