Oh My Goddess! volume 28 is a solid read, with some nice insights into Belldandy’s character and the next instalment of the ex-familiar storyline. I can even forgive the re-appearance of Mara in the first story.
Chapter 177: Little Voice, Great Sorrow
The spells of the goddesses have always taken the form of songs, and some of the most iconic scenes from the OAVs and the movie are of Belldandy singing.
The opening pages of Little Voice, Great Sorrow evoke those scenes with Belldandy sitting on a rock in the temple courtyard joyfully singing to the birds around her.
Then Belldandy coughs, and clutches her throat as there is a flash of light.
Keiichi is looking for Belldandy, and finds her talking to Urd and coughing. Urd suddenly kisses Belldandy, and Keiichi’s mind basically shuts down. I’m really not impressed by this sight gag; I think it is out of character of Keiichi.
Of course the reason for it is to extract an “ahem bug” from Belldandy’s throat provided by Mara. Not that Keiichi notices this, or Urd’s subsequent efforts to brew up medicine to fix the problem. Unfortunately the medicine won’t work immediately and it will be six hours or so before Belldandy’s voice comes back.
Urd does however notice, transforms into her nurses uniform, and attempts to kiss Keiichi. This reboots him and he flees.
Peorth is also meddling a bit, and definitely not listening to the much quieter Belldandy.
Later at work Sora arrives with a problem requiring Keiichi’s attention, but the gags about Sora looking like a high school student reappear. This leads to Sora tripping over a power cord, and Belldandy is unable to save her with a spell.
Sora’s problem is the need to recruit new members to the Motor Club, and Chihiro sends Keiichi and Belldandy to help do just that.
However it is the last few pages that make this chapter sing. Belldandy is finding that she is grieving for her lost songs more than her inability to save Sora.
Belldandy is left wondering if she is really that selfish. Personally I think that this is a lovely bit of characterisation on Fujishima’s part.
By slightly denting the perfection, Fujishima makes it much easier to sympathise with and to relate to Belldandy.
It helps that Belldandy’s love of song has been shown rather than told throughout the series, and this makes the beautifully drawn panels of Belldandy internally realising this truth so much more effective.
Chapter 178: Those Who Guard and Those Who Plunder
One thing does have to be said for Nekomi Tech: the orientation days are beyond crazy. The first few pages of Those Who Guard and Those Who Plunder showcases this in all its bizarre glory.
But amidst the chaos there is some of the character work that I love to see in Oh My Goddess!
Previous volumes have shown Keiichi moving on from Nekomi Tech, and the opening scenes of this chapter show the nostalgia, the recognition that he can’t return, and the realisation that he can visit.
There are also elements of Belldandy being proud of Keiichi’s progress but unable to say so, and relief that her feelings can still reach him.
The contestants range from execrable to excellent, but throughout Belldandy’s is longing for Urd’s medicine to finish working so she can sing again. This is when Keiichi’s forebodings about Tamiya and Otaki organising the contest proves to be correct: the prize is either a scooter or a kiss from one of the female members.
The expectation being that everyone is focussed on Belldandy, even though she’s not actually a member. Nevertheless Keiichi is fired up by this to protect Belldandy, and swears to enter to “protect her lips”.
I have to say that there’s some distasteful elements to this storyline, they don’t go over the top, but the even the implications of the way the contest was set up are unfortunate at best.
Chapter 179: What Can I Do For You
On the other hand, What Can I Do For You opens with Belldandy entranced by her first chance to hear Keiichi sing. Keiichi is of course singing from the heart and records the highest score thus far in the competition.
Meanwhile Mara is skulking in the bushes planning to place a demonic filter over Belldandy’s song when she finally steps up.
Next up is the jerk Aoshima whose rendition of Typhoon Eyes manages to send Mara dancing out of control, and beat Keiichi’s score.
However it is now past the time when Urd said that Belldandy could use her voice again. The sheer joy on Belldandy’s face at this point is infectious, and the resulting concert goes on for a while. It doesn’t help that Mara’s filter either isn’t on, or is on in the wrong setting. Cue a more angelic form of hypnotism spreading across pretty much the entire Nekomi Tech campus over the next fifty songs or so.
Hypnotism Sora duly takes full advantage of to entice nearly everybody present, including Mara, to sign up for the Motor Club.
On returning home Urd is puzzled by the hypnotism, unless someone mixed something else in. This is about when Peorth walks away from the open door saying “…And I heard nothing”.
The final page of this chapter is the hypnotism wearing off and all the new members either cancelling or never showing up.
Overall this story arc is a mixed bag. It is strong in terms of Belldandy’s characterisation, and the visual gags, but weak in terms of the unfortunate implications re free will etc.
