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Page 2 - Features ANIMEfringe: July 2000 - Page 3 Page 4 - Subfeature

ANIMEfringe First Look:
San Choume no Kamisama
By Ikusabe Wataru, Adam "OMEGA" Arnold, and Steve Diabo (Kaneda)


Five years ago, Chihiro had to leave his childhood friend, Inaho, because his parents were moving to a bigger city to earn a steady living. As the two said their goodbyes, Inaho planted the seed in her friend's mind that their friendship was all because Chihiro needed a friend.

Now in the present, Chihiro is set to return to the countryside for the first time in three years to visit his grandparents. With this comes old memories, promises unfulfilled, and regrets. For Chihiro's dad, Hirotomo, regrets are all he has left -- it was because of his ambitions that the family packed up and left the countryside.

As Chihiro races home from school to pack, Hirotomo takes a breather on a park bench to reflect. As he begins to think out loud, a voice echoes forth and he scrambles to his feet only to find a woman claiming to be the Devil at the top of a star-shaped light post. The Devil possesses the poor man's body and vows to destroy the company that causes him such grief.

Hirotomo manages to find his way home, but is acting strangely. Over dinner, as Hirotomo's behavior becomes more erratic, it is decided that rather than cancel the trip, Chihiro should go visit his Grandpa and Grandma by himself.

The next day, Chihiro takes a bus to the countryside and then follows the river bed through the forest to reach his grandparents' house. Along the way, he is confronted by an fierce bear that has been injured by a hunter's bullet. Suddenly, a young girl with bells appears, extends her hand, and tells the bear where to go to find respite. Strangely, the bear listens to her and leaves peacefully. But, before Chihiro can thank the girl, she vanishes.

When he reaches his grandparents house, they discuss the weird encounter, his dad's strange behavior, and the conversation soon evolves into a remembrance of the past and how he used to play with his friend Inaho at the Goddess Inaho Shrine. But, his grandpa is quick to point out that there is no kid named Inaho in the village.
With the memories of the past slowly coming back to him he decides to go to the shrine where he fully remembers his promise to Inaho that, "No matter how long it takes, we will meet again." And with that, the memories all become fresh as the day they occurred and Inaho appears behind Chihiro, saying "Osu." (Yo.)

San Choume no Kamisama (which can be roughly translated as 'The God Living in the Third District') is an engaging new manga by Monthly Shonen Ace's new manga pioneer Nishidate Naoki that comes hot on the heels of the conclusion of the fan favorite Jyoshi Karatebe + One (Female Karate Club + One) in Monthly Shonen Ace 1999 #9. Near the end of the three-volume series, Naoki managed to work out all the dangling plots and romantic situations. A feat in itself, since most creators side-step loose-ends in favor of a dramatic conclusion. To keep the creative juices following in between series, a forty-page short story entitled "Child Hazard" followed four issues later in Monthly Shonen Ace 2000 #1. This was all leading up to the debut of the completely original manga "San Choume no Kamisama"in issue #5.

Overall, Naoki's artwork emphasizes a rounded style of drawing that is reminiscent of a cross between Toshihiro Ono's Pokémon manga and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's Neon Genesis Evangelion manga. This style seems to hinge on the overall cuteness of the main characters, giving them an innocence that could be lost at any time. The supporting characters blend more with the backgrounds and tend to have more lines that signifies a worn look that comes with age and maturity.

Even though Naoki's current work, "San Choume no Kamisama," doesn't have a set number of chapters yet, it has proven to be a heart warming fantasy story with enough weird goings-on to give it the far reaching effect it needs to catch peoples' attention. The manga gives Naoki a chance to break the previous character molds by having a goddess as a main character.

San Choume no Kamisama: Character Dossier
Chihiro

An athletic young boy who was powerless to leave his childhood playmate, Inaho, when his parents decided to move to the city. The memories of his past have begun to surface and leave many questions about the mysterious nature of his friend unanswered.
Hirotomo

Chihiro's Dad who moved his family away from the countryside to find a steady income in the city. Now filled with regrets, a Devil has possessed him poised to destroy the company that has brought him such grief and heart-ache.
Chihiro's Mom

A caring housewife who submitted to her husbands decision to leave the area she grew up in when her father and husband began to not see eye to eye about the unpredictable nature of farming.
Grandpa and Grandma

The parents of Chihiro's mom have lived a simple life farming in the countryside and are quite fond of Chirhiro, but balked at his father's decision to move the family.
Inaho

The young girl that Chirhiro used to play together with at the Goddess Inaho Shrine before he moved away. Inaho is an energetic and imaginative young girl decorated with big ribbons, beads, and bells who can tame a wild beast with a wave of her hand. Oddly enough, there isn't a girl named Inaho in the village...
Goddess Inaho

A goddess who has been protecting the village near the lake where Chihiro's grandparents live. Villagers often pray at the Goddess Inaho Shrine because legend tells of a young girl who sacrificed herself by walking into the lake to save the starving village.
'Devil'

A mysterious body snatcher that thrives on anger and regret and is ready to leave destruction in her wake.
 

Hey! Do you have a copy of Monthly Shonen Ace 2000 #5? Wanna read this manga, but can't understand Japanese? Fear not! ANIMEfringe gives you a full, unofficial translation script for San Choume no Kamisama to use! Even if you don't own a copy of the actual manga, a lot can be enjoyed just from reading the translation script itself. Click here to access it!

Page 2 - Features ANIMEfringe: July 2000 - Page 3 Page 4 - Subfeature
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