Story/Art: Julietta Suzuki
Translation/Adaptation: Tomo Kimura
What They Say:
New Year’s is coming up, and that means the Mikage Shrine needs to send a representative to greet the toshigami, the visiting kami who assures a good harvest for the year. Nanami insists on going with her shinshi but gets stuck in limbo at the meeting place. Her shinshi rush to get her back, but instead they all end up trapped in Nanami’s troubled childhood…
Content (please note that the content portion of a review may contain spoilers):
After a story arc revealing the past of one of the minor characters, some development is given to Nanami when Tomoe and Mizuki are forced to run through Nanami’s childhood memories on their way to the New Year’s toshigami. For the first time we see Nanami’s parents: a glimpse of her father, who gambles away all of their money, and her mother, a kind woman who died so early that Nanami can’t even remember her face. Though her hard circumstances have been made apparent before, now we see her actual struggles, not just with money but with the loneliness of always returning to an empty home. Tomoe himself is reluctant to leave these memories, learning about a Nanami he’s never seen while also finding himself in a position of being able to give the small girl exactly what she wants.
Tomoe’s protective instincts for Nanami reemerge later when Nanami, curious about what her shinshi is doing, accidently follows him into the yokai realm when he goes to buy supplies for the New Year’s celebration. She finds herself the target of yokai wishing to eat her, but uses a combination of her tochigami powers and her own wit to escape before Tomoe can even get back to her. Tomoe wears a look of shock when he sees that Nanami was fine without him, but the exact effect of this moment, either good or bad, has not been made apparent.
Sandwiched in between these two stories comes a reminder that Kamisama Kiss actually has a main plot, when one chapter checks back in on Kirihito as he makes another attempt to retrieve his original body, the ogre Akura-oh. Mentions of Tomoe’s past love affair with a human (which the shinshi has since forgotten) and how that led to a split between him and Akura-oh hint at a big confrontation to come in the manga. But we are also reminded that Kirihito is not as cruel, or as dismissive of humans, as he would have his underlings or even himself believe, as he severs the link to the land of the dead to protect Kirhito’s family.
While the moment with Akura-oh is interesting, there is little that we didn’t know about his character or past that’s revealed in that chapter. Instead, the biggest reveal of the volume comes in passing as we travel through Nanami’s childhood memories. As her mother laments her irresponsible father, she says to Nanami: “One of our ancestors got medicine from a kamisama. It made her beautiful when she drank it.” This could be construed as a fairy tale a mother tells her daughter, if not for the past story in volume 4, when we see Tomoe give Ryu-oh’s eye to the woman he once loved as medicine — the eye which is eventually found in Nanami’s own body. This raises a slew of questions: is Nanami that woman’s descendant? Does Nanami have another supernatural quality? And is there something bigger that’s been in the works all along?
While we’re reminded of part of the manga’s main plot, there is not much progresses with it. The main characters also remain ignorant that there is anything bigger than the problems of the shrine or their love lives going on, leaving me to believe that it will be some time before anything comes of what’s revealed here. Once again it’s great to see Nanami fix problems on her own, but as her self-sufficiency becomes more and more apparent Suzuki might do well to not make Tomoe or others look so shocked when she does succeed. In the end everyone begins to gather for the New Year’s celebration at Mikage Shrine, but whether that will result in a goofy episode or something that carries a little more weight remains to be seen.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: November 6th, 2012