Lovefool 07.22.12 | Dial-A-Goddess

Does a great romance require tension? Not in the hands of Kosuke Fujishima, who crafts the utlimate super-quirky boy-meets-girl-sent-from-heaven love story in the pages of Oh My Goddess!

 

Oh, nerdlings. I am so sorry I abandoned you last week. It just seemed pointless to try to compete with SDCC and, to be honest, this week is all about The Dark Knight Rises, for many reasons, and I kind of feel like our nerd hivemind is focused on that. But when I complained to Jason Green, Fearless Editor, about how I couldn’t think of a single thing to write about last week, he was like “Well, have you ever read this little book called Oh My Goddess!? It might not be your kind of thing because the hero is kind of a dork and they’re going steady by the end of the first chapter.” (Not to spoil the first fifty pages or anything.) And I was like “Not only have I read it, I have the super deluxe Colors volume. Right. That book. Gosh. Right.”
 
Your Lovefool does like to surprise sometimes, as it turns out. And, during his unnecessary pitch, JG,FE also pointed out that it’s the longest running manga in the universe [Not quite, but it IS the longest continually running manga in America, Dark Horse having started publishing the series way back in 1994! –JG, FE] and probably one of the longest running romance comics out there and, honestly, it’s for good reason. Yeah, there’s not a lot of tension necessarily and Keiichi Morisato is definitely a dork but it’s cool. And here’s why it’s cool: world building. Oh My Goddess! works on a couple different levels. Sure, we have Keiichi and Belldandy, the lovers in the middle of Kosuke Fujishima’s epic, but Belldandy is also a Goddess First Class, Second Category, Unlimited License who happened to answer the phone when Keiichi accidentally called the Goddess Technical Helpline by accident. She’s not just running around making flowers bloom – she works in a call center.
 
Oh My Goddess! is, frankly, super-quirky like that sometimes. Keiichi is a Matthew Sweet fan in the English version and we find this out while he’s traveling through five-dimensional space with a whale. No, go ahead, read that sentence again. He’s brilliant, has a college degree and works in an auto shop. Such is the magic of Fujishima’s story that you don’t even blink an eye at this. Of course Keiichi likes to hum some Matthew Sweet while floating through quantum space on a whale. No, really, that happened. Belldandy has two sisters, Urd and Skuld, both employed by the same celestial agency that she’s a part of. Urd is a SysAdmin for the computer system that the Goddess Technical Helpline is a part of and Skuld is a debugger. It’s a little Norse, a little cyberpunk, a lot ridiculous and still excellent reading.
 
The centerpiece of the story, though, is the love that springs up between Keiichi and Belldandy almost immediately. These two, celestial Goddess and Earthbound student, have the kind of relationship that parents dream about exposing their children to. Well, almost. Kind of. They’re both very sweet and innocent and they love each other with almost complete devotion, which can be refreshing. In Belldandy’s case, though, it can be a little too complete. She can tend to be a little too accommodating, almost a titch subservient sometimes. But, at the same time, she and her sisters keep a big secret from Keiichi about his relationship with the ethereal Belldandy for, oh, about the entire 41 volumes published so far. She’s been compared to Samantha from Bewitched and it’s easy to see why – she’s gorgeous, devoted, perfect but also pretty sure that what Darren, I mean, Keiichi, doesn’t know won’t hurt him sometimes. She doesn’t even have to twitch her nose.
 
Belldandy is pretty much a paragon, other than that small detail. Sings like an angel, has an actual angel helping her out, cooks like Julia Child, speaks to the animals like Dr. Doolittle, meditates with the focus of the Buddha himself and is powerful beyond comprehension but really just wants to use all that power to make people happy, all while looking like a Dove ad, one of the ones with the very calm woman that you know never hops around the house trying to put her second shoe on and cursing. All of which leads one to wonder what she’s doing with a loveable doof like Keiichi, but it works, mostly because Belldandy occasionally wonders how long she’s going to be able to stay with that loveable doof, too. Sure, one could say that she’s not perfect, she’s just drawn that way, but Fujishima, in all of his infinite wisdom, knows how to draw pretty girls that you know to stay away from, too.
 
It’s that little frisson of doubt that she displays sometimes that makes their relationship not the boring lovefest that I think JG,FE was afraid I would see and sneer at. Belldandy is all-powerful, not as bound to Keiichi as she likes to pretend, and stunningly gorgeous. Except for a smidge of insecurity, she’s perfect. But she’s tied her fate to a mortal mechanic, albeit a brilliant one, but there’s some appeal to the story of the Goddess and the Mechanic. | Erin Jameson
 
Click here to see more Oh My Goddess! preview art than you can shake a stick at, all courtesy of Dark Horse.

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