Oh My Goddess 41

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2012 – 44+ volumes

I probably say this every time, but I value this series highly as my very own manga sitcom. It doesn’t really matter what it’s about, I can sit down and enjoy it every time a new volume comes out, as I have for the past… wow, 13-14 years or so. It makes me forget how old I am. But more than that, it’s an episodic series with characters that I’ve grown fond of over the years, so I’m always going to like it no matter what’s going on. And it’s always so happy and positive. It would be hard for me to give this one up.

But better yet, the past several volumes have indulged in a very serious ongoing story arc, something that Oh My Goddess never, ever does. The main characters have been running a gauntlet through various demon warriors at the command of Hagal. This volume, their opponent is Thrym, a very muscular and chipper demon who loves a good fight. She’s not even malicious about it. She’s genuinely excited that Belldandy and the others will be a good match for her. Her deal is that she can break anything, including the spells that the Goddesses use. Urd’s lightning, Belldandy’s barriers, nothing works. So Belldandy has to engage her in combat.

And that’s awesome. Nobody really cares but fans of the series at this point, but really. It’s great. Belldandy just doesn’t fight that much, and it’s a nice thing when it happens. Especially when the fight is so drama-free, as it is here. Thrym just really loves fighting.

I should say they finish up the fight with Hagal as well, with a very interesting solution indeed. Still, that was completely overshadowed by the Thrym fight. She was a really great character.

I’m wondering how many more opponents come after this. On one hand, I could go for another one or two like Thrym, but it’s unlike Oh My Goddess to run a story arc that’s as long as this one (it’s been… what, three volumes, I think?). I’m wondering if it will wrap up with Hagal next time. I’m up for that, too. Really, I’m up for anything this series wants to throw, because it’s all good. It’s just such a pleasure to read.

Oh My Goddess 40

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2012 – 43+ volumes

My favorite sitcom manga! I read both this and the re-release of volume 20 together. The latter marks the end of the Oh My Goddess re-releases, so if you wanted to buy a whole set of the series in the same format, now’s the time to do it. I can’t believe it’s been almost seven years since those started. That makes me feel old and cranky. Usually Oh My Goddess is a good cure for such things, but this time around, we’re in the middle of an epic plot. Which, I have to say, is pleasing me to no end in the context of such a chill and episodic series.

Keiichi, Belldandy, Urd, and Skuld head to Hell to face off against Hagal. It tries to win me over very hard in the first chapter. Hild kisses Keiichi, and Skuld asks what a crotch is. And this is just the gateway to Hell!

There are challenges on the way to Hagal’s place, which I was not expecting in a series like this. The first demoness the gang faces off against is a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure-like opponent. In theory, they are fighting the demoness, but the fight is really more of a puzzle than it is an exchange of blows. The demoness controls darkness perfectly, and no light that the goddesses can summon penetrates, which makes the group completely blind to her actions. Sound comes up as a possible counter-measure, but the opponent is a master of that, as well. Several elaborate workarounds are tried and tried again.

And… that’s about all I can say. This is an extremely short volume (115 pages of comic! boo!), and the fight is still going on at the end of the volume. But as I said, such a fight, and a tournament-style battle in Hell, is completely out of character for this series. While I would be bored with it elsewhere, the prospect of more of this is intriguing to me, and I tend to love these longer and more serious storylines in Oh My Goddess. It seems like this Hell storyline could go on quite a bit longer, too, which is extremely unusual even for the long plots. I can’t say I mind, though, as the demonesses are proving to be a diverse and fairly interesting lot. I do hope we get to see more of Mara, though.

