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Friday, July 25, 2014

Manga Review: Kamisama Kiss GN 15

Kamisama Kiss volume 15
Author: Julietta Suzuki
Viz Manga/Shojo Beat
200 pages
Nanami has gone back in time in order to find the fallen kami who cursed Tomoe, but the past is a lot more violent than she expected. Before she can even start her search, she has to deal with suspicious villagers and a mortally wounded Tomoe!
Kamisama Kiss dedicating an entire story arc to Nanami going back in time to save Tomoe from an age-old curse shouldn't work as much as it does - but it does. She's totally out of her element in an era without cell phones, public transporation or modern sanitation but she is ever the spunky, take charge heroine this series needs.
And while Kamisama Kiss breaks into the backstory of shinshi Tomoe's life as a delinquent yokai, it becomes apparent that Nanami's rather rosy view of yokai, tinged by Tomoe and Mizuki and other more domestic types, is about to get shattered. Tomoe's younger self is not a nice person, and his first interaction with Nanami does not put him in a very good life. Not to mention the company he keeps, which has no problem getting their claws dirty in human blood if it's convenient.

In the fifteenth volume of Kamisama Kiss, Nanami is determined to reverse the curse on Tomoe that is sucking away his life energy in the present day. But finding the kami who did it has been harder than she thought, and a detour from her original path has her interacting with Tomoe's path directly, something she wanted to avoid. She even spends time in the same household as Yukiji, the woman that Tomoe will fall in love with. At least Nanami has enough sense not to use her real name!
I feel like most of fandom hates Yukiji. I don't mind her at all. I rather like her, in fact. Fans may dislike her virulent hatred of yokai, but considering her family history with yokai, I'm not hurt by it. It's not like Yukiji has had any interaction with friendly yokai; she's never had a Mizuki or Mikage to soften her heart. But she's strong willed, beautiful, is friendly with Nanami and doesn't seem like a bad person. And then I remember how her story ends, and my heart breaks for her.
What Suzuki is doing, exploring Tomoe's history and showcasing Nanami's inner strength and love for Tomoe, has been genius so far - and this volume continues that trend of being entertaining and enlightening. Nanami really is kicking butt and taking names. The scene where she basically tells two local officials off while standing in the river and wearing a facial expression Yukiji would be proud of? Best scene ever. It helps that the artwork throughout this volume has been so striking and detailed, especially in scenes like that.

Right now, I'm not sure how this story is going to work out, which is pretty unusual for a time travel story when the ending of the narrative – the death of one character, the curse of another – has pretty much been written in stone. But I believe in Nanami, our resident human kami, to make things right in the end and survive the experience. I hope Tomoe appreciates the effort Nanami is putting into saving his life!