Title: Ballad of a Shinigami Vol 2
Author: Asuka Izumi
Original Story: K-Ske Hasegawa
May Contain Spoilers
Momo the shinigami and Daniel the talking feline return to help guide souls to the afterlife. The problem with Momo is that she isn’t a very good shinigami. She prefers helping people keep their souls than collecting them away from them. Much to Daniel’s dismay, Momo can’t seem to stop herself from interfering with people’s lives, which really interferes with their deaths. Or prevents them altogether. I don’t think this tendency of Momo’s is a work avoidance ploy, and I believe that she genuinely wants to help her assignments remain in the land of the living. No wonder she gets in so much trouble with her superiors!
I am enjoying Ballad of a Shinigami much more than I thought I would. It’s got a lot of positives going for it. The art is attractive, with very appealing character designs. It’s always easy to follow along with the action, and facial expressions are especially effective. That is a good thing, because there is a lot of emotion packed into these pages. Since death plays a central role in the episodic chapters, all of the characters have to deal with mortality in their own way. Some refuse to accept it, and others are resigned to whatever fate awaits them.
My favorite chapter this time around is “That Time with a Push Broom.” Shiori gets a little more than she bargained for when she catches a glimpse of Osuke floating in the air, surrounded by cherry blossom trees in full bloom. She snaps a picture, and he destroys her digital camera. Life then becomes a crusade to have him buy her a new one. This is a cute romance with magic and a mysterious guy. Shiori’s life will never be the same , and neither will her camera!
The other stories are satisfying, and they offer enough variety that the premise don’t start to feel stale. A lonely orphan tries to accept the death of her parents and her overwhelming loneliness, a cat attempts to comfort a young girl whose mother has abandoned the family, and a teenage boy falls in love for the first time. All of of the characters are likeable, and you really want all of them to have a positive outcome by the end of their chapter.
Though I am not usually a fan of episodic manga, Ballad of a Shinigami delivers solid entertain through well-crafted short stories, with eye-pleasing illustrations that tie everything neatly together.
Review copy provided by CMX