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Goddess V25 CoverVolume 25 of Oh My Goddess! is the first part of a multi volume arc centred on the Valkyrie Lind.  The cover image to this volume is unfortunately something of a spoiler [1].

Volume 25 is also a study in Fujishima’s strengths (pretty girls, character development) and weaknesses (involved combat sequences).  Overall it balances out well, but the contrast was odd to deal with.

Chapter 156: Battle and Joy

Battle and Joy picks up with the other goddesses investigating the attack on Urd. World of Elegance has indeed been taken by the Angel Eater, and Urd has gone into shock as a result.  This isn’t fatal to Urd, but it isn’t good either.

As the ward raised by Lind in the previous volume wasn’t breached, they realise that the Angel Eater is already in the Temple.  This raises the question of why did Urd summon World of Elegance?

Just as Peorth is speculating that perhaps Urd couldn’t prevent it, Gorgeous Rose answers a sound and is also taken. Peorth collapses in shock, just like Urd. It appears that angels come with a price should they be lost.

Lind is having a flashback to a sadder time, and is being reassured by Belldandy before they discover Peorth.

The chapter ends with Skuld brooding on being useless “even as a decoy”, whilst Hild and Mara are observing above the temple.

Chapter 157: A Dance of Feathers

The essence of Dance of Feathers is characterisation. On the one hand is Keiichi and Skuld’s need to stand, to be useful. On the other is Lind’s battle focussed personality, and her awkwardness in dealing with the others. Holding it together is Belldandy’s gentle advice.

The mechanics for bringing this out are the attempts by Keiichi and Skuld to build “dummy” angels that will divert the Angel Eater. These are dismal failures in their own ways, but the spirit shown impresses Lind. Alas, Lind’s attempt to say so is utterly wooden and falls flat.

This time it falls to Keiichi to reassure Skuld, and to Belldandy to reassure Lind in the bathroom [2]. Naturally this is when Holy Bell is attacked and Lind finally works out that the Angel Eater is inside her as a parasite.

Chapter 158: The One-Winged Angel

The One-Winged Angel starts off with a bit of continuity justification, aka Lind rationalising her appearance in the Temple as being under the control of the Angel Eater from the beginning. Although I’m possibly being a bit harsh on Lind here as the appearance of Chibi-Hild and Mara does somewhat confirm her line of thinking.

The initial confrontation between Hild and Lind is frustratingly inconclusive but the reference to doublet system [3] is a nice touch.  It does reveal that Hild’s plan is to remove the angels from all of the goddesses and replace them with demonic familiars.

Hild also reveals the Angel Eater wrapped around Lind’s angel but cannot remove it because of Lind’s wards. Oddly this angel only has a single wing [4], and the chapter ends with Lind and the as yet unnamed [5] angel threatening to show Hild what they can do as a partnership.

Chapter 159: Devil of a Plot

In Devil of a Plot it turns out that Lind can rip out her own angel and then make a daring escape from the temple with Keiichi and Skuld. There are two things to note here [6]: a) that had to hurt and b) why can Lind do this and not collapse immediately like Urd, Peorth, and Belldandy?

At this point Hild’s plan is to make Skuld call Noble Scarlet, remove it, and then implant familiars in all of the goddesses.  Apparently Skuld can’t be implanted with a familiar until it is replacing an angel.

Away from the temple Skuld is very angry at Lind for bringing this down on them. Lind’s awkwardness, but also her warrior core, is very much on display here.

But so are the lessons that Lind has been learning from Belldandy, and her growing respect for Keiichi and Skuld’s spirits. Lind’s plan depends on both Keiichi and Skuld, and is daring enough to shock Skuld. Keiichi simply accepts it as the chapter ends.

Chapter 160: What Times Demand

What Times Demand begins with Skuld calling Keiichi an idiot, clearly because she thinks Lind’s plan is impossible.  This is one Keiichi’s crowning moments: he simply doesn’t care about the risks if it means he can help Belldandy while she’s in danger.

