After a suitably menacing intro and a multitude of scenes stringed together to look more like a movie trailer than the opening gambit of a new anime series, Kamisama Dolls introduces us to what looks like a pretty ordinary university life, via a drinking party and a young man named Kyohei Kuga who arrives fashionably late to the festivities.
Here, we learn that Kuga has come to Tokyo from a small, tight knit village, and also that he isn't alone in this regard as the same university department is also attended by another of the village's "escapees", a rather attractive girl who goes by the name of Hibino Shiba. As the party goes on and Kuga is provided a "challenge" in confessing to Shiba before drinking far too much and passes out, all seems to be well with the world. However, once Kuga comes around only to find that Shiba has patiently waited for him, things take a turn for the sinister via a dead, mutilated body in the lift.
While neither party seem quite as fazed by this as you might expect as they finish up talking to the police, it soon becomes clear that Kuga has things on his mind, as this murder brings back memories from his own past. Indeed, his past catches up on him pretty quickly as he soon finds himself visited out of the blue by his sister Utao, a so-called "Seki" or controller of one of the dolls of the show's title, known as a kakashi. The reason for Utao's visit is that the cause of those disturbing memories of Kyohei's is on the loose - a former friend seemingly gone insane named Aki, and sure enough he soon appears to pay a visit to Kuga in rather violent fashion. Ultimately, Aki is dealt with by his sister and her kakashi, but is that the end of the matter? This is only episode one of the series, of course not...
Although I'm not too sure what to make of this series from its opener, let's start with the positives - a few moments within this first instalment proved to be genuinely creepy, and there's plenty of material for the show to cover between Aki's past and his history with Kyohei, as well as wider questions about the nature of the village from which they both hail. The trouble is, Aki's appearance in particular was dealt with in rather a rushed manner - his appearance felt like a perfect cliff-hanger to episode one, leaving the second instalment to deal with his appearance and everything that gestates from that, but instead the whole thing is done and dusted very quickly only for Pandora's box to be clumsily re-opened at the end of the episode. It's early days yet, and the potential is certainly there, but the next few episodes will be make or break in fleshing out the characters and scenarios sufficiently to make Kamisama Dolls seem suitably compelling.