Heaven's Will is an emotional, well-told manga from popular shojo author Satoru Takamiya. In the tradition of many shojo mangas, Takamiya weaves together a gothic tale of love, loss, friendship and the paranormal. However, Heaven's Will is a complete, one-shot manga where the entire story is told in just one volume, which is fairly uncommon. In my opinion this really adds to the value of this story – you don't need to run out and buy subsequent volumes or wait months for the next installment to hit shelves. Everything about the world of Heaven's Will is packed into one convenient book.
Here, teenager Mikuzu is not like other girls her age – she can see ghosts or oni. Mikuzu is convinced that she's alone in her talents until she meets the beautiful, cross-dressing exorcist Seto. Seto, along with his vampire companion Kagari, team up with Mikuzu to protect her from oni – but not, of course, without payment. What's the best way to pay an exorcist? Why, with cake of course! Mizkuzu pledges to make a cake for Seto every day in exchange for protection from the oni. Soon after, the trio decides to turn their unique gifts into a lucrative exorcism enterprise.
Their first case, however, is more involved then what they signed up for. Mikuzu and Seto are asked to exorcize the ghost inside a wealthy man's piano, but the mission brings up some painful memories and emotions from the past. Most importantly, the adventure forces Mikuzu to deal with her fear of the oni and become stronger.
While the story features next to nothing new for a shojo manga, the emotion packed into these pages is believable and very, very real. Even though I only knew these characters for a short period of time, I still felt for their losses and their troubles. I wouldn't say it made me tear up, as the author was probably hoping, but it gives Seto and Kagari amazing depth and dimension for one-shot characters. However, since Takamiya spends the entire story focused on these two characters, Mikuzu kind of gets left out in the cold and remains a little two-dimensional for my tastes.
The artwork, however, is lovely. It takes a minimalist approach, which works with the simplicity of the story, but may bother manga fans who are picky about artwork. The characters also tended to seem a little like CLAMP knock-offs to me, complete with elongated limbs and ridiculously pretty faces. It's not the best shojo artwork out there, but I've definitely seen worse.
Without a doubt the most impressive part of this manga is the translation; it's really some of the best I have ever seen. The editors did a wonderful job of localizing the material and explaining the Japanese words and traditions in ways that Western readers can easily understand. It's highly accessible to any reader, no matter if this is their first or 51st manga.
This manga gets off to a great start, but sadly doesn't quite follow through. The premise, while not too original, is cute, fun and highly entertaining. But at times the emotional angst of the characters and their back stories completely eclipse the plot. While this gives the book phenomenal characterization, it makes the stories feel flimsy and nearly nonexistent. The ending is the biggest let down however, because it feels anti-climatic, sudden and unsatisfying. While I was somewhat grateful that Takamiya didn't use the predictable, easy ending, it still felt incomplete, almost like the story should have continued into subsequent volumes.
Bottom line: Heaven's Will is a frivolous, semi-entertaining manga that young girls and die hard Twilight fans will enjoy. The story may be a little difficult for fans of plot and manga artwork to get into, but, for readers who enjoy emotional characters tied into a simple plot, Heaven's Will is perfect.