Friday, December 14, 2012

Guest Manga Review: Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Kiss Volumes 1-11
By Julietta Suzuki
Guest Reviewer: Crystal Bandel
Four Stars

Nanami Momozono is a normal Japanese teenage girl, with the major problem that her deadbeat father has finally skipped town to avoid his gambling debts and has left her homeless as a result. While wandering around town, she encounters a local god, who transfers his powers to her so she can live in his shrine. When Nanami arrives at the shrine, she faces two problems: one, the shrine’s caretaker, a fox demon named Tomoe, doesn’t like her at all; and two, she’s a human with no knowledge of how to be a god or run a shrine. Over the course of the series, Nanami of course slowly becomes a better god and wins over Tomoe. The problem, though, is that Nanami also falls in love with Tomoe, and humans are forbidden to love demons. What will she do?

Kamisama Kiss follows a lot of the standard elements for a girls’ manga series, from the optimistic, hardworking female lead to her mean-on-the-outside-but-nice-and-kinda-gooey-on-the-inside love interest. Fortunately, this series mostly avoids the big shoujo manga pitfall of love triangles and instead focuses on Nanami’s growth as a god and her feelings for Tomoe. The series does require some knowledge of how the Japanese religion of Shintoism works, but the endnotes cover a lot of the basics, so don’t let that scare you away. More importantly, the series is both hilarious and emotionally touching, which I hadn’t expected when I started it. The humor is offbeat and immediately engrossing, so much so that I read the entire first volume as soon as I started it and rushed to get the rest of the series. I appreciate how much it deals with Nanami’s past and her parents’ faults, as well as the complicated problems of the spirit world. The biggest difficulty for readers may be how very much older Tomoe is than Nanami, but the series mostly treats that as inconsequential in the face of love. I was able to get over it, and I suspect many teens might, but it’ll vary by reader. Essentially, Kamisama Kiss is a fun diversion of a series that brightens up my day every time I read it, even if it doesn’t do anything radically new. If you’re looking for a fun manga series for girls with some Japanese mysticism, it’s a good way to go.   

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