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Oh My Goddess! Volume 17 resolves the time distortion storyline, as well as returning to Banpei and the Welcome Robot.  Both stories are rather neatly resolved, although it now appears that Peorth will be Megumi’s counterpart in Yggdrasil [1].

Chapter 98 Light and Shadow continues directly on from Chapter 97 The Goddesses’ Greatest Danger, but alas involves some monologueing on Peorth’s part explaining how she survived the previous encounter with the demon child. Peorth was essentially protected by her angel Gorgeous Rose [2] and proceeds to info dump that the demon child has been hacking Yggdrasil’s time management system.  This allows the child to move the virus to the next stage of freezing time completely, a prospect that horrifies Peorth.

The demon is confident that no one will die, but Peorth points out that “not dying” is not the same as living.  Existence is meaningless without time: freezing time effectively ends existence.  Keiichi tries to stop this as Belldandy remains in a dream that is reviving part of her memory.  Keiichi is well out of his depth, as is Peorth due to a spell that allows the demon child to rewind Peorth’s time back to her childhood [3].  This leaves Peorth with sharply reduced powers, and unable to call Gorgeous Rose. When Keiichi finally asks “why” the child claims that he and Belldandy are Doublets.

Although I like this story line overall, chapter 98 is heavy on infodump and difficult to accept breaks in the action.  The scene where the child lets Peorth answer a phone call from Yggdrasil to have a chat with Urd stands out on this level.  Light and Shadow is a surprisingly clumsy chapter within a generally deft story.

Chapter 99 The Truth about Doublets continues the infodump with almost no break.  Doublets are a hostage system between heaven and hell.  In essence the soul of a goddess is entangled with the soul of a demon with the result that both will die if the other dies.  This is intended to limit the wars between gods and demons for “market share” to non-lethal levels.  The final safety feature is to wipe the memories of who the doublets are [4].

The child has cheated this by cursing himself to remain a child so that he can remember Belldandy. However the curse is slowly corrupting and is now likely to wipe him and Belldandy out of existence unless he can freeze time.  Meanwhile Belldandy has awoken and is joining the conversation. 

With Peorth’s help Keiichi manages to get his hands on the child’s trigger device thinking that it will reverse the virus.  When it is pointed out that this will end Belldandy, Keiichi is joined by Belldandy and they push the button together.  Of course it doesn’t work that way [5], but it is a sweet demonstration of Keiichi’s courage and of the faith that Belldandy and Keiichi have in each other.

Meanwhile in Yggdrasil things are getting nasty as the system starts slowing down and an evacuation advisory is issued.  Urd isn’t going anywhere [6] but does try to get Skuld and the bridge bunnies to evacuate [7].  No one is going anywhere, and there is one nice gag along the way.

Chapter 100 Time without End, Hope without End reveals that the pressing of the trigger has done nothing to stop the virus.  There is a nice insight into Keiichi’s quintessential stubbornness here, although weighted down by magical ball and chains Keiichi is unable to do much.  Peorth is impressed however, although the demon child is mostly amused.  He taunts Keiichi to do what he can in the remaining minute.

In Yggdrasil most are panicking, but Urd is remaining calm and looking for a way to buy some time.

Back on Earth Keiichi’s stubborn refusal to give in is annoying the child and he tries to kill Keiichi by winding Keiichi’s time back to the beginning, only for Belldandy to take the hit instead [8].  This reverts Belldandy to a child, but also reverts her memories.

Belldandy calling the child’s name is the only way to restore time to normal.

As the last minute ticks away Keiichi and the child come to a degree of understanding: the child could not bear to forget Belldandy, and asks Keiichi if he could have faced that?  Then the final seconds tick away and nothing happens. 

Chapter 101 Returned begins with the child asking why nothing happened? In Yggdrasil Urd has slowed down the clock speed of the primary processor since no program can outrun that.  This has bought some time, and is an impressive piece of lateral thinking on Urd’s part.

Child-Belldandy wakes up and starts reciting a ritual. The scene flashes back to the ritual in which Belldandy and the child became doublets, and also made a promise to meet again as friends.  This is a lovely sequence and I won’t spoil it too much beyond noting that the flashback ends with Belldandy saying Velsper’s name.

This returns time to normal, Velsper to his adult form, and also restores Yggdrasil to normal operations.  About the only thing that isn’t restored is Peorth’s adult form, resulting in much hilarity on the part of Urd, Skuld, and the bridge bunnies.

In the demon realm Velsper is being tried for serious crimes, and sentenced to reincarnation as a lower life form [9].  For confessing he does get to choose his destination though, and ends up in the temple as a kitten that Belldandy instinctively calls Velsper. Although Belldandy’s memories are again wiped, Keiichi’s aren’t which leaves Keiichi both recognising Velsper and holding a secret from Belldandy [10].

Chapter 102 Come Walk With Me returns to Banpei and the Welcome Robot.  After an accident that leaves the Welcome Robot in a couple of pieces, Banpei asks Skuld to upgrade her so that she can walk. Skuld adds the basic robotic upgrades: emotion circuits, the ability to speak, rocket punches.

What Skuld clearly forgot to add is a liking for Banpei.  Skuld attempts to cover it up by describing “guy wins girl by himself” as basic “humantics”.  Urd and Keiichi are sceptical, but Belldandy confirms that Skuld did the right thing: programmed love cannot be real [11].

