Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Kamisama Dolls by Hajime Yamamura

Kamisama Dolls
Hajime Yamamura

Kyouhei, after moving away to Tokyo from his old town to get away from the events that happened, is on a goukon with his friends, including his old neighbor, Shiba. After drinking for a whole night, he and Shiba discover a dead, bloody, body in the elevator. He is told by his younger sister, Utao with her Kamisama Doll, that Aki, an old friend, and his Doll, are the culprits responsible.

Alternative names
Kami-sama Dolls
God Dolls
Dolls of God
God's Dolls


Manga reader sites
Manga Reader, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawlings on Kamisama Dolls
Kamisama Dolls is a slower moving manga than most that focus on action and mystery. There's a thoughtfulness about the story telling that adds depth to both the characters and the unusual situations. The story begins by focusing on Kyouhei for the most part, but it expands as the action progresses to incorporate his family, friends and even his enemies. Kyouhei is on the run from his past, attempting to carve out a new life for himself in the city. There's a girl he's interested in but hasn't had much luck with and a generally normal student life to follow. But all this is destroyed when a murder is committed, the body left in the lift Kyouhei had to take in order to leave a party he'd passed out at. From there, Kyouhei's past comes back to haunt him in the guise of Aki, an old and violently unstable friend. Aki has escaped from the village where both boy's had grown up and he's seeking something from Kyouhei, be it revenge or a connection. Neither Aki nor Kyouhei know just what Aki wants but either way, Aki is being hunted by several villagers and their god-like weapons they call dolls.
This manga is one that neatly ties together psychology and action by focusing less on the technology and insane fights and more on the reasons for said fights and the twisted histories of the characters involved. Motivations are slowly revealed and the past delved into when necessary, and not before. There's a ponderous feel to the story, even as the fights escalate and this is partly because of the psychology and character history that's explored and partly because of the steady pacing. The dolls themselves invade the murder and mayhem of the rest of the story in a psychedelic manner, an addition that's both pleasing and strange in proper manga fashion. The dolls are made using an old technology that includes some mysterious elements. Elements that create a psychic connection between a person and the machine. Of course, such power has come to be misused and this in itself has caused many to want to either fight or destroy the entire village that is the dolls' origins.
The art of Kamisama Dolls is smooth and there's a spaciousness to many of the panels that increases the reserved or ponderous feel of the story. The focus is on expressions, mainly as each character encounters strife or a challenge. The action occurs in short stretches but it is smooth and doesn't dramatically alter the pace of the story. For the most part the art is grey and slightly scratching, with harsher lines and shades used to characterise and build mood. Only the dolls have a smooth gloss but this fits in with them being seen as god-like for generations. In all, the art perfectly reflects the same divisions and story elements as the dialogue.

I'd recommend this manga to: those interested in strange technologies, psychic abilities, murder mysteries, explorations of past trauma, conspiracies and the odd additions to story telling that come along with most mangas.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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