As more of this goes on, the less I’m sure Kamisama Dolls will be a good show to blog. On one hand, the action and chase scenes are fun to watch, if easy to predict. On the other, the fluff that has thus far comprised half of each episode doesn’t really add anything to the plot, which is a bit of a shame considering quite a lot could be added through the avenue of conversation.
The episode opens the way we hoped the second one would, with Aki murdering the driver taking him back to the village and escaping from the wreckage of their van.
After he escapes, we’re indulged in (or bored with, in my case) Utao acting cute while servicing the restaurant we saw her working in earlier. A customer invites her to sit down and eat cake with her, all the while chiding the little girl about the possibility of her gaining weight. Utao is allowed to go out, and practices utilizing her doll underwater in a crowded wharf before making a spectacle of herself by lifting the sunken skeleton of a car from the silt and tossing it high in the air, before Hibino rushes her away out of the public gaze. And it doesn’t take another two minutes before Kyouhei comes across Aki on his university campus.
After the break, the two discuss what they did that had Aki end up confined, Kyouhei evidently assisting Aki in opening a portal that fried half of their village. Aki gives the standard villainous “You and me aren’t so different” speech to Kyouhei, and the two stand off as passive aggressively as possible before somebody else from the village who looks like a cross between Kamina and Tom from the Boondocks arrives to try to take Aki captive again with his doll. Kyouhei is pushed aside, and Aki flees for his life as the hunter chases him through the city.
As Aki runs, he stumbles across Kuuko, the overly bitchy girl from the previous episode, and uses her as a distraction by throwing his filthy coat on her to confuse the person controlling the doll, but ends up screwed anyway by a second doll that almost smashes Kuuko into the pavement. Undeterred, she catches a glimpse of the two dolls in the air, one about to swoop on Aki, who misjudged the fall he’d take and ended up vulnerable on the ground.
Before the other hunter, a boy, can land the finishing blow, Kuuko drags Aki away while he’s distracted talking to Tom, establishing her use in the show, if not a high level of intelligence.
To anybody who thinks that they might drop this show, this episode won’t change your minds. It’s burdened with the same problems that Episode 2 has, except it doesn’t even have the level of exposition during these pointless scenes to justify having them in as anything but filler. When Kamisama Dolls shifts the spotlight from Utao to Kyouhei, it genuinely gets engaging, helped in part by Aki stalking our hapless protagonist.
What keeps Kamisama Dolls from feeling derivative or lackluster is the grey status of the characters’ morality. Every character of worth isn’t quite as straightforward as they say they are as far as the karmic nature of their objectives go. Is Aki really as deranged as he’s made out to be? He’s obviously a bit unhinged, but it’s not like he wants to escape just to cause as much havoc as possible, as might’ve been gleaned from the first episode. He has a goal in his mad quest, and it seems to be working entirely against the village. While this can be gleaned as bad, we have a good idea of the dubious nature of the village inhabitants and why Kyouhei wanted to leave.
Despite keeping up the illusion of a wholesome, old fashioned Japanese community, there’s an air of something very wrong among those who are sent after Aki. This vibe isn’t hindered by the eeriness of the dolls sent to capture Aki. Unlike Utao’s kakashi whish doesn’t seem the tiniest bit malevolent, the ones sent to take Aki back to the village exude an air of malice, furthered by the brutal means through which they try to reclaim him.
The fact that the village tries to keep a hold on even those wo are temporarily away, even if it’s just through schoolwork, just doesn’t seem like something normal when thought of in context with everything else. I may be reading a bit too much into that, but all sorts of subtle details make the village seem more controlling than it does at first glance.
Strangely enough, the continued undercurrent of ambiguity of Kamisama Dolls is its strongest selling point. The characters aren’t the strongest, the plot isn’t manifesting itself as anything spectacular, and the animation isn’t as crisp as it could be. Everything is average to good, nothing that would constitute something that really captures one’s interest. However, just sorting out everyone’s motivations and where their loyalties are should be fun enough on its own.
Again, the current format won’t change the minds of anybody who doesn’t care for the show at this time. For those who do like it though, there’s a bit more to like here than there was in the previous episode.