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Belldandy (Manga) cropped - v5 p66

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Volume 5 of Oh My Goddess! is a much stronger volume than Volume 4, but also ends on a nasty cliffhanger. Since I had Volume 6 handy I charged straight in and this review will cover both [1].

Chapter 31 Valentine Capriccio is a Mara caper that is actually funny, partly because a further attempt by Urd to get Keiichi to consume a love potion complicates the whole business. To a large extent the entire caper was Urd’s fault to begin with for guilt tripping Belldandy with having missed Valentine’s Day last year [2]. This is a fairly lighthearted chapter, and a fun opening to Volume 5.

Chapter 32 The Third Goddess introduces Skuld, Belldandy’s younger sister, and does so in a much more sympathetic way than the OAVs. To be blunt Skuld is a brat in the OAVs who initially hates Keiichi, and her initial behaviour is out of line [3].

Although Skuld does want Belldandy to come home there is no evidence of hating or undermining Keiichi, it is only because it would help fix the problems with the bugs and Yggdrasil. This makes it a lot easier to sympathise with, even like, Skuld [4].

When the initial attempts to solve the problems fail, and it turns out that the Goddesses cannot return home anyway, Skuld buckles down in Chapter 33 The Goddesses Greatest Danger and does her best to solve the problems locally.

Then the main event that spans Volumes 5 and 6 gets started: Terrible Master Urd which runs from chapter 34 Urd Goes Wild [5] to chapter 39 Confession.

Chapter 34 is nicely structured: on the one hand you have Mara seeking to summon the Lord of Terror whilst on the other the Lord of Yggdrasil suspends Urd’s licence as a Goddess for lying. The two aspects mesh nicely at the end of the chapter: Mara isn’t powerful enough to be more than a servant to the Lord of Terror but losing her powers and a wild motorcycle ride through town leaves Urd very vulnerable to suggestion.

The Dark Side tends not to have limits on power or licences…

I won’t go into all the details of the next chapters but they rocket along. One of the recurring themes in Oh My Goddess is the idea that Yggdrasil is a computer, and that much [6] of the goddesses magic lies in having the power to run programs on the Heavenly System. Demonic programs tend to be categorised as viruses, with the counters as vaccines [7].

The virus aspect does mean that Terrible Master Urd isn’t quite what she seems, and that the Terrible Master jumps around a fair bit before finally getting squashed. I suspect that this sequence inspired a fair chunk of the movie in 2000.

I’m fairly sure that I’ve said this before about Belldandy but Beware the Nice Ones! Chapter 35 Terrible Master Urd includes Mara kidnapping Keiichi. It ends with Belldandy saying: “All right now I’m mad.” This is when things really start getting serious, and the property damage starts piling up [8].

This storyline basically ends in Chapter 39 Confession with Belldandy under no obligation to remain on Earth but choosing to stay with Keiichi because she loves him, and saying so. Awwww. Now if Keiichi could just grow a spine when it comes to romancing Belldandy… [9]

Chapter 40 Robot Battle is a return to more light hearted fare when the two little sisters Megumi and Skuld meet up. Both are tech heads but I think Megumi has more practical experience in applying her knowledge, as well as spotting flaws.

Skuld, for all that she’s a better character in the manga, does not take criticism of her work well.

The resulting robot battle [10] is very funny, but does highlight Megumi’s experience. Skuld manages to salvage a draw [11] by using the self destruct in her robot [12].

Chapter 41 The Trials of Morisato deals with the aftermath of the Terrible Master Urd arc. With Yggdrasil temporarily shut down the goddesses are running out of power, and their forehead emblems are acting up.

This has a number of consequences:

  • They need lots more sake (Urd) and icecream (Skuld) to maintain their energy levels. This is bad for Keiichi’s budget. Very bad;
  • Belldandy shrinks to about a foot high, and sleeps a lot. This worries Keiichi. A lot;
  • As the Goddess of the Past Urd starts reverting to childhood. Urd is not impressed; and
  • As the Goddess of the Future Skuld starts rapidly aging. Skuld initially likes being tall and curvy, but is less impressed by the prospect of being old and wrinkly very soon if a solution isn’t found.

Fortunately the Lord of Yggdrasil finds a way to pass some information to Keiichi, and he’s smart enough to act on it. However whilst the first attempt saves Skuld, the synthesised moon rock isn’t initially powerful enough to save Urd or Belldandy.

This leads into chapter 42 Urd’s Wonderful Adventure which is a rather sweet, and occasionally disturbing, adventure of Kid!Urd. The sweetness comes from a sorta-romance with another kid, the disturbing comes from Urd still needing sake to maintain her energy levels. This is a lovely chapter overall, with a bittersweet ending to the chapter and to the volume.

These volumes also include a number of The Adventures of Mini-Urd cartoons between chapters– these are single strip gags which vary in levels of funny. I don’t mind them, but I prefer the main storylines.

Volumes 5 and 6 came as an enormous relief after the disappointment of Volume 4. These two volumes are superbly plotted, and show a developing sense of timing and continuity that I’m looking forward to seeing more of.

 



[1] Right now I’m hoping Volume 10 won’t have a cliffhanger. I just ordered 11-20 but it may take some time for them to come through.


[2] As I mentioned in the Volume 1 review, the passage of time is one of the aspects of Oh My Goddess that I was hoping to see


[3] The English language actors’ commentary on the Animeigo dub of Burning Hearts on the Road hilariously acknowledges this. As part of the commentary Keiichi’s actor responds to Belldandy’s line of “Can I get you anything Skuld” with “Ritalin”. J


[4] This leads me to think that the OAVs took some of Urd’s darkness and gave it to Skuld. I prefer the manga versions of both characters.


[5] Not that wild. Sheesh. Minds out of the gutter people.


[6] If not all.


[7] Which makes Skuld a lot more useful in these chapters than her otherwise limited power would indicate. Still, it would be nice if she read the manuals occasionally…


[8] It could have been worse. The universe could have ended.


[9] It is worth noting that when it comes to courage in every other aspect, including facing demons and goddesses that can squash him easily, Keiichi already has a titanium spine.


[10] Set up, encouraged, and betting ring run by Otaki and Tamiya…


[11] Much to Otaki’s and Tamiya’s chagrin, especially as they’d already spent the profits.


[12] Scary crossover thought: Put Skuld, “Minnie” May Hopkins, and Brianna Diggers into the same room…