Kamisama Dolls 13

Kukuri, singing the song it sung when Kyohei was its seki, saves Hibino and Kyohei and destroys Magatsuhi. Mahiru flees. While unconscious, Kyohei dreams of the past with Aki, Mahiru, and Senou. After he found Aki with a dead Senou, he threatened to kill him with Kukuri, lashing out at anyone who interfered, but without trying, Utao took control of Kukuri from him. He wakes up proclaiming Hibino is his, and Hibino just happened to be by his side. On the roof of the hospital, they kiss, and Hibino tells him not to worry about involving her in his troubles. Utao can no longer move Kukuri. Aki pays him Kyohei a visit, telling him he’s headed to the village, where he and the Elder Hyuga will reawaken the giant monster he defeated in the past. Kyohei takes the challenge.

Oh, wait, what? A second season is forthcoming? Well, ya’know what, that’s okay with me. After all I’ve invested in this excellent cast, I’d hate for it to end so abruptly. Once Magatsuhi was dealt with and everyone was out of danger, this became a much more laid-back, relaxed episode, almost as if it were winding down in preparation for hibernation (I’m unsure whether it will continue airing during the Fall season, or if it won’t be back until next year). That’s fine though. Cliffhangers aren’t mandatory by any means.

For all the trials ahead for our man Kyohei, and despite the fact Mahiru’s kakashi was wasted and Utao lost control of hers, this was also a surprisingly upbeat episode. Kyohei and Aki’s final scene together was awesome; these two can never escape the fact that they’re brothers, any more than they can escape Kurakami. This wasn’t the time for a final duel with tons of shouting; that’s yet to come. And Kyohei and Hibino finally lockin’ lips, with Hibino making the first move? Well, better late than never!


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 12

Kuuko springs Aki and frees Hibino. Hirashino corners Kuuko and Hibino, but Kuuko pushes Hibino outside and grapples with Hirashino, killing him with his own gun in a struggle. Hibino is met by Mahiru on the roof, who has a bone to pick with her vis-a-vis Kyohei. She gets carried away and throws Hibino off the roof with Magatsuhi, but Kukuri catches her in the knick of time. Utao and Mahriu have a sustained duel, ending when Kukuri lands a blow that makes Mahiru lose control of her Magatsuhi. Now out of her control, it grabs Hibino again. Kyohei saves Mahiru from its swipe, then rushes to Hibino’s aid, only to be ensnared himself. As it crushes them, he remembers the day he told his parents he’d be leaving the village, then meeting Hibino in school. Entering the battle, Kirio accidentally knocks Kukuri out. The episode ends with Kukuri waking up, but rather than singing Utao’s song, it’s singing Kyohei’s.

Rape threats…gun grappling…seki duels, kakashi group battles…flashbacks…this episode had a little of everything. Once again, Mahiru takes the lion’s share of screen time, and she’s still a horrible selfish brat, but she becomes a little more sympathetic once Utao manages to beat her Magatsuhi. Cornered, beaten by a little kid, she’s an emotional wreck. When she loses control of her Magatsuhi, she panics. As I said, bringing her in so late was a bold move, but I’m still glad it was done; her presence and her feelings for Kyohei help get both Kyohei and Hibino thinking about what they are to one another. It also forces Kyohei to stop trying to escape the village.

I thought a lot more was to be done with the diet member, but his death makes me question what his purpose was. Also, while she’s really fun to watch and listen to, Kuuko is again really only around to kill him and save Hibino. Her only goal at this point is to be involved in all this intrigue – the embedded journalist, as it were. But she did kill a man in the middle of Tokyo – one would think there’ll be consequences. The cliffhanger was well-played: it would seem empty kakashis respond to whichever seki is projecting the strongest emotions, in this case, Kyohei’s. I just hope that after all this soul-searching and exposition, the finale will me more than just another episode of Save Princess Hibino.


