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Volume 14 of Oh My Goddess! is another good volume with a range of interesting chapters. I am becoming increasingly fond of Skuld as Fujishima’s recent chapters with her have been a lot of fun.

Chapter 78 Live to Work, Work to Live! sees Keiichi commencing the pre-graduation job hunt.  This is a fairly serious chapter that faces up to the choice between paying the bills, or doing something that you love. Another appearance by Chihiro inspires Keiichi towards the latter, leading him to seek employment at a customising shop for motorcycles. 

There are some minor hijinks when Skuld and Urd “help” Keiichi to prepare for his interview, and Belldandy borrowing Urd’s fastest broom [1] to get him there on time was also fun.  The interview is not what Keiichi prepared for. I was amused by the boss being most interested in Keiichi’s hands: he was looking for the deeply embedded oil and grease that showed Keiichi was someone who loved working with engines.

The interview is successful subject to Keiichi’s graduations. Alas, Keiichi didn’t get all the right credits so the graduation doesn’t happen [2].  However Chihiro appears again with a poster for her shop and indicates that she’s hiring.  Keiichi’s dream is still alive and Belldandy wonders how long she can follow it with him.

Chapter 79 I Want to Be a Goddess Who Looks Good in Scarlet is my favourite chapter for this volume.  Skuld is admiring Holy Bell and wonders if Urd also has an angel.  Whilst that question remains unanswered, Urd does have the Angel’s Egg she ordered in Chapter 75 and Skuld promptly ignores the warning signs placed on it.

One thing leads to another and Skuld very shortly afterwards has a tiny angel called Noble Scarlet. The next few scenes of this tiny angel “helping” Skuld are just too cute for words, as is the scene of Noble Scarlet reading shoujo manga over Skuld’s shoulder.

Cue the entrance of Sentaro with a gift for Skuld, and Noble Scarlet “helping” by shoving her at the right moment is sweet but horribly embarrassing for both Skuld and Sentaro.  Sentaro runs off and Skuld proves that she isn’t quite ready for Noble Scarlet with a fairly intense tantrum.

The reconciliation is swift but Skuld tells Noble Scarlet that she’ll have to go back in her egg if she interferes again like that. At a BMX race a few days later Sentaro is doing extremely well until he has a fall, but the sight of Skuld watching inspires him to rejoin the race and win.

Skuld is about to sneak off through the crowd but Noble Scarlet isn’t about to let this go unchallenged. With another well timed shove Skuld stumbles through the crowd to the winners’ dais.  She forgives Noble Scarlet, but the little angel isn’t anywhere to be found. 

Angels must obey their goddesses and, as previously ordered, Noble Scarlet has returned to her egg. Skuld has learnt too late that speaking without thinking can have consequences, and that Noble Scarlet may return when Skuld gains enough power.  The chapter ends with Skuld wearing Noble Scarlet’s egg as a pendant.

I adore this chapter, it has just the right balance of sweet and sad, and ends on the right note of hope for the future. Skuld is developing into more than the jealous brat of a sister, and I increasingly like the person that Skuld is becoming.

Chapter 80 The Goddess’s Apprentice is clearly a shout out to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of Fantasia. It turns out that Urd’s fastest broom that Belldandy used to get Keiich to the interview on time is self aware with a heavy crush on Belldandy.  This is a fun chapter with a number of sight gags at Keiichi’s expense (since he ends up carrying the broom on a “date” with Belldandy), and also an opportunity for Keiichi to reflect a bit on his relationship with Belldandy.

Chapter 81 Call Me Queen! starts a multi chapter story that isn’t fully resolved in this volume. Last year Sayoko was defeated for the title of Campus Queen by Belldandy.  As Sayoko now believes Belldandy to be a witch she prays for the power to become the Campus Queen anyway, and isn’t too picky about where the power comes from, or the price. 

With Mara lurking in the vicinity again this is perhaps not wise.  When the wish is granted, all three of the Goddesses detect it from some distance away [3].  When they arrive on scene the campus has been transformed into a fantasy castle, one strongly influenced by Disneyland [4].  Despite it not being Mara’s style the elder Goddesses recognise her work immediately [5].

Stepping across the campus threshold Skuld becomes enamoured of her “perfect lovely queen!” before Urd and Belldandy pull her back.  The sequence of frames where Skuld’s face transforms from adoration to annoyance is really nicely done.

Keiichi subsequently arrives, steps across the threshold, and identifies Sayoko as the queen.

Inside the castle Sayoko is literally holding court which is somewhat amusing.  Meanwhile Skuld has come up with ribbons that will defeat the mind control force field, but Keiichi is rather embarrassed by the bow.  He manages to retie it as a headband that is a little less embarrassing.

The subsequent encounter with Tamiya and Otaki is a further reminder that readers should Beware the Nice Ones: Belldandy’s willingness to smite them when they attack Keiichi is more than a little disturbing, as is her willingness to take on whatever pain in her heart is necessary to end this demonic work on earth.  Fortunately Belldandy is not alone but at the moment it is Sayoko who is setting the rules.

Chapter 82 And Then There Was One is the classic Eigen Plot trope. As the group work their way through the castle towards Sayoko, a series of challenges pops up that peels away the group one by one.

Chemistry club playing with bombs? Skuld [6], come on down!

A sexy fighting game? Urd, come on down!

A tea tasting competition? Belldandy, come on down!

Along the way though is a nice insight into Sayoko’s character: that Sayoko won’t be happy with the Campus Queen title unless Sayoko wins it for herself in her own way.  This is the part of Sayoko that Belldandy and Keiichi both like the most, and are annoyed by the most.

As the endless tea makes Belldandy drowsy the chapter, and the volume, ends with Keiichi surrounded by a number of Nekomi Tech students in bad Belldandy cosplay.  I do sympathise with his heartfelt scream of agony under the circumstances.

I’m still not a big fan of Mara, but this story arc is mostly Sayoko and amusing enough so far.  There’s also a hint that it isn’t working out as Mara hoped so I’m hoping that the resolution in Volume 15 will be entertaining.

Overall Volume 14 is a lot of fun to read with a couple of key chapters.  Live to Work, Work to Live! shows that Fujishima is planning to move the story off campus eventually as the characters grow older.  This is important, but also hard to do well.  In western TV both Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Gilmore Girls, attempted this with mixed success. The other standout is I Want to Be a Goddess Who Looks Good in Scarlet for fabulous character work around Skuld and Noble Scarlet.

I’m looking forward to the next volume, and I’ll probably have to put the order for the next set of 10 volumes fairly soon.

 



[1] Which Urd advised against, and with good reason as it turns out.


[2] And he’ll be stuck at Nekomi for another year.


[3] It is an open question as to whether Skuld noticing is a sign of Skuld’s increasing powers, or of how much power Sayoko was inadvertently playing with.


[4] OK, just how much of a Disney fanboy is Fujishima anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.


[5] Skuld on the other hand does not appear to be a Disney fangirl, describing the castle as “tacky”.


[6] Interesting crossover question: Does Minnie May from Gunsmith Cats order her bombs from Skuld?