One thing, since I read this and volume 20 back-to-back. In 20, Urd gives Keiichi a rather spectacular kiss, and here, it’s Hild doing the deed. It occurs to me… Has Keiichi kissed other women more than he’s kissed Belldandy over the last 40 volumes? I think I’m going to have to dust off Oh My Goddess colors and confirm the total count for both. I suspect that this may be the case. Granted, it’s a plot element that sets Belldandy off, but still. It’s Belldandy and Keiichi. They shouldn’t be shy anymore. They’ve been together for 23 years and 40 volumes at this point. Or, at the very least, 2-3 years in the story’s timeline.

Oh My Goddess 39

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2011 – 42+ volumes

I’m a pretty big fan of the more involved story arcs in this series, especially when they’re about the inner workings of the Goddess’s world and their jobs. This volume is the middle of one such arc. There hasn’t be a story this involved for quite some time, and I’d forgotten just how good these can be.

We actually do learn more about the Goddess’s jobs in this book, which surprised me a little since it seems like there’s not too much else to reveal after 40 volumes. But we learn why it is that the Goddess and Demon wish systems have to be balanced, and why it’s bad that Hild’s subordinate overthrew Hell and is pushing everything out of whack. Also, why it’s a bad thing that Belldandy is constantly granting Keiichi’s wish instead of working for others.

We get to see Chrono again briefly, and also Ere and Ex, who I thought were only in the anime. We also get to see the gate to Heaven again, though she only has a couple lines. But more importantly, we get to see Peorth and Lind again, and both are in top form. Lind’s pretty funny, actually, something I didn’t remember about her. She actually fuels the fires of challenge when the characters misinterpret one of her flubbed spells as a prank on the Hell side. Plus, she gets to point out the obvious about Peorth, something nobody else has had the courage to do yet.

There’s plenty of cute stuff from Belldandy, between her and Keiichi and otherwise, we get to see Velsper again… actually, this volume is great just because it calls back just about every character who’s had an extended stay in the last 30+ volumes. Aoshima and Sora are here, Tamiya and Otaki, Mara… you know, I like them all. I can’t help it. Seeing them again makes me smile, and when it’s coupled with fairly serious action and the chance to see more of Heaven and Hell, I can’t help but get completely sucked in.

What’s worse, is that this volume doesn’t end the story arc, which is unusual for this series. We get at least one more volume of story, and it looks like it’s going to be fairly serious stuff. Even worse, the last page of this volume is agonizing. It’s a terrible cliffhanger, and it made me love Hild a little more because of it.

Yes. Oh My Goddess still has it.

Oh My Goddess 38

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2011 – 42+ volumes

This is the end of Chrono’s story. While I still don’t like that she’s dressed as a maid (it made for an especially embarassing, forehead-slapping moment at the end of the story), her story wound up fairly cute. After all the parts of the spell are tracked down, the last piece is in the very last place Chrono wishes to retrieve it from. Of course Belldandy cheers her on, blah blah blah. This part was very adorable, even though I’m glossing over it here. We find out just why Peorth chose Chrono for this mission, and while it wasn’t for the nobelest reasons, Chrono did do a good job with her delivery. There was also a nice conversation between Lind and Peorth in heaven, and I loved seeing both of them again, even if it was only briefly.

The new story is about Hild, and I can pretty much guarantee that any story with her in it is going to be awesome. This time around, Hild is overthrown as the overseer of Hell by her direct subordinate. It looks like this story is going to be a long one, because a lot of work goes into showing just what the power struggles in Hell look like, and the beginnings of how this affects reality. We don’t get to see Hild meet up with Belldandy and Keiichi until the very end of the book, but even then, she does something completely awesome to make up for it.

Also, she has a pet dinosaur/alligator/bull named Momo-chan. Everything about Hild makes up for the last few lackluster volumes, and makes me want the next volume immediately. It’s nice to see that the series hasn’t lost its touch after all this time.

Oh My Goddess 37

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2011 – 42+ volumes

So this volume had a couple surprises! There was a new goddess! That doesn’t happen very often. Other than the main three, we’ve only met Peorth and Lind. I always like finding out little bits and pieces about the goddess world, so a new face is always welcome.

