Kamisama Dolls Ep. 9: Utao-face

Remember how this series started? There were screaming, explosions, murders — Kamisama Dolls felt like a potential sleeper hit. Since then, the anime has been spinning its wheels. God, there’s just one interesting development this week — one: Aki decides that he’ll need to destroy the village in order to feel true happiness. This is a major, major decision; it’s certainly not one that should be taken lightly… but it is.

Aki: “…I can’t fool myself. I’ll have to blast that hellhole off the face of the Earth before I’ll be able to change.”

Aki is going to commit mass murder on an even larger scale, but we never really follow him through his thought process. Instead, all he seems to do is lounge around Tokyo, lazily ignoring Kuuko’s clumsy advances. Oh yeah, Kuuko is still in the anime — did you forget? So are these guys lovers? Are they friends? Why are we devoting so much time to Utao and nothing to these two?

But I digress… back to Aki, what on earth was he doing at library last week anyway? What led him to ultimately decide that he should destroy the village? Has he really seen what the world has to offer? We don’t know the answers to any of these questions. To the audience, Aki simply makes his pivotal decision out of the blue. Why devote an episode to Aki’s backstory and drop the ball on such a crucial turning point in the anime? I don’t get it.

Under a festering pile of dung
Oh wait, yeah I do. Instead of making Aki a compelling character, Kamisama Dolls will instead weave an episode involving one, two… eleven other characters. It’s like variety freaking hour: a boring detective fumbles around, a sister tries to (creepily) impress both of her brothers, the anime suddenly introduces a girl who has a crush on Kyouhei (at this stage of the season?), and Kyouhei whining about whether or not he has changed. Every single Aki-less scene was boring as hell. The last one might sound a little harsh, but screw Kyouhei. I know his worries are supposed to mirror Aki, but Kyouhei is such a pathetic character. He’s such a schoolboy, but in typical anime fashion, almost every girl likes him… including his own sister.

In case you didn’t realize, incest is bad.
Especially when one of the characters is underage. No, I’m not even going to add anything else to this section. This doesn’t deserve a debate.

Incest is just bad. Romantic relations with a child is just bad. No, joking about it isn’t funny either. Nope, I don’t care if it’s “hurr hurr just make believe.”

25 Replies to “Kamisama Dolls Ep. 9: Utao-face”

  1. You wouldn’t believe how gratifying I find it for you to come down so clearly and effectively against incest and romantic relationships between adults and children (good point there – I had actually kind of forgotten that not only are Kyohei and Utao siblings, but one is an adult and the other is a kid). Utao considering herself a “romantic competitor” for her older adult brother would be scandalous and frowned upon just about anywhere on the planet… except on some anime message boards and blogs it seems. And then some anime fans wonder why anime is frequently looked down upon outside of its fandom…

    Very good critique of Kamisama Dolls’ latest episode overall.

    1. Plus, all the weird incestuous only serves to take time away from every episode. Imagine what 2-3 minutes could do? That’s more character development for the more necessary plot elements. In fact, that’s this anime’s problem in general: it has ADD. It can’t just focus on a couple things at once and craft a taut storyline. It has to be all over the place.

      1. Good points. 2-3 minutes less of incestuous shenanigans could be used to further develop Aki’s character, and explain his thought processes.

        This anime is lacking overall narrative drive, in the sense that you don’t know where’s its going, or why its going there. I suppose that gives it an element of “surprise!” every now and then, but it also can make it really hard for you to care about the characters.

        Like, I totally don’t care about Kyohei. His character type is as cliche as they come, and without giving him some sort of broader purpose to be working towards, he can’t maintain viewer interest at all, imo.

        1. I suppose that gives it an element of “surprise!”

          Even then, the anime goes about this the wrong way. The audience can only be surprised if we have any expectations to begin with. Expectations require the audience to think the story has a general direction, but it doesn’t. If we don’t know what’s going to happen next, why can anything be truly surprising?

      2. It occurs to me that Japan has bizarrely specific fetishes that almost every series attempts to fulfill a certain quota of alongside the drive of its main plot– or perhaps even secondary to it. These fetishes hardly seem to have any…. meaning anymore, it’s like they’re there for their own sake or to evoke some other feeling that, as an American, I simply don’t understand.

        1. No, I think it would be too harsh to say this is something endemic to Japan. It’s a totally anime/manga feature. If you watch most Japanese movies and live dramas, little girls aren’t exactly going around trying to woo their brothers. Anime’s just pandering to its ardent fans and there seems to be a lot of resistance against ridding the subculture of the these bizarre idiosyncrasies.

          1. Agreed. It is entirely an anime/manga feature, and the resistance to ridding the subculture of it is pretty hard to understand.

            It’s one thing to do a social commentary on incest, but it’s quite another to nonchalantly present it as just another fetish and trope, no different than liking big-breasted women.

            1. I dunno. Maybe with a niche interest like anime (anime’s big but not that big), there’s a fear that any change whatsoever to the medium could alter its identity.

  2. Aki makes for an infinitely more interesting character than any of the others. It’s just a crime that the only character that’s decently fleshed out isn’t given more screen time, considering the importance he has with the plot. I mean I can’t be the only one tiring of all the Utao victimization.

  3. I know you’re gonna leave a snarky comment at me for saying this, but I really like incest hentai. I don’t know why, I just do. Espically went it’s between sister and brother or mother and son.

    It’s one thing to do a social commentary on incest, but it’s quite another to nonchalantly present it as just another fetish and trope, no different than liking big-breasted women.

