Brains Base have spread themselves a bit thin this season, doing 3 shows. Natsume is a third season of a fairly big seller for them, with their main man Omori Takahiro working on it, so it was obviously going to have a decent budget slapped on it. The second show is PenguinDrum, which is Ikuhara’s return to glory after almost 15 years with a full 24 episode series, so obviously that would also have a fair old budget given to them. Kamisama Dolls, on the other hand, is an untested manga given to Seiji Kishi, the director of Angel Beats, Sunred and Seto no Hanayome. He’s not exactly a no-name, but he rather pales in comparison to the other two. And so Kamisama Dolls is given a teeny tiny budget, which shows. Shame too, because it’s otherwise a really good show.
The lack of budget hurts Kamisama Dolls. I mean, I suppose I could put it down to just shit animators rather than no budget, but the end result is the same. Characters faces look awfully weird at times, especially when put at an angle. The love interests’ boobs look rather gross and misshapen, like the poor girl has never heard of a bra before. There’s even some janky CG in there as well, to top the entire thing off. It still has a great eye on how to set a scene though. For example, I really liked the scene of the main character walking into the bar, nervously trying to find a way to meet his friends and stumbling over his lines, all shot from the doorway. In comparison to, say, Sacred Seven or God’s Memo Pad’s main characters, where they simply told us what they their main characters were like, Kamisama Dolls realises that this is an animated medium and you’re supposed to show, not tell.
In fact, I liked a lot of the directorial touches in this episode. Seiji Kishi doesn’t exactly have the greatest reputation amongst anime nerds, the guy mainly having the reputation for mood-whiplash. Now maybe it’s just my ADD setting in, but I’ve never particularly minded his mood whiplashy-ness. And even then, Kamisama Dolls doesn’t have that anywhere near as bad as Angel Beats had (mind you, even my mood resilient neck hurt after the whiplash induced by Angel Beats). I like the tinkly tune the Dolls play when they start firing up their powers, and how it’s used cleverly as a sound off screen to show that someone is firing up their Doll to attack.
There’s the totally kawaii imouto, who I have to admit I dislike more on principle rather than anything she’s actually done. Despite her best efforts, she hasn’t actually done anything to annoy me except in concept, largely down to the fact she’s largely kept her gob shut. Besides, any potential annoyance from her is overshadowed by the absolutely fucking brilliant villain. I’ve seen that sort of smug psycho villain pulled off horribly before, but it works in Kamisama Dolls because of how clearly psychotically vicious this man is. There’s an edge to him that stops him from being camp and comes off frightening and unnerving.
For the record, I won’t be blogging this, as it clashes with Steins;Gate. Which is a shame because, despite the shitty animation, Kamisama Dolls had the best first episode of the season so far (bugger off Natsume fans).