Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 25

By Julietta Suzuki. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz. Translated by Tomo Kimura

I haven’t done a full review of Kamisama Kiss in over 7 years, but it’s always been near the top of my want to read shoujo titles, and I’m impressed with it for lasting 25 volumes, which is more than four sets of Karakuri Odette. (Does anyone recall that series? It’s been about one fandom generation since it came out.) I was wondering what the author was going to do with this final volume, given that almost everything was resolved in the previous book. And it’s true, this is a victory lap of a sort, a light and cheerful final volume devoting itself to wrapping up the romances and getting Nanami and Tomoe married and living in the human world. It’s well worth the read, though, as it’s a well-told victory lap, and will put a smile on your face.

You’ll note the cover art is a bit different from the ‘wedding pose’ cover that the regular edition had. I picked up the Limited Edition, which comes with this alternate cover and a separate, hardcover minibook that features all the color pages from the series, as well as an epilogue chapter taking place several years later. I think it’s worth shelling out for the extra edition – the art is gorgeous, even if pretty small (this is still the size of a regular manga volume) and we also get one of those ‘extra chapters’ that always tend to happen in Hana to Yume series but so rarely get collected into North American (or indeed Japanese) volumes. Without spoiling anything, fans of Akura-Oh and Ami will absolutely want to pick up the Limited Edition.

As for the main event, I like how it shows that even after all this time, Nanami still has a tendency to sublimate her own desires if she thinks Tomoe will be uncomfortable or dislike anything, and I like the fact that the entire cast serves to clamp down on that and give her the epic wedding that she (and the series) deserves. As for the other human x supernatural pairings, Ami and Kurama is left up in the air, mostly as Kurama has not gained as much experience with human emotion as Tomoe has, but it’s pretty clear that she’s not going to be moving on. As for Himemiko and Kotaro, they’ve got a few more things conspiring to keep them apart, including some of what Nanami has dealt with before (the “they must be unhappy, it would be best if I left them” feelings), but they also have a very good reason to stay together, and the result is dealt with subtly but will put a smile on your face.

As will the entire volume, really. Kamisama Kiss has had its fair share of drama, and so after all the near deaths and trips to the afterlife it’s a relief to see such a sweet ending. Admittedly Mizuki may not agree with me, as Nanami and Tomoe becoming human means a parting from the spirit wold, but even that may be only a temporary thing, we discover. As with most really good manga, finishing this series makes a reader want to go back and start over from the beginning.

Halloween Briefs

So, due to power outage, these aren’t on the regular Manga bookshelf site with last week’s briefs, and the MMF is actually long over. So just pretend this is still relevant.

The Manga Movable Feast dealt with horror, but most of the titles I’m about to talk about fall more under the realm of ‘supernatural’. They’re shonen and shoujo titles that deal with friendship, romance, etc., but happen to feature monsters, demons, or yokai in some way. This is, of course, not to say that they don’t all have the ability to scare in some way.

The one with the least horrific content here is likely Kamisama Kiss 5, which continues to be about a young girl who finds herself the god of a local shrine, and her vaguely romantic relationship with her familiar, sexy fox creature Tomoe. This particular volume in fact, is about removing the terror – no one goes to the shrine due to its reputation, so Nanami decides to hold a festival to entice people to notice the shrine is no longer run-down and creepy. There is a mysterious chapter where Nanami thinks that Tomoe has abandoned her and the shrine (which looks like a pit again), but it turns out to be a trick, and the majority of the volume is devoted to showing Nanami as plucky and never-say-die, and Tomoe as being aloof yet caring. The supernatural mostly is a spice here.

Much more scary, or at least with a vague tinge of unease hanging around it, is Natsume’s Book of Friends 9. The series is about a young man with the ability to see and control yokai thanks to his grandmother, and his attempts to balance out a normal school and family life with his desire to help free (and to a certain degree befriend) the yokai in his book. The stories tend to be drenched in yokai lore, and sometimes need a footnote or two, but generally dealing with monsters tends to be universal. We all know when a monster demands something or else she will do harm, and then gets what she wants, harm is going to happen anyway. There’s less school antics here and more of Natsume working with his own familiar, Nyanko-sensei. Who, thank goodness, is not a sexy fox creature. Things can get scary here, but this series gives more of a feeling of melancholy than terror.

Nura also deals with yokai, and is a Shonen Jump manga, so is not concerned so much with cute romance or finding friends as it is with awesome fights. Rikuo is still having issues with his leadership skills, and a lot of this volume continues to deal with the takeover of the town by a rival gang of yakuza… um, yokai. This volume in particular is very good at contrasting Rikuo’s caring and accepting nature, even of those who can’t stand him, with that of Tamazuki, who callously destroys his closest allies with a cruel word and a wave of his hand. It’s the difference between ruling by loyalty and ruling by fear, and this being a Jump manga, we know what will eventually win out. There are several good scary moments here, but I’d read it more for the Friendship, Training, and Victory myself. (Also, the Rikuo/Tsurara shiptease is really getting hammered on here.)

Lastly, there’s Vampire Knight 13, which despite the presence of vampires and demon hunters, is not so much horror in this volume as the political intrigue that it’s excelled in ever since Yuki came into her heritage. I’ll be honest, I think I preferred Yuki in the earlier volumes – despite trying to balance being prudent with becoming her own person, she still comes off as awfully passive here. There are a few scattered bits of action, and a scene or two of blood and gore (tastefully and sexily done, of course – this is LaLa Magazine, after all), but this is horror in the same way that Wilkie Collins was horror – romantic suspense horror with twists and turns and fitting into society turning out to be far more important than the number of people you kill. Normally I enjoy it, but I admit I found this volume a bit boring.

So, to sum up, it’s November 5th. Happy Halloween! Dress as Guy Fawkes!

Bookshelf Briefs pointer

For those who read my reviews by category (like me), I have reviews of Blue Exorcist 3, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan 4 and Kamisama Kiss 4 in this week’s Bookshelf Briefs.