Title: Kamisama Kiss
Author: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 8 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2010 by Hakusensha, April 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Romantic comedy, supernatural
The kami convention is in full swing, but during the special assignment given to her by Okuninushi, Nanami finds herself in a whole heap of trouble after she follows the human Kirihito through the gate to the Land of the Dead. Her good intentions (to rescue Kirihito) back fire, as they are now both trapped in the Land of the Dead. After running away from various spirits, they are approached by messengers of Izanami, the kami in charge of the Land of the Dead. Izanami agrees to show Nanami the way out, but refuses to allow Kirihito to accompany her because his body is dead (readers who have been keeping up know that he is a powerful demon borrowing a human body until he can regain his own). Nanami, ever noble and recklessly brave, takes a bite of the food of the dead so she will have to stay as well, so that she can find and rescue Kirihito. In the darkness where he is held, Kirihito remembers when he was found by the spirit of a young human male, whose body he took over so he could move about freely. His memories also replay the meeting with Kayako, whom he decided to use to reclaim his body held in the Land of the Dead. As the darkness closes in upon him and his desperation begins to overwhelm him, a light pierces through, followed by a smiling Nanami. Back at the shrine, Tomoe receives a message from Otohiko about Nanami’s current predicament, so he rushes off to rescue her. When Tomoe arrives, the war kami is guarding the entrance. Unable to fight against the war kami in his current form, Tomoe uses the Mallet of Good Luck to break his shinshi contract and return to his yokai form. As Nanami tries her hardest to get Kirihito and herself back home, Tomoe bursts through the seal. Because he used the Mallet without permission, Tomoe is imprisoned by Okuninushi. Nanami rushes to his cell to make Tomoe her shinshi again, but he is unsure if he wants to become her shinshi again now that he’s free. Nanami is understandably upset, but she respects Tomoe’s decision, and begins to catch up on her kami duties while she waits. Tomoe, meanwhile, struggles to interpret his muddled feelings, and to separate his personal feelings from those forced on him by the shinshi contract. When Mizuki appears with a parting gift from Nanami, Tomoe makes up his mind and returns to his master’s side. Tomoe immediately starts acting weird, even agreeing to accompany Nanami on what is basically a date in the human world. He also cranks up the mean-o-meter and bullies Nanami more than usual. Nanami doesn’t let it get her down, though, and puts her all into completing her duties and helping the other kami, making quite the impression. As the kamuhakari wraps up, Nanami gets a pep talk from an old friend.
Nanami, you precious, precious girl. While facing the prospect of losing Tomoe forever, all she can do is try to find a way to help take care of him even if he leaves her service. Talk about an awesome master (and heroine). For his part, Tomoe, who was bound by the shinshi contract to care for and protect Nanami, struggles with his feelings for her. The contract makes a shinshi obedient, aware of the master’s well being, and manipulates emotions favorably toward the kami. So Tomoe is understandably confused once the contract is broken, especially since he finds he doesn’t really want to leave Nanami’s side even when he’s not bound to her any longer. Their entire relationship was based on the shinshi contract, so he doesn’t understand why he is still attached to her without it. It takes some goading from Mizuki to snap him out of it, but he’s still not entirely sure of or comfortable with his feelings. He remains adamant that he will not form a romantic attachment to a human, though readers already know he has once before. It becomes clear in this volume that others are aware of Tomoe’s past, but for some reason Tomoe himself is not. However, since now someone other than Nanami has brought up the mysterious woman in his past, it’s possible he may attempt to seek out this information on his own. If even some random shinshi know about the woman, who knows who else knows about Tomoe’s past. There’s also evidence that Kirihito has had past dealings with Tomoe. Mikage seems to have had good reason for tampering with Tomoe’s memory and leading Nanami to him, but only time will tell if his plan will work. Nanami’s bright, smiling face and indomitable spirit are already having an effect, and she’s slowly becoming a powerful and inspiring kami, as well. This series continues to be a cute, sweet, and charming shoujo title that any fan of the genre should be reading.