This is perfect characterisation; it is simply to be expected given what has gone before [7].

For all her awkwardness earlier Lind is surprisingly perceptive here in terms of her confidence in both Keiichi and Skuld.

Meanwhile Hild is implanting a familiar into the unconscious Belldandy before Lind transfers something to Keiichi. Then the combat sequence gets under way, with Lind carrying Skuld out of range before collapsing.

The next few pages are a beautiful sequence of Skuld remembering all the advice from Belldandy, Urd, and Peorth on the right reasons to have an angel, then believing it, and then calling Noble Scarlet forth once more.

The double page spread of Noble Scarlet bursting forth is just beautiful, Fujishima almost at the top of his game.

I say almost because it is the next panel with tears starting from Skuld’s eyes as she holds Noble Scarlet’s hand that is Fujishima at the very top of his game.

Sniff.

Oh, but there’s an Angel Eater right there issuing an Angel’s SOS song and Noble Scarlet starts to respond as Keiichi says “Come Forth…” as the chapter ends on another cliff hanger.

Chapter 161: Binary Wings

Binary Wings completes the cliff hanger by having Keiichi call Lind’s second angel Cool Mint [8]. It turns out that the Angel Eater can only deal with one angel at a time.  Unfortunately this is when Belldandy turns up in the stripperiffic outfit [9] that apparently comes with a demonic familiar.

That Keiichi can support an angel is again a mark of his strength of will, although he’s clearly staggering under the strain throughout this sequence.

Lind is apparently relying on the divine equivalent of combat drugs at this point to boost her powers, and sends Skuld and Keiichi to rescue the other angels whilst Lind faces Belldandy.

However before that fight can begin, Belldandy’s familiar loses the black wings and reveals all new white wings in the last panel of the chapter.

Chapter 162: Goddess of the Ax

Goddess of the Ax completes the conversion of Belldandy’s demonic familiar to an angel (of sorts). Whilst Hild is distracted by Keiichi and Cool Mint, it is Skuld’s turn to shine.  Skuld and Noble Scarlet succeed in rescuing all of the angels with the exception of Lind’s other angel.

Cool Mint returns to Lind, and this leaves Keiichi collapsed on the ground. With Cool Mint back a reinvigorated Lind summons her axe and moves to the attack.

Cue the last cliff hanger for this chapter. I have to say that reading this volume as it was serialised could have been fairly frustrating.

Summing Up Volume 25

The combat sequences are far from the best parts of this volume. It is the character work that Fujishima excels at here. The awkwardness of Lind, the quiet loyalty of Keiichi, and the emotional growth of Skuld [10] are where this volume simply sings.

The cover image is also a spoiler for volume 26, more on that in the next post.

Despite my concerns with the combat sequences, this is a very strong volume over all. It is well paced, and has enough character moments to lift it above average for the series.

 



[1] I apologise for the delay in posting this review.  There was writers block on the subject of Oh My Goddess!, and I’m finally back in the mood. Volume 26 should be up fairly soon but the later volumes will have to wait until I return to Canberra.


[2] Yes, there’s a bath scene and some fanservice here. Remember that Oh My Goddess is a seinen series.


[3] The doublet system was described in detail in Volume 17.


[4] A left wing as it happens.


[5] Just as well really as the name is one of the silliest names that Fujishima has come up with. Trust me when I say that it isn’t a patch on Holy Bell, Gorgeous Rose, World of Elegance, or Noble Scarlet.


[6] As a side note Keiichi, Skuld, Sigel, and Banpei completely overpowered Mara, thus confirming Mara’s role as the sidekick ala Arthur in The Tick.


[7] Of course it would be nice if that same unflinching courage manifested in Keiichi’s romance with Belldandy…


[8] And this would be the other silly angel name, and poor Lind is lumbered with both of them. I suppose it is compensation for being the only goddess with two angels. For the record the angel with the left wing is Spear Mint, and Cool Mint has the right wing.


[9] Two words: Absolute Cleavage.


[10] The cuteness that is Noble Scarlet is simply a bonus.