Meanwhile Skuld is having to deal with the absolute adoration, and jealousy, of the Welcome Robot. There is a bit of poetic justice here as the Welcome Robot abruptly separates Belldandy from Skuld and admonishes Belldandy not to touch “my mistress Skuld” [12]. The subsequent encounter between the Welcome Robot and Banpei ends badly as the Welcome Robot attempts to use the “Breast Missiles” that she doesn’t have.  It turns out that the hatches are port covers for the data port and recharging port.

Skuld attempts to persuade the Welcome Robot to give Banpei a chance, but this is the one thing that she won’t do for her mistress

Chapter 103 Getting to Know You reveals that while she will self destruct for Skuld, the Welcome Robot won’t try to like Banpei.  Skuld manages to override the self destruct, but it overloaded the Welcome Robot’s systems that haven’t been properly broken in yet [13].

Even a conversation with Belldandy by a covered well [14] doesn’t change the Welcome Robot’s mind, although Banpei’s persistence in following her doesn’t help [15].  An animated version of the resulting chase scene through the temple would be hilarious, especially given the attendant mayhem and Keiichi’s deadpan snark to Urd afterwards.

The chase ends with the Welcome Robot hiding in the well to use a low power rocket punch to pull Banpei’s off switch.  Of course the chase redlined nearly every system the Welcome Robot had, and this success is immediately followed by a massive system failure. Cue one fall down a well into unconsciousness [16].

Chapter 104 Almost My Hero starts with the Welcome Robot rebooting at the bottom of the well.  Between damage sustained and lack of power, her attempts to escape are unsuccessful.  However one last rocket punch does succeed in tipping Banpei backwards, and pushing his power button back on when he falls onto the well.  During these attempts the Welcome Robot has been thinking almost favourably of Banpei, and is not amused by this.

Banpei jumps into the well and works out that the biggest problem with the Welcome Robot is power.  He then realises that the power port is behind one of the breast shields which leads to a hilarious “Execute! But Cannot Execute” loop that ends in a “Execute impulsively and don’t think about it” result.

On rebooting with a full charge the Welcome Robot wonders why she is relieved to see Banpei.  She also notices that Banpei is also damaged and is not impressed: he should have gone to find Skuld, and how are they going to get out now?

Banpei’s initial solution is to put the Welcome Robot onto his hat, lift her above his head and attempt to self destruct. An anguished Welcome Robot cries out that she doesn’t want to be alone, and fortunately the self destruct fails when Banpei runs out of power. A very unimpressed Welcome Robot removes Banpei’s self destruct fuse and calls him a dummy for letting his battery run so low [17].

Obviously the solution is to work together. Although the Welcome Robot doesn’t like Banpei yet, she does at least thank him in what is quite a sweet scene.

At least until she realises that her battery is full and works out how that happened.  Cue further mayhem and deadpan snarking from Keiichi.

Tightly plotted, with the right balance of romance and mayhem, chapters 102 to 104 tell a story that is just fun to read. There is also a sense that Skuld suffering on the sidelines as she deals with her errant creations will contribute to Skuld’s character development.

The Velsper story also has a good ending, but is somewhat weak in the middle due to the infodumps going on everywhere. I am starting to feel a bit sorry for Peorth though who seems to be turning into something of a Chew Toy. The ongoing humiliation of her current size, together with the separation from the injured Gorgeous Rose, does seem a little unfair.

Overall this is a good volume, with some lovely artwork (including the cover featuring Skuld and the adorable Noble Scarlet).  This volume tells a couple of good stories that will no doubt feature in the ongoing continuity.

 



[1] As above, so below.  Peorth is the Chew Toy in Yggdrasil, and Megumi is the Chew Toy on Earth. J


[2] Seeing Gorgeous Rose with singed wings like that is a bit sad.


[3] What it doesn’t do is rewind Peorth’s memories or clothes.  Embarrassment and infodumps ensue.


[4] Oh My Goddess! has a tendency to mess with memories for a variety of reasons.  I’m not sure that the moral implications of doing so are ever fully explored, and I may write about this at some point.


[5] Subverting the obvious answer like this is quite neat plotting, and only makes the clumsiness of the infodumps stand out more.


[6] The question of why the goddess with the suspended licence (Urd) is in charge still hasn’t been answered.


[7] I know that they are also goddesses, but if they look like bridge bunnies, act like bridge bunnies, and refuse to abandon their posts like bridge bunnies…


[8] Anyone surprised by that? No? I didn’t think so.


[9] Given the rules of the doublet system this means that the reincarnation can’t count as a death, which is odd.


[10] Knowledge of Velsper’s fate would be agonising for Belldandy.


[11] Although it is clear that Skuld did not intend it that way.


[12] There is however no sign of Keiichi gloating about Skuld’s predicament here.


[13] Chekhov’s Gun come on down!


[14] Chekhov’s Gun has now been loaded.


[15] Can a robot stalk another robot?  Given that both are effectively sentient I’m going to go with “yes” but leave a comment if you disagree.


[16] Chekhov’s Gun has now been fired.  Actually there are a couple of others but I’m not going to mention those.


[17] Pot, Kettle.