October 24, 2011
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Title: Kamisama Dolls
Genre: Action, Romance, Sci-Fi
Rating: 7.5/10

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Summary: Kyouhei Kuga is a young man who has left his small hometown to escape from its anachronistic rules and traditions. He wants to try a new life at Tokyo as a simple university student. In the past he was a seki, title given to individuals who are able to control the mysterious kakashis. Considered as gods in the small Karakami village, the kakashi are ancient wooden wonders able to perform incredible feats. The escape of a seki from the provincial town abruptly brings to Tokyo a handful of other seki who are searching for him. Despite being so far away, Kyouhei is still haunted by the old laws and hatred between the two main families, the Kuga and the Hyuga.

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Review: Kamisama Dolls was definitely one of the better anime this season with its hooking story and well done characters. It also did a great job with select scenes and a good mix of dialogue and action. However, it did have hiccups here and there that made the anime a little difficult to watch at times. It is unfortunate some of the areas it didn’t excel at because I feel it could have done a lot better with a few tweaks. Nevertheless I still enjoyed the series as a whole and am excited for a season two. Although it hasn’t been announced, the end of season one had a very well established “preview” that makes me think there is no other possibility than a season two. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even make a movie out of it. Though with so many unanswered questions I’m not sure you can cram that all into a couple hours.

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The art for Kamisama Dolls was probably the most disappointing feature. I feel that there were a lot of areas they could have improved on. Simple things like adding some sort of shading to give it a better feel. There seemed to be a huge lack of shadows and everything was very 2D. I understand it is an anime thus inevitable to be 2D, but I expect some sort of effort. There were some great scenes during the fights and a lot of flashy lights. However, the overall look was dull and quite bland. The characters seemed a bit out of proportion, nothing too drastic. The colors seemed faded at certain parts of the anime, and I didn’t notice much variation. Thankfully the anime did keep the scenes fresh by moving around the city and hillside where Karakami village was located. So in terms of backgrounds and scenery the anime did a rather good job. The kakashi were also really diverse and no two looked even remotely similar. It was nice to have obvious distinctions because it gave each one its own personality. Just as the kakashi had their own abilities their appearance should reflect as such. Thankfully it wasn’t the art that Kamisama Dolls did the best at.

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The story for Kamisama Dolls was rather engaging and the characters brought out the best of the series. Surprisingly enough the weak and kind of helpless characters even had their moments of glory. Although they weren’t big fighters and often depended on the protection of others, they played their parts and kept the story moving along nicely. It is one anime I can say that doesn’t have any dislikable main characters. Even characters that originally play off as evil have their own side to the story. In a way, I would say I enjoyed Kamisama Dolls because it is one of the rare anime that plays the “sympathy for the devil” card well. The original main villain Aki soon became one of my most appreciated characters for a solid backstory and great character development. I felt that his transition through the thirteen episodes was the most natural development of any of the characters. It’s hard to even call him a villain, but I’ll leave that for anyone who plans to actually watch the series. Now I did have a couple problems, the biggest one being the season was far too short. I understand that a second season is basically guaranteed after seeing an episode preview at the end of episode thirteen, but if it was that solidified why not just continue the series? And if it wasn’t completed why not wait till you have all the episodes written out? I feel that having a continuation is better than having multiple season gaps. Especially considering the ending it had. There were a lot of loose ends and it felt like things were just getting started. I’m afraid I might forget some key details before the second season comes out (assuming it is). Nevertheless the story Kamisama Dolls has given me was rather well thought out. I did enjoy the inner quarrels among the village members and constant moral dilemmas. There isn’t much to say for such a short season, but I will say that it did a decent job keeping things entertaining. Some of the episodes were iffy and had me partially leaning away from the series, but they always ended up bringing me back. Finishing up strong and having a lot of room for more story development is probably what makes me wanting a new season. There is still room for improvement for the story though. For one, giving a better explanation of what exactly is going on would definitely help. The whole village and story is still a bit hazy. I’m not exactly sure what everyone’s motivation is for fighting. As I mentioned earlier they gave some good background stories for the main characters, but as a sucker for character development it doesn’t hurt to have more. Many of the characters are still covered in a cloud of mystery. I do have high hopes for any additions this series may have.

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The soundtrack for Kamisama Dolls was pretty good as well. Particularly the opening. It was far different from many of the other anime openings/endings and I’m really happy with the sound. It sounded like a strange mix of tribal, rock, and classical. Worked out well and got me wanting to listen to the full version since day one. The rest of the OST was pretty good too. There was a lot of subtle background music during conversations or fights that added a lot to the anime. It did a good mix of blending instead of just overpowering the foreground and main attraction of the scene. I also really enjoyed listening to the various kakashi songs. It gave each their own personality and much of the time reflected the owner’s. Admittedly some were a bit strange like Koshiro Hyuga’s kakashi.

Final statements: Kamisama Dolls was far from a perfect anime, but it still had a lot of great points to it and was one of my most looked forward to series of the Summer season. I’ll probably feel a lot more satisfied if they come out with a season two which I’ll be sure to watch. For now, with no green light of a season two,  Kamisama Dolls gets a preferred watch.

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