Mitsuami no Kamisama is a short manga with very pleasant, simplistic art and writing styles. Partially due to this, I was not expecting such profound thematic and metaphorical depth that I was presented with while reading.
Mitsuami no Kamisama follows just a select few human characters in a setting which already seems to lack extensive human involvement. However, with the prevalent use of personification, much of the manga’s focus, as well as the source of nearly all of its dialogue, is the vast number of normally-inanimate objects which occupy its world. This use of personification is relatively common in literature, but with it, Mitsuami no
Kamisama manages to portray countless themes and allegories in very unique ways. The contrast between the deep themes explored in this manga and its overall charming presentation helps make Mitsuami no Kamisama a special and memorable experience.
As the characters, story, and setting are built upon, a central theme aimed at the reader begins to form: taking aspects of daily life for granted, or unjustly finding trivial. There are numerous additional concepts within the manga that stem and branch out from this idea. The author sets up these sub-themes in ways which allows them to be interpreted in different ways thanks to her slightly vague, simple, and open-ended writing style. Because of this I am certain that everyone can find something to connect to while reading. The overarching story in Mitsuami no Kamisama proves to be surprisingly expansive; throughout the plot's progression, its tone and further messages manage to range anywhere from happy and lighthearted to quite somber and tragic. Once I reached its conclusion, I was left extremely satisfied and somewhat in awe of how well different aspects of the story and themes managed to come together and reflect each other.
I have nothing but praise for Mitsuami no Kamisama, I consider it an incredible piece of literature and possibly the best thing I've ever read. A wonderful experience whether you choose to interpret it as a nice, light read, as something deeper which provides plenty to think about, or as something between the two. I highly recommend it and hope that over time it can receive more exposure as I feel it greatly deserves.
"What's over there in the other world? The truth isn't something you can openly say."
Mitsuami no Kamisama is an award-winning work by Kyou Machiko, an author most well known for the whimsical identity each one of her manga exhibits and with this story it's no different as we follow the seemingly lonely life of one girl, well that's not the whole truth but more on that in just a moment.
The first thing that you will notice with Mitsuami no Kamisama, and with all of Machiko's works is the softness that her art emanates, it fills you with a feeling of warmth, couple it with the
minimal amount of dialogue most of her work's have and it's fairly easy to get lost in her works where you may end up finishing them in a day or getting close to it. Another advantage of her soft art-style is the inherent vulnerability it adds to each character, and as a side effect, the emotion they end up displaying is heightened in effect. For this story in particular, there's a lot of bright & warm colors that are used to purposefully clash with the abnormal world that our main character inhabits. Speaking of which, our main character and some of the other characters that are introduced as the story progresses all have rather plain designs, from their hair styles to the type of clothing they wear, nothing stands out about them, instead the focus of this manga is on the setting, and rather the story behind said setting. What we are shown is nothing out of the ordinary, our main character lives by herself in a house, there's a shore nearby where sea turtles often come from and every now and then our MC might get some mail, the real question that begins to form is, where is everybody else?
The second thing you might notice is the dialogue, or the lack thereof that is present in this story, this is done purposefully and ties back into her art. Machiko prioritizes telling a story through her environments a lot of time, whether it be with a panel that focuses on the night sky or the emotion displayed on a character's face. Each of these is used and prioritized in a way over the conventional storytelling method of dialogue & text, and thanks to the author's skill with this unconventional storytelling as well as the inherent vulnerability given off by the character's designs, it pays off in great effect during the story's highest notes.
But speaking of this story is a delicate issue, and it's one that doesn't even really start to form until about a third of the way through the manga. See for a large majority of this manga, especially at the beginning, every chapter is told through the eyes of a specific tool that our heroine has, for example, a clothespin, soap, gardening gloves, and a few others I won't mention but through each of these tools we are shown a story that tells a day in the life of the specific tool, and what there thoughts are regarding what they do. These stories can range from funny to touching, philosophical to depressing, and with each of these stories you get a grasp of Machiko's strong storytelling. In most of her works she focuses on a character driven journey but for Kamisama we are instead treated to her ability at crafting a story based largely on the world the characters live in.
That's not to imply that the character's themselves don't have much of a story because they do, and the shift from environmental to character-focused comes off feeling well-written and smooth, it's just that the whole air that surrounds this manga is leading unto the reader hoping to get a glimpse into what might have happened to this seemingly devoid world. Speaking of shifting focus there is one issue with the manga (as mentioned earlier) and that has to do with that shift from the environmental focus to a character driven one, the shift itself doesn't feel out of place but what does is the feeling of abruptness that the ending leaves you with. The ending itself is quite clever and well-written, with questions being answered and the stakes being raised we are presented with a surprising and poignant climax that I enjoyed, but my issue is with the fact that what follows the climax is nothing, and in a story sense where it ended is a logical conclusion that our characters would have reached, but as an overall story it feels just stuffed in a little bit too early on in what could have been a much longer story.
In regards to the characters, each one (including the tools themselves) are all written in a touching, and surprisingly human way, especially those you may only see for a single chapter. They are all touched upon and bring with their arrival, a lesson to not only our main character, but more importantly us as the reader and with that leaves a feeling that won't go away once you reach the last page.
Thinking about it now this story holds many messages to it, from the one-off chapters to the ending there's a lot to be found and plenty here to touch the heart. It would have been nice to see the story continue on but really what we were given anyways was quite good itself. Overall Kyou Machiko has written another touchingly lovely story that everyone should give a shot and check out.