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February 22 is Dark Horse Comics’ release of the twentieth volume of the reprinted Oh My Goddess! series. It is the longest manga series available in English and this volume marks the last of the “classic” series.
Although the storyline is a bit predictable, the characters are so endearing that you find yourself flipping the pages for their sake. Kosuke Fujishima is both the author and illustrator of this series and it is evident that his pen is far more talented at rendering characters than it is of crafting an original plot. While the idea of goddesses coming to earth and the actual design and style of his characters has a uniqueness to them, the idea of overcoming one’s fears and believing in yourself with the help of your friends, is far from new to readers.
What makes this manga worth reading is the initial comedy in the beginning that draws in the reader. From the first panel , the reader is led to believe they are going on an adventure, then on the next page they realize they have been mislead, but in a comedic manner. This comedy soon turns from an innocent scene to one of innuendo. Throughout the story, both these types of comedic scenes wedge their way into the cliched storyline.
The characters of the story provide eye candy for the casual reader and fulfill the stereotypes of the good angel, the bad girl, the ‘prince’, the mischievous child, and the shy down-trodden female. Belldandy, the main goddess character, is the epitome of an angel. She helps everyone and never seems to be able to look at a person in a bad light.
Like her, Urd, the “evil” goddess, Skuld, the mischievous child, and Keiichi, the ‘prince’ who is often led in the wrong direction by Urd’s constant tricks, all seem rather one dimensional. Each seems to stick to their stereotyped behavior and their only relief is the humorous antics they get involved in.
As a piece of writing this manga would get a two stars because of the lack of originality in storyline, but having endearing characters in which readers want to see make it through whatever troubles come their way.
As art, Oh My Goddess is a masterpiece. It deserves five stars because even in the smallest panel characters are given beautiful detail and the each one draws the eye far more then the words on the page. Fujishima deserves great respect for his skill at portraying intriguing characters in line and dress, but not with words.
OVERALL GRADE: 3 1/2