A Mysterious Ancient Force dropped a book into my lap last week. It’s the first volume of “Ballad of a Shinigami,” possibly better known as Shinigami no Ballad, one of the premiere titles in Seven Seas Entertainment’s new line of light novels.
Ballad of a Shinigami is many small stories with one common theme: the arrival of an unusual shinigami named Momo. Unlike her dark and gloomy peers, Momo is a young girl clad in all white, save for a pair of red shoes. Accompanied by her servant, a talking winged cat named Daniel, Momo fulfills her duty of bringing souls into the afterlife, but not without bending the rules here and there along the way.
I have to admit that I was a little worried that it would be a little too cutesy. The dialogue, either by original script or translation or possibly both, is a little stilted and awkward. However, Ballad of a Shinigami turns out to be a very pleasant surprise. The central theme of the novel is change. The characters, no matter their afflictions, possess incredible heart and inner strength. If they don’t, then they have friends and certain other worldly white-clad individuals helping them to change, to accept their pasts while moving towards their ever uncertain futures with heads held high. By the end, I hardly noticed the writing’s awkwardness, as the emotion of it all took over.
It would be so easy for this to be a sweet, cathartic tale, but it isn’t and we’re all the better for it. Momo inspires the people she meets to grow and mature. As a shinigami she teaches people to accept death and pain, a small price to pay for growth and maturity.
When characters suffer and change and progress, it is my kind of moe.