ANIME & MANGA - Review
14:06 - 23rd April 2015, by Andrew Osmond

Kamisama Dolls

Sometimes you get anime shows which seem to have two directors, fighting over what kind of series to make. In the case of Kamisama Dolls, one seemed to want to do a lunkheaded, fan-pandering comedy, while the other wanted an edgy thriller in the Evangelion vein. Of course, edgy and silly go together in anime (Eva was a prime case). But this show feels ridiculously shapeless.

In present-day Tokyo, uni student Kyohei tries to live a normal life when his past catches up with him in unwelcome ways. First his kid sister Utao shows up, patently suffering from a ‘big brother’ devotion complex. Then up pops Aki, Kyohei’s former friend, now turned psycho-killer.

Both Utao and Aki – though not Kyohei – control “Kakashi,” large (though not giant) flying mecha, abstractly shaped, zooming through the Tokyo skies. The operators don’t pilot them but steer them with their will. (In mecha terms, this is Gigantor rather than Mazinger Z.) An interesting twist is that the Kakashi are made of wood; they’re maintained not by some hi-tech Defence Force, but one of those little country villages where the trees seem sentient and the Kakashi are regarded as gods.

The show starts in super-broad, very dumb, guiltily fun mode. Everything about it feels prefabricated. Aki is a soft-spoken, pretty-boy baddie for the yaoi market. As well as little sister Utao, there’s Kyohei’s girl classmate Hibino, who’s so buxom you expect gravity to crash her down on her face. By the end of part one, the three are already living together, and viewers will be crossing off their Otaku Fantasy checklist and giggling uncontrollably.

It goes on like that for a while, with cutesy cake routines and a girl otaku torturing the half-naked villain – yup, we know where we are. There are bits of mecha action, but little new on that front. Each Kakashi sings its own little theme, but this is more repetitive than effective. Best wheeze: getting a Kakashi to play the ‘80s videogame Afterburner!

Then around the midway point, Kamisama Dolls goes haywire. There are wardrobe malfunctions and girl-on-girl boob gropes; but there’s also child abuse, a very nasty rape threat, and a “UH?” plotline between a woman teacher and a teen boy, as if someone watched Garden of Words and decided to throw in some spice. The later episodes go harem (more girls show up) and Evangelion. There’s a genuinely impressive battle, a flashback animated with adrenaline, as the Kakashi show their monstrous side.

Overall though, it’s a mess, sloppily constructed and paced, often sloppily drawn. The most entertaining character is the manic girl otaku-investigator, who vanishes for long stretches. There’s yawnsome filler, thrown-away ideas (like a forest functioning like the internet) and a non-ending. Despite a pseudo-preview of adventures to come, the series seems dead in Japan at 13 episodes… Yet, it’s more fun to watch than many bad anime.

A shapeless train-wreck of a show; but recommended if you have a morbid interest in series which try frenziedly hitting all bases.
SCORE: 2.5/5
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