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 11

Mahiru learns from Aki that Kyohei has a girlfriend. Furious, she kidnaps Hibino and ties her up in a hotel room, then visits Kyohei to learn the truth of things. She crushes cookies Utao baked specially for Kirio, leading to a brief fight, and Mahiru teleports away again. Utao, Kyohei and Moyako take Kukuri and pursue her. Meanwhile, Shiba threatens to rape Hibino.

With a title like “Hibino Kidnapped”, it’s pretty obvious what was to in the 24 minutes that followed, but I was expecting…more. I mean, look up a the first paragraph; not a lot happened. Worse still, Mahiru is not the most interesting character to watch for the majority of an episode; she’s only good in short spurts. Here, she yells far too much, repeating a lot of what has already been established. Most notably, she’s in love with her hero, Kyohei. We knew this last week. She’s also threatened by Hibino. We assumed that.

Her idea to unite the Kuga and Hyuga clans by marrying Kyohei and wiping out the old ways makes sense in theory, but isn’t without its problems. For one, Kyohei isn’t a seki anymore, and he has no intention of returning to the village, which is what Mahiru asks him to do here. But all of this could have been done much faster; I feel the momentum has been hurt by spending too much time on the psycho Mahiru, who lost most if not all of the goodwill gained from her first episode. Most frustrating, there are no further developments on precisely what the Diet member has planned, and how Mahiru and Aki fit into that plan. In all, this episode was a regression.


Rating: 3

Kamisama Dolls 10

Mahiru of the Hyuga clan arrives in Tokyo unbeknownst to Koushiro or anyone else, and immediately makes her presence felt. Kuuko has put Aki before the diet member representing Kurakami village, who believes it’s time for the village to change with the times, which means eliminating the elders. He’s called Mahiru for the same purpose, though she insists she only came to see Kyohei, whom she loves and idolizes ever since a terrifying incident covered in a flashback.

So…yeah, introducing a character as volatile as Mahiru this late in the series was a bold move. She didn’t make the best first impression on me, but I had to remember, she’s essentially a princess, and she is a pretty powerful seki – some swagger comes with that. She’s also loud, highly irrational, prone to mood swings, and even a little sadist (she zaps Kuuko with her own stun gun just for the heck of it). In a word: unhinged. Seiyu Kana Hanazawa’s performance is feistier than I’ve heard her in a while – kind of a Kuroneko taken up a couple notches – I like it. Mahiru grew on me as the episode progressed and I learned more about her.

In a character- and action-packed flashback, Kyohei puts his life on the line numerous times to save Mahiru’s – and Aki’s – lives, when the three stumble upon a sekiless monster kakashi. It was an incredibly traumatic experience for all involved, but Kyohei saved the day, though he says it was the day he “lost his sanity.” Whatever happened, Mahiru still adores him for it, and despises Aki for being as helpless as she was, and a pain-in-the-ass to boot (he was ‘good’ back then, but the warning signs were there). Along with Hirashiro – the Diet guy – and his plans to uproot the old way in the village, there’s now a whole new layer to the series’ story. More to the point, do we care if those dusty elders get offed? Do I smell a second season…?


Rating: 4

Kamisama Dolls 9

Moyako arrives in Tokyo, tagging along with Koushiro and Kirio, and hangs out with Kyohei, Utao and Hibino. The next college term is starting up, and Kyohei reflects on leaving the village. Aki remains at large, but is actually crashing at Kuuko Karahari’s house. Her dad the detective is snooping around everywhere, and she herself has discovered Kurakami village. Finally, a new character is introduced – Mahiru, who instantly attaches herself to “Kyohei-sama”.

Not a ton of earth-shattering stuff this week nor any action at all (save a brief flashback) but still a very solid episode all-in-all, full of great character interactions. Kyohei struggling with his worth and his feelings for Hibino, Utao nervous about Karahiri, Kuuko teasing Aki, Kirio making nice with Utao – good stuff, all. Mahiru (finally revealed in the ending sequence as the shadowy figure) looks to add an interesting dynamic. Also on full display was the series’ attention to setting detail – the stonework on the ground at the West Shinjuku station promenade and the park next to city hall were great to revisit in anime form.

