Black Crow and White Snake: Kamisama Kiss 2-3

It’s been a while that I’m reading a manga ahead of its anime adaptation. I read the first volume of Kamisama Kiss a month ago, since I thought the art looked cute, but my interest has only really been piqued once I found out about the upcoming anime.

Volume 2-3 picks up on Nanami Momozono’s life as the new deity at Mikage Shrine. In volume 2, a transfer student, Kurama, arrives in Nanami’s class. Known as “the fallen angel with black wings,” Kurama is a bonafide visual kei rock star straight out of the 1990s. Turns out, he’s also a yokai, a karasu from Mount Kurama — which would also explain the wings. He ends up being small fry for Tomoe, who decides that it would be funny to turn the karasu (crow) into an ostrich, to be prepared and served for Nanami’s dinner.  He doesn’t end up being much of a threat anyway; in the latter half of the book, he even takes in Nanami and Tomoe when Raijin Narukami-hime takes over the temple.

The white snake appears in volume 3. Nanami rescues a snake from classmates that was harassing it in school. White snakes are rare enough, and she knows that rare creatures could possibly be familiars of yokai. Before leaving, the snake wraps itself around Nanami’s wrist and forearm, which turned out not to be a good thing for her. I guess when a magical white snake does that, it’s the sign that you’re engaged to be married! Mizuki, the white snake, is a shinshi of an underwater shrine where he kidnaps Nanami to complete their marriage ceremony. Again, Tomoe arrives in time to rescue her as Nanami figures out the reason why Mizuki has been so lonely and in need of a wife in the first place.

(Confession time: I was half-expecting the white snake to be Ayame, which would have been an AWESOME shoujo manga crossover. Only in my dreams.)

I thought it was interesting that the creator, Julietta SUZUKI, wrote in the sidenotes how she wanted to write a yokai school comedy (where the students are the yokai), but apparently it was rejected so she’s had to adjust it as a high school comedy and structure the yokai stories around that. Kamisama Kiss is cute, but I even feel that the parts set in the high school are weaker than the parts where Nanami (and Tomoe) just has to interact with the yokai. Nanami doesn’t seem to want to go to school, and she’s bullied half the time for being poor anyway; I wouldn’t want to go to school in those conditions either.

While these early volumes do have a “monster of the week” feel to them, I’m willing to stick it out for a little while. I’m not excited about the romantic drama between Nanami and Tomoe (which, as a shoujo series, is to be expected), rather I’m actually looking forward to the other supernatural creatures and beings that will show up. As in xxxHolic and Natsume Yuujinchou, it’s interesting to see how certain creators will interpret a well-known ‘character,’ while staying in the confines of the audience’s canon knowledge of that creature. The creator of this manga seems really invested in the sundry of Japanese folklore, she actually has used characters that I don’t think I’ve seen in a previous manga before.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched an anime based off a Hanayume series (Gakuen Alice was the last one I’ve seen and I don’t remember that one being particularly well-done) so my sentimental self is looking forward to the animated version of this series come the fall.

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