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Cover Art for Volume 18

Oh My Goddess! Volume 18 is quite a lot of fun.  There are two main storylines, the first is complete within the volume, the second ends on a bit of a cliffhanger [1], and both build nicely on existing continuity.

Chapter 105 Expired Goddess License [2] starts at Whirlwind as the gang are leaving work.  Chihiro’s driver’s license needs to be renewed so Keiichi and Belldandy will get the morning off.  After Chihiro drives off Keiichi discovers that his bike keys are still inside.  Belldandy attempts to summon them using her powers but nothing happens.

Twice.

At home Belldandy’s powers are still not working, and she can’t call Holy Bell [3]. Things aren’t any better the next morning but a reference to Chihiro getting her licence renewed triggers the answer: Belldandy’s Goddess license has expired. Fortunately there’s a 24 hour grace period, and Belldandy manages to call Yggdrasil in time.

This still results in a one week suspension in order to process the paperwork for the late renewal [4].  As a result Belldandy is unable to help with her powers when Tamiya shows up asking to store “some” stuff for “not long”.

As usual Keiichi is unable to say no, and the entire contents of the men’s dormitory are dumped on the temple whilst renovations are underway.  With Belldandy unable to assist by shrinking the stuff with her powers it is Skuld to the rescue [5] with a space doubling machine, which is exactly what it says on the tin.

This is a fairly lightweight but fun chapter that, as a side effect, sets up the next few chapters.

Chapter 106 Wide, Wider, Widest sees Skuld explain what the space doubling machine does, but not how to work the controls.  Skuld and Urd rapidly disappear, leaving Keiichi and Belldandy to start storing the piles of stuff. Without her powers Belldandy feels helpless but is reassured by Keiichi.

Even in the doubled room they eventually run out of space and Keiichi starts fiddling with the controls.  Oops.  Cue the full page image of Belldandy and Keiichi standing alone in an endless field of tatami mats.

Urd’s discovery of the infinite space is priceless. The subsequent conversation with Skuld leads to the conclusion that they can’t do anything until the batteries run down in a week.  Belldandy can survive for that long, the worry is Keiichi.

Back in the infinite room Keiichi and Belldandy are wondering “Where’s the door?”

Chapter 107 As Long as You’re with Me starts with Belldandy admitting that she can’t find the door without her powers.  Keiichi realises that blundering around is useless, and decides to calmly wait for help.

There is a nice conversation here about Belldandy dealing with the loss of her powers.  Keiichi makes all the right responses, and having such a sweet scene in an infinite space works surprisingly well.

Outside Urd suggests building a machine that would let Skuld skip a week.  She can do it, but it would take six days to build.

Inside Keiichi is getting embarrassingly hungry and works out that the only direction not infinitely expanded is down: there should still be a normal crawl space underneath the floor.  Belldandy helpfully points out that if Keiichi’s wrong he could rip a hole in the space time continuum.

Still they go ahead with the only result being an enthusiastic greeting from Velsper.  Crawling outside Belldandy decides to keep her powers.

Chapter 108 Traveler begins a couple of days later with Keiichi needing his German textbook that is lost inside the infinite room, with all the goddesses agreeing that there’s no way to recover it.  Keiichi gives a delightfully ranty speech about how frustrating it is to be so close and so far away when the book suddenly appears in front of him.

He thanks each of the goddesses, and each one denies responsibility.  Returning to the room they discover a gigantic Schrödinger’s Whale [6] floating there, a creature capable of navigating the entire multiverse but believed to be extinct.

For all his [7] power the Schrödinger’s Whale is a gentle, almost goofy, fellow. However he does trigger the gang into belatedly wondering what is going to happen when the space doubler batteries run out, especially if he’s still in the room.  The images are not reassuring [8].

Chapter 109 My Song Is Your Song sees Keiichi slowly connect with the Schrödinger’s Whale through music.  Before that Belldandy reassures the gang that the Whale won’t be caught when the room collapses, but has a sad expression on her face at the time.

Keiichi is wondering about this and listening to Matthew Sweet’s Millenium Blues, when the Schrödinger’s Whale shows up and clearly likes it.  As the chapter passes it looks like Keiichi is teaching the Whale that and other Sweet songs including I’ve Been Waiting.

Outside the infinite room Urd asks Belldandy if they should tell Keiichi what Urd found out about the Whales.  Belldandy says that isn’t necessary, that she thinks Keiichi already knows.