Considering this is Tokyo, I’m not that surprised the growing group of sekis can’t locate Aki, though it might do them some good to pay another visit to Kuuko’s, if he goes back there. She’s an interesting wild card. For his part, Aki is sick of the person he’s become, and believes the only way out is to utterly destroy Kurakami village, thus avenging his lover and his beloved pet. That’s a big task, but he does have a kakashi and gobs of angst – I have no doubt he can get it done if no one stops him. Kyohei won’t be able to stay on the sidelines if and when Aki tries something.


Rating: 4

Kamisama Dolls 8

I thought this would be a lighthearted filler episode after such a heavy and emotional flashback last week, but not only did it buck the “beach episode” trend (with a typhoon), it also managed to move the story forward while subtly developing the characters. It also had some great kakashi hero moments and kakashi-on-kakashi combat.

Kyohei, Utao and Hibino are back in Tokyo after Kukuri was fixed, and while dropping off some books at the library, Hibino bumps into Aki (I suppose he never imagined anyone would look for him there?). In any case, he puts a blade to Hibino’s throat and threatens her. It’s a great scene because now that HIbino knows his story, he isn’t just some mindless wack-job; she knows now he has reason to be…the way he is. He just wants him to deal with the village, and leave Kyohei and Utao out of it. He’s not going to do that.

Kyohei told her he quit being a seki because he feared the evil inside Aki could be in him too. A kakashi is a thing of great power, which, you know, corrupts. Aki believes the darkness its within Kyohei, seki or not. He also gives Utao a spook, telling her kakashi aren’t good for anything but death and destruction. Having seen the collateral damage they can cause, suffice it to say they shouldn’t be in the wrong hands.

Back to Hibino, with all this crap going on, one almost forgets she’s just an ordinary college student, and the stress she’s had to deal with is starting to show, especially when she arrives home after the duel between Aki and Utao basically about to lose it. Her father left that infernal village to spare his daughter this nonsense, but as he notes, the village has a way of staying with you.


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 7

Gosh darn,that was a beautiful, tragic, moving episode. Easily the best of this series so far. All the more astonishing considering it’s all a flashback primarily about Aki, with a cold open and only a brief punctuation mark at the end bringing us back to the present, with Kyohei telling the story to Hibino. By the end, the rain stops, but the tears start for Hibino. I can’t really blame her.

We go back to the time when Kyohei was still a seki, and before Aki lost it. Prior to this week I hadn’t had much reason to root for Aki’s character beyond a general sympathy for his alleged rough life. Well, damn it all if I don’t feel for the guy infinitely more now. A bastard child, he was adopted by the Kuga clan, and chosen to be Kuramitsuha’s seki. However, his penchant for killing animals let the kakashi to pass to the one it was originally promised to, Aki’s stepbrother Asushi.

Asushi is, as Aki succinctly describes him, scum. He’s a shaky seki at best, and his antisocial tendencies probably surpassed Aki’s at the time. When a beautiful young substitute teacher, Senou Chihaya, arrives in the village, Asushi grabs her by the arm and demands she become his girl. She refuses, and he proceeds to ruin her reputation, making her a pariah in the town…like Aki.

Senou falls for Aki, who saves her from being molested by Asushi, and they end up sleeping together. But photos are taken of them, and she’s fired from her job. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Asushi kidnaps her, kill’s Aki’s dog (his best friend), and calls him out. After raping Senou, he then tries to kill Aki with Kuramitsuha, but Senou leaps out to protect him, killing her. And that’s the last straw for our friend Aki. Regaining control of Kuramitsuha, he massacres Asushi and anyone else around.

When Kyohei finds him, the scene makes it look like Aki killed Senou too, although he later learns that wasn’t the case. Aki may have gone too far in his vengeance, but there’s a possibility he couldn’t control his actions. He was ready to die to protect Senou. Losing her crushed him, and perhaps his humanity along with it. But Kyohei was also in love with her, and her death and Aki’s revenge led him to give up being a Seki.


