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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Manga Review: Kamisama Kiss GN 16

Kamisama Kiss volume 16
Author: Julietta Suzuki
Viz Manga/Shojo Beat
200 pages
Back in feudal Japan, Akura-oh is getting frustrated with his best friend and rampage companion Tomoe. He correctly guesses that Tomoe is lovesick, and decides the best way to deal with it is to kill the object of his affection--Yukiji! And to make matters worse, when Nanami wears historical clothes, she looks an awful lot like Yukiji! Can she manage to preserve the past, save Tomoe, protect Yukiji and keep from getting killed?!
I am really digging the current time travel arc in Kamisama Kiss. I'm a big fan of shows which incorporate time travel into their stories and have near-time paradox situations that actually work out (with a little in series explanation, of course) – LOST did this very well in seasons four and five – and Kamisama Kiss' own "rescue Tomoe with the past" arc is coming along well.
In this volume, Nanami works harder than ever to find a cure for Tomoe's curse, determined to find Kuromaro of Mount Ontake, wherever that may be. Her mission gets slightly sidetracked after escaping from Akura-oh's company and falling back in with Yukiji, but it looks like Nanami's more than passing resemblance to the other woman will become a useful tool to ward off a couple of mischievous, dangerous demons.

One of the biggest draws for me this volume is the relationships—between Nanami and Tomoe, yes, but also Nanami and Yukiji. I'm so glad that Kamisama Kiss isn't one of those shojo manga that demonizes the female characters that aren't the main protagonists; Nanami has multiple female friendships, including Yukiji, even though she is fated to be the first human Tomoe falls in love with. Nanami works hard to make sure Yukiji's happiness is secure and that she has a family she can love, and that's pretty awesome.
The scenes between Nanami and past!Tomoe are ridiculously well done. Tomoe is not the grumpy but friendly shinshi we know him as; his base ayakashi tendencies as well as his past blood lust are still in play, although Nanami and Yukiji's combined influences are playing on his heart. Meanwhile, Nanami, who is in love with the man Tomoe will become, knows to keep herself guarded around his past self but can't help but feel things for him. Nanami walks a fine line between being mysterious and spilling the details of Tomoe's future, but Kamisama Kiss is well aware of the major time travel tropes and doesn't let any major incidents occur.
Well—except for the fact that it is becoming increasingly obvious that Tomoe fell in love with not Yukiji but the Nanami of the future. It'll be interesting to see how Tomoe reacts when he finds out Nanami has been to the past and is the woman he knew when still a wild ayakashi. He's still nicer than Akura-oh and his minions, who have no problem harassing and attacking humans for fun.
The artwork in this volume is particularly striking to look at. The Tomoe/Nanami scenes are among the best looking of the entire book. Julietta Suzuki gets to draw both romantic scenes and more dramatic scenes, especially when the ayakashi attack the royal palanquin. Nanami gets the full range of facial expressions, from shock and surprise in the face of danger to adoration and love for others. Plus, she looks super cute in her kimono.
This volume of Kamisama Kiss ends on an interesting note. What Nanami finds at the very end of this book will definitely change the course of the story so far. It's a very good installment of Kamisama Kiss, with enough drama and humor and romance and scary ayakashi stuff to go around. Fans who are fully invested in the story of Nanami and Tomoe have a lot to look forward to.