I’m coming to the conclusion that Fujishima is at his best when he doesn’t suffer from Takahashi syndrome.  By which I mean using the addition of new characters to sustain the comedy without advancing the relationships of the existing characters.

Unfortunately Volume 11 is part of why I’m coming to that conclusion, but more on that later.

Chapter 63 Goddess Urd is Needed continues the Urd’s evil twin storyline, and is quite a good chapter.  The shell game by which Demon Urd sets up a Spot the Imposter game is neatly lampshaded, and foiled, by Skuld having applied a “Goddess Stamp” to Goddess Urd [1].

On a more serious level is Belldandy realising that the separation of Urd’s light and dark halves will ultimately doom both, but unable to say so due to a protection program.  Struggling with the protection program largely neutralises Belldandy so the chapter then sees Demon Urd and Goddess Urd fighting it out.  Goddess Urd is more powerful, but also limited by the need to protect her sisters and Keiichi.

Demon Urd is winning when her clone body proves unable to handle the power and the decisive attack fizzles out [2].  As Demon Urd collapses, Mara intervenes to carry her away.

This is an interesting chapter that uses some old tropes to tackle the subtleties of Urd’s origins, and pulls it off nicely.

Chapter 64 Fear Neither Light Nor Darkness finishes where Chapter 63 left off. After recovering somewhat Demon Urd runs destructively wild forcing Mara to seek help from the other goddesses.

Meanwhile the goddesses are discussing Demon Urd and realising that the clone body will come for Goddess Urd’s real body.  Belldandy again runs into the limitations of the protection program. Fortunately Urd is smart enough to recognise it, and work around it by asking Belldandy to only nod in response to questions.

Goddess Urd’s final question is “Can light exist without the dark” and the answer is very clearly no. Skuld doesn’t quite get the implications until Mara arrives and begs for the goddesses to save both forms. 

There is a touch of sadness here as you see some of Skuld’s childhood die when she realises that Goddess Urd racing off to confront Demon Urd could cost her a sister. Naturally, Skuld being Skuld, her reaction is anger followed by an innovative, if slightly grotesque, solution [3] before Urd is persuaded to merge her light and shadow by Belldandy.

This is a good character driven chapter [4] that plays well to the core cast.

Chapter 65 Urd Mode is Gentle Mode is a story centred on Skuld’s robot Banpei and a left over clone skin of Urd [5].  In essence Banpei has recreated his emotion circuits, and wants to accompany Belldandy, Keiichi, and Skuld as they go shopping.

Alas, a robot is far too noticeable to be allowed outside the temple, but if Banpei covers himself with Urd’s skin then he can pass as a short version of Urd.  The usual mayhem and hilarity ensue as Banpei heads out into town to do good deeds.

This escalates until Banpei heads into burning house to rescue someone, and again we see more depth in Skuld.  Skuld doesn’t want Banpei to be hurt, and left out the emotion circuit to protect it (him?). This is another good chapter, and the punchline of Urd receiving thank you presents that she knows nothing about is quite amusing.

Chapter 66 Fourth Goddess … but Number One! is where this volume goes off the rails for me.  I’ve only seen Peorth previously in the movie [6], but her introduction here simply does not work.  The business with the rival wish granting agencies in Yggdrasil is silly enough, but not knowing that your self-described rival is already here? Or that her sisters are here?

Please. Spare me.

Keiichi gets some really good lines in this chapter [7], and is consistently loyal to Belldandy throughout.  The subplot where some of Keiichi’s photographs of Belldandy express both her trust, and his love, is  nicely done, as is Urd’s interpretation of the photos for Peorth.

But the rest of it, including Peorth’s other machinations and hijinks [8]?

Please. Spare me.

This chapter is an example of how Rumiko Takahashi ruined Ranma ½ by constantly introducing new characters rather than deal with the core relationship between Ranma and Akane.  It isn’t necessary, especially when you consider that Fujishima can, and has, done really good studies of his existing characters. For some recent examples look at chapters 63 & 64 in this volume, as well as 58 & 59 in the previous volume.

Chapter 67 Are You Being Served? doesn’t help matters much.  Essentially it becomes a competition for Peorth, Urd, and Skuld to prove who is the most “helpful” goddess. With Belldandy left to clean up the mess this is somewhat amusing in places, with occasional good moments between Belldandy and Keiichi, but overall it isn’t a particularly good chapter.

I’m hoping that Peorth will become a more interesting character over time, but her introduction was not particularly successful in this volume. On to volume 12!

[1] I could have done without the panty shots.  Although it is semi justified by Skuld needing to hide the stamp.

[2] I’m not sure which is funnier: the surprised looks on everybody’s faces, or the “fizzle” sound effect in the panel.

[3] Albeit one needed to set up the next chapter.

[4] And, as an added bonus, features explosions, mayhem, and sundry property damage.

[5] The leftover from the slightly grotesque solution of Skuld’s in the previous chapter.

[6] I did like Peorth in the movie.

[7] Trying on “Please go home Peorth” as a wish is priceless.

[8] A fabulous meal, a bath scene, and a bedroom scene in one chapter is overdoing it.