Kamisama Gakuen at Armeria
The God Academy at Armeria
Armeria: The School with Gods
Shoujo – Action, comedy, fantasy, magical girl, romance
12 Volumes (complete)
Three years ago, a god revealed themselves to the populace with a declaration: turn evil gods back into their holy selves. To do so, 30 teens were chosen to by gaining the ability to house and fuse with gods. But Rikka, one of these 30, doesn’t have a god! But as she witnesses a battle against a pair of evil gods, she sees the rumored savior who can also defeat gods. But who is he, and why can he carry a god while Rikka can’t?
While Kamisama Gakuen at Armeria isn’t perfect, it features a lot of comedy, some magical girl elements, and a handsome teasing love interest who isn’t cruel.
Note that this series has a lot of Shinto-like beliefs, weird terms, and unusual name/kanji combinations, so apologies if I get anything wrong.
After a “day of destiny”, a god (the True Will) appeared and announced that the gods in the world would be undergoing a change. The gods would become evil, but they could be saved by 30 chosen children. These individuals can house gods in their body. There are many types of gods representing flora, animals, and aspects of life. If the gods are at a high enough level and have a strong connection with their human, their partner can become as a god user. This allows the person to transform and use the god’s powers. In this form, they are given a special name/title.
At Armeria, where all 30 chosen individuals are attending, only Rikka’s two best friends Kyouko (partner: Fenri) and Tenma (partner: Guraisu) can fuse and fight. So it’s a surprise to Rikka to see someone else fighting one day, a handsome young man who is called the Black Sky’s Deadly Flower. Not only that, he’s Level U, for Unknown — in other words, the highest level. The combination of his looks and his gentle scolding makes Rikka’s heart race, and so she doesn’t understand why everyone else is shaken when Black Sky’s Deadly Flower — actually Chiaki and the god Kurone — transfer in.
Rikka, meanwhile, can’t be a god user since she doesn’t even house a god! Gods are full of vigor when she hugs them, but no one actually wants to dwell in her. But she’s not going to give up since she was once saved by a god. Shortly after Chiaki transfers, a god at Level 10 attacks, and only he and Kurone can keep up with him. But the evil god suddenly is drawn to Rikka. He manages to return to a good god named Keith, and Rikka finally gets a partner.
Whew, that was a lot, but that sets up the overall idea of the manga: Rikka, Chiaki, Kyouko, and Tenma (called Quattro Dio) and their gods must stop evil gods from attacking. (While Quattro Dio is Italian for four gods, it could actually refer to all eight of the main characters, which is how I’m primarily going to use it.) Chiaki (and readers) know there’s something special about Rikka, and obviously there’s a reason why Chiaki is a god user despite not being one of the 30 chosen. As these mysteries are revealed, the main eight meet other gods who want to get to know them for some reason or another (usually for training or to bask in Rikka’s natural goodness). While some types would be understandable in a world with multiple deities (death god, flower god), some are… less conventional. Cosplay God, anyone? Although it would have been nice to see more of the other gods that are presumably housed in the other students.
Yes, while I have this listed as a magical girl series with action, the manga is heavily a comedy. Kamisama Gakuen at Armeria has some arcs that don’t involve Rikka swinging a sword in her transformed state. At times, it’s ridiculous: Quattro Dio must face off in a strip rock-paper-scissors tournament at one point. Kyouko, Tenma, and the gods each have their own storylines and quirks as well, like Kurone’s tsundere personality or Kyouko being a scarily cool beauty — or just scary.
But the biggest comedy aspect is Rikka’s unsubtle crush on Chiaki. The whole world knows, and when I say the whole world knows, I mean the whole world. Battles are broadcast on TV and plastered all over the news, and Quattro Dio are international idols since they’re saving the world. (Which is pretty cool by the way, not making this some super secret organization.) So Rikka’s red face and looking directly at Chiaki when asked if there’s someone she’d like to kiss means that only Rikka herself thinks that her feelings are a secret.
Chiaki is not obtuse like a lot of love interests, and he usually teases her and/or smiles in such a way that makes Rikka blush even more. Everyone else knows that Chiaki’s being mean to her — not in an abusive way but like in a naughty boyfriend way. Combined with the crazy situations, Rikka’s teenage desires certainly can go into overdrive, not to mention the heart-pounding situations! She pictures Chiaki as a butler and ends up in the same bed with him at one point because of a god’s power. So although she’s so purehearted and innocent, sometimes she comes across as a closet perv, lol. She’s embarrassed or apologetic when Chiaki gets swept in by her imagination. Because he’s a bit of an S, it’s hard to pinpoint when Chiaki fell for her since he was nice (as in not a jerk or abusive) to her from the start, helping her train and stuff. Still, it’s easy to see his coolness and why he has a big fanbase. (Not that they dare approach him, and besides, everyone’s rooting for Rikka.)
There aren’t many life-or-death situations here, being primarily a romcom. But I was disappointed that the manga does slow down quite a bit toward the end, having several couple arcs in a row. I wish these would have been spread out more throughout the 12 volumes. The manga turns serious as it prepares for the final confrontation, and Chiaki and Keith are worried about Rikka’s role in it. For me, it’s kind of like Ouran High School Host Club in that aspect where it’s best as a comedy with romance aspects instead of a romance. It just isn’t as fun as the early volumes, although it isn’t terrible; it’s just a different type of manga.
But what I do like throughout the manga is the art. The characters are all lookers, so that’s part of the reason why the world is so enamored with Rikka and company. The gods themselves are thematically linked to their domain (lion god Guraisu has lion ears). Rikka, Chiaki, Kyouko, and Tenma all have different outfits as god users. There’s some influence from their gods, like Kyouko having flowers when fused with Fenri, but it mostly seems to be whatever the author liked. While “death god” may think of a black mantled reaper, he fights in a kimono and sword and has long hair like Kurone’s but not his horns. So like a lot of fantasy manga, there’s no real explanation for the outfits. Chapters are not normal manga length. Most volumes are only about three chapters long, but they are still 150+ pages in length. Sometimes though the characters look more like they’re posing for a picture or a magazine rather than moving normally. Chiaki especially looks like he’s a CG in an otome game thanks to the Rikka filter. So he’s reluctantly providing most of the fanservice in the manga. The pages can have a lot of text, but it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on. The manga also has a lot of sparkles and a good amount of visual comedy. But if you like pretty shoujo manga, this is one to consider.
Chance of License:
Tosuisha manga are pretty rare in English. Tokyopop released part of Silver Diamond from Ichiraci, but that’s all I know. It’d be nice to see more manga from this magazine and publisher in English. I could see the publisher teaming up with somebody like Media Do, but that would have to be up to Tosuisha.
The original Japanese version is available on the Kindle Store and is available to read for free in Kindle Unlimited.
Kamisama Gakuen at Armeria is just a fun shoujo read despite its missteps. The love interest has a bit of the “bad boy” flavor while actually being a nice guy, and that plays well with a kind heroine who is prone to flights of fancy.