The next day Keiichi is ready to teach the Whale a third song Missing Time [9] but finds that the Whale has moved on.  Apparently they can only stay a limited time in one place or their wave function will collapse. This is also why they are nearly extinct: it is rare for two Schrödinger’s Whales to occupy the same space.

It turns out that Belldandy was right: Keiichi had already guessed and was teaching the songs so that the Whale would have something to take with him on his travels

It turns out though that the simple kindness of Keiichi has paid off: the Whale learnt Missing Time on his own, and a number of Schrödinger’s Whales briefly appear together before the space doublers batteries run out.  The resulting disaster is as visualised, but doesn’t include the whales.

I like this chapter a lot. The slow pace punctuated by the sight gags works well, and it provides a nice insight into the gentle core of Keiichi’s character.

Chapter 110 What’s on the Mountain Pass? begins at Whirlwind with Chihiro fussing over a sidecar racer much like the one seen in the Oh My Goddess! movie.  Chihiro’s weakness for cute bikes has struck again, and she is somewhat disappointed when Keiichi points out just how far from street legal this thing is [10].

This discussion is interrupted by a frantic Sora rushing in for Belldandy’s reassurance.  Sora claims that there is a ghost on the Inokuradai Pass [11], and Sora’s story is beautifully told and drawn. I can understand Sora needing Belldandy’s reassurance after an experience like that.

Belldandy and Keiichi start investigating by asking Megumi if she knows anything. Megumi doesn’t but summons the other riders of the Inokura Pass to find out more.  Being addressed as Queen Megumi is somewhat embarrassing but it does confirm that there’s something going on.

The chapter ends with Megumi preparing to challenge the ghost to a race.

This is a tightly plotted set up chapter, and the infodump is deftly handled.

Chapter 111 Ghost Found focuses on the race between Megumi and the ghost bike.  It is just a bike, there is no sign of a rider. Despite her skills Megumi is outclassed but also saved by her skills and familiarity with the Inokura Pass.  Basically the bike plays with her perceptions changing a curve into a straight but Megumi remembers the real shape of the road and stops in time.

The chapter ends with Keiichi and Belldandy showing up on the sidecar racer which now features a dinky headlight.

I really like how Megumi both gets into, and out of, trouble because of her skills on her bike in this chapter.  The scripting here neatly sets the threat level of the ghost, but does so without hitting Megumi with an Idiot Ball.

Chapter 112 Three Factors sees Keiichi and Belldandy take over the race against the ghost but not before Megumi snarkily comments on the legality of the racer.  As Keiichi and Belldandy head off Megumi muses on why she won’t let the other riders call her “Queen”: embarrassment is only part of it, the major reason is that she sees Keiichi and Belldandy as the “King and Queen” of the Inokuradai Pass.

The race between Keiichi, Belldandy, and the ghost is really nicely done, and features the ghost’s reactions to the perfect synchronicity between Keiichi and Belldandy.  I really think this chapter influenced the first act of the movie, and it is lovely to see this sequence handled so well here.

The “three factors” of the title are the driver, passenger, and machine melding so perfectly that they dance upon the asphalt.  The chapter, and volume, end with the ghost wondering if these three can make it release its soul.

This is a fun volume to read with some fabulous artwork, good stories, and some character development along the way. Given that I tend to be a fan of coherent continuity the references to previous events were also nice to see.



[1] Almost literally at one point for a nearly unfortunate Megumi.


[2] I’m never sure whether the correct usage is “license” or “licence”.  However the translation uses “license” consistently so I’ll stick with that.


[3] It has been established on two occasions that a lot of power is required to call an angel. Child-Peorth can’t do it at the moment (see Volume 17), and similarly Skuld won’t be able to call Noble Scarlet for a while.


[4] That Yggdrasil has red tape is oddly reassuring in some ways.


[5] I sometimes wonder which is scarier: “Skuld to the rescue” or “Urd to the rescue”?


[6] The Schrödinger’s Whales remind me of the Great Ones from Eric Flint & David Drake’s Belisarius series.  It wouldn’t take much of a crossover for them to be the same.


[7] Apparently Belldandy knows how to sex a supposedly extinct species of multiverse hopping whales.


[8] Nor should they be, given that the mountain of stuff from the men’s dormitory is still in there somewhere.


[9] I haven’t been able to track the Missing Time down on YouTube, but the other two are quite fun to listen to.


[10] Not even remotely.


[11] Last seen in Volume 15, Chapters 86 – 88.