It’s time to reveal the story behind Takaomi’s bet with the director of Midorigaoka Academy. Though Takaomi’s talk with Mafuyu and Miyabi Hanabusa’s talk with Shinobu Yui, we finally learn the truth and all the dirty details. This doesn’t come as a surprise to regular readers, but Takaomi is working to restore and return the school to his grandfather. Miyabi reveals that his father duped Takaomi’s grandfather into turning ownership of the school over to him. The Hanabusa’s are in real estate, and the school is located on some prime property. The details aren’t exactly, erm, believable, but what it basically boils down to, is that Takaomi stole all the documents that prove Hanabusa’s ownership of the school. Because Hanabusa cared nothing for the school itself, only desiring the land it’s built on, he let the school degenerate into a bunch of run down buildings filled with delinquents. In three years, Takaomi has to whip the school into shape or turn the deeds over to Hanabusa. Takaomi is at a clear disadvantage, but Mafuyu is moved by his story and agrees to help him however she can. After a short break to get into the serious side of the story, things quickly return to normal with finals around the corner. Hayasaka has to ask Mafuyu for her class notes (since he skipped a few days), but unfortunately, Mafuyu, who is of course ecstatic to have a friend ask to borrow her notes, takes some of the worst notes imaginable. Fortunately, Shinobu, who has decided to resume spying on the pair, takes meticulous notes, so he offers to tutor them. Miraculously, Mafuyu has some incredible memorization prowess, and manages to memorize every word in every subject…and then promptly forgets everything once the tests are over. Takaomi does his part, as well, tutoring students and organizing study sessions, working himself to the bone to get the students’ grades up. Then exams are over and it’s time for a well deserved summer break. Mafuyu goes back home for the break, but can’t bring herself to go visit her former gang after the big deal they made when she left the last time (she thinks they’ll be disappointed she’s returned so soon). Her mother kicks her out of the house, though, so she sneaks around town, until she bumps into Sakurada (the bancho from West High). Sensing an opportunity to get revenge on East High, Sakurada invites Mafuyu to the summer festival. However, to get Mafuyu to go with him, he has to dress up as a girl (which isn’t really a problem for Sakurada). As they play games at the festival, Sakurada pulls out his feminine charm to “beat” Mafuyu at every booth they visit. As they spend time together, somehow each of them realizes what makes/made the other a great leader. While they’re talking around together, they do, unfortunately, get spotted by Mafuyu’s former gang, and thus begins an awkward whirlwind of emotion for current bancho Kohei Kangawa. The gang comes to visit Mafuyu, and they’re thrilled to see her…all except Kohei, who ignores her completely. The ever persistent Mafuyu tries desperately to get to the bottom of Kohei’s actions, and eventually backs him into a corner, causing him to challenge Mafuyu to battle. Unfortunately, just as Mafuyu patches things up, several of the gang’s members go on a camping trip. A heavy storm hits, and they take refuge in a nearby building, where students from Midorigaoka Academy are staying. With the electricity out because of the storm, a night of ghost stories and urban legends comes to life. A bonus story shows Takaomi in his younger years, and the moment when he first met Mafuyu. The volume wraps up with a good handful of four panel strips about the four high schools from Mafuyu’s home town.
The story behind Takaomi’s bet for Midorigaoka Academy is finally laid out in this volume. Hints have been dropped here and there, but now everything is pulled together. To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t make complete sense. Takaomi’s motivations are made clear, though the circumstances surrounding how his grandfather was tricked into turning over the school to Hanabusa are still a little murky. And just how Takaomi managed to get a hold of Hanabusa’s private, safe-locked documents is unclear. It’s not really important how he got them, since it won’t really impact the story…unless it does. He could have had someone on the inside get them for him, or it’s entirely possible he broke in on his own. This part of the story only gets one chapter, though, so it’s clear the circumstances aren’t the most important thing on the whole. Apart from that second of the book, the rest of this volume is filled with the laugh-out-loud humor found in previous volumes. The pure joy Mafuyu exudes when Hanabusa asks for her class notes contrasts wonderfully with the look of utter disbelief on his face when he realizes that her notes are nigh unusable. And for some reason, the easily excitable and bizarrely enthusiastic Shinobu really cracks the whip on the pair to help them study for the exams. When he’s supposed to be their enemy. And when he just learned from Miyabi that Takaomi will win the bet if he cleans up the school. Shinobu’s actions, as usual, are completely counterproductive, but he seems to enjoy himself. My favorite part of this volume was watching Mafuyu chase Kohei around town, trying to figure out why he’s mad at her. The poor boy seems to have feelings for his former boss that go beyond mere friendship, and it hurts him that she hung out with Sakurada without even bothering to go and see him. The look of embarrassment and frustration on his face as he finally breaks down and tells Mafuyu he was upset she didn’t come to see him before anyone else is just too adorable. The camping trip with Kotobuki, Yamashita, and Maizono is quite entertaining, though as usual Mafuyu’s old gang gives Hanabusa some pretty wild ideas about their bancho “Mahfyu.” And it’s hard not to laugh while watching a bunch of tough-acting high school boys running around and screaming like little girls over total misunderstandings. Another volume of laughs and smiles from Izumi Tsubaki.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.