Kamisama Dolls – 08 review
The one thing you can learn from this picture is that even the creators of this series can’t take Utao seriously as a character.
After the dramatic revelations of last week how the tragic life of Sensei actually did involve more dark secrets than tragic innocence this week goes back to the series usual mix of Slice-Of-Life and action. This episode covers the exciting adventures of an inn-owner who doesn’t prepare himself for an arriving typhoon and Aki trying to tell the naive pair of Hibino and Utao that Kakashi actually aren’t fluffy teddy-bears.
The episode starts with Koushirou trying to reconcile Kirio with Utao but it fails since Kirio just walked away mocking Utao. Later back in Tokyo Kyohei, Hibino and Utao take the chance to go to the beach as offered by Murata, a friend of Hibino’s father. Arriving there Utao’s dreams of enjoying her stay at the beach are squished by a typhoon. In the following night as the typhoon gets worse Utao has to use Kukuri to save Murata and Hibino. The next day is sunny and Hibino and Utao go to the beach while Kyohei and others tries to repair the damage of the typhoon.
Again in Tokyo Hibino takes the lent books of her father back to the city library. As Utao hears about how big the city library is in contrast to the one in Karakami Village she’s excited to see the city-library. As Kyohei comes back Hibino’s father finds out that he has forgotten to give Hibino one of his lent books. Kyohei takes then over for Utao who takes that book then to city library so that she can see that place. As Utao leaves so do all the customers since they apparently only come to see Utao or Hibino and Kyohei and Hibino’s father talk about Karakami Village. They both realize that they can’t cut their connection to that place and even if they’ve left behind their life in that village it’ll come back eventually to haunt their life.
At the library Hibino meets Aki by chance and they end up talking about Kyohei and Sensei. As Aki threatens Hibino Utao arrives and catches Aki’s Kakashi off-guard. They then go to a nearby park to finish the fight between Aki and Utao. Later then in the park Aki says that Utao’s control over Kukuri has gotten better and the fight between the two Kakashis seems to be at a stalemate with Utao having a slight advantage. While fighting Utao and Aki discuss the purpose of the Kakashi. Aki thinks that the Kakashi are only tools of destruction and murder but Utao argues that by saying that the Kakashi are there to protect people. But the discussion is cut short by Aki winning and he leaves without damaging Kukuri in a permanent way or hurting either Hibino or Utao.
Back at home Hibino and Utao are in despair because of Aki’s vicious opinions about many things and the scene ends with Utao asking Kyohei in tears whether Kakashi are really evil because they have human hearts. Kyohei consoles her by saying that since they have human hearts they are only what Utao wants them to be.
It’s always nice to see anime-characters taking a hard stance on matters of sexual harassment even if said characters are just little kids…
This episode was rather good in comparison to that melodramatic mess of last week. And it slowly becomes clear what Aki and Kyohei motivates as characters and the finale could get really good if the episode tries to deliver on the promises of the dialogue of the second half of this episode.
What the second half really showed and that far better than the last episode was showing through the dialogue what it wanted to say instead of this sledgehammer-drama from last week. Especially good was how the episode tied the first half to the second half by showing that Utao’s actions with Kukuri during the typhoon were a direct example of what Aki and Utao were talking about. Even if it may not be a masterpiece of subtlety it showed that Utao didn’t defend her view out of blind conviction but by having experienced that the Kakashi can indeed do good instead of only evil as Aki thinks. Of course when I said that it lacked subtlety I meant that like that it’s already obvious what the series wants to say in the end and who’s good and who’s bad in this discussion which doesn’t leave much room for any “moral shades of grey”-tropes.
While the plot-structure ultimately may have been good this episode was plagued by really abrupt scene-transitions. It didn’t seem to me like the series has done this before but here there were things like when Kyohei sends Utao and Hibino to the beach and in the next scene you see Hibino standing in front of her father taking his books from the library. There’s no comment about what happened between these scenes or how much time has passed. It’s the baffling sort of change of scene that may work easily on a bookpage when you can easily mark stuff like that as “End of chapter…” or “Chapter whatever”. But on the page this is easier to take than an abrupt change of scenes on the screen.
“Murata had heard from Hibino’s father that Utao had the strangest smile one can imagine but it wasn’t until that moment that he believed him. And to be honest, he actually thought her smile to be rather creepy than just strange.“
And another thing this series still hasn’t learned: humour. It’s bad, really bad. I can only sigh when this series tries to be funny but becomes so unnatural and awkward in its presentation that the scenes just aren’t funny. And especially Utao suffers from this bad humour because this series really likes to show her how she acts all cute and dumb without any real personality behind it. Hibino as character hasn’t got any development either and she’s still the same bland personality she was from the start. It might help if her father might spill the beans how he has raised her without her mother. Her father whines too much anyway, he’s only a passive bystander for all the crap that’s happening lately around his place. It’s not like his past has come back to haunt him, he isn’t the main-character. He wasn’t even there when the “Sensei”-thing happened.
Also in retrospect this episode didn’t really show the necessity of last week’s flashback. Although that flashback did explain what happened to Sensei and how it involved Kyohei and Sensei but it didn’t seem to mean anything for this series. Aki and Kyohei still had to explain their reasons for the events of that flashback and the few remarks in this episode told more about those characters than the whole story of that flashback did. It seems like this flashback was more about Sensei than Aki or Kyohei but Sensei is just a past to this series and her importance with her role in the flashback completely exaggerated, I think. Sensei shouldn’t have been the most important factor in that flashback, her influence on Aki and Kyohei was but the creators went instead for the tragic tale of Sensei and the details of her fate are just a sidestory to the mainstory of this series. With that her fate was just extra information but nothing necessary to know.
There are a lot of good ideas in this episode but somehow these are constantly used in a flawed manner that decreases them to a simplified state of an obvious duality between good and evil and characters that are right when they are good and misguided and wrong when they are evil. But a rather good second half and a thought-through plotstructure make this episode a good development for the series to set the stage for the finale.