Mitama Kamishiro is an athletic junior high school girl with a strong sense of justice who has dreamed of becoming a crime avenger since she was little. A mysterious shopping district, "Yaoyorozu Shopping District," suddenly appears in front of the silly yet righteous Mitama, who "wants to save humanity from its inevitable downfall." When Mitama goes to the shopping district that seems to be calling out to her, she is faced with... This is a Shinto-inspired comedy about a silly righteous high school girl and some bizarre Gods. Hurry up and pray!!
Haratama Kiyotama was simultaneously published in Japanese, Chinese and English (as Oh God! Dear God!) on DeNA's Manga Box app and ran for 9 chapters. When the published volume was released, these chapters were compiled together into 5 chapters.
I’m sure that many of us, during our formative years, imagined ourselves to be protectors of justice, heroes with superpowers or just simply do-gooders. We may have even had ambitions to become such heroes with the simple goal of helping people. Mitama Kamishiro is no different. As a child she aspired to be a ‘crime avenger’ (as she calls it) and spent her days protecting her (seemingly) only friend, Hana from whatever dangers came forth. Back in reality, as we grew older we most likely lost sight of these goals as we grew more accustomed with reality and understanding the world. Mitama
Kamishiro has yet to go through this gradual realization.
At the young yet maturing age of 14, Kamishiro is not only still dead-set on becoming a ‘crime avenger’, but she too easily indulges in her fantasies, such as believing the new mall that appeared in her hometown is the work of an insidious secret organization. While it would be pretty silly to think something like that at her age, she is not entirely wrong this time around. It’s just not the work of an insidious organization but a group of guardian deities, who are on their own quest to rekindle the faith humans have in them so that they won’t disappear. Despite initial resistance, Mitama agrees to serve the gods on their quest, under the presumption that she will be able to fulfill her childlike goal of upholding justice as some sort of hero. For a 14 year old, her logic and beliefs are still quite immature and she’s seemingly out of touch with reality, heck even young kids scoff at her dreams. With this being said, it’s not a great start when a manga presents you with a character with such a deluded psyche but as it turns out, Mitama’s character is the least of Haratama Kiyotama’s problems. Her character can be excused as juvenile as the bevy of problems that this manga contains overshadows her flaws.
Haratama Kiyotama (or the surprisingly appropriate English title Oh God! Dear God!) is a present-day adventure that follows Mitama on her quest to fulfill her dream of helping people and upholding justice. At least that’s what the manga wanted to be about. By the end of the manga, there is no fulfilment or satisfaction delivered. Instead we are given nothing but a half-assed ending that doesn’t deliver any sort of closure. With that in mind, the entire construction of the story is disastrous, sparking wonder as to why the manga even aimed for such lengths, what the mangaka even had in mind, and with a more pitiless view, why it even exists.
Problems first arise with the initial meeting between Mitama & the gods. Not only is this presented in a very muddled manner, but we singlehandedly witness an incredibly cutthroat induction which completely betrays what the manga aims to accomplish. Might I inform you now, Haratama Kiyotama is intended to be a light-hearted comedy manga. Now, from the disorganized presentation, here is what I understood: the gods show Mitama that her friend, Hana, is in mortal danger, she can be saved if Mitama asks upon their help but as a result, she will have to become a Shinto Priest and travel around the country with them. Apparently the gods (who can save this girl at any time) refuse to save Hana themselves, but instead use this situation as backhanded method to ‘employ’ Mitama into their group. As if this isn’t enough, thereafter Mitama has overbearing tasks forced upon her, restricted of meals or freedom until she completes them. Furthermore, she is sent to do the gods’ work of rekindling humans’ faith without substantial support. As an end of chapter joke, Mitama remarks that she wants to quit after hearing of what she really has to do and in response, another God remarks “You might be able to quite when you die…” Wow, that’s grim. Mitama is a slave isn’t she. Let me remind you once again that Haratama Kiyotama is a light-hearted manga, you’re supposed to laugh this off, bat an eye to it, because this is all just silly fun. Right? The whole manga is presented in a cheery manner, telling us that it’s okay that Mitama is more or less enslaved for the rest of her life because she’s having a blast, which seems to be true. Yes, it should not be a surprise that silly old Mitama is somehow blind to the own injustice that was committed against her. Stellar.
The manga promises that Mitama will tackle problems that threaten justice and the wellbeing of people, requiring Mitama to find solutions and grow from these experiences. Even humble expectations may have been set too high as that’s not the case here. There are only two real cases in the manga that Mitama tackles and ultimately, they are utterly irrelevant to the greater good. One is a fickle love triangle, that is made more complicated by the idiocy of another god, and the other is fulfilling a shallow dream of an incredibly shallow woman. Mitama initially protests, after all this is not what she had in mind, yet she is forced to solve these problems in the end (guess why). Even upon fulfillment of the tasks, the gods don’t remark anything about rekindled faith or the like. Instead, they tell Mitama that she did a good job and subsequently force another mundane task upon her. Maybe I was wrong about it not being an ‘insidious organization’. Not long after it starts, Haratama Kiyotama decides to end with no prior warning or anticipation. It pulls a villain out of thin air and delivers a superficial answer to Mitama’s dream. It’s almost as if even the mangaka decided to drop this series, seeing as how much of a mess it already was.
There is no saving grace from the characters either. As I examined earlier, Mitama has the mentality of a child and her character would’ve made more sense if she was a few years younger. Oh, but if that happened we wouldn’t get those vital panty-shots. The gods are essentially an assortment of caricatures and archetypes that never transcend their familiarities. They are given a familial hierarchy, akin to Ancient Greek Gods, but the most this delivers are sentiments of familiarity between them, which is solely played on for comedy. There are no complex familial relations, nor any doubt, regret or realization towards their putrid treatment of Mitami. There’s meager character development here and there, but it’s incredibly cliched and has been done since time immemorial. The most characterization is given to Mitama’s friend Hana, but as she only appears in the first two chapters, it’s quite a waste. On that note, it’s a bit confounding how when Mitama becomes a Shinto Priest, she immediately leaves her town, without saying goodbye to her friend, who she has lived together with since childhood. This just goes to show how lazily written and poorly-thought out the manga is as a whole. Why doesn’t Mitami have any qualms towards leaving her family behind? Why doesn’t she care about her poor treatment by the gods? These questions are never answered. Haratama Kiyotama doesn’t care to answer them. It probably doesn’t even realize that it has these problems. Ultimately nothing substantial happens throughout the entire manga, the cases don’t add up to anything, it’s not very exciting, it’s not very funny, there are no surprises, no breaks in convention and no real ambition. It just sucks. There’s utterly no worth to what happens in the manga, it just feels entirely useless.
Admittedly, it doesn’t hurt to read Haratama Kiyotama, after all it's only one volume long. You can see Mitami as just a silly character and not take her seriously like I did. The artwork is perfunctory yet it can still be enjoyed. There’s even a single good joke amongst all the other wasted attempts. However, there are better time-wasters than this aimless wreck of a manga that can’t even deliver the simple things it promises. I said earlier that the English title for this manga (Oh God! Dear God!) was appropriate. Can you see why?