Chapter 180: The Polka-Dotted Cat and the Magic Broom
As last seen in chapter 172 Kiss Me Goodbye, Velsper the demon cat is now best described as a polka dotted cat due to the effects of the semi demonic familiar transferred from Belldandy. He is also the victim of a humiliation conga in the opening pages of this chapter.
The sort of apologies from Urd, Skuld, Peorth, Keiichi, and the actual apology from Belldandy don’t fix the problem of the familiar putting Velsper off balance. Belldandy offers to take her back, but Velsper refuses because of the harm it would do to Belldandy.
Then Urd, Skuld, and Peorth come back with their… hair treatments for Velsper to choose from. Velsper wisely attempts to refuse, but the humiliation conga isn’t done with him yet. The results are exactly as bad as he fears. There are… tentacles!
This is when Belldandy suggests asking Hild to help having deduced that the fly on the wall is actually working for Hild. The resulting chase sequence where Belldandy pursues Hild to the ends of the earth whilst Hild refuses to help. The key here is that whilst Hild can help, she doesn’t want to because Velsper’s current state amuses her.
Velsper’s state after Urd, Peorth, and Skuld got done with him is roll on the ground funny from Hild’s perspective. After that Hild is willing to help if Belldandy and Stringfellow Hawke beat her in a broom race. Hild has of course heard the rumours that Stringfellow Hawke is the fastest broom in Heaven
The chapter ends with Belldandy accepting the challenge, and a first glimpse of Hild’s “broom” Gluhende Herz.
Chapter 181: Magic Broom, Greatest Race!
As far as Gluhende Herz being a “broom” goes, suffice it to say that Skuld’s “I WANT!” face is a thing to fear. Urd and Peorth are rather less impressed, but their attempt to challenge it is derailed by Skuld and Belldandy.
Meanwhile Velsper is worried.
Stringfellow Hawke may be the fastest broom in Heaven, but Velsper used to break into Heaven on Gluhende Herz and “sail through it like a blade”.
Even Stringfellow Hawke admits that Gluhende Herz cannot be beaten, but Belldandy is having none of that.
This is when Hild sets the course, and the penalty for losing: all the goddesses must return to heaven if Hild wins. A bet is a contract after all.
Belldandy accepts with her trademark grace, but is serenely confident of victory. Enough so for Skuld, Urd, and Peorth to turn around and head inside.
At the start of the race, Hild attempts to distract Belldandy by kissing Keiichi on the cheek to get him to drop the coin early.
Belldandy’s focus on the race is such that it doesn’t work, and Hild’s evident shock to find herself neck and neck at the start is amusing.
The chapter ends with Gluhende Herz pulling away as Belldandy is determined to show Hild her power and Stringfellow’s power.
Chapter 182: Courage and Trial
Back at the temple Keiichi is worried about Belldandy racing, which surprises Urd. Then again Keiichi didn’t know that Belldandy had won the broom racing competition in Heaven six times. Of course this doesn’t reassure Velsper since Gluhende Herz is the eight times champion of the demon world.
The racing action itself is one of the best action sequences in Oh My Goddess and one of the few times you get to see Belldandy smirking. It is also a very tactical race, and it is good to see Belldandy thinking her way past Gluhende Herz’s advantages in power and speed.
I’m not even going to try to describe this sequence. Just go and read it already, OK? It’s good, trust me, and watching Hild get constantly surprised by Belldandy is always good for a laugh.
Summing Up Volume 28
Despite some unfortunate implications, volume 28 is a strong character piece for Belldandy and one of the better volumes in the series. Belldandy’s love of song and racing are almost tangible enough to leap off the page, and this is what makes the volume work as well as it does.
 As I’ve mentioned many times, Mara is not one of my favourite characters in the series.
 I have to agree with Skuld here given Urd’s track record.
It has to be remembered that Chihiro founded the Nekomi Tech Motor Club.
Some of the background images include a Boudoir Photography Society and a (ever so slightly exploding) Alchemy Club.
Which, naturally, Sora and Belldandy end up promoting in very short skirts.
Belldandy even holds up a sign saying “I’m not a member”.
Apparently even Aoshima is good for something occasionally, even if unintentionally.
In Volume 27. Has it really been a year since my last Oh My Goddess! Review? I’ll try to get these coming more regularly this year. Honest!
By way of Keiichi. It’s complicated, go back to volumes 26 and 27 if you need a recap.
Literally, and in the sense of there actually being a fly on the wall.
I believe that the last mention of Belldandy’s broom Stringfellow Hawke was way back in Volume 14, even if I didn’t name him in that review. I think he was also referred to as Urd’s broom at the time.
Hello! Which part of Demon Queen are you not understanding here?
Arrogance, thy name is Hild. Especially Chibi-Hild who is voluntarily power limited, but behaves like she’s at full power.