Gods, goddesses, angels, and some of the creepiest fan service I’ve seen within such an innocent-looking cover.
Writer/Artist: Tapari and Yoshikazu Kuwashima
Translated by: Christine Schilling
Adapted by: Brynne Chandler
What They Say
Samataro has it all: a loving family, two adorable sisters, a great best friend, and even a guardian angel! It's always clear-sailing, never a cloud in the sky - but that's just what happens when you're the son of a god! Poor Samataro is bored to tears, since his loving mother and father always use their powers to make everything easy for him. But can he make it on his own when he finally tells them to back off?
Yen does their usual solid job on packaging, minus the color plates that I’ve come to half-expect from their releases. It’s easily compensated for, though, by the charming front cover of Tenko and Samataro sitting back-to-back on a green field, which actually wraps around to the back. As much as I love the cover art, it’s almost a shame that it had to be partially covered by a rather lackluster rendering of the title in bright pink text. The short summary is also in the same too-bright shade. Extras include a page of translator’s notes, as well as advertisements for a few other series.
The art is about what one would expect from looking at the cover--it’s clean, arguably too sparse in places, and has what I consider to be a truly appealing set of character designs. True, Tapari can’t claim credit for that last aspect, but I was still surprised to learn that it was the artist’s first manga volume. The simplicity of the art is attractive in and of itself, but the backgrounds and page layouts were usually mundane. The exceptions occur when the settings change; many of those page layouts are eye-catching and give a wonderful sense of setting. Characters, on the other hand, are given a variety of expressions that don’t always fall into SD range but focus on more natural appearances. Given that much of this volume focuses on the everyday life of the characters, it’s a very appropriate quality for the art to have.
Another positive for this release; the translation reads nicely and is easy to follow, minus a few bumps that seem to be the fault of the original text rather than the adaptation. Honorifics are retained, and a handful of translator’s notes are given in the back of the book. Sound effects receive a mixed treatment; smaller ones have been completely replaced, whereas larger effects have their translation placed alongside in a similar font. Some of the effects are partially covered by their translations, which I find to be a very effective method of joining the original art and the impact of entirely replacing them.
Samataro is the son of God. No, not a god--the God. And Samataro is next in line to succeed his father. To top it off, his mother and two sisters are a goddess and goddesses in training, respectively, and his best friend Tenko is also his guardian angel. Yet like any teenager, he’s not that thrilled with his life. His sisters like to annoy him in any way possible, his mother is far too doting, and his father enjoys giving Samataro everything that he asks. The last is the most problematic; Samataro’s father may be omniscient, but that doesn’t mean that his attempts to help are exactly what Samataro had in mind.
When the beautiful Kumiko Kumori transfers into Samataro’s class, he’s instantly smitten, much to Tenko’s dismay. The guardian angel is determined to help her best friend in his pursuit for love either way, no matter how much his family may complicate things. Once Samataro learns how to love, she’s convinced that he’ll become a far better God in the future. Tenko just didn’t expect that he would fall so head-over-heels that he’d be willing to give up what ties the two of them together.
Kamisama Kazoku looks, at first glance, like the kind of series I love to find. Despite the grandiose inclusion of gods, goddesses, and angels, the opening chapters set it up as a simple coming-of-age story of two best friends. And thank goodness it’s about the two of them, because one gets the feeling that were Samataro by himself, this would be just another shonen romance with a mild divine twist. In fact, if Tenko was merely a side character, it would still end up boring. It’s the pages seen through the angel’s perspective that lend some sense of depth to the volume, not the struggle between free will and divine control that Samataro has to deal with. His issues with his father’s over eagerness to indulge him offer some promise in the earlier chapters, but the sudden decision Samataro makes in the last pages is driven by nothing but puppy love and adolescent stupidity. If this decision comes back to haunt him in a serious way, though, then I’ll be all the happier.
Despite its flaws, I would easily recommend this volume to anyone who likes coming-of-age romance, were it not for the unnecessary, creepy fan service strewn throughout. Less than twenty pages in, the characters’ (male) homeroom teacher strips off his trousers to reveal a pair of bloomers underneath. Possibly even more disconcerting is Samataro’s mother’s habit of not having clothes on. Seeing a woman naked and in her son’s bed isn’t exactly something I would expect if I were to judge this volume by its sweet, innocent cover. Then again, people who like their shonen romance with a liberal dose of naked mothers in aprons may find this series to be of great interest. Anyone who can overlook that may also find themselves in for a treat.