Manga Spotlight: Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Kiss is a 25 volume manga written by Julietta Suzuki. The series was published in North America by VIZ Media.

Kamisama Kiss
Written by: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Dates: December 7, 2010-October 3, 2017

The protagonist of Kamisama Kiss is a high school girl named Nanami Momozono. Her father racks up big gambling debts and is unable to pay off the loan sharks. One day he runs off, leaving Nanami on her own. As Nanami discovers her father’s disappearance, she is told that she is being evicted from the apartment because her father was unable to pay his debts. She finds herself homeless and spending the night on a park bench.

While in the park, she “rescues” a man named Mikage from a dog. After Nanami shares her story with him, Mikage draws up a map to his home and tells her she can stay there. He gives her a kiss on the forehead before he leaves.

It turns out Mikage’s home is a run-down shrine. She learns Mikage was the land god, and that he has been away from the shrine for 20 years. Onikiri and Kotetsu, the two shrine attendants, realize Nanami has Mikage’s mark on her forehead (which she got from the kiss he gave her there). The mark shows that she is now the new land god. The two attendants say that Nanami can stay at the shrine. Tomoe, a cynical and mocking fox demon who serves as the land god’s familiar, refuses to acknowledge Nanami and leaves the shrine.

When Onikiri and Kotetsu take Nanami to the demon realm to try to convince Tomoe to come back, Nanami is attacked by a hag. Tomoe comes to watch Nanami suffer. However, she learns how to seal a contract with him in order to force him to be her familiar; this is accomplished through a kiss. She manages to catch Tomoe off guard and kisses him, and he is now bound into a contract with Nanami.

Over the course of the series, Nanami finds herself trying to navigate between being a high school student and being a land god who has the ability to see and communicate with yokai. Not only that, but Nanami also finds herself falling in love with Tomoe. Of course, it’s not just Tomoe’s gruff exterior, his past, and the belief that humans and yokai shouldn’t be romantically involved that serve as obstacles for a relationship between these two characters. There are other potential love interests for Nanami that are introduced into the story, such as Mizuki, another familiar that she acquires. When it comes to this love story, it’s Nanami who recognizes the attraction first, but it takes her a little while to truly admit it to herself and start acting on those feelings.

While Nanami is the major focus of Kamisama Kiss, the story shows the changes and growth that Tomoe goes through as a character as well. Ultimately, Nanami and Tomoe’s stories end up being intertwined. Probably the most bizarre twist that their stories take is when time travel ultimately becomes involved. But without the time travel story, the series couldn’t have progressed the way it did. As a reader, I ultimately became invested in the characters and their stories, which made it easier to overlook any bizarre twists that were thrown in.

Overall, I did enjoy reading Kamisama Kiss, and I looked forward to each new volume as it came out. Admittedly, the last volume was rather saccharine, but I couldn’t see the series ending in any other way that would have been acceptable to readers who had been following the series all this time. I appreciated how Kamisama Kiss ultimately ended, with the final chapter being a skip ahead in time. It allowed the reader to see what happened to Nanami and Tomoe and how their lives have changed since Nanami graduated from high school.

Kamisama Kiss is a solid manga series that successfully incorporates the concepts of yokai and the supernatural with the usual shojo tropes. I believe the series has the potential to appeal to readers beyond the teenage girls who are usually associated with reading shojo manga.

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