Sora in action (back cover of V20)

Oh My Goddess! Volume 20 has finally arrived, and was worth the wait.  The resolution to Sora’s race with Keiichi over the Directorship of the Motor Club is a lot of fun, and contains some nice character development.

Chapter 121 The Doomed Director explains Sora’s reluctance to assume the role: she’s been director of various groups before that have all folded and is desperately trying to avoid the same fate for the Motor Club.  But it isn’t entirely clear that Sora was as invested in those groups as she is in the Motor Club.

Before that there is some training in how to handle the go kart, and Belldandy’s method of widening Sora’s perspective is really nicely done.  As is her reassurance, at the end of the chapter, that Sora won’t kill the Motor Club because she loves it. One nice touch is that Sora doesn’t learn everything that Belldandy is teaching in this chapter, learning to read the machine and ride with it takes time.

Chapter 122 Continued Special Training starts with Chihiro being slightly surprised by the fact that Keiichi is working instead of sneaking off to practice. Of course, this doesn’t stop Keiichi from breaking in the engine on his go kart by statically running it rich. Fujishima’s gear head status is firmly on display here, complete with a footnote to explain what’s going on.

Back at the temple Skuld does not take the news that Belldandy and Keiichi are rivals for this race calmly.  Urd is a little more relaxed about it but clearly starts plotting something.

The training continues with a new exercise to weave the go cart through moving pedestrians, represented by the other members of the Motor Club.  It isn’t going well but at the very last minute Keiichi shows up and Belldandy tells Sora to stay on his tail.

Chapter 123 Shall We Race Together? Completes this scene, and Keiichi’s example is the epiphany that lets Sora understand what Belldandy meant a few chapters back about talking to your machine. Again there is a nice piece of balance in that Sora doesn’t realise that Keiichi was holding back.

There’s a nice touch in there about one of the Motor Club members crushing on Sora. I hope that goes somewhere as the last romantic hint for Sora was the jerk Aoshima [1].

Although the strange thing that Belldandy had the other club members build goes unexplained for now, as does Urd’s preparations.  The chapter ends with the start of the race to three checkpoints on campus, and some unheard final advice from Belldandy

Chapter 124 Keiichi’s Distance, Hasegawa’s Distance is the guts of the race, and nicely based on previous continuity.  Having made the effort to properly break in his engine in chapter 122 Continued Special Training, Keiichi’s go-kart is noticeably faster  However Sora’s intimate knowledge of Nekomi Campus showcased in chapter 120 Race Rules [2] allows her to take all sorts of sneaky shortcuts.

One thing I really like about this chapter is that it is mostly from Keiichi’s perspective. This makes Sora’s disappearances from behind, and equally sudden reappearances in front all the more impressive.  The sight gags with Tamiya and Otaki stamping Keiichi’s face, and Sora’s piece of paper add to the fun.

At the end of the chapter Keiichi works out that the strange wooden contraption is a campus map of sorts that is inspiring Sora’s choice of short cuts.

Chapter 125 The Race Gets Hot, a Goddess Gets Hotter! Starts with Keiichi following Sora’s shortcuts. In desperation Sora diverts through a gender-limited short cut: a woman’s change room.  This stops Keiichi short, which is just when Urd and Skuld turn up.

There is a nice bit of character work here with Keiichi’s refusing the help of the two goddesses, which would be fine if they were taking no for an answer. Meanwhile Belldandy is reassuring the Motor Club that Sora can win and believing in Sora’s ability to do so will help.

The chapter ends with Urd surprise kissing Keiichi, and inevitably there’s a potion involved here.

Chapter 126 Kiss Off Course shows the results of both Urd’s potion and Skuld’s meddling with Keiichi’s machine to fairly amusing effect, particularly when Keiichi chases Urd and Skuld through the locker room before charging off in a semi-possessed fury [3].  This culminates in a fairly spectacular crash on Keiichi’s part that would have resulted in serious injury if not for Belldandy [4] and Holy Bell.

Out of respect for Sora’s honest attempt to win, Keiichi salvages what he can from his go-kart and gets going again.

Chapter 127 The Best Magic concludes the race with Sora on a go-kart, and Keiichi on a motorised skateboard.  Despite the resulting handicap Keiichi almost manages to catch up, and is defeated by the nose cowl that Sora’s go-kart still has.  This chapter has some more nice character work with the real victors being the Motor Club (who rallied behind Sora to become a team) and Chihiro (who had flyers all over campus advertising the go-karts).

Overall this is a fun story arc, possibly a touch predictable, but amusing to the last.  I don’t think that the side arc with Skuld and Urd added anything beyond a few gags, but at least the gags were amusing. I do like it for how effectively the story uses the race to highlight, and develop, Sora’s character.

Chapter 128 The Endless Battle Part 1 and chapter 129 The Endless Battle Part 2 is a fun two part story featuring Skuld and Urd’s endless battles for access to the TV.  This starts with a Jenga game [5] and escalates into insane use of goddess powers, Banpei, plus sundry other bits and pieces.  The punchline comes when Keiichi turns up with another TV and expects that to solve the “problem”.

As you’d expect the fights for access to the TV are at least half the fun for Skuld and Urd, and Belldandy is slightly jealous of the two best friends. Keiichi simply doesn’t get it, but this wraps up what is a highly entertaining volume.

Volume 20 of Oh My Goddess! is quite a lot of fun with the Sora-as-director storyline being neatly wrapped up, and The Endless Battle chapters are a nice cherry on top at the end.

[1] In Volume 8. I really don’t like Aoshima, Sayoko at least has some redeeming features.

[2] In Volume 19 (see related posts below).

[3] So, in Keiichi’s defence, he wasn’t actually ogling anyone in the locker room.  I doubt he was seeing anything but obstacles to dodge around.

[4] For no readily explained reason it is a kid-sized variant of Belldandy.  This is either because a) Belldandy has split herself into multiple avatars, or b) Fujishima wanted to draw a cute kiddie Belldandy or c) The split shrinks her.  Take your pick.

[5] Casually won by Belldandy when she wanders in to watch a cooking show.