Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oh My Goddess!, v. 1

by Kosuke Fujishima
Released in the U.S. by Dark Horse

Slugline: If you haven't already heard about Oh My Goddess, reading a slugline isn't going to help.

Let me you tell you a tale. Way back in the year 1994, when there was nary a single manga in ye ole bookstore, back before people had the book larnin' to read right to left, there was a small little title called Oh My Goddess...

Sorry, I just can't keep that going and I suspect what I have already written is bad enough. Oh My Goddess is one of the grand dames of US manga publication, and here it is presented in its original format. Initial print runs of the title were flipped, but this reprint brings it back to its original orientation and includes several color pages that were left out of previous versions released in the US. The basic story is almost universally well known in anime/manga fandom: the lovable loser Keiichi dials the wrong phone number and the goddess Belldandy appears to make his wish come true. For the more experienced manga readers, reading the first volume may illuminate the roots of all harem comedies (except without the full harem as of yet) -- but that feeling comes not from copying the other comedies, but instead this being one of the parents of that genre.

That being said, how is it as itself, rather than as the vanguard of the entire manga boom? I have to admit, the first volume does show its age. The art style is starting to look old-fashioned (these pages were first drawn in the late 80s) so readers expecting something something else will be disappointed. These are mostly standalone stories that don't quite link together right and you can see the seams between them. That is the downside of its age -- most people have seen the other versions of the story in anime, so they were introduced to the stories in their most finished form, while here it is still raw. So while it is put together well, it is not up to the standards that many people are expecting out of more current titles that are being licensed, which I hope explains my less than stellar rating for the title.

- Ferdinand

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