Rating: 4

Kamisama Dolls 6

After lots of excitement in Tokyo, Kamisama Dolls heads to Karakami village this week for some peace, quiet, and convalescence. Kukuri is repaired by the Utsuwashi (kakashi mechanics), we meet some new faces, and Utao’s master confirms to her that Kirio is indeed her younger twin brother. The two were seperated at birth (not literally, they weren’t conjoined twins) and he was raised by the Hyuga.

To make an SAT analogy: Utao : Kirio :: Kyouhei : Aki. Kirio and Aki are bitter that Utao and Kyouhei had easier lives. That bitterness has twisted both of them, but it may not be too late for Kirio. Koushiro seems to want to take care of Kirio, which makes you wonder where he’s been all the years the Hyuga master has beaten him. Also, as HIbino gets more involved with the Kugas, she wants to know what happened with Kyouhei and Aki in the past.

Overall, this is a nice respite, with much lighter fare than previous episodes. This series continues to excel with facial expressions – particularly Utao and Hibino’s faces are extremely emphatic – and quick action animation, as demonstrated with the comedy/fanservice setpiece where Utao tries flying Kukuri with Kyouhei and Hibino riding along. It involves both Kuga siblings pulling on either end of Hibino…meh, I guess you had to see it. :P


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 5

Utao’s mysterious brother, Kirio, is kind of a jerk, but he does have a point: Utao started the fight. For her part, Utao was understandably freaked out by the sudden appearance of another kid who looked just like her. What follows is the first sustained kakashi-on-kakashi battle, and at the start, Kirio seemed to have had more practical experience, because Kukuri is schooled by Takemikazuchi, as Utao panics and flails about rather haphazardly at first.

I was a little annoyed that we get no explanation for why Kirio would be so evil and cruel right off the bat, but not as annoyed that the battle was so public; in the view of dozens of people, even caught on camera, and resulting in casualties. I feel the consequences of this exposure are too underplayed. The seki aren’t Men In Black; they can’t just flashy-thing the town and remain in the shadows. This was a big screw-up. Still, the battle itself is very exciting and nicely animated. I’m sure we’ll see more of this.

Kirio presses his attack on Utao, even though he had clearly won the day. This is the sign of youthful exuberance, but not sense. He was sent to capture Aki, not play with Utao, and when he kicks Utao when she’s down, she digs deep and comes back in a big way, tearing Kirio’s kakashi to bits. Both seki must now return to the village for kakashi repairs. In Kirio’s case, that means returning to a physically abusive bearded bastard. Now we know what Kirio’s a cruel jerk: people have been cruel jerks to him.


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 4

BAM!…the peril is taken up a couple of notches like so many punches to the wall. Kuuko has completely the wrong idea about Aki, who easily escapes her clutches with a most surprising attack that slices off the tip of her air gun, along with her top and bra. This is good service because it fits Aki’s character: he’d totally disarm her in this manner to humiliate her, because that’s how he gets his kicks.

Kuuko tries to turn the tables with a stun gun (clever girl), but misjudges the voltage. Aki would’ve killed Kuuko at this point if Kuga hadn’t shown up with Utao and Hibino in the nick of time. After finally egging Kuga on to start whaling on him (by suggesting Hibino resembled their sensei), Aki turns tail, but when they split up to find him he doubles back. Poor Kuuko…

It’s good to see Kuga finally getting worked up about something, and Hibino seems to agree – stopping him from breaking his hand on a wall, she exhibits genuine care for him, and their relationship is very slowly progressing in the midst of all this chaos. Plus…he did kinda see her ‘nakked. Big step, that.

Of course, the big news is the formal introduction of…well, Utao’s twin/clone?? While Utao is naive and clumsy, but good, this other Utao is slick, mocking, and kinda evil. He tried to kill her last week, and now it seems he just enjoys toying with her. Neither she nor Kuga knew he existed but along with Koushiro and Aki, Kuga and Utao’s hands are now officially full, and Kuga can kiss his ordinary life goodbye.


