Review: Kamisama Dolls

Release Date
Language / Subtitles
English, Japanese / English
Running Time

Kamisama Dolls has a deep mystery and in this collection, we are only just scratching the surface. With a village controlled by secretive elders and generations of families following blindly or out of fear, everything starts to crack as rivalry and obsession spill into Tokyo. Even with the identity of the village at risk those that have decided to leave the village are never truly free of its grasp.

Kyohei Kuga, a former Seki of the secret village Kurakami, trying to make a normal university life for himself in Tokyo. That is until Kyohei and Hibino Shiba discover a bloody corpse pre-empting a returning past that he tried to get away from, enter Aki Kuga. Imprisoned in Kurakami village for the past six years Aki’s only reason for escaping to Tokyo is his obsession with Kyohei. Hunted by the Hyuga family, Aki’s presence into Tokyo only brings Kyohei and younger sister Utao, the replacement Seki for Kukuri, into a fight they wanted no part in.

Kurakami village, a secret village and the birthplace of ‘Seki’ a chosen member of each of the resident clans/families with the ability to control a ‘Kakashi’. Seen as Gods within the village the Kakashi’s origins are still shrouded in mystery even to the Seki. Only the elders seem to know the secret behind the village, the Kakashi and their Seki.

With such an intriguing premise it’s hard to deal with the slow development, as soon as we are aware of the Seki and Kakashi were given a couple of episodes that focus entirely on the awkwardness of Kyohei and Utao going to live with Hibino and her father. In the interest of getting to know the characters I can understand the need to deviate slightly but this was rather unnecessary, especially given the series is only thirteen episodes long. The story development does pick up again later but at the expense of finishing the series on a huge cliff-hanger. This has become a recent trend lately but as of yet no sequel for this series.

The animation quality of the series overall is very good and holds up very well almost four years after its initial broadcast. The characters do fall a little on the generic side in terms of design but the main attraction is, of course, the different Kakashi. The battles between Kakashi are wonderfully animated and a joy to watch, although there does tend to be a lot of chatter during battles which can detract from the enjoyment. It’s kind of eerie when a Kakashi turns up, as they each have their own unique theme music which really helps the tension and mystery of the series. This is certainly a wonderfully unique element of the series and one that I enjoyed greatly.

The opening and ending songs are pretty awesome and really fit in with the theme of the series, while the ending videos animation is not the best, to be able to get both opening and ending songs of that quality is quite a rarity. English and Japanese audio are both included in this release and as someone who prefers Japanese over English, I do find the English quite average when compared to its Japanese counterpart.

Seiji Kishi strikes again! Kamisama Dolls sounds like it would fit right into the Higurashi series with a mysterious and secretive village, murder and pasts that prefer to be forgotten. The series has all the right elements for a great show but still seems to lack something, whether this is down to the source material that Kamisama Dolls is adapted from or the director's influence I feel this series could have been handled better. It's an intriguing story with characters you want to learn more about, but sadly didn't quite live up to its potential. With the manga having been concluded sometime after the anime's original run we can only hope for a sequel to give us closure.