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.
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…?
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.
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.
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
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