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[R1 DVD art]
AKA: 神様ドォルズ
Genre: Action drama / robot / comedy
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Sentai Filmworks. Also streaming on crunchyroll
Content Rating: 17+ (violence, bloodshed, high fan service)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Angelic Layer, Persona 4 The Animation
Notes: Based on the manga by Hajime Yamamura, currently running in Shogakukan's seinen magazine Monthly Sunday Gene-X.

This ran in the same magazine in Japan as Binbou Shimai Monogatari. I am not joking.
Rating: One Star

Kamisama Dolls

Synopsis

Kyouhei Kuga is a college student who moved away from his village home due to certain events. After a night of drinking alongside his longtime crush, the well-endowed Hibino Shiba, he finds a dead body in an elevator. Turns out it was caused by Aki, a familiar face of Kyouhei's from his village. He also re-meets his little sister Utao, who is now a Seki, a person who controls giant robots called kakashi. After a fight with Utao's kakashi Kukuri and Aki ends destroying Kyouhei's apartment, he and Utao move in with the Shiba residence. Over time more things, and faces, from both Kyouhei's past and his village are revealed.


Review

Welcome to Kamisama Dolls, aka Mood Whiplash the Anime. Don't be fooled by all those happy promo pictures of Hibino and Utao, as you'll find little of that in the actual show.

Most good anime have likable characters, plots that are followed through and finish, a sense of progression, and know when to take breathers for more lighthearted moments. Kamisama Dolls raspberries all of these in the face and decides to be confusing, annoying, and unsatisfying from beginning to end, with very few moments of entertainment to reward patient viewers.

And who do we have to thank for this? Who else but director Seiji Kishi, the same guy who brought us the incredibly overrated, also muddy Angel Beats!? But I'll give credit to Angel Beats! for at least having the decency to not have its cast go through mood swings on the drop of a dime, or teasing people with a second season that may not be made.

In addition to rapid (even violent) mood swings and absolutely no sense of plot progression whatsoever, Kamisama Dolls' cast of characters suck, too. When they aren't annoying, they're known for the sake of adding more drama. (Because Kyohei leaving his home after feeling like an outsider, but never really able to escape his past from his village home, wasn't enough drama to work with.) The only character who has himself in check is the cool, badass looking Koushiro, a glasses-wearing Seki who is severely underutilized in the series. The only other likable characters are Utao (despite the unfunny brother complex jokes she brings) and maybe Hibino, even if she does play the role of Miss Fanservice / Princess Peach a bit too much.

I could live with most of the cast being compromised of mostly unlikable jerks, if the series was interesting or knew how to work with them. But Kamisama Dolls' halfhearted attempt to explain most of its characters' pasts through vague past memories proves otherwise. Resorting to flashbacks is one of the laziest, cheapest, most annoying ways you develop a character, and is a pet peeve of mine with anime. I could live with it for Kyouhei - he is the main character, after all - but nearly half of Kamisama Dolls' cast does this crap. In the rare times the show does try to develop its characters otherwise, it comes off as incredibly forced and by the script. The most glaring example of this is with Kuuko, who spends nearly the entire series being a bitchy, despicable, and selfish character whose main character trait is treating people (especially her father) like garbage, but suddenly gains morals in the penultimate episode. What?

There are also far too many sub-plots. In addition to a whole bunch back at Kyouhei's home village, there are also ones for Utao, Kuuko, a police department, Koushirou, and the series' late arrival character. Oddly enough, one of the only ones that's even kind of interesting is with Utao's trying to smile for someone, and learning to be a sister alongside that. And guess what? It's never resolved. Still, it's certainly more interesting than Hibino being kidnapped (surprise) or listening to a very late arrival character and her kakashi go on a power trip. Speaking of kakashi...why the hell do they sing as they fight? It adds nothing to the series and on occasion even gave me a headache, forcing me to turn down the volume.

And then we have the ending episodes. Episode 12 is nothing more than fighting in-between shouting matches, while episode 13 wraps up early and goes from destruction and the near death of a couple of characters to...Utao accidentally swallowing her toothpaste as she brushes her teeth. Aww. Then we get a weak-ass preview of season 2, which probably won't happen given how the series tanked in Japan on Blu-Ray.

I guess I should at least point out a couple of things I did like about Kamisama Dolls.. I'll give the show credit for not sugarcoating Kyouhei's past and his frustrations with the village he grew up in, both past and present. I actually liked some of these moments, and if the show had mostly focused on Kyouhei and Aki's pasts and with the old village they grew up in, I wouldn't be nearly as harsh on the show. But even then the show messes this up and Kyouhei, who spent a good half of the series hissing at the mere mention of Aki's name, chats with him at the end over rice balls.

Um...did you forget you portrayed him as a mindless murderer at the beginning, Kamisama Dolls? Because I sure as hell didn't.

There are other complaints I have with the series, like its dull, annoying robot battles (again, due to those damn voices) and horribly placed comedic moments (yay mood whiplash!), but I think I'm about done talking about this show.

Kamisama Dolls is an empty shell of a series. It explains nothing, it teaches you nothing, and it just leaves you frustrated and angry for ever watching it. Except for Koushiro and some nice animation here and there, I can't think of anything nice to say about this show. Unless you love fanservice or you like the idea of a more violent Angelic Layer (minus everything good about Angelic Layer, of course), then avoid Kamisama Dolls at all costs. You'll do your head a gigantic favor.

And since he stuck through all 13 episodes of this crap with me, Stig has some comments on this show as well.

I swear I owe Tim some dues for suffering through these shows with me. I was the one who suggested this show for a synchro, and this might be the first time I honestly feel bad over it.

And Tim isn't joking: the only plot points that are actually taken to completion are flashback plot points that are randomly inserted to "explain" certain character motivations, even if they have to demolish everything that went before it. I get the feeling the show expects me to just forget everything that went on in the episodes before. The half-assed ending is merely the final slap in the face.

An annoying show in every meaning of the word, with some of the most violent mood swings I've ever seen in anime. Add a cautionary star if you like busty women.Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: Older teenagers and up, due to excessive violence and fan service. Not for kids!



Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Kamisama Dolls © 2011 Hajime Yamamura, SHOGAKUKAN / Scarecrow society, TV TOKYO
 
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