Kamisama Kiss 7

January 17, 2012

Julietta Suzuki – Viz – 2012 – 10+ volumes

I love this series so much! This, Dengeki Daisy, and Skip Beat are probably my three favorites. Certainly I like a whole lot of other shoujo series as well (Kimi ni Todoke is another good one), but these three. They’re the right combination of funny and character-driven and just well-written in general. Every volume is charming and a pleasure to read.

Having said that, I was a little worried about this volume since it switches from the meandering one-shot chapter format that has been so successful so far and focuses one one storyline, namely Nanami going to the Kamuhakari. No need to worry though, because in classy Kamisama Kiss style, the first half of the volume has a few short stories that lead up to the Kamuhakari, and after a chapter that takes place there, the story breaks off again to do something else at the end of the volume. I was so pleased. While it would annoy me in any other series, I love the characters so much here that they almost seem wasted on an ongoing plot. The one-shot chapters are awesome because it gives the characters an opportunity to shine and work together in various different ways, instead of always working towards one goal.

And while the chapters are vaguely disconnected, they work together towards a common goal, too. The first chapter is about Mizuki, Nanami’s snake shinshi, venturing out into the human world to find out what he’s missing by being left at home all the time. Though he’s a powerful shinshi, he knows nothing of human culture, and the impurities that humans pour into the environment and themselves overwhelm him. He comes to a conclusion about himself by the end of the chapter, but in the process, he has been cheated out of a good chunk of the shrine’s money.

This comes to bear later, when Nanami finds that there’s only enough money to take one of her shinshi to the Kamuhakari. While Tomoe is the obvious choice (because of his devotion and her crush), Mizuki talks Nanami into bringing him, since apparently Mizuki is the “right” kind of shinshi and Tomoe is only a brutish fox that will be made fun of. Neither Nanami nor Tomoe care much of the opinions of others, but Nanami doesn’t want Tomoe to be made fun of by the other kami, so she spares his feelings and leaves him at home.

While she’s debating over the Tomoe/Mizuki question, Nanami winds up having to fend off an attack from some kami who lost their rank and are jealous of her human kami status. While dealing with this, she meets Kirihito, a human with bizarre powers. Their encounter is brief, but Kirihito comes back later as a V.I.P.

Then the chapter that introduces the other kami and the Kamuhakari itself. This is all sorts of crazy, funny, madcap wonderful. As I’ve said before, I have a weakness for stories that incorporate folklore in new and interesting ways, and this chapter has it in plenty. Nanami does take quite a verbal lashing from other kami, but she stands tall.

And then… we meet Kirihito again. Nanami is sent on a special task to fix a gate that leads to the underworld, and meets Kirihito there. For some reason. Meanwhile, another chapter features Tomoe and what he’s up to at the shrine while Nanami’s away. He hasn’t really yielded his feelings for her yet, but it’s imminent. I can tell. The fact he sits around by himself all day and thinks about her is probably a glaring sign.

Anyway. There’s lots of little side-stories going on among all that as well. An amusement park date between Nanami and Tomoe. A flashback to Tomoe’s past, and a link with a new character. A strange sub-plot about the sake that Mizuki makes. Appearances by Kurama and the fish deity. It’s pretty amazing how much story is packed into these little, sort-of-unrelated chapters, and all of it contributes to developing the quirky characters in some way or other. It’s what makes this series such a pleasure to read.

This volume ends on a cliffhanger, with Nanami in the land of the dead. Cliffhangers are unusual for this series, but even without them, I always badly want the next volume. I can’t get over how much fun this is to read, and how good Suzuki is at developing both her story and characters. Given the nature of the series, I feel like Suzuki could write for years on these characters, covering whatever details she wanted, and I would never get bored.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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