Friday, June 18, 2010
I'm starting to re-watch Kannazuki no Miko in its entirety- which I haven't since, like, right before my senior year of high school. (When I showed it to my dad to "test" his open-mindedness before coming out. Amusingly, since he isn't at all familiar with anime tropes- like mecha, cat girls, etc- he thought that the entire thing was pretty original, while looking forward to seeing how it would end. lol) It's a little bit like anime comfort food- anticipating the lines and musical cues that I've already heard several times. It's...nice to get back to the original story. Like Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, Himegami no Miko, and (eugh) Zettai Shoujo Seiiki Amnesian, this particular volume of Kaishaku's UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie is a way to re-visit Chikane and Himeko in an "alternate world" context.
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie is about a boy named Kazuto who runs a bathhouse, who dies when an alien princess's spaceship crashes into him. (Her name is Valkyrie, from the planet Valhalla. Clever, no?) To revive him, she gives him half of her soul, which turns her into a little girl. When she kisses Kazuto, she can temporarily re-gain her busty adult form. Something for the lolicon and something for the folks who like Barbie-figures, apparently. More characters join them, including Hydra, Valkyrie's rival from Valhalla, Sanada, a cat girl from Valhalla, Shiro, Valkyrie's talking dog(?)-like alien pet, and Akina, Kazuto's tomboyish childhood best friend who has a crush on him. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
In volume 7, the characters play in the snow and Sanada has a flashback to how she met Valkyrie and spent a period of time at a militant cat girl maid training camp. (Complete with incongruously bad-ass cat woman drill sergeant.)
The characters vacation at the Ototachibana ryokan, run by Ichinomiya Chihane and her (ahem) business partner Nijou Hinako. Chihane and Hinako both excitedly recognize Akina from a "strongest miko" competition that they competed in in the past. Silly romantic comedy hijinks ensue between Akina and Kazuto, and Valkyrie and Hydra find an underground cavern where Chihane and Hinako, in familiar-looking miko garb, are leading a group of followers trying to seal the evil god Hydra. More hijinks, in which Sanada, then Shiro, then Kazuto, and then Valkyrie are possessed by Hydra and more characters show up to seal Hydra. (Including Steel Angel Kurumi 2's Nako and Kurumi.) Things end happily, and the characters relax in the Ototachibana ryokan's hot spring. Then a bonus chapter.
For what it was (again- for what it was), this volume was okay. It was more entertaining when I mostly couldn't read it, because I projected better dialogue than what was actually there. lol (It wasn't difficult to read because it has a generous amount of furigana.) As far as series that portray Chikane and Himeko outside of their original KnM-verse, this volume ranks below Himegami no Miko and Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, but above Zettai Shoujo Seiiki Amnesian, as far as Chikane and Himeko leading reasonably pleasant, non-abused lives together. One nitpick I have with their portrayal here is that, since Valkyrie is a cutesy moe-fluff story, Chikane and Himeko are more...cute? (When they first appeared, it was kind of...well...cute, but by the end, not really.) And the phrase that (it felt like) they used the most by far was "Akina-sama." When it was time to re-seal Hydra, I wished that they (especially Chikane) would do more instead of asking Akina for help. But the references to the original KnM story were kind of amusing, in a nerdy way.
As far as yuri, there isn't really any, if you aren't already familiar with KnM. Chihane and Hinako don't kiss or act lovey-dovey- but since they are Chikane and Himeko and they seem to live together (and even speak in synch with each other at times- they felt like the Greek chorus of this volume), they still hold their couple-status for me here. (I'd like to think that Kaishaku was thinking, "Well everyone knows that they're a couple. We don't need to point it out.") But for a silly cameo in a crappy story, it was fine.
I haven't read or watched anything else from the UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie franchise. This was something that I picked up a few years ago in Japan, when I was trawling through manga in a bookstore and was pleasantly surprised to see chibi-Chikane and chibi-Himeko on the cover.
Story: I skimmed parts, especially early in the volume. Whenever Chihane and Hinako appeared, my interest mysteriously shot up.
Overall: C+ (Points for Chikane and Himeko in a non-rapey context. Such high standards....)