Shoujo – Comedy, fantasy, magical girl, reverse harem, romance
7 Volumes (complete)
After their big battle, Karin is looking forward to a peaceful future with Kazune. But Karin starts having some weird dreams begging her to look for the “Three Noble Gods”. Then a young boy suddenly appears out of nowhere! Who is he, and who are the Three Noble Gods? A new battle is about to begin!
Note: this review will have spoilers for Kamichama Karin.
If you read Kamichama Karin, you need to read Kamichama Karin Chu.
If you haven’t, don’t.
Well, I guess I could go on a little bit more.
As I said in my review, Kamichama Karin was more of a crossover between being a traditional magical girl fighting manga and being a parody. The final volume of Kamichama Karin included an advertisement for the sequel, but Koge-Donbo took a 10-month break before starting Chu. You will notice a lot of changes between that (very small) preview and the serialization.
First, an aside: the series was released in both a regular and limited edition in Japan. Del Rey brought the regular edition over. The first six limited editions each came with a bonus booklet with some character information and short stories. (The last came with a special cover slipcase instead.) I can understand including the booklets would have inflated the cost to bring over each volume, but it would have been really awesome if Del Rey had made a “Volume 8” with all this supplemental material. In addition, the deluxe edition covers are different, featuring Karin and Kazune instead of just Karin. These covers are so much prettier, and the logo is done in a shiny gold foil.
If you want to see more images of the special edition, take a look at various listings on eBay.
Next, on to the actual manga. Readers should jump to the end of the first volume and read Episode 0. Otherwise, the opening chapter just seems a bit random since it jumps ahead in time to several months (a year perhaps?) in the future. Episode 0 should have been put at the beginning of the volume.
Okay, the story. A little boy who bares a striking to a certain someone suddenly appears with a bunch of rings and a heart-shaped clock. Kazune immediately transforms, and the clock allows Karin to turn back time. If you guessed Suzune was Karin and Kazune’s son from the future, then ding ding ding! They then learn that the two other rings (and two other kittens) belong to rising idol Jin and old friend Michiru. Between Suzune and the clock, Karin and Kazune learn that their future isn’t too bright, and only defeating the seeds of chaos will change it.
Shortly after Kamichama Karin Chu started serialization, an anime adaptation of Kamichama Karin was announced. That might explain why Chu feels more like a Sailor Moon or Wedding Peach than its predecessor. (It also probably explains Koge-Donbo’s hiatus.) The God Rings have an attractive design, Karin gets a heart-shaped weapon, and power-ups are discussed. Sound familiar? But unlike most magical girl stories, Karin gathers guys instead of girls to work together to defeat the enemies, and the main couple is already in love with each other. Oh, and throw in a little Sailor Moon R / Black Moon “child from the future” for good measure.
That doesn’t dissuade new main character Jin from trying to win Karin’s heart. Haughty as Kazune is chauvinistic, he meets Karin and proclaims she’s his goddess. Of course, he doesn’t have any more of a chance than Seiya of Sailor Moon does considering Karin’s past and future. The jealous Kazune and Jin constantly squabble, but at least the manga does a much better job at balancing the serious and comedic parts this time around. The battles feel more urgent, but off the battlefield, Karin and the others all have a screw loose. Karin acts more like a typical ditzy Nakayoshi heroine this time around, and Kazune’s bug phobia has mostly been replaced with a new “Pervert Mode” where the slightest scent of alcohol makes him glomp Karin — often with wandering hands. (The romantic bits are split between Kazune in and out of Pervert Mode, but the manga is certainly full of fluff.) Koge-Donbo even throws in some 70s manga references, and characters will crossdress again. Though comedy is once again an essential part of the manga, Kamichama Karin Chu comes across as more of a traditional magical girl story. If you liked the parody aspect, you’re going to have to settle for Glass no Kamen / Glass Mask references instead of goofy Engrish transformation phrases.
All in all, while Chu provides more details on the rings, the story still has some gaps. If you wanted an in-depth look at Kazusa’s existence or a clear explanation of how Suzuka became Karin, you won’t find those here. I guess you could argue that the manga leaves as many question as, for example, Sailor Moon since it never explained how the Silver Millennium formed or how Luna and Artemis awoke. Still, perhaps it might have been nice to skip some of the “filler” chapters like Karin reverting to a child or visiting the beach.
The manga also centers around Karin’s team. Several Kamichama Karin characters (including some fan-favorite ones) don’t show up until about halfway. Despite living by herself for months, I guess Karin hasn’t made too many close friends considering she immediately starts spending all her time with the guys. I guess having Himeka around is kind of awkward considering who her parents are, but even schoolmates Miyon and Yuuki aren’t seen too often. Nike is around the whole time, but I don’t think she does a single thing in all seven volumes! It’s disappointing to lose a lot of the great characterization of Kamichama Karin.
The art is also cleaner and crisper this time around. Koge-Donbo simplified her character designs, and the result is the characters actually look younger. Michiru’s eyes in particular actually have irises instead of being more glossy. Karin’s and Kazune’s eyes are usually drawn with one or two specks of light instead of multiple. Of course, cat ears make their usual way into the story, and Suzune’s hat matches his expression. Karin’s outfits are frilly (and impractical), but Kazune’s transformation receives a much-needed makeover. The really silly SD characters are much less used this time around. Everything is brighter and cuter while still retaining Koge-Donbo’s personal touch. It’s definitely smoother, but I do miss some of the dark shading found in the prequel. Kamichama Karin sometimes looked like a more mature tale, but this looks more like for the usual Nakayoshi audience.
As a new company licensed the sequel, there are some differences between the two companies’ handling of the Kamichama Karin universe. In short, Del Rey’s is more straightforward, but the lettering sometimes is poor. There could be a big speech bubble, but the font is about the size one would use for an aside comment.
Honorifics are used. Translation notes are included. Kirio’s nickname of “Meganekko” is kept as “Mr. Glasses Man”. His nickname for her rotates between “Amateur Goddess”, “Greenhorn Goddess”, and one or two more I probably forget. Nike’s speech pattern (using -nya in words and shii/da shii at the ends of sentences) is adapted as repeated letters, usually the letter “r”. Karin’s “I am God” is kept. Kazune’s fan club is called the “Kazunays” while “Jeens” is the term used for Jin’s club. In addition, “(O)nii-(san/sama)” is usually translated as “Big Brother”, but Kirika ends up using Kirio’s name in the English version sometimes.
Kamichama Karin Chu is more of a “proper” magical girl story. More than anything, it answers a lot of the questions surrounding the two professors, so fans of the original should read the sequel.
Tokyopop licensed the prequel Kamichama Karin while Broccoli released the spin-off Kon Kon Kokon. The characters also appear in the unavailable-in-English manga Doki Doki! Tama-tan. Koge-Donbo also released a crossover Kamisama Karin x Vocaloid doujinshi called Kazune Miku Bon. The anime adaptation of Kamichama Karin has not been licensed. Tokyopop released Koge-Donbo’s Pita Ten manga while several companies have brought over various Di Gi Charat books.