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.

Anime Spotlights: Kamisama Kiss, Baldr Force EXE, and Murder Princess

Now that I’ve returned to the workforce part time, I’m not going to have the time to do the in-depth write ups for each anime I’ve watched like I have in the past. However, I plan to, from time to time, to write a post like this one, where I’ll briefly share my impressions of anime that I’ve recently watched and completed.

Back in my days of writing for BellaOnline, I would sample one or two episodes of an anime and then write about it. I have quite a few titles I did this with, and I currently have a goal of going back and trying to watch as many of these anime in their entirety as possible. Over this past week, I’ve made it through Kamisama Kiss, Kamisama Kiss 2, Baldr Force EXE, and Murder Princess.

Kamisama Kiss and Kamisama Kiss 2: I had originally sampled the first episode of Kamisama Kiss before I started to read the manga. After I started reading the manga, I had wanted to watch the anime but never had the time due to all of the simulcasts I was watching and doing weekly write ups for. But in some respects, it’s nice that I had to wait, since a second season has been released and simulcast since then. I enjoyed both Kamisama Kiss and Kamisama Kiss 2, and I thought it adapted the manga rather faithfully. The second season of Kamisama Kiss was produced before the manga ended, so it only goes up to the storyline that happens on Kurama mountain. Now that the manga has finished in Japan, I hope that at some point there could be a third season of the Kamisama Kiss anime that would adapt the remaining story arcs in the manga.

Baldr Force EXE: This is a four-episode OVA. I was a little concerned about character development and how the story would progress in only four 30-minute episodes. After watching it, though, I don’t think they really could have made the series any longer than it was. Yes, it caused a lot of rapid-fire development and plot revelations, but I can’t really see how this could have been avoided without stretching out the story with inconsequential material. The main drawback to this series is the CG animation for the mecha, because it didn’t look very good or mesh well with the other animation, and it ultimately stood out like a sore thumb.

Murder Princess: This is a six-episode OVA. It has an interesting storyline going into it, although there were times when the plot twists ended up being predictable. It also felt like it had a rather open-ended conclusion, and that perhaps the door was being left open to continue the story with another series. While most of the plot points are resolved, the first and most major plot point of the story is left unresolved. As a viewer, I thought that was a little disappointing, but the overall story was interesting enough that it lessens the disappointment I had with the ending.

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

New York Times Manga Best Seller List: October 11-17, 2015

Here are the top ten selling manga in the United States for the week of October 11-17, 2015, according to the New York Times.

1. Naruto Volume 72 by Masashi Kishimoto

VIZ Media’s release of Naruto Volume 72 spends a second week at number one.

2. Deadman Wonderland Volume 11 by Jinsei Katoka and Kazuma Kondou

VIZ Media’s release of Deadman Wonderland Volume 11 enters the list at number two.

3. Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 by Sui Ishida

VIZ Media’s release of Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 holds at number three in its 18th week on the list.

4. Tokyo Ghoul Volume 2 by Sui Ishida

VIZ Media’s release of Tokyo Ghoul Volume 2 moves back up two spots to number four in its ninth week on the list.

5. Kamisama Kiss Volume 19 by Julietta Suzuki

VIZ Media’s release of Kamisama Kiss Volume 19 falls one spot to number five in its second week on the list.

6. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Volume 8 by Masahiro Hikokubo and Masashi Sato

VIZ Media’s release of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Volume 8 falls one spot to number six in its second week on the list.

7. Assassination Classroom Volume 6 by Yusei Matsui

VIZ Media’s release of Assassination Classroom Volume 6 moves up two spots to number seven in its second week on the list.

8. Noragami: Stray God Volume 7 by Adachitoka

Kodansha Comics’ release of Noragami: Stray God Volume 7 enters the list at number eight.

9. Food Wars! Volume 8 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

VIZ Media’s release of Food Wars! Volume 8 falls seven spots to number nine in its second week on the list.

10. One-Punch Man Volume 1 by ONE and Yusuke Murata

VIZ Media’s release of One-Punch Man Volume 1 moves falls two spots to number ten in its seventh week on the list.

Source: The New York Times

New York Times Manga Best Seller List: October 4-10, 2015

Here are the top ten selling manga in the United States for the week of October 4-10, 2015, according to the New York Times.

1. Naruto Volume 72 by Masashi Kishimoto

VIZ Media’s release of Naruto Volume 72 enters the list at number one.

2. Food Wars! Volume 8 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

VIZ Media’s release of Food Wars! Volume 8 enters the list at number two.

3. Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 by Sui Ishida

VIZ Media’s release of Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 moves back up one spot to number three in its 17th week on the list.

4. Kamisama Kiss Volume 19 by Julietta Suzuki

VIZ Media’s release of Kamisama Kiss Volume 19 enters the list at number four. In this volume, Nanami and Tomoe go on a school trip to Okinawa, where their newly–found romantic bliss is shattered.

5. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Volume 8 by Masahiro Hikokubo and Masashi Sato

VIZ Media’s release of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Volume 8 enters the list at number five.

6. Tokyo Ghoul Volume 2 by Sui Ishida

VIZ Media’s release of Tokyo Ghoul Volume 2 falls five spots to number six in its eighth week on the list.

7. Big Hero 6 Volume 2 by Haruki Ueno

Yen Press’ release of Big Hero 6 Volume 2 falls one spot to number seven in its third week on the list.

8. One-Punch Man Volume 1 by ONE and Yusuke Murata

VIZ Media’s release of One-Punch Man Volume 1 moves falls six spots to number eight in its sixth week on the list.

9. Assassination Classroom Volume 6 by Yusei Matsui

VIZ Media’s release of Assassination Classroom Volume 6 enters the list at number nine.

10. Sword Art Online: Progressive Volume 3 by Reki Kawahara and Kiseki Himura

Yen Press’ release of Sword Art Online: Progressive Volume 3 falls three spots to number ten in its third week on the list.

Source: The New York Times

New York Times Manga Best Seller List: June 7-13, 2015

Here are the top ten selling manga for the week of June 7-13, 2015, according to the New York Times.

1. Naruto Volume 70 by Masashi Kishimoto
2. Deadman Wonderland Volume 9 by Jinsei Katoka and Kazuma Kondou
3. Fairy Tail Volume 48 by Hiro Mashima
4. Assassination Classroom Volume 4 by Yusei Matsui
5. Kamisama Kiss Volume 18 by Julietta Suzuki
6. Food Wars! Volume 6 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki
7. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Volume 1 by Fujino Omori and Kunieda
8. Attack on Titan Volume 1 by Hajime Isayama
9. Big Hero 6 Volume 1 by Haruki Ueno
10. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past by Shotaro Ishinomori

Source: The New York Times