Thursday, July 25, 2013


I apologize for the extended absence, as I became distracted by a different sort of animal, the sort that lives in a Pokeball inside my Nintendo DS.  (Translation: my boyfriend got me Pokémon SoulSilver, and I got lost in it for a while.)

Thankfully, I'm back to cover yet another feline-focused bit of fiction.  Mind you, most of them aren't as literally about cats as Chi's Sweet Home - most are about that favorite of otaku fetishes, the catgirl.  Too bad that where catgirls tread, quality rarely follows.

OMAMORI HIMARI (Protective Charm Himari), by Milan Matra.  First published in 2006, and first published in North America in 2010.

Yuuto Amakawa is your typical harem lead teenage boy.  He's an orphan who lives alone, who is woke up every morning by his nagging neighbor girl/childhood friend Rinko.  Sure, today may be his 16th birthday, but Yuuto isn't expecting anything special.  Unfortunately, something special comes to him in the form of a possessed schoolmate.  He is saved by the voluptuous Himari, who immediately moves into Yuuto's house.  Himari turns out to be a cat spirit who has protected Yuuto's family for generations from evil spirits.  This doesn't sit too well with Yuuto, who is extremely allergic to cats.  Now Yuuto must help Himari adapt to the modern world without revealing her true identity and Himari must protect Yuuto from anyone who dare to claim him for themselves, be they tsundere schoolgirls or vengeful loli water spirits.

Once again, I find myself looking at a harem series, and once again I find a manga that can't even manage to reach my rock-bottom expectations for quality in this genre.

Yuuto might as well not be there.  True, he's not a total perv nor a spineless mensch, but he's simply just...there.  He's just the anchor for any and all girls in his growing harem to latch onto.  Mind you, those girls aren't towering forces of personality either.  Himari is a strange mix of formality and saucy flirtaciousness.  One could say her sudden personality shifts are meant to parallel the mood shifts of cats (being a catgirl herself), but I think it's more indicative of bad writing than any calculated effort on Matra's part.  Rinko is your run-of-the-mill tsundere, the kind who has to nag the lead just to get him up in the mornings and yet inexplicably loves him.  The third member of the harem is a deadpan little loli water demon, and has nothing going for her than her stoic nature.  The only thing these three have in common is that they are all dull as dishwater. 

Is the story any better than its cast?  After all, it involves demon slaying and possession, so it should involves some sweet fights, right?

Sadly, you would be wrong, so very very wrong.  The action scenes are mere afterthoughts, because why on earth would we want to see Himari fight demons when we can just watch her flaunt her boobs, try on clothes, or go to the beach?  Why would anyone want anything remotely original or exciting when we can just go over the same goddamn harem clichés over and over until I want to stab my brain with a chopstick?!

Omamori Himari tries to dress itself up with the demon-slaying catgirl angle, but it can't conceal the fact that this is just like every other harem series out there, old and new.  Its plot and characters are both as flat and one-dimensional as the paper they are printed on. 

I guess I can say that the artwork shows more effort than the writing, but that's not saying much.  Matra certainly put more effort towards the fanservice, as Himari rarely misses an opportunity to flaunt her massive boobs or pop out her conveniently cute cat ears or tail.  Yuuto himself rarely misses an opportunity to grope every girl in his harem at least once (including the loli), or to be straddled by one of the girls, or for somebody to flash their panties.  At one point Himari wears a yukata so tight that it practically wedges itself up her butt, which seems to miss the point of a yukata.  It's bad when the fanservice on the cover is about as subtle as the artwork gets.

Too bad that the character designs suffered for Matra's focus on fanservice, because they all look as generic as possible.  The backgrounds are mundane and often obscured with screentone.  Panels tend to be small and crowded until they break out the fanservice, but the page layouts are not overly crowded. 

There are a few color pages in the front, including the first two pages of the manga proper, but most of them are there to display Himari in all, I guess.  Aside from a brief author's note, that's it for extras.

Omamori Himari isn't the trashiest harem series out there, but rarely have I come across one so generic and paint-by-numbers.  No effort was put into it beyond "catgirl with sword", "BOOBS," and "PANTIES."  As such, no effort should be made towards reading or purchasing it.

This series is published by Yen Press.  This series is ongoing in Japan, with 11 volumes currently available.  10 of the 11 volumes have been published, and all are currently in print.

You can purchase this volume and many more like it through!

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