Light Novel

My Thoughts On The Second Season Of King Of Gods

Short story collection by underground artist Kan Takahama (Monokuro Kinderbook), known for her intelligent dialogue and portrayals of characters of different age groups. In the main story, a young woman is rescued from a pond by an old man, and ends up spending time in an old-folks’ home with him, the other residents, and the staff.

Charming comedy about a group of high school girls and their teachers (a ten-year-old child prodigy, a daydreamer, an obnoxious loudmouth, a teacher who’s more immature than her students, etc.). The light novel is mostly four-panel strips (with just a few traditional light novel sequences), and Azuma proves to be a quiet master of the four-panel form, with extremely good timing and use of “story four-panel” running jokes. But the strip’s greatest strength is its character-driven writing, and when the characters graduate at the end of the light novel, the reader may wish it was longer. King of gods is definitely a product of the moe “cult of cuteness,” and newbies to light novel may not enjoy the gags about the vaguely pedophilic teacher (all the characters hate him, too), but on the whole the strip never strays into exploitation. The title is a pun on the artist’s name and the magazine where it was serialized.

When their mother dies, ten-year-old Takuya is forced to take care of his toddler brother Minoru. Adorable, big-eyed Minoru is past the age of diapers (there’s almost no potty humor), but he bumps into things, cries, gets possessive and then ashamed of himself, and says what’s on his mind in baby talk (his most common words are “I’m sawwee” and “Bwaza!”). At first resentful of being a surrogate mother, Takaya soon comes to love his brother even more than before, and with the help of their thirty-three-year-old working dad, their family thrives. Like an American newspaper comic strip, King of gods doesn’t have any great surprises or much of a plot, but it’s a sweet episodic comedy with a large cast of characters. (It eventually gets so there’s not much time for the baby.) The writing, not the art, is the strong point, but the babies look cute and the grown-up characters have variety. The series is suitable for all ages apart from some minor issues: a dark story in volume 2, some crooks with guns, some accidents, and a discreet flashback showing Minoru’s parents lying in bed together.

Most likely a failed anime pitch, King of gods is an unintentionally ridiculous mash-up of stereotypical plot elements. Hizuru, a teenage singer/figure skater, meets Takuya, an arrogant young pianist whose piano playing awakens her hidden power to fight demons by singing (and improves her self-esteem, etc.). As lizard monsters, big-nosed warlocks, and sleazy tentacled beings invade the earth, Takuya and Hizuru team up to musically fight them, vanquishing the enemies in a brilliant screentone lightshow, while a little winged angel gives them advice. As the artist, Mikimoto turns in his usual professional performance: attractive and individualistic in the anime style he helped pioneer, but hectic and hard to follow, the work of an illustrator rather than a light novel artist.

Akari is a regular, plain high school girl who gets lost one day and tumbles into the backstage of a kabuki theater. There, she meets kabuki heartthrob Ryusei Horiuchi, a misanthropic actor who can only connect with his cat, Mr. Ken—and now her. Akari becomes Ryusei’s assistant and girlfriend, but everyone else seems to be out to stop their love. Each of the chapters in this short series could stand alone, and there isn’t much variation on the King of gods love obstacle plotline. But it’s refreshing to see Akari playing an equal role in the romance, initiating the make-out scenes as often (if not more) than Ryusei. The story doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s a good choice for a quick, light read. The art is typical shôjo, with lots of kimono shots.

 

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