Kamisama Dolls is a series that lays down several expectations for the audience to have, and meets none of them. This is no more conspicuous than it is in the final episode of the first season (A second season was hinted at with a rather horribly worded English epilogue), and that leaves expectations for that season bone dry. It’s made increasingly clear why a second season would be a necessity to really enjoy this show: It just had too much to cram into a 13 episode run for its own good. Anyway, expectations were somewhat high for this show, which is why the fact that it couldn’t resolve itself very well in 13 episodes hangs thick in the air.
I actually watched the OP for the first time this last episode, as I’m wont to do. I don’t usually sit through and watch the animation that accompanies the pretty songs, so this was a first for Kamisama Dolls… and it made me realize that it made me expect a far different, better plot than there actually was. What I saw in the OP, aside from some (At least I thought they were) cool triangular transitions between color pallets, was a definite theme of city life clashing with that of life in the rural village, with Kyouhei as the main protagonist.
The other characters wouldn’t have played so large a role, and it would center mostly on Kyouhei as he was faced with his past in the form of Aki, where he realized that he couldn’t entirely leave the village life behind even if he wanted to. I was expecting a city vs. village life story, with Kyouhei having to make the choice between adapting to his new lifestyle, or going back to the comfort of the village, where he was more ostracized. His chosen course of sociology only made me think these points would be further brought into the limelight, and it was set up to be quite an interesting show with occasional action elements. While not show of the year material, it would be a pretty good watch if that were the case.
What we got, however, was a slightly slapdash affair that attempted to shove in as much content from the original manga as possible. It was severely cluttered and schizophrenic, veering between characters of dubious value to the plot and different tones with reckless abandon. The action scenes, while not quite gratuitous, didn’t add much to the overall story or feel of the series, instead taking up time that could be better spent on developing the characters that need development (Not Utao!).
What the last episode did well was give a decent sense of closure to the whole deal, while leaving room for a sequel that’s not all that asked for. Mahiru was defeated by a berserk Kukuri, Aki and Kyouhei resolve their differences with Kyouhei not wanting to repeat the actions that he took against Aki in the whole overly dramatic flashback, and Utao has her bond severed with Kukuri in favor of Kyouhei.
Despite my initial warm feelings for the episode, there was a lot that was left out that could’ve been resolved in some way. First off, what happened to the whole Aki escaping thing? Isn’t that the reason why everyone’s heading out to the city in the first place, to confront him and bring him back to the village? And what about the nosy detective, who only gets maybe one episode to go around and ask into the kakashi? And Kuuko? Quite simply, there was too much crammed in to make Kamisama Dolls end on a good note in a single cour.
Again, I sort of liked the ending, but I’m not neglecting the fact that there could’ve been so much more left in without compromising the overall feel of the show. If it weren’t so obsessed with seeing Utao victimized, several other side arcs could have been resolved, and Kukuri could’ve actually had some purpose beyond being a simple fighting machine.
In the end, Kamisama Dolls was a show that opened with a lot of promise, but slowly deflated until all that was left was a little girl with a brother complex making goofy expressions, and several stalker girls harming the male leads.
While just not very good, it can be attributed more to a lack of focus than anything. Again, I think things could’ve been far better if it would’ve focused on Kyouhei’s changing mannerisms as his village past comes back to haunt him. Aki could have been fleshed out quite a bit more, and the conflict between the two would’ve had more leverage. In short, a lot could’ve been done different and better.
I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you’re curious to see something with decent potential peter out until the very end, Kamisama Dolls might be worth a look. Other than that, steer clear.