Oh, phew, or not.
Ah, Kami-sama Dolls. How strongly you smell of the late 90’s/early 00’s! I’ll confess that I can’t quite explain why, but there’s something about your whole ancient, folkloric-ish beings controlled by people and intruding upon modernity that recalls to me shows of that era. I was reminded of Tenchi Muyo when watching you, although that admittedly trades in aliens as opposed to demons and other beings out of legend; however, much of that narrative was soaked in Japanese folklore and folk traditions, so…
The other two shows Kamisama Dolls reminded me of were the likewise alien-populated Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars, and Shadow Star Narutaru. On the former, it has, again, to do with the mingling of fantastical beings with humanity/being controlled by humanity as well as a similar art style. But the latter resonate more strongly, as from what we’ve seen so far I feel that there is a sinister quality to the kukuri. Or, rather, it isn’t the kukuri that are sinister exactly. I would take the stance that the kukuri themselves are amoral; to them, there isn’t such a thing as right and wrong, but only power and force. They are wholly subsidiary to human wishes and desires.
Shadow Star Narutaru starts off very lightly, with the inquisitive Shiina befriending a creature that looks like a starfish, and which she names Hoshimaru. Its all fun and adventure with the thing until the pair are attacked by another kid who also has a critter sidekick, and Hoshimaru stabs it through the chest, much to Shiina’s horror. But, well, Hoshimaru is only doing what is instinctual – Hoshimaru bonded with Shiina, so it must protect her… and protecting her means killing off threats to her. (I’ll note that Shadow Star Narutaru is quite honestly one of the most disturbing shows I’ve ever watched, and contains one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever watched.)
I see something similar lurking here, and I very much expect the scenario to play out similarly – Utao is fighting, and her kukuri does something she finds morally horrifying. While we have seen her engaged in combat, and thus she’s demonstrated a willingness to fight, we’ve also seen that she doesn’t have quite the capacity to think of the consequences, as evidenced by her blasting Kyouhei’s apartment to smithereens in an attempt to subdue Aki.
Thus far, I like Kami-sama Dolls, although I do see much to worry about as well. Some of the moments with Utao and Kyouhei have me concerned that we’re gonna have to see more run of the mill onii-chan complex while watching. And the silly romantic junk between Kyouhei and Hibino are eyeroll inducing. And her boobs. Wow. And I thought Bleach had off-the-wall tits.
But, the base story here is of interest. Who doesn’t love sinister, isolated villages which haunt their inhabitants past their habitation of said villages? And there could be some intriguing stuff to dig into with the whole kukuri = kamisama thing. I’ll also note that despite protestations of the many, I don’t think the art and animation is all that bad. The OP visually is above average in both quality and content. And I’m enjoying the OST; at points it reminds me vaguely of Takanashi Yasuharu, he of Jigoku Shoujo, Shiki, and Mononoke fame (well… perhaps not quite fame; not a lot of composers get that). One of the composers did some of the work on Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori’s OST, so it may be borne out of that.
Here’s hoping Kami-sama Dolls can bring us some horror that’s worthwhile!