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 3

Both Kyohei and Aki have pretty similar pasts, but while Aki has chosen to stew in his anger and self-hate, Kyohei wants to move on, and wants a normal life. So did Kyohei kill too? If he did, why is only Aki in jail? In any case, that normal life grows more abnormal by the day. Not only is Aki pestering Kyohei at every turn, he even threatens to kill Hibino. This pisses off Kyohei.

But then another seki named Koushiro shows up with a teleporting kakashi, presumably to drag Aki back to the village. He manages to take him down, but Kuuko of all people is tangled up in the battle, and ends up dragging an unconscious Aki away; perhaps for information later. In any case, I like how Aki isn’t just a one-dimensionally evil guy; he’s clearly had a rough life. Even Kyohei pities him, and buys him some food.

As for lil’ Utao, there was a lot of unnecessary bumbling around at the cafe, but this was redeemed by the actions of yet another seki, who looks a lot like Utao – an older brother, perhaps? He does so by making a truck swerve off an overpass, and Utao deftly uses Kukuri to shield herself, Hibino, and bystanders from the falling truck. She may be a total klutz at waitressing, but when it counts, she’s turning out to be a decent seki. Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 2

So far Kamisama Dolls is serving up a nice balance of drama, comedy, and action. The characters are appealing, the design is clean and unfussy, and the still-subtle sci-fi/fantasy angle is working so far. In her second week in Tokyo, Kuga finds himself far more involved in the affairs of his village than he would prefer.

There’s a good reason for that, and it’s something he’s kept mum from Hibino so far, but we’ve seen in traumatic flashbacks: Temperment-challenged Aki apparently used his kakashi to murder a bunch of villagers, and Kuga couldn’t do anything to stop him, even though he was Kukuri’s Seki back then. Claiming he was ‘fired’ for lack of talent, Kukuri is now Utao’s kakashi (I’m not losing you with all the terms now, am I ?;)

Despite being a little kid, I’m actually enjoying Utao’s character. There’s something really awesomely amusing about the way she gestures emphatically and even mimes while controlling Kukuri, whether she’s using him(her?) to rescue Kuga’s fellow university students from a fire, or playing PS2.

About those students: one of them was Kuuko, a friend of Hibino’s, who is a “true scientist” who briefly saw the kakashi who carried her to safety. If she wasn’t potentially nosy enough, her pop is a detective who has now twice noticed Kuga’s presence in the aftermath of strange occurances. After just two weeks, Kuga and Utao are having serious issues keeping their issues quiet and private. And Aki still lurks, who will make things even more difficult.

So yeah, nice well-rounded episode where the characters bond a little more, the story moves forward, and a couple new faces were introduced. Kuga’s quest for Hibino hits an apparent roadblock when under inquiry from Kuuko, she flatly denies they’re dating. However, there’s hope for Kyohei: she can’t help but want to know more about him and his mysterious past. Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 1 – First Impressions

Like Hanasaku Iroha last season, this is a first episode that effectively and efficiently introduces us to its characters, setting, and premise while looking fantastic in the process. It kicked some serious ass. A college sociology student living in Tokyo just can’t escape the village he left; a village where “gods” can be summoned in the form of Kakashi – mechanized dolls – by the Seki, or summoners.

Kuga, our lead, is enjoying his new life in the city when that village pays him a visit in the form of his little sister Utao and an escaped convict, Aki. Both are Seki, so messes will be made. The show moves effortlessly from a laid-back night of drinking and karaoke to a bloody corpse and a mexican standoff with kakashi. There are tiny moments of levity that dot tense scenes and really lend a rich and complex mood to the proceedings.

The bonds of the characters are quickly built: Kuga left the village, but he won’t let anyone hurt Utao or his friend (the lovely Shiba, who hails from the same village but just now learns about the dolls. It’s apparent he was/is a Seki, and probably a good one, since for all of Aki’s threats and posturing, he stands his ground, and blood doesn’t wig him out.

So yeah, this series has a lot going for it. I’m hoping it can maintain this level of energy, while cognizant that precious few anime are this good for every epiosde of their run. Still, it was an excellent start, the opening sequence is very slick, and production values are above reproach. Along with Memo-cho, this is another new summer series to get excited about. Rating: 4