Reviewby Carlo Santos, Jul 29th 2009
Oh My Goddess! (2nd Ed)
Keiichi Morisato's co-existence with three goddesses under one roof ought to be a heavenly experience, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, things have only gotten more chaotic ever since another goddess, Peorth, showed up with the intention of fulfilling Keiichi's deepest desire. If she keeps throwing herself at him, he's eventually going to admit that his deepest desire involves physical pleasure ... right? Unfortunately, things just aren't working out that way, and Peorth has resorted to love potions and awkward dates in order to bring out Keiichi's libido. And when Keiichi's boneheaded buddy Tamiya falls for Peorth, who's going to clean up that romantic mess? Even kindly Belldandy finds herself in a pinch when it turns out that Peorth's maniacal behavior is all due to an incident that happened between them in the past ...
When will the suffering stop? Much like the actual character, the entire Peorth arc has morphed into an irritating houseguest that just refuses to leave. After spending the last few chapters of Volume 11 trying to awaken Keiichi's manly desires, Peorth decides to shake things up by doing ... exactly more of the same. Not the most innovative leap, is it? The romantic-comedy situations that get batted around in this volume are all predictable fare, although the appearance of a lively supporting character saves at least one chapter from the doldrums. Then, when the time comes to finish off the storyline, it's done by pulling out another handful of canned plot devices. Keiichi. Belldandy. Together forever. What else is new?
If anyone needed any further proof that Peorth is simply a vehicle for recycled sitcom plots, just look at the first chapter, which features her swiping a love drug out of Urd's lab and using it on Keiichi. Wow, another one of Urd's concoctions going haywire! This would make it, what, the seventh or eighth time that's happened in the series? The following chapter then dives into yet another overused scenario: the awkward date with a bunch of friends tagging along. Perhaps Kosuke Fujishima was hoping to dig up some comedy gold by dragging Peorth and Keiichi through the gauntlet of classic, clichéd date scenes. The result is several outbursts of embarrassment and slapstick, but nothing that really stands out as comedic genius.
There's at least one genuine stroke of genius in this arc, though: oversized meathead Tamiya shows up to say hi to Keiichi, accidentally falls in love with Peorth, and then bungles things in such a way that everyone gets the wrong idea about who's in love with who. Now this is how romantic comedy should work—hilarious misconceptions and miscommunication bouncing off at light speed, growing naturally from each character's personalities rather than relying on tired old formula. But formula is quickly back at work when Peorth explains why she's so insistent on competing with Belldandy for Keiichi's attention. Yes, it's another one of those "something terrible happened long ago except the other party doesn't remember it that way" situations. This does provide an intriguing perspective on how even goddesses can fall prey to human nature: imagined slights, overblown grudges, and mistaken memories are all part of our own experience. But ultimately, the impossibly perfect cookie-cutter character wins out in the end as Belldandy professes her devotion to Keiichi in a way that is at once heartwarming yet also nauseating.
Although this storyline basically runs itself into the ground with formulaic construction, there's always the pleasant art to look at—especially when Fujishima is feeling particularly adventurous with his backgrounds. More than once, he goes above and beyond with ornate floral designs to complement the attractive female characters. Admittedly, some of it is for exaggerated comic effect (especially in the love potion chapter, which is practically overrun with super sparkly shoujo flowers), but that kind of humor adds some necessary life to a brain-dead plot. There are also the well-timed double-page spreads that occur at least once per chapter, putting visual and emotional exclamation points on the proceedings, and once again helping to enliven the story. Plus it's not just the large-scale artistic moments where Fujishima excels—his eye for aesthetics and detail also comes in handy with things ranging from the goddesses' outfits (ridiculously elaborate and ridiculously pretty) to the buildings and landscaping that make up the Nekomi Tech campus.
Another saving grace for this series is the well-translated dialogue, which helps to ignite a comedic spark in areas where the plotting fails. Snappy comebacks from Urd and Skuld are always a welcome diversion, and Peorth's lapses into French—which are meant to be the linguistic equivalent of archaic polite Japanese—have thankfully been reduced. As a result, the script rolls along with a fun, lively rhythm, and not once does the dialogue feel like it was adapted from a second language (which is possibly the highest compliment one can give to a translator). However, this seamless conversion also extends to the sound effects, where all Japanese characters are replaced with English equivalents. It's very well done and integrates smoothly into the art, but it also denies the series of its Japanese-ness. As far as bonus content goes, this volume has a number of color illustration pages right before the first chapter, and for fan interaction there's always the letters section in the back
The real miracle of the Peorth arc, then, is that despite the predictable plot developments and recycled romantic-comedy scenarios, it still achieves more fun and readability than it probably deserves. A quality translation manages to bring out the humor in even the most banal situations, and Kosuke Fujishima's artistic style—with its clean lines and subtle details—is consistently pleasing and top-notch. Besides, there's at least one genuinely good chapter, when Tamiya butts in and makes a hilarious love-polygonal wreck of everything. So, even after the hoary clichés, even after the new girl in town overstays her welcome, and even after her storyline closes out in the most trite and predictable way ... the series still maintains a certain charm. Keiichi. Belldandy. Together forever. Why mess with a formula that works?
Overall : B-
Story : C-
Art : B
+ The Tamiya chapter is a delight, as is the attractive artwork and sprightly dialogue.
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