The downside: She’s a maid goddess.

I always stick up for this series, because although it’s proto-harem seinen where the main couple have only kissed, like, twice in 40 volumes, I can always defend it by saying that’s not really the point of Oh My Goddess. It’s really good at pinpointing wonderful joie de vivre moments, and if you’re reading it for fanservice, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But occasionally… Chrono happens. A clumsy maid goddess. Well, at least all the characters agree that it’s hokey and that Peorth has a terrible sense of humor. Her bangs hide her forehead, and while her real and very awesome position was revealed at the end of the volume, I keep waiting for someone to push her bangs aside and remind her of who she really is. Or something. Because Oh My Goddess would do something like that.

Putting that aside, I do like it when a new goddess shows up, but unfortunately Chrono’s story isn’t very good. Possibly because Chrono herself isn’t that interesting (she’s really, really clumsy and apologetic… and not much else). Basically, Chrono was sent to deliver a program to Belldandy, but drops it enroute. The program shatters, and the rest of the volume is spent recovering the pieces.

The upside? Remember what I said about the joie de vivre? The program is a music program, used to periodically tune all the “music” in the world. Belldandy explains that if the world loses its tune, civilization will collapse since music is the basis of all culture. As they recover the program, it’s from people doing quirky things, like beating on empty cans, riding around obsessively on squeaky bikes, et cetera. While the technique is not all that subtle (and admittedly, not used all that well), I did like the emphasis on the rhythm of everyday life.

Hmm. This is one of the few series that I’ll read as soon as it comes out of the mailbox, no exceptions, but lately it’s been very hit-and-miss for me. But… I’ll keep reading, and looking forward to new volumes, because what else am I going to do? Quit 37 volumes in? Especially after a new goddess just showed up? No way.

Oh My Goddess 36

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2010 – 41+ volumes

Yes, it is still one of my favorites. Not in any absolutely fantastic way, but because it’s comfortable to read after all this time. I say it every time, but it bears repeating. You really do fall in love with the characters.

This was an interesting story about everyone losing their memories due to a Skuld device blowing up, and how they would react to one another and feel each other out if they didn’t know who even they were. They maintain most of their personalities, but they don’t know anything about themselves or others. They use clues, like the fact that the Goddesses have marks on their foreheads that mean they are somehow related (I had forgotten those were even there), that Megumi and Keiichi were the only ones with shoes that entered and left the temple, that Keiichi was likely the owner since the only guys’ room was clearly a single guys’ room and not that of a married man, stuff like that. Velsper shows up at one point to throw a wrench in the works, telling everyone that Belldandy is his wife and that Urd and Keiichi are together, stuff like that.

This storyline can only go towards a cute scene between Keiichi and Belldandy. It gets there. It’s not anything we haven’t seen before, but any romantic scene between those two is a small victory. Amazing, considering they are as comfortable together as any married couple save when it comes to romance.

Also, Keiichi is wearing a very unfortunate outfit through the entire volume.

It brought out the best in a lot of characters, and even a little bit of the worst in Belldandy. It was a lot of fun to read, and an unusual story in the context of the series despite the gimmick being such a cliche elsewhere. Again, not earth-shattering great, but wonderful when done with these characters. I miss Peorth.

Also, because I don’t review the other new volumes of the series (since I’ve already talked about them in the old format), volume 16 has the wonderful World of Elegance story, and also namedrops Judge Dredd in the back. Since catching up on years of the good Judge’s exploits is one of the reasons I haven’t been updating lately, I was happy to see his name come up for about the first and only time in the editor’s notes of a manga. And it was Oh My Goddess. YES. Though I would disagree about Urd making a good Judge. Romance is kind of her thing.

