Boy dials wrong number, mistakenly orders a magical goddess. Wackiness ensues. When boiled right down that’s the plotline of Oh My Goddess! which has kept the series going for over twenty years. In the first three volumes we are introduced to Keiichi Morisato, typical college student and member of the Nekomi Institute of Technology Motor Club. He’s the one who manages to get the goddess Belldandy to stay with him by wishing that a goddess like her would be with him always.
What could be a rather sordid and smarmy storyline turns out to be an endearing romance as the shy, fumbling Keiichi slowly courts the sweet and loving Belldandy. Some of that smarminess could be said to be added back in when Belldandy’s ‘big sister’ Urd shows up in the second volume. Much more worldly and outspoken than Belldandy, Urd immediately decides Belldandy and Keiichi should show their love in a much more physical fashion. She then uses her own magic in various attempts to bring that about. These situations coupled with the jealousy of Belldandy from the campus queen, Sayoko Mishima, make volumes two and three rife with amusing foiled romantic plots and magic gone awry.
There is plenty of action as well as humor throughout the first three volumes. The Motor Club’s dumb brute of a president, Tamiya, impulsively commits the club to rather odd racing challenges on an almost disturbingly regular basis and the visuals of these sequences are well executed. Fugishima’s artwork in general shows a clean, assured style. It’s a fun mix of beautiful girls, racing action, and the slightly over-the-top emotional reactions common to many manga.
As with other manga designed to appeal to teen males, there are some ‘fan service’ moments of panty shots and the like, but in my opinion these are fewer and tamer than in many other titles. Still it may be of concern in some libraries. As such it’s suitable for most young adult shelves and older teens.
One note about the format: Dark Horse originally began releasing Oh My Goddess way back in 1994 and has previously released volumes of collected story arcs in a flopped (reading left-to-right in the English language manner) format. You may have these older editions on your shelves and they can be noted by their subtitles on the covers. For instance the first volume, subtitled 1-555-Goddess and later as Wrong Number, doesn’t quite include all the material of the first volume of the new edition. Since the recent manga explosion, Dark Horse decided to go forward with unflopped, less-heavily edited editions to match the new industry standard. They also are re-releasing previously published material in this format – like these three volumes – to correspond more closely with the Japanese originals.