Julietta Suzuki Ends Tripitaka Torinique Manga

Manga creator Julietta Suzuki has posted on Twitter that this year’s third issue of Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume magazine published the final chapter of her Tripitaka Torinique manga. The fourth and final volume will ship on March 20, 2018.

Suzuki launched the series in October 2016, and Hakusensha published the third volume on December 20, 2017.

Source: ANN

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 she 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; 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.

Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 20

Kamisama Kiss Volume 20 focuses on Nanami Momozono, a high school student who has become a kami at the land god’s shrine. She has two familiars serving her: Tomoe, the fox demon, and a snake incarnation named Mizuki.

Kamisama Kiss Volume 20
Written by: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 2, 2016

Volume 20 starts out by concluding Nanami’s school trip in Okinawa. While the story about a girl who suspects that Kurama has a secret she tries to uncover doesn’t seem important, it actually has a couple of things included that move the story of this volume forward. First, Tomoe sees Nanami acting in ways that he hardly sees while she’s primarily around Tomoe and the others at the shrine. Second, Mikage asks Tomoe to take a gift to a shrine maiden. Through a flashback, we learn that Tomoe first encountered the shrine maiden years ago when she was a young girl. When Tomoe actually sees the shrine maiden now, he discovers that she’s an old woman who is close to death. Tomoe starts wondering if that’s what will happen to Nanami as she gets older, and Tomoe begins thinking that he’d like to become a human.

Tomoe’s desire to become human serves as the driving force for the remainder of Kamisama Kiss Volume 20. I thought it was interesting that Nanami actually wasn’t supportive of Tomoe’s wish to become human. I think she knows that he’d likely be unhappy about losing his powers and being unable to serve as her familiar anymore. But Tomoe is still insistent about becoming a human even though Nanami objects. This leads Tomoe to do something incredibly foolish when Kurama offers him something that could potentially help grant the fox demon his wish. But in the midst of Tomoe’s wish to become human, Nanami discovers something important Kirihito, which only adds to Nanami’s already turbulent emotions.

As I read this volume, I noticed that Suzuki started drawing Tomoe with a more human-like “bishonen” (beautiful boy) look to him that she had in previous volumes. I expect this artistic choice was made to emphasize the fact that Tomoe wants to become human in order to be able to be with Nanami and not live on while she ages and passes away when she’s older. But this change in design for Tomoe also seemed to help change the overall aesthetic feel of the manga. This isn’t a bad thing, though. With the changes in the storytelling and the art, it really gives me the impression that Kamisama Kiss is drawing closer to its conclusion.

Fans of the series will definitely want to check out Kamisama Kiss Volume 20, because it’s such a compelling read. Major character development and important story progression take place, and long-time readers won’t want to miss any of it. Fans should appreciate and enjoy what they see in this volume, and it will make them want to go on to the next volume to find out what’s going to happen next.

Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 19

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Kamisama Kiss Volume 19 focuses on Nanami Momozono, a high school student who has become a kami at the land god’s shrine. She has two familiars serving her: Tomoe, the fox demon and a snake incarnation named Mizuki.

Kamisama Kiss Volume 19
Written by: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 6, 2015

Volume 19 continues Nanami’s school trip in Okinawa. Unfortunately, the trip has been anything but peaceful. The volume opens with Tomoe rescuing Nanami, who went out in search of a robe of feathers so she could save her kidnapped friend. Tomoe finds Nanami, but she’s in a weakened state. Fortunately, he receives some unexpected help for Nanami. When Nanami starts to recover, she admits something to Tomoe that bothers him but he tries hard to hide it. Even though Tomoe is known to have a short temper, he knows that this just isn’t the right time to show his true feelings to her about the revelation. While Tomoe doesn’t do anything about it at this point in the story, it is touched on later in the volume. I think Suzuki depicted this realistically, and this incident served as an important piece of development in Tomoe and Nanami’s blossoming relationship.

