Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kamisama Kiss Volume 1

By Julietta Suzuki. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz.

I've been greatly pleased with the release of Suzuki-san's prior series, Karakuri Odette, so this new one was a must buy. It's doing pretty well in Japan, already being her longest series to date, as it passed Odette's volume length earlier this year. As for the story itself, it seems to be a lot more traditional shoujo than Odette was, but that's not to denigrate it - this is a lot of sweet fun, it's just fairly fluffy.

Well, as fluffy as a series that's about yokai can be. For those who were reading Natsume's Book of Friends but wanted less melancholia and more romantic overtones, this may be the series for you. Nanami finds herself homeless after her deadbeat dad abandons her, and after saving a man from a dog, somehow ends up as the deity of a local temple. (If it seems I went by that too fast, I was merely imitating the author - the backstory is dealt with in 10 pages at most.) There we meet two cute will-o'-the-wisps who are delighted to see her, and a fox-spirit named Tomoe who is far less so. But he's cute.

Nanami and Tomoe's relationship is very much out of the old-school book of manga cliches, with both of them being the sort who will overhear each other at the worst possible time, be stubborn about any feelings they may have, and secretly worry. Of course, a lot of this may have been deliberate - Karakuri Odette was notable for having very little romantic interaction, so it's possible that this is for all the readers who had demanded that Odette and Asou get together. Tomoe in particular seems to be very jealous and possessive of any other guy he sees as flirting with Nanami - even if they're actually bullying her. Clearly softening his prickly character is one of the goals of this book.

There are some healthy doses of humor in the book - I particularly liked Tomoe's stunned face when he's forced to do as Nanami says - but this is more of a sweet and mellow work so far, despite the two leads doing their best to shout at each other. Judging by what Tomoe says, it would appear a great deal of the series might be helping out with romantic entanglements, and we see that towards the end of the first volume, as a yokai princess requests help in reuniting with a human boy she met years ago.

I will admit, this feels slighter than most series, but it is Volume 1, and I usually give these sorts of things a while to win me over. But if you like yokai, or typical Hana to Yume romances (stubborn positive girl x grumpy negative guy), you'll like this.

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