July 20, 2009
by: Adam Beck
I hope you donít sacrifice something to get your hands on this manga.
Manga Description: BOY MEETS GODDESS!
Gimmy is just an ordinary teen living in a desert town when his younger twin brother and sister disappear. While searching for them, Gimmy comes face-to-face with a sassy deity, Sora, the rain goddess who provides water to the town. But another goddess, Ciel, wants Soraís sacred treeĖso that she can control the rain!
Includes special extras after the story!
Content: (This section may contain spoilers)
One misconception you may have with Amefurashiís first volume is the front cover: itís quite cute, and it might look a bit awkward if you walked up to the counter with this in your hand (maybe only the guys feel this way). Again, donít be mislead as Amefurashi (which translates to The Rain Goddess, by the way) is actually quite entertaining, and I say that with all seriousness.
This title comes from Atsushi Suzumi, creator of Venus Versus Virus and Haridama, so you can guess I will probably like it, what with its fantasy world filled with magic and goddesses. I donít know whatís been with me recently but every new series I go into I tend to have very little expectations before reading. Picking up Amefurashi I thought it was going to be something a bit childish, but boy was I wrong. The story of Amefurashi takes place in a small village where a young boy by the name of Gimmy lives with his two siblings and his guardian. As in many other cultures, the people of this village give a sacrifice to a god (or in this case a goddess) for something in return. This is where the story begins as Gimmy and his two siblings go on a wild journey.
The village relies heavily on the rain goddess and her abilities as without water, there will be a dry season, destroying all their crops and dehydrating the villagers. There are some stories that have people sacrificing something or praying for something similar, but they generally donít actually deliver a full-fleshed goddess who has a bit of a wild side. Gimmy is the most innocent and borders on being the least interesting character in the entire novel; itís only when he meets the goddess when he starts to fill out a bit and show a better understanding of what heís willing to do for others. Sora (the amefurashi) on the other hand outperforms Gimmy in every way, which is surprising as most female characters never do this to the hero of a story. She is a far more interesting character, and her complete failure to adapt to human society never fails to put a smile on your face as her cluelessness is absolutely hilarious. I didnít like her at the beginning being so stubborn and selfish, but I suppose a life alone like that will do that to you.
While I enjoy the first volume dearly, the action is the only portion that I really canít say Iím too fond of. There is one part in the novel when Sora and the massive tree that gives off her powers are threatened. The entire fight consists of Sora flinging her whip once, defeating her enemy with one strike. There is some buildup as Gimmy and his two siblings, Mil and Mel, try to defend the fort while sheís incapacitated, but it is a failed attempt that is quite childish (but then again, you do have two maybe-seven-year-olds fighting a giant worm). There could have been so much more here ó maybe a struggle or even the worm getting in a strike or two ó but no, the beast basically does nothing and Sora comes up and wins with one strike. Itís a rather disappointing conclusion to what could have been a more intriguing segment.
As I mentioned, the villagers sacrifice something that the rain goddess desires, and in return, she will give them rain. But that is about all we get. Even up in the clouds (which Iím surprised Gimmy and his two siblings are able to breathe) the main storyline isnít well established. The first volume is mainly focused on multiple events that generally introduce the characters, their situations and their stature. Doing so, there is less drama (unlike the ending which contains quite a bit) and a strong focus on comedy and character interaction.
Amefurashi surprised me in how immersive the first volume can be. Sure, there really isnít much of a story other than a couple occurrences near the end, but the characters and events are enough to keep you coming back for more. My only wish is that the battle scenes will be heavily improved upon, but based on what Iíve seen in the first volume, it feels like it might contain some of that mushy ďI donít want to hurt anyoneĒ style of battle.
Artwork: Atsushi Suzumi displays some strong artwork as Amefurashi contains detailed characters and environments. As I mentioned before, I thought the concept of sacrificing to a goddess is interesting, but what I enjoyed more than anything was the setting as it would seem this takes place in a desert or a dry land where a giant tree blooms. The setting and environments are drawn with great precision but what kind of puts me off are the characters. Donít get me wrong, each character is well drawn, but it is the clothing of Sora and Gimmy are completely out of place. If you look around, it would seem like a society where the best you could get are light vest for clothes, yet both Sora and Gimmy seem as if they were pulled out of the west as Sora styles a nice closed jacket with short-shorts and boots. Gimmy on the other hand has two layers of clothing (a bit out of the ordinary considering it appears theyíre in the desert) which are a long sleeved-shirt and a collared white shirt underneath. He also has a pair of black jeans and a solid pair of shoes. If you look at the other villagers (even Mil and Mel), theyíre nowhere near as well dressed as this; itís really disappointing that these two are so out of context to the surroundings. Other than that though, everything about the novel shines greatly as each character and piece of the background is drawn perfectly, offering a compelling world to view.
Translation: One, count it, one error (which is an overlooked sound effect) in the entire 240-page novel. This can be found on page 109, panel one right beside Gimmyís face. Del Rey does a fantastic job in translating their novel once again with very minimal errors. Sound effects are presented in their original Japanese characters with an English-translation nearby. Most of the dialogue is unique to each of the characters, but there are some pieces that do stand-out and make me question why they are even said (such as on page 107, panel 2, the kidnapper say ďwhoopsĒ and I donít exactly know why).
Del Rey doesnít disappoint in the extras section as it is packed with goodies to extend your read. There is a two-paged character guide of four of the significant character, an afterword message from Atsushi Suzumi, a little information about the creator, two really quick translation notes, and a long untranslated preview into the next volume.
The Bottom Line: Amefurashi is a good example of never being ashamed of how cute the presentation may be, because it will always worth it in the end. I had a lot of fun with the first volume as the adventures so far are entertaining and quite humorous. Iím not sure about the ending though, as this is a series that doesnít feel like it needs drama. Itís a solid adventure that, while Sora and Gimmy feel like theyíve been pulled out of an alternate dimension, is entertaining from start to finish.