Meanwhile, Mizuki goes into the ocean in search of Nanami and forces Kurama to go with him. Both of these characters undergo very important development during their adventure. Kurama encounters a dugong who is actually Ami, the girl who was kidnapped. Unari, the mermaid whose robe of feathers was stolen, transformed Ami into a dugong as punishment and it appears that Ami may permanently turn into this creature and forget about her life and the fact that she had a major crush on Kurama.

At this point, Kurama’s not very confident about being in the sea, and he finds comfort in the dugong. But as the volume progresses, Kurama suddenly realizes that he has feelings for Ami, especially after learning that she was the dugong he encountered. Personally, I thought this felt a little too convenient. I didn’t see any true buildup for Kurama’s feelings for Ami, especially since prior to this, he was still acting like his cocky self. I hate to say this, but the Kurama and Ami relationship that develops here feels rather forced.

Mizuki’s storyline, however, feels more realistic. When he encounters Unari, he learns about her backstory and is willing to agree to become her husband in order to free Ami. But Mizuki realizes that he understands what Unari is feeling, and genuinely wants to help her and not use her to accomplish a goal. I have to admit that I honestly thought that Mizuki saying he would marry Unari would change the dynamics of the series since it would effectively write him out. But it turns out I was wrong, and Mizuki finds a way to be able to leave the sea but stay on good terms with Unari. I think Suzuki handled this aspect well, and it didn’t feel terribly forced.  And as we see a little later in the volume, this encounter with Unari seems to bring about a noticeable change in Mizuki.

It turns out that the Okinawa trip ends right when Kamisama Kiss Volume 19 finishes. At this point, I have no idea what kind of story the series will head into next. This actually makes me want to read the next volume, because I’d like to see where Suzuki decides what direction to take the series in.

Readers who have been reading and following the series will want to see what happens between Tomoe and Nanami in Kamisama Kiss Volume 19. I think that readers will also enjoy seeing Mizuki’s storyline, and may find that they become interested in Unari’s character as well. These particular characters go through some realistic development and growth in this volume, and fans of Kamisama Kiss won’t want to miss it.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 18

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Kamisama Kiss Volume 18 focuses on Nanami Momozono, a high school student who is now the kami at the land god’s shrine. Nanami has two familiars serving her: Tomoe the fox demon and a snake incarnation named Mizuki.

Kamisama Kiss Volume 18
Written by: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 2, 2015

Volume 18 sees Nanami returning to her normal life after spending time in the past in order to save Tomoe in the present. However, there’s now a major difference in her normal life: she and Tomoe are now a couple. Unfortunately, she’s so happy about being with Tomoe that she’s not bothering to study and doesn’t seem to care about her grades. Tomoe decides that he needs to study, which Mikage highly approves of. Nanami is getting excited for the upcoming school trip, but Mikage tells her that she needs to score at least an 80 percent on all her finals if she wants to go.

I have to say that I approve of Mikage trying to impose a condition on Nanami in order to encourage her to study and to improve her grades, but I thought that the 80 percent was a little harsh. Fortunately, it’s revealed that Mikage simply said this in order to encourage Nanami to study harder and didn’t intend to keep her from going on the trip if she didn’t accomplish that.

Another important development happens in this portion of the story: Mizuki decides that he wants to go to school with Nanami, too. His main reason is that he wants to be able to go on the school trip with her, and he can only do that if he’s a student. Even though Tomoe had originally transferred into Nanami’s class to keep an eye on her, he’s at least trying to take studying and learning seriously. I suspect this is due to him wanting to be with Nanami as a romantic partner instead of simply being a familiar who serves her. I really don’t see Mizuki ever taking school or studying seriously, so he could end up being a problem if he’s in class with Nanami.

Roughly the last two-thirds of Kamisama Kiss Volume 18 take place during the school trip to Okinawa. We see that Mizuki is in the class and is on the trip, and he’s constantly whining about not getting to be with Nanami because they’re in different groups. The trip starts out eventful enough when the plane encounters some turbulence, and then a freak typhoon hits. But then Nanami discovers that a weakened Kirihito is around, and this eventually leads to Ami, one of Nanami’s friends, being kidnapped and accused of stealing a mermaid’s robe of feathers. In the process of trying to save Ami, Nanami also finds herself being called upon to try to save Kirihito’s life.

