Inuzuka Taroumaru is a first year high school student who looks like a delinquent. One evening, while he's at his part-time job, he ends up with a white-feathered arrow through his head! He's told that this arrow means he has been chosen as the sacrifice for "Inugami-hime," who lives on top of the nearby mountain. However, this mysterious "Inugami-hime" turns out to be a cute girl who has chosen him to be her servant, not her sacrifice. Their life together is just beginning!
Being unique is hard nowadays in general, but it's even harder in manga/anime medium, which is infamous for utilizing stereotypes, cliches and genre-typical approaches for safely taking a specified audience’s money. For Inugamihime, a story about one young man and his dog-goddess master, readers will see just how damaging being ‘safe’ can be when set in a high-speed environment.
Story: Inugamihime’s immediate premise is an example of “everyday-man” turned “MC”, with an arrow going straight through Inuzuka Taroumaru’s head. He’s then forced to be a sacrifice for the village deity, but it turns out he’ll just be her
From this platform, the story turns into a slice-of-life adventure as the reader is slowly introduced to the rest of the cast, which is decently sized for such a small series. The events of the story document the progression the princess as she begins to intermingle with society, causing confusion as she misunderstands words, discovers new technologies and even makes a friend or two. At the same time however, the princess also attempts to balance her powers and gain the trust of the villagers.
With this small background in mind, it is apparent that the story does not take any significant deviations from its competitors. However, what ruins what could have been at least a mediocre series is the pacing, which, due to short length of the story, prevents events from being fully explained and/or experienced. Over the span of 15 chapters, character relationships form, strengthen, break and then reemerge in almost a loop of sorts. People get hurt and people grow. Despite these developments, the effects of such developments are short lived. Even the true crisis in the story is resolved relatively quickly and the readers are barely even allowed to see the aftermath. The situations keep changing, leaving this series with a puddle of muddled events.
Art: From an art perspective, the artwork present attempts to blend together modern character design tropes with Japanese mythology, resulting in limited success. The main characters themselves don’t look much different from the multitude of black-haired girly or harsh but kind MCs. The action scenes, ranging from saving a girl from drowning in a pool to fending off a bunch of kamaitachi’s , were okay. Nothing really remarkable about this series visually other the neatly drawn dog mask, dog spirits and kimonos.
Characters: The characters of the series are, as I keep saying, “safe”, in that they assume their roles and tend not to stray too far from their first impressions. Inuzuka is the tough and caring servant who, while having a tendency to complain, continues to serve his master dutifully. Sazen is the extremely dedicated father-like servant who keeps a close eye on his mistress and the newbie. Aya, the Dog goddess, is the too-refined-that-she’s-clueless character with the pinch of tsundere that all master-and-servant relationships have in modern manga. Other characters also make appearances but they too are swept away by the lighting-fast-current of this series. Over the course of the chapters, we see these characters progress as they get closer, then drift apart before closing the gap yet again. Everything, from the banter to the faces they make, all scream “cliche”, but that in itself isn’t what holds the series back.
The true problem lies in how quickly these characters change, which is almost completely due to the pacing. Because of that, not even devoted fans to this kind of manga can appreciate the tropes when they see them because most situations usually last only a chapter or two. Even if the approach intended was quantity over quality, the brevity of the series doesn’t do it any favors.
Enjoyment: Due to its extremely quick pace, unremarkable premise and bland characters, I cannot say I enjoyed this series nor can I even recommend it to others. While it was a short read, each chapter felt too long, mostly because I wanted the predictable, rushed dialogue and rehashed scenarios to end. I felt nothing for the characters because they are simply replaceable.
Overall: Mediocrity is a dangerous position to be in in a business where it is so common. For Inugamihime, a series with terrible pacing that proceeds to ruin a setting that already seemed to an unremarkable, fame might reach it eventually, but for the wrong reasons. For those who came looking for a story about shrine priestesses, dog-girls, or just plain old-romance, this series offers a quick fix, but in the end, speed doesn’t mean everything.
This was a rather pleasant surprise considering several factors. 1) I'm not a huge fan of supernatural settings and 2) There's only 15 chapters so I was hesitant in fear of a rushed story. While the supernatural aspects were pretty much evident in each chapter, it wasn't out of control and still flowed rather naturally. In short, a young man (male protagonist) was chosen to become the servant of a goddess/deity (female protagonist) and we're treated to the wild development and scenarios between the mains and side characters. As for the rushed aspect, sadly this manga could not escape that fate. The story went
from happy go lucky to all of a sudden [dramatic plot and conflict intensifies]. The last few wrap up chapters seemingly come out of left field and while we get a happy ending, the resolution to the conflict was rather trivial.
Very good artwork and designs throughout each chapter. The male lead, while being fairly decent looking was dwarfed by the female lead in terms of aesthetics. Aya (the goddess) is an attractive/appealing character and the variety of facial expressions/reactions drawn for her really contributed to her personality on-screen. For the most part, the story takes place in a school setting with some chapters detailing life in the shrine/castle/temple where our mains reside; the art style was consistent and fitting to the story.
As with the artwork, our female protagonist Aya really is the highlight of this manga. She dictates and sets the pace and the male lead (Taroumaru) follows along. Without a doubt, the naivety and overall personality of Aya is kawaii bait for the readers but it's done so well that honestly, I couldn't help but go along with it as well. As for the side characters-- some of them kept up pretty well with the main's tempos but most of them contributed close to nothing. Personally, I wish there were more screen time for the main character's little sister who he swears is his life but there was hardly any mention of it outside of a handful of panels.
The combination of a decent plot, productive (for the most part) characters, and a solid art foundation resulted in a pretty good read overall. Despite the romance genre tag, it wasn't a heavy influence on the story but rather a soft jab here and there. Comedy and a minor slice of life aspect were more pronounced for this manga. Still, I can and will recommend this for most readers.