Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Anime Review: Kamisama Dolls

While this wasn't one of the hot new titles for the summer season I did see a number of people hyping the show so I tried out the original manga and just could not get into the series so I didn't try out the show when it first came out. About halfway through the series though I asked if it was worth trying out and was told yes so, especially since I needed something to watch while I was sewing, I caught up just in time for the best episode of the series (episode seven) and discovered that I enjoyed the anime a lot better than I enjoyed the manga.

Kamisama Dolls

Summary: Kyouhei used to be a seki, someone who controls the giant wooden puppets worshiped as gods (called kakashi), in his old village but he swore that he left that life behind when he moved to Tokyo for college. But it seems like you can never truly leave the village after an old foe tracks him down and his little sister Utauo has to come with his old kakashi to take care of it. 

The Good: For one reason or another I thought that the series flowed much better as an anime than as it did as a manga, possibly because the anime adapted the manga at a crazy pace (I believe it covered seven or nine manga volumes in 13 episodes) yet the pacing worked well. All of the major characters and most of the minor characters were at least partially fleshed out (my favorite was Kuuko who was probably the flattest character since she was crazy for crazy's sake) and that helped make the central conflicts all the more interesting.

The Bad: Some of the humor was a bit on the crass side (it's amazing how many people got tazed by the same tazer in this series) and at times I felt like I was laughing at things that weren't supposed to be funny (such as the aforementioned tazer). This isn't a problem per-say but it's not my favorite type of humor either. The ending of the series worked but didn't seem like the best place to end it and the stinger after the credits, as cool as it was, will be completely pointless and aggravating if the series doesn't get a second season (and right now it doesn't sound likely). In the end I would have liked it if the series has been farther along (or even finished) and then adapted everything into 26 episodes, there are still so many hanging plot threads that I had to go and look at manga spoilers or just feel annoyed at the ending.

The Audio: One very clever thing that anime does is that each kakashi has a distinct melody that plays when they're being moved around and the music changes if it's being controlled by a different person which actually confirms a few things the manga hinted at but never stated outright. The opening and ending themes are both rather catchy (don't know what either of them said since crunchyroll didn't have subtitles) but the music in this show worked very nicely.

The Visuals: I will be blunt, Hibino's (the love interest, the one in purple in the image) boobs are just plain strange. They're huge, stick out like bullets (I was actually reminded of the fourth comic here, bit NSFW, that's seriously how it looks like her boobs were drawn) and are just distracting and I'm plenty used to male oriented fanservice. Other than that the traditionally drawn parts of the show looked just fine. The CGI used to animate the kakashi was fairly good, better than I had been hoping, although it doesn't always mesh into the traditionally drawn backgrounds and props. The opening was the most stylish one of the season (mixing the screentones/colors used in the manga with the anime color schemes) and it was nice to see that both the OP and the ED hid the characters who hadn't appeared yet so they weren't huge spoilers.

It was a surprisingly fun show, one that I would buy if it came out cheaply on DVD (it seems like the kind of show I can see either Funimation or Section 23 going for) and my anime club would probably enjoy it. I've tried out the manga (it's unlicensed) again but I still can't seem to get into it though, a pity since that's probably the only way I'm going to be able to finish this series as it currently stands.

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