Volume 18 also reveals that Nanami’s friend, Ami, has a major crush on Kurama. After Ami is kidnapped, Tomoe and the others have to reveal what they really are to Kei, a mutual friend of Nanami and Ami. That’s a development I hadn’t expected, since Nanami has been trying hard to keep the fact that she’s a land god, as well as the truth about various characters’ identities, from her friends. I guess having Ami being kidnapped in this manner kind of forced the issue for Tomoe and the others.

I was a little disappointed in Nanami early on in the volume while she was lazy about studying, she more than made up for it on the school trip when she started taking charge of the situation in order to help Ami. She had to make a difficult decision during all of that, but that decision could end up having consequences attached to it. All in all, Volume 18 kept me interested in what was going on, and I didn’t want to put it down until I had finished it. And the way the volume ends made me want to read Volume 19 in order to find out what will happen to Nanami.

Readers who have been following and enjoying the series should enjoy and be satisfied with how the story progresses through Kamisama Kiss Volume 18. Nanami and Tomoe being a couple adds a new element and dimension to the story, and I suspect there will be some kind of repercussions later on. And having Mizuki starting to go to school adds a new layer to the characters and their interactions. Suzuki has found some great ways to keep the series from going stale, yet keeping enough of the elements that grabbed and hooked readers into this series in the first place.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 17

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Kamisama Kiss Volume 17 focuses on Nanami Momozono, a high school student who becomes a kami at the land god’s shrine after the land god gives her a kiss on the forehead and bestows on her the power of a kami. Nanami has two familiars serving her: Tomoe the fox demon and a snake incarnation named Mizuki. Nanami has fallen in love with Tomoe, but he still seems to have feelings for Yukiji, a woman he met 500 years ago. When Nanami discovers that Tomoe has been inflicted with a curse because of a contract he made with a fallen kami in the past, she goes back in time to try to find out how to lift the curse.

Kamisama Kiss Volume 17
Written by: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 3, 2015

Kamisama Kiss Volume 17 sees Mikage, the land god, sending Nanami back to the past one last time so she can witness the sprouting of the seeds she’s sown by going back to the past the previous two times. When she returns to the past, she finds the fallen kami and sees what happened to Yukiji and Tomoe after she left.

This section of Volume 17 was very eye-opening to me as a reader. It allowed me to finally see the truth about what happened all those years ago with Tomoe and Yukiji, and an important fact was revealed about Nanami. When I saw what this fact was and the explanation for it, I thought that perhaps this was something I should have somehow picked up on earlier in the series. While I won’t outright say what the revelation was, I will say that this fact explains why Yukiji and Nanami have similarities in their appearance.

After witnessing what happened in the past, Nanami figures out what she needs to do in order to break the fallen kami’s curse. When Nanami returns to the present, she goes out in search of a particular object that is the proof of Tomoe’s contract. She finds it, the curse is lifted, and the end of Kamisama Kiss Volume 17 gives the impression that there’s a happy ending for the two of them. But the series isn’t over yet, so I expect that some kind of obstacle will end up disrupting the relationship that Tomoe and Nanami are starting to build here.

I enjoyed reading Kamisama Kiss Volume 17 so much that I didn’t want to put it down. All of the pieces about Tomoe, Nanami, Yukiji, and the curse fall into place over the course of this volume, and it seemed like that with each chapter, more and more was finally coming together. As a reader who’s been following Kamisama Kiss since Volume One, I was both happy and satisfied with how the story was progressing and with how the answers to so many questions were presented throughout this volume.

While I have to admit that the art style in Kamisama Kiss doesn’t really have much to make it stand out from other shojo manga series, the strength of the story makes up for that. Suzuki has created such compelling characters that the reader becomes engrossed in the story and can easily overlook the fact that the art is more on the average side.

