Article first published as Manga Review: Kamisama Kiss Volume One by Julietta Suzuki on Blogcritics.
Kamisama Kiss Volume One is a manga by Julietta Suzuki, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2010. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading the first volume of this series, I would agree with this rating.
The protagonist of the series is a high school girl named Nanami Momozono. Her father racks up big gambling debts and is unable to pay off the loan sharks. One day he runs off, leaving Nanami on her own. As Nanami discovers her father’s disappearance, she is told that she is being evicted from the apartment because her father was unable to pay his debts. She finds herself homeless and spending the night on a park bench.
While in the park, she “rescues” a man named Mikage from a dog. After Nanami shares her story with him, Mikage draws up a map to his home and tells her she can stay there. He gives her a kiss on the forehead before he leaves.
It turns out Mikage’s home is a run-down shrine. She learns Mikage was the land god, and that he has been away from the shrine for 20 years. Onikiri and Kotetsu, the two shrine attendants, realize she has Mikage’s mark on her forehead (which she got from the kiss he gave her there); the mark shows that she is now the new land god. The two attendants say that Nanami can stay at the shrine. Tomoe, a cynical and mocking fox demon who serves as the land god’s familiar, refuses to acknowledge Nanami and leaves the shrine.
When Onikiri and Kotetsu take Nanami to the demon realm to try to convince Tomoe to come back, Nanami is attacked by a hag. Tomoe comes to watch Nanami suffer. However, she learns how to seal a contract with him in order to force him to be her familiar; this is accomplished through a kiss. She manages to catch Tomoe off guard and kisses him; he is now bound into a contract with Nanami.
The rest of the volume focuses on Nanami’s first attempt at trying to serve as the land god, when a catfish yokai asks for her help.
I’d seen Kamisama Kiss appear in the New York Times manga best seller list, but what finally convinced me to check out this title was seeing a simulcast of the first episode of the anime series that premiered in Japan during the Fall 2012 season. For a shojo manga, I thought that Kamisama Kiss was a good title. While there are definitely hints of a potential romantic element between Nanami and Tomoe, this series doesn’t seem to rely heavily on some of the typical shojo tropes. I liked what I read in this volume, and I think that the premise has a lot of potential for future volumes of the series. My 15-year-old daughter also read this volume, and she really seemed to like it as well.
I would recommend Kamisama Kiss to manga readers who enjoy reading shojo series, and I think readers who are already familiar with and enjoy the Fruits Basket shojo manga series will probably enjoy this series as well. I also think that Kamisama Kiss has the potential to appeal to readers beyond the teenage girls who are usually associated with reading shojo manga.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of Kamisama Kiss Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.