Oh My Goddess 35

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2010 – 41+ volumes

That “Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga” used this series as its inspiration to do better saddened me a little, because this really isn’t that bad. It’s formulaic, but it’s way less trashy than similar series, and the characters are easy to get attached to. It’s true there are lots of stereotypes at work here, but they’re easy to forgive because they’re twenty years old and less common at this point, and also because it’s easy to pass off some of the bigger offenses as “groundbreaking” and pretend that all those other series copied this one. Which is true to some extent, but I’m sure this still borrowed from what was available at the time.

The stories are still very sweet though. This volume finishes up the Skuld/Sentaro story from the last volume. It’s sentimental, but I think the buildup was better than the conclusion, especially since the conclusion features the usual Urd/Skuld fight and a typical cop-out of the sad situation. It’s still been my favorite story of the past several volumes, though.

Later, there’s a semi-haunted camera. Sort of. It’s really just a camera with personality that won’t take pictures of anything except beautiful women. It’s interesting that in both this story and the Skuld one earlier, the Goddesses are using their powers over time, something that doesn’t often happen, so maybe things are starting to take more of a turn. Belldandy uses her powers of the present to develop old film, saying the pictures are moments in time that have been captured, and she simply needs to trace them back and make them clear. Ultimately, the story doesn’t directly involve any of the characters (though we do briefly get to see the long-gone Aoshima), but the meandering mysteries that lead to out-of-the-way places, frequently with happy endings, are part of why I enjoy this series so much. Stopping to smell the roses is what it does best, so much so that I forget that the main couple is still embarrassingly awkward around each other.

There’s one more story at the end focusing on Megumi. She keeps getting dumped by her boyfriends for being Megumi Morisato, biker chick. She’s drunk and sad about this, but it’s unclear where things will go from there. That’s a story for next volume.

Yup, still the same old Oh My Goddess. After a couple disappointing volumes earlier in the 30s, I’m happy that the last few have returned to all the things that make me like this series so much.

Oh My Goddess 13

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2009 – 40+ volumes

I’m very close to lapping myself on this site.  Actually, looking back at material I’ve already covered, yes, this will be the last review I write for these old volumes, since the first one I posted was the original volume 14, and the new volume 14 has a lot of (or most of) the same material.  Hm.  And I was all ready to write up volume 14, too.  I read that one first, as soon as I got it, and realized I still had 13 laying around somewhere when I went to put 14 away.  Both are good, but 13 has some of the best stories in the series.

There are three stories.  The middle story features Sayoko, who’s fallen victim to some sort of Urd parasite that makes her doubt everything, and the plot is that Belldandy has to convince her that she’s really a goddess.  Sayoko was never my favorite character, but this story was pretty entertaining, and I loved the lengths that Belldandy and Urd go to in order to convince her.  Seeing Belldandy’s goddess transformation, and having her call Holy Bell (was this the first time?) were also treats for me.  But even so, this story is the “dud” of the volume.  The other two are fantastic and character-driven.

The first one of the volume goes back to Skuld, who is still trying to master her powers.  She meets Sentaro, a neighborhood kid, and the two develop a mutual adorable crush.  Skuld learns about her powers, love, Sentaro and she get closer, blah blah blah.  It sounds sappy, and it is, and in any other series it would probably be boring.  But in Oh My Goddess, it’s magical, and it makes me like Skuld, one of my least favorite characters.

It’s also worth pointing out that this volume came out at the same time as 34, which goes back to Sentaro for the first time since this story.  To have both of them at once in English is nice, and I’m secretly wishing that the series re-launch was planned specifically for this event.

The last story in the volume introduces a new character, Chihiro, a strong female character who was the founder of the NIT Motorcycle Club.  From her, it passed to Tamiya and Otaki, and from them, to Keiichi (and from Keiichi to Sora, but that’s later).  Her introduction features a weird bike race between she and Keiichi, which was enjoyable and very much in the spirit of the series, even if I’m not into the motorcycle bits.  The last chapter in the volume is still one of my favorites of all time though, and re-reading it is an absolute joy.  Chihiro sends Keiichi and the others on a treasure hunt around the campus to find something that Tamiya and Otaki hid years ago.  The hunt itself is great, but what they find, and Belldandy’s little talk at the end, is another one of those things that make this series magical.  And the fact that such a great chapter is dedicated to a brand-new character also says something about the strength of the writing.  It’s weird saying that about Oh My Goddess, but it’s very true.  It’s a great series.

