Dark Horse Manga did not initially translate the early chapters of Oh My Goddess in order.  This was a mistake in my opinion, and I am grateful for the new versions that restore the proper sequence.

It also means that a number of the stories in this volume are relatively fresh to me.  I say relatively because several chapters formed the basis of the OAVs so there was some déjà vu taking place.  For example chapter 12 Love is the Prize looks like the basis of the Burning Hearts on the Road episode. Similarly chapter 13 System Force Down and chapter 14 Oh My Older Sister were combined into Midsummer Night’s Dream[1].

I am also appreciating the more measured introduction of new characters.  In the OAVs, Urd appears in the second episode, and Skuld in the third, before jumping into a two part finale. 

The slower introduction of the other goddesses gives more page[2] time to the supporting characters such as Sayoko and the loon squad of the Motor Club.

The second volume does see Urd appear, but this is a much darker character than the Urd of the OAVs or movie.  Within the first chapter of her appearance, Urd resorts to mind control and an outright seduction attempt on Keiichi.

Both of which serve to demonstrate that Keiichi is a fundamentally nice guy[3], and that irritating Belldandy is a Very Bad Idea.  One of the key aspects[4] of the Yamato Nadeshiko trope is a steel core that will make life difficult for anyone messing with the Lady or anyone she cares about.

Belldandy has that steel core in spades, and she is more than a little intimidating when it comes out to play[5].  Fundamentally there are lot of gender issues with the Magical Girlfriend genre, but Belldandy’s strength goes a long way towards establishing a more balanced and equal relationship

The most interesting, and substantial, change in the OAVs was the adaptation of the last chapter What Belldandy Wants Most into the OAVs two part finale Evergreen Holy Night & For the Love of Goddess

Here Keiichi is working himself into oblivion partly out of love for Belldandy, and partly because Urd has been messing with his mind[6].  Although Belldandy appreciates the gift[7], her admonition to Keiichi to “don’t ever do that again” works well in context.  In contrast the OAVs featured an alternate backstory that made the need to buy the gift much more important.

The OAVs work better on a dramatic level, but for the slowly developing relationship I prefer the manga version.  I’m definitely enjoying this reading of the manga, but the next review will have to wait for New Year’s Day as I’ll be saving Volume 3 for the flight home.

[1] Although the order was reversed in the OAV to introduce Urd first.

[2] I originally wrote “screen time” but page time seems to fit better under the circumstances.

[3] Both his willingness, and ability to resist Urd’s advances are impressive.

[4] And all too often missed, unfortunately.

[5] And if you threaten Keiichi it will come out to play.

[6] Again.

[7] The exact nature of which is a spoiler.