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November 19, 2012

Bento Bako Weekly: Kamisama Kiss volumes 10-11

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Kamisama Kiss
Author: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volumes 10-11 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2011 and 2012 by Hakusensha, August and November 2012 and by Viz Media
Genre: Romantic comedy

[Volume 9 review.]

Everyone is still on Mt. Kurama trying to find and cure the ill Sojobo so the cruel Jiro will not become the next ruler of the tengu clan. One after another, the tengu who are considered weak in body or mind are expelled from the Training Hall at Jiro’s orders, but the normally stoic Jiro is having some mental anguish of his own – he can’t stop thinking of Nanami. Kurama comes up with a partial plan to save Sojobo that requires being invited into the Training Hall and getting Jiro to drink some medicinal sake. Fortunately (or possibly unfortunately), Nanami has a plan to get them in. Kurama will pretend to be the kamisama of Mikage Shrine, which will force Jiro to invite him and Tomoe inside. Then Nanami and Botanmaru will search the Training Hall for Sojobo. Tomoe picks up on Jiro’s attraction to Nanami, and uses her form to distract the tengu long enough for his shields to waver so Nanami can locate Sojobo. Unfortunately, when they find him they discover that Sojobo is beyond the help of Nanami’s miraculous momotan. To add to their troubles, they are discovered by the ayakashi Yatori who throws them in an underground prison. Their plot discovered, Jiro puts up a prison shield around Tomoe and Kurama, trapping them and keeping them from going to Nanami’s rescue. Nanami learns the truth about Sojobo’s condition from Yatori, who plans to kill them, but like any good heroine worth her salt, she rescues herself this time by throwing up a shield against evil that sends the ayakashi flying. There’s not much she can do within Jiro’s shields, so she decides to make the entire building over into her own territory and runs around setting up a powerful shield. Jiro hears the truth about events himself, realizes he’s been tricked, and rushes off to aid Nanami in freeing his father’s soul. Nanami follows Jiro to the nest of the Thunder Beast, where he once threw Kurama as a child, the event which led to the young tengu leaving the mountain. By the time Tomoe and Kurama arrive, Jiro lies injured on the cave floor, having rescued Nanami from the Thunder Beast. Tomoe easily quells the monster, and Sojobo’s soul is returned to him, which immediately begins to heal the mountain.

In volume 11, the new year is fast approaching, and Tomoe must go to the Toshigami’s shrine for a new ofuda to bless the lands under Mikage shrine’s domain. Nanami insists on going as well, so she, Tomoe, and Mizuki travel to the shrine’s entrance. There they must split up into three separate torii framed pathways, where the last twelve years of their lives will be examined. Unfortunately, while Tomoe and Mizuki soon come out the other end, Nanami does not, so the two shinshi go in to find her. They are able to witness Nanami as a child, and for the first time Tomoe realizes that there are parts of Nanami he is not aware of. So rather than leave with her immediately, he decides to observe her for a bit, and both he and Mizuki learn about Nanami’s troubling childhood. Desperate to make this depressing image of Nanami smile, Tomoe steps into the dream. Unfortunately he gets a bit too wrapped up in things and accidentally confesses his feelings…and asks her to marry him. His panic is short-lived, however, because Nanami doesn’t remember anything, and returns with her happy-go-lucky cheer. They finally manage to meet with the Toshigami and receive his blessing. Things shift gears then and the focus returns to the main story line – Akura-oh’s journey to find and claim his body. Unfortunately, he is going to need Tomoe’s help to pull his body out of the mountain of fire in the Land of the Dead. Meanwhile, Tomoe and Nanami go shopping at a hidden ayakashi market in the other world for a piece of sacred wood to make wooden ofuda for the shrine’s New Years’ celebration. Nanami runs into a fortune teller who reveals Tomoe’s feelings (that he sees Nanami as a precious flower about to bloom), and Tomoe discovers that Nanami is much stronger than he thinks.

One story line ends, and another gets rolling again. With some fun, fluffy times in between. Specifically of the romantic variety. Nanami has long been up front about her feelings for Tomoe, but the fox is finally starting to recognize his own, and occasionally act on them. He’s given a bit of a push when Jiro announces his feels for Nanami; for a moment he’s afraid Nanami will leave him for the tengu (well, more petty and jealous, really, than actually afraid she’ll leave). She only has eyes for Tomoe, however, and Jiro backs down. The story is still in danger of being overwhelmed by the romance, but Suzuki continues to find a balance. There’s nothing wrong with the romantic aspects, I’d just rather it not become the focus of the series. There’s plenty of other stuff going on. There’s a lot of room for the characters to grow before they become committed in that way. And it’s really great watching Nanami grow into a capable kamisama. She almost single-handedly defeats Jiro and uncovers the plot behind Sojobo’s “illness.” Which means she practically saves the entire tengu village. Almost entirely without Tomoe’s help, to boot. Nanami comes up with the plan, finds Sojobo, gets her and Botanmaru out of trouble, overrides Jiro’s powerful shields with her own, and locates Sojobo’s soul. She even manages to pull a softer side out of Jiro. In volume 11, she patches things up with the zodiac dragon and his Toshigami, and even gives the Toshigami a boost of confidence. In the other world, she defeats two yokai with her ofuda and rescues a young yokai, without any help from Tomoe. She’s really flourishing as a kamisama; even Tomoe can’t believe how much she’s growing, though of course he still believes Nanami can’t do anything without his help. She’s beginning to prove him wrong, however, though I could see it backfiring if Tomoe suddenly finds himself feeling useless and unneeded. The series maintains just enough depth to keep it interesting (in particular the look into Nanami’s past in volume 11), while remaining a cute and sometimes quite silly story.


Review copies provided by Viz Media.




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