For the record, I like the old name of that Chihiro chapter, which I know without even checking was called “Forever Grrls.”  There’s a reason that sticks in my memory, but even so, it’s more memorable than… and this one I did have to look up, “Let’s Go Feminine.”

Keep reading the old stuff, for sure, because these teen volumes have some of the best stories.  But again, I’m only going to talk about 35+ from here on out.  A shame.

Also, don’t look at my old reviews.  They’re… old.  And terrible.  I just did, and I regret it immensely.  It’s like a different person, possibly in their teens, wrote them.

Oh My Goddess 34

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2009 – 40+ volumes

I was happy that this volume was better than some of the recent ones.  There’s a short story at the beginning of the volume that gets back to some of the basics of the series: motorcycles and making people happy.  Belldandy even casts a little mischief magic trying to help things, which involve Tamiya and Otaki trashing Chihiro’s shop and doing “manly” mods to customer’s bikes while she was out.  Amidst all this, there is a mod that did make a customer happy, and they gained a part that made Chihiro happy while doing the mod, so the story had a happy ending, and also a light touch.  The light touch is very, very important in this series, I think.  I do like the serious stories, especially the ones involving Heaven and the Goddesses and whatnot, but I think its stories like this that make the series as enjoyable as it is, even still.

The motorcycle parts were never my favorite thing, though.  This volume goes into an obscene amount of detail.  I’m happy to pass over it, because it’s not important, but maybe I’m in the minority and there are people that read the series for its attention to detail concerning motorcycles and engines and whatnot.

The second story ends on a cliffhanger and apparently carries over into the next volume, and stars Skuld and her beau Sentaro, from way back when.  Their romance is still on, though Sentaro is being a little evasive and Skuld can tell he is keeping something from her.  This story is so unbelievably cute I was afraid my teeth would rot out of my head, but then, it’s got one of the better stories in the series to base itself on (the Sentaro story is still probably one of Skuld’s better stories).  I don’t even like Skuld that much, and I still love this story.  When Sentaro finally tells his secret, Skuld replies with one of the most optimistic talks I’ve ever seen, and then truly opens up to him.  It was pretty great.

For the record, I was a little ashamed of myself that I couldn’t stop laughing at Urd’s “straight talk” medicine.  It wasn’t that funny, but even thinking about it now cracks me up a little.  Keiichi’s responses were just perfect.

The bonus letters columns in the back have a new edition in the form of all of Kosuke Fujishima’s commentary from Afternoon magazine over the years.  He has a little blurb that goes with every chapter where he sometimes responds to reader’s questions, and starting with this volume, we’re going to get them all from the beginning.  Predictably, they go into pornographic detail about motorcycles and engines.  Ah, well.  I still like that they’re there.

I like this series.  A lot.  Enough, in fact, that this was read immediately when I opened a big box of comics with other things I would probably like more in it.  Belldandy’s just too charming to put down.

Oh My Goddess 33

Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2009 – 39+ volumes

I reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column at Popcultureshock, so you can check out my review over there.

Admittedly, I like this series, and I tend to say the same thing about it every time.  But after being vaguely disappointed with the last volume and feeling a bit out of sorts while reading it, I was pretty happy with a return to basics in this one.  We get weird vehicles, we get a not-quite-race, we get meddling, we get the characters being themselves with just a smidge more interaction betwee Keiichi and Belldandy than is usual, which is certainly a welcome change.

It’s just a nice series to read.  I like all the characters, I like Oh My Goddess, and that’s all there is to it.


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