Oh, My Goddess! Vol. 41 – Kinda Sucks

Okay, “sucks” may be a bit strong, but Fujishima Kosuke’s Oh, My Goddess! volume 41… it’s still not very good. Neither were the last couple volumes.

I hate saying that, too, because I’ve really loved this franchise since I started reading in 2009. Nowhere near its 1994 American debut, but still longer than any other comic I follow (a couple webcomics excepted). The series’ basic premise, a young man living with a beautiful goddess, is pretty blatant wish-fulfillment fiction, but the characters are likable enough that I can forgive it that. There have been some slow points in the over twenty years and forty volumes of publication, of course, but coming in late to the party has allowed me to just rush through those rough patches quickly, and dwell more on the highlights.

I think that’s the key to why this current “Hell takeover” story arc beats me down so much. Most of it bores me, but I can’t just skim through it, and with a few months between releases I’ve had to just stew in it, hoping Fujishima wraps it up in the next volume and moves on to a style of storytelling he’s good at.

That’s the rub here – Fujishima’s forte is comedy, in kind of a slice-of-life with fantasy elements. The past couple volumes, though, focus on just what Fujishima seems worst at (besides advancing Belldandy and Keiichi’s relationship) – action. I don’t recall any good action scenes at any point in OMG! For example, look at these pages from early in this volume:

Talk talk talk – they explain every move. It’s like Fujishima doesn’t realise that comics are a visual medium. Just show the audience what’s going on and save the commentary track. Besides, we aren’t idiots. We can either see or easily figure out most of the characters’ strategies here.

Also, take a look at the backgrounds. The utter darkness makes for an interesting gimmick for a fight, but makes for dull art and would probably be better suited to literature than comics. At least the character art looks good throughout; if nothing else, after two decades Fujishima has certainly mastered drawing the cast.

Speaking of the characters, this is a minor point, but we seem to spend more time than usual looking at their butts. Now, one may object that this isn’t new for OMG!, and that’s true. Just the last couple volumes have had multiple scenes of characters riding magic broomsticks, with requisite angles from below and (of) behind. Many of us generally don’t object to seeing goddess-butt anyway, except that while we do get a couple frames of Belldandy and Urd like this, most are of this new demoness:

Yeah, thanks, Fujishima. Want to see this in action? I know you do, so here you go.

At least her fight is more visually interesting than the other. We get backgrounds, for one thing. However, what bothers me most about this volume is the total lack of plot progression. A couple things happen, I guess – two fights and a hint that the antagonist for this arc is (gasp!) allowing Keiichi and company to advance easily, and that’s it. OMG! isn’t exactly known for its brisk pace, but at least most story arcs give us some characterisation, introduce an interesting new character (we do get new characters here, but they’re not interesting), or at least a couple decent gags. It’s just the OMG! version of a shounen-style tournament, done in mediocre fashion, and I can only hope the arc ends soon.

Some progess in the main story wouldn’t hurt, either.

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