    What’s wrong with that, Ryan? Why can’t incest be just another fetish? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that is incest is okay to do IRL. It’s messed up. However, anime and hentai are fake. They’re not real. That’s one of the great things about anime and hentai. You can see characters do things no one would ever do IRL. It’s the same thing as a person who has a rape fetish and watches porn that features rape. That doesn’t mean that person thinks rape is good or okay to do. They just like to watch it in porn/hentai.

    1. I won’t give you a snarky response, actually. Like I said in the post, this topic doesn’t warrant a debate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rewatch 12 Angry Men.

    2. What’s wrong with that? Because the vast majority of people find it sick and wrong, frankly, that’s why.

      And they find it sick and wrong for good reason – It’s important for humans to distinguish between the various types of love, and when sibling relationships in anime are so frequently made romantic, it suggests that platonic familial love doesn’t even exist. That’s a very bad message to be sending, in my view. Meanwhile, most male viewers can and do appreciate ample-sized breasts… and nobody would say it’s morally wrong to be attracted to big breasts.

      Also, you act like rape and incest don’t exist in real life (i.e. characters doing things that no one would ever do IRL). Some people do in fact do this in real life, especially rape. People watching this over-and-over in anime and hentai, and getting off on it, will naturally desensitize themselves to it. It’ll desensitize them to things that they shouldn’t
      become desensitized to, imo.

      1. I personally think most people have the ability to separate fact from fiction in most cases.
        Desensitization doesn’t mean someone will actually engage in the act they are desensitized to. That would create a case for all those crusades back in the against violent video games leading to school shootings. Be honest, violence in video games is not what pushed someone over the edge.

        Rape I generally think is morally wrong but I’m not so sure about inbreeding. Not many people would argue against “kissing cousins” as it is prevalent in many countries and even socially acceptable. Between non-consenting or underage parties of course it’s unacceptable. Anything closer than cousins is usually considered morally wrong but I myself am on the fence as on a biological level it is definitely not in your best interests but genetic sexual attraction does occur and raises questions about siblings adopted into different families or twins separated at birth.

        As for the depiction I think that as long as it is regulated decently so that it stays out of the majority of underage peoples hands that anything goes. In terms of anime…I usually just roll my eyes. I don’t think it disgusting but I don’t think it generally adds anything to the story.

        1. Rape I generally think is morally wrong but I’m not so sure about inbreeding.

          “‘Incestuous connections lead to an overlap of family relationships and social roles and thus to a disturbance of a family bereft of [clear] assignments. … Children of an incestuous relationship have great difficulty finding their place in the family structure and building relationships of trust with their next caregivers. The vital function of the family for the human community … is crucially disturbed if its ordered structure is shaken by incestuous relations.’

          Liberals tend to recoil from such arguments. They fear that a movement to preserve the ‘family unit’ would roll back equal rights for homosexuals. But that doesn’t follow. Morally, the family-structure argument captures our central intuition about incest: It confuses relationships. Constitutionally, this argument provides a rational basis for laws against incest. But it doesn’t provide a rational basis for laws against homosexuality. In fact, it supports the case for same-sex marriage.” (source)

          1. I shouldn’t have used the term inbreeding because I wasn’t strictly referring to the implications of having a child as a result of incest. Generally that’s just not advisable especially from a biological point of view as the article points out children born from inbreeding have a higher instance of birth defects. What I wanted was to use a term from a cultural perspective as the term incest has legal connotations despite the fact is not universally outlawed. I personally view any rupture of the family dynamic from a result of inbreeding to be a problem that stems from the societies backlash against such an act. Of course it could be considered an internal problem within the family, but then so is divorce and not nearly as many argue that divorce should be illegal, especially considering it’s prevalence. Between consenting adults I don’t think “confusion of relationships” cuts it for explanation of why it’s morally, and furthermore for that article, legally wrong.

            But either way I’ve said my piece. I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of those things we just won’t agree on.

            1. While I quoted you on the word ‘inbreeding,’ I actually meant to address your views on incest in general. And no, divorce doesn’t work as a counterargument. Divorces can prevent further discord in a toxic relationship, so while they do generally disrupt familial harmony, it is arguably the best possible course of action when parents have had a falling out.

              I know you’ve “said [your] piece,” but hey, I gotta say mine too. Of course, your main argument is that, between consenting adults, what is so morally wrong about incest? I think you’re being awfully dismissive to the position put forth by the German court — the way you used “confusion of relationships” implies to me that you don’t think the court is advancing any tangible, substantive argument –, but, as I’ve said before, I don’t want to debate incest. Instead, let’s explore the notion that consenting adults should be allowed to do as they wish as I think this topic’s far more interesting anyhow.

              You’d be hard-pressed to find a moral framework — whether it’d be Kantian, utilitarian, or communitarian — that would look favorably upon incest. All we’d have, then, is some nebulous idea of unrestricted liberty, i.e. mankind has the right to do whatever it wishes as long as individuals do not infringe upon the rights of others. But if we’re going to adopt this position, it isn’t enough to shift the burden of proof upon the naysayers, i.e. “Show me where it is morally wrong to…” Instead, we should ask from what do we ground this belief of all-encompassing liberty upon.

              An analogous debate can be found in free speech: “…to begin from a principle of unregulated speech is to start from a place that itself needs to be vigorously defended rather than simply assumed.” The layperson “simply assume[s]” that free speech is a wonderful thing, but this is actually a problematic position to take: “[to] just say that speech is speech and that’s it, you are mystifying—presenting as an arbitrary and untheorized fiat—a policy that will seem whimsical or worse to those whose interests it harms or dismisses.” Likewise, where’s the imperative that all liberty should be protected?

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