Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
After dancing the kagura at her shrine festival, Nanami thinks that her godly duties are done for a bit. Much to her surprise a wind kami shows up with an invitation – the annual meeting of the gods is taking place in Izumo soon, and as a tochigami she is technically included. The only problem is that she is a human and so must prove her abilities. The gods have decided that they'll test her – by pitting her against a “living kami” - a girl with spiritual powers from Kyoto.
Nanami has successfully proven to have at least a few godly powers by summoning butterflies at her shrine's festival. Unfortunately for our heroine, she does not have godly powers of endurance, and this volume's running gag is how sore she is after dancing the kagura. (“You smell like hot packs...” a classmate remarks.) Given that the main plot of this volume is an invitation to the gods' gathering at Izumo, this reminder of Nanami's human fragility serves a dual purpose – yes, it is funny to see her flinch and listen to her grumble, but it also tells us that this godhood gig is not one that will be easy, even if she does make it to the gathering.
Nanami first learns of the invite when a wind kami named Otohiko shows up. He congratulates her on a successful festival and mentions the yearly event, going on to tell her that either she or another human girl with godlike powers will be chosen to attend. The deciding event? A test of spiritual powers of Otohiko's choosing. He informs Nanami that he other candidate is a girl from Kyoto named Kayako Hiragi, who comes from a long line of “living kami.” She is worshiped as a god in her hometown and has her own reasons for wanting to go to the meeting. To better assess the threat Nanami poses, Kayako moves to her town and school on a temporary basis.
This is where some readers may cry foul, or at least cliche. The “mysterious temporary transfer student with a grudge” is hardly an innovative plot device, and even less so is the one who wants to get her hands on the heroine's crush. Perhaps the one saving grace of this is that Kayako has no interest in Tomoe romantically – to her, he is simply a rung on the ladder to greater powers, and if gods are supposed to have shinshi, then by damn she's going to have a shinshi. Nanami, naturally, does not see things in quite this light, which leads to some renewal of the romantic tension lightly established in earlier volumes. This is the first time we see Tomoe truly engaged emotionally, giving his cool, elegant exterior a needed crack. That Suzuki doesn't cram the romance aspect of her story in our faces is a welcome change from many other shoujo series of a similar ilk – this isn't a romance with some side stuff about godhood thrown in, this is a story about a girl becoming a god with some romance on the side. This makes the romantic aspects more touching and exciting, as they come almost as a tease.
Nanami's rivalry with Kayako is in part based around the girls' attempts to successfully hatch a shikigami egg. The creatures feed off of their “mothers,” imbibing spiritual energy to grow and form. Kayako is convinced that she has won when she sees Nanami's (adorable) shikigami and declares loudly her determination to create a perfect one. She seems to have a clear idea in mind about what she wants, a reaction that gives readers cause to suspect that there is something motivating her beyond a wish to cement her powers. While this does not make her a more sympathetic character, it does give her more depth and suggests a certain sadness that she tries very hard to cover up. Naturally Nanami finds her much more worthy of sympathy than the readers, and it is in part through this purity of heart that she is able to come into her own.
Suzuki's artwork continues to be pleasant and light on the backgrounds. She has a few shots that display a tenuous grasp of human anatomy, particularly in terms of how the thigh connects to the hip, but it is overall a nice book to look at. There are a few panels where a leap of logic is required to see how the story moved from here to there, bringing this volume down a bit in terms of the artistic quality. Kami designs remain interesting, and Kayako has a very traditionally “Kyoto” feel to her character, although she also bears the small birthmark by the eye that so many of the, shall we say, less likable females in manga do. Nanami's friend Ami gets more page time and quietly plays a key emotional role. Like Nanami's new shikigami, Ami's adorable character design is particularly well done.
Kamisama Kiss' latest English volume takes the promise of volume five and expands upon it. Despite a slight artistic decrease, the story remains engaging and by turns funny, touching, and romantic. As Nanami comes into her own, Suzuki's writing does as well, making this a story not only to read, but to keep reading as additional volumes come out.
Overall : B+
Story : A-
Art : B-
+ Exciting plot, nice emotional content, and some truly adorable art.
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