Oh My Goddess!

Forbidden Planet had a sale in their manga section a bunch of months ago, and I thought I'd take a sample of first volumes to try this crazy Japanese shit out. I knew Oh My Goddess! was rated by folks who knew about this sort of thing, so I started there. Some notes.

First, genuinely love the cartooning. Energetic, zany -- it coerces your eyes into paying attention. It's a pity most of the comic is B&W, because the colour pages are really something. Their presence suggests to me that the B&W is a commercial, rather than artistic, choice. I guess it's just the way manga is done. For me, the lack of gloss is an issue (Marvel superheroes are SO MUCH shinier!), but if your story is solid then it should not matter.

And there's the trouble. Goddess! concerns a deadbeat student who acquires (thru very contrived circumstances) a goddess companion. They have a different adventure each chapter, always involving a third character with some task or problem to solve. Japes ensue, and some light amusement is had.

All perfectly fine. The only slightly weird aspect is that the jokes are of a cute Stan! Lee! flavour, and yet the comic also randomly chucks in some rather provocative fan service at you. It's like lobbing some Charlie's Angels cheesecake into a Wallace & Gromit episode. Strange...

What ups the unease factor is the goddess character, who is a paragon of female domestic virtue, and yet has to put up with, and is pretty much controlled by, the deadbeat student. Keiichi's dorkiness can get abrasive, and yet Belldandy only finds endless charm in it. It's a male fantasy of a book. Apparently, it was written 20 years ago. That doesn't excuse the writer's attitude, but maybe manga has moved on since then.

Apparently not. The next manga I read was called Blank and was about a secret agent with amnesia in a high school. Similar convoluted set-up, and the same type of characters. Only it was worse. The guy is even more annoying and pervy, and yet our heroine continues to put up with him, for reasons that aren't clear to her or the reader. There's this really awkward confessional scene between them, in which the dork switches into Mr. Sensitive (thus excusing his previous bad behaviour) and then quickly switches back into dork mode. Ten minutes of TLC will buy you a lifetime of being a dick, is the message. Not cool. Rather offensive, in fact.

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