Pantheon highs and lows

Many theologians have wondered how a benevolent divinity can allow evil in the world. Tapari and Yoshikazu Kuwashima’s Kamisama Kazoku (Go! Comi) offers one possible answer: God’s really busy trying to help his son get laid.

Samataro, the son of god, is attending an average school with regular humans. Any hopes for a normal life are dashed by the fact that he’s got every educational administrator’s worst nightmare: omnipotent helicopter parents. Even his most off-handed whims are made real by his mom, dad and sisters, with reliably humiliating results for all concerned.

With its cuddly-cute cover and fun premise, KK sounds like an endearing coming-of-age comedy. Unfortunately, the creators have a penchant for creepy fan service. A lot of it involves Samataro’s hot goddess mom popping up naked. I anticipate future volumes to portray Samataro’s extensive therapy, or at least a belated call to Godchild Protective Services.

For bonus philosophical points, the creators also address the issue of free will. It turns out the pantheon is pretty much against it if it keeps their golden boy from getting what he wants. To his credit, Samataro is opposed to the undue influence his kinfolk exert on the object of his affection, a blandly pretty newcomer named Kumiko, and the volume ends with his request to be a regular human, free of divine interference. It’s hard not to sympathize with him.

But it’s even harder to overlook the seedy titillation that seems to be the book’s primary selling point.

Mercifully, Go! Comi has also rolled out another new series that’s much more to my liking, Takako Shigematsu’s Ultimate Venus. I had been feeling a bit of a void since the conclusion of Shigematsu’s snarky, sparkling Tenshi Ja Nai!! (also from Go! Comi), so this is a welcome addition to the publisher’s roster.

Shigematsu seems to specialize in stories that feature a spunky everygirl thrown into high-end, high-stakes new social spheres filled with hunky but morally ambiguous boys. This time around, orphan Yuzu moves in with her grandmother, a sexy corporate mogul looking for an heir. Yuzu has been tossed into the deep end of a pool filled with sharks, but she has her late mother’s down-to-earth advice to see her through the tricky spots.

As Danielle Leigh noted in her review over at Comics Should Be Good, Shigematsu’s skills lie in making shôjo tropes sparkle with fresh energy. Like so many in the shôjo sisterhood, Yuzu has a big heart and an impulsive nature. She also has better-than-average instincts and a rewardingly low tolerance for other people’s crap, and it’s those qualities that really drive the story. Yuzu is a modern Cinderella; she doesn’t want to fit in and make everyone happy. She wants to stick to her own values in a setting where values are vague and shifty at best.

(Reviews are based on complimentary copies provided by the publisher.)

2 Responses to Pantheon highs and lows

  1. […] 2 of Honey and Clover at the Manga Maniac Cafe. David Welsh checks out two new titles from Go!Comi, vol. 1 of Kamisama Kazoku and vol. 1 of Ultimate Venus, at Precocious Curmudgeon. Erica Friedman reviews vol. 1 of Kannazuki no Miko at Okazu. Tangognat […]

  2. […] on vols. 14 and 15 of Monster at ANN. David Welsh takes a look at two new series from Go! Comi, vol. 1 of Kamisama Kazoku and vol. 1 of Ultimate Venus, at Precocious Curmudgeon. Michelle gets her hands on a copy of the hard-to-find Four Shojo Stories […]

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