Oh My Goddess!

Review covers the first seven volumes of the new, unflopped version of the series

Oh My Goddess! uses what has now become the standard Harem Manga format. The (male) lead character, though some unlikely course of events, winds up rooming with several girls, who are always attractive, and usually supernatural. Cue romantic comedy.

Oh My Goddess! was probably quite fortunate in its timing. It came as Manga was becoming popular in the West, but before a deluge of Harem Manga came along and flooded the market with trash. That being said, it was probably the success of Oh My Goddess! that encouraged a lot of the hollow copy-cats. With Oh My Goddess! now being republished in its original format, should newcomers to the series forgive it for what it encouraged?

Oh My Goddess!'s male lead is Keiichi, a student who meets the Goddess Belldandy and is granted a wish. Without really thinking, he wishes that Belldandy would stay with him forever, and so like it or not, that's what he gets. But after the initial shock, Keiichi realises that life is quite nice with Belldandy around, and tries to fit her into university with him.

Later on, new characters are added, including Belldandy's sisters, and various human and demonic antagonists who provide the villains where needed.

Like any good comedy, none of the characters are perfect, even the Goddesses and Demons. All have various nuances and weakness, which are used for comedic effect.

A lot of the comedy in the Manga comes from the Goddesses using a silly or magical response to an ordinary, mundane problem. But sometimes one problem with having a lot of the cast as Goddesses or Demons, is the temptation for the author to use a Deus ex machina rather that write a clever ending to each story.

Another possible negative is the series' dabbling with action-based stories. They're quite well done, and keep the the Manga varied, but they're not quite as polished as the comedy stories. Plus it feels a bit weird to have the characters go from chillin' in university, to saving the world from the apocalypse, then suddenly back again.

Also, while the stories and the characters can be enjoyed by anyone, every so often the series servers up a story with a lot of fanservice for Oh My Goddess!'s obviously male target audience. However, as not every story is like that, I've decided not to punish Oh My Goddess! too much for this.

Oh My Goddess! is a very rare example of how to do a Harem Manga well. Rather than depending on sex to sell, the characters and other plot elements are all very well done and would stand on their own - so much so that calling Oh My Goddess! a “Harem” Manga insults it slightly.