I would recommend Kamisama Kiss to readers who enjoy shojo manga with romance and hints of supernatural elements. Longtime readers of the series will really enjoy reading Kamisama Kiss Volume 17 in order to find out the resolution to Nanami’s mission to free Tomoe from his curse.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 16

Kamisama Kiss Volume 16 is a manga by Julietta Suzuki, and it was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T’ for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

Kamisama Kiss Volume 16
Written by: Julietta Suzuki
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 7, 2014

The main character of Kamisama Kiss is Nanami Momozono. She’s a high school student who ends up becoming a kami at the land god’s shrine after the land god gives her a kiss on the forehead that gives her the power of a kami. Nanami has two familiars serving her: Tomoe the fox demon and a snake incarnation named Mizuki.

Volume 16 continues Nanami’s adventure in the past as she attempts to find a way to remove the curse that is afflicting Tomoe in the present. Nanami returns to where Yukiji is, and learns that Yukiji will be marrying a feudal lord.

Meanwhile, Tomoe meets up with Akura-Oh, who has heard about Yukiji getting married and wants to see her. He wants to have someone drag the bride from her marriage procession and be brought to him. After a yokai tries to take Yukiji before the wedding, Nanami volunteers to be Yukiji’s double and go in her place in the procession. As part of the deal, she wants Yukiji’s family to try and find Kuromaro, the fallen kami. As soon as I read that Nanami wanted to serve as Yukiji’s double, I had a bad feeling that things were not going to go as Nanami expected.

Akura-Oh sends Kirakaburi to attack the palanquin carrying Yukiji. Privately, Tomoe decides that he’ll be the one to kill Yukiji first to make up for not being able to kill her earlier. When Kirakaburi attacks, Nanami fights back; unfortunately, Kirakaburi attacks her with a dart dipped in a paralytic. But as hope seems lost, Tomoe suddenly appears and takes down Kirakaburi.

What happens next is rather interesting, since we get to see Nanami interaction with the Tomoe of 500 years ago; but Tomoe thinks he’s interacting with Yukiji, and Nanami doesn’t correct him. Even though Tomoe had intended to kill her, he doesn’t do it. At first, Tomoe treats her like a pet or like a piece of property, but as he spends more time with her, his attitude changes; in fact, Nanami has to keep him from kissing her so he doesn’t become her familiar in the past. Not only was this section interesting, it was also kind of cute. I can just imagine the willpower it had to take for Nanami not to admit her feelings to the Tomoe she encountered in the past; yes, he was different than what she’s familiar with, but it’s still Tomoe in front of her. But being able to interact with him in the past like this should help giving Nanami a better understanding of why Tomoe is the way he is in the present.

Unfortunately, at the end of the volume, it appears that Nanami fails in her attempt to lift the curse from Tomoe. I found myself feeling bad for Nanami, because she’d gone through so much while she was in the past and ultimately has nothing to show for it. Also, she may have inadvertently changed things in the past. Even though Tomoe thought she was Yukiji, having this misunderstanding ultimately still changes the essence of what had happened in the past. I hope that in whatever volume Nanami returns to the present in, we see what may have changed due to her going back to the past and doing some of the things that she did.

Volume 16 also includes a special episode, where Nanami returns late to the shrine because she stops to buy takoyaki to take home to everyone. This is a nice light-hearted story that helps to blunt some of the reader’s disappointment over the fact that Nanami appears to have failed in her quest in the past. With so much emphasis being placed on Nanami in the past over the past couple of volumes, we haven’t gotten to see characters like Mizuki, Onikiri, and Kotetsu; at least this special episode lets us see them, even if it’s only for a brief time.

I enjoyed reading this volume so much that I didn’t want to put it down. I’ve been reading the Kamisama Kiss series for about two years now, and I enjoy it just as much now as I did when I first started reading it. I’m looking forward to when Volume 17 is released so I can find out what’s going to happen to Nanami next.

After reading this volume, I have to say that if you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 15 volumes of Kamisama Kiss, then you should also enjoy reading Volume 16.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Kamisama Kiss Volume 16 that I checked out through the King County Library System.