Saturday, July 23, 2022

Kageki Shojo!! Volume 6 (Manga Review)

Two high school girls in sailor uniforms stand back to back with joyous and open mouthed expressions, with their inner hands stretched out front and their outside hands over their heads in a performance stance.
    In "Kageki Shojo!!" volume 6 (Seven Seas), the Kouka school first years are finally auditioning for their parts in "Romeo and Juliet." The auditions will be judged by the students, and each group will be randomly selected to audition together so they have had no time to to practice as an ensemble.
    It's a fairly straightforward volume, told in a mixture of scenes of auditions alternating with backstory from several characters, but mostly focusing on our lead, Sarasa Watanabe.  A couple volumes ago, she was told that while her acting is extraordinary, that it is clear she is identically replicating her favorite performances by others, rather than finding her own version of the characters. So the setup for this volume, is really around what she'll do to find her version of Tybalt.
    I'm coming to terms with two things in this series: 1) it isn't going to be a yuri series, or even yuri-light like the anime "Revue Starlight" and 2) that even though I'm more interested in her roomate, Ai, Sarasa will always be this series' focus. I think the faster I come to terms with those two things, the more I can judge this series appropriately.
    So with that in mind, although it's still not my favorite topic for shoujo, it wasn't a bad volume. What I liked was that we learned more about Sarasa's journey before Kouka and also got some increased clarity on her relationship with Akiya. There was also a strong scene with one of the girls defending another girl from bullying in a way that probably wasn't realistic to their ages, but should serve as a lesson for how teen girls SHOULD support each other. It was a direct and sensitive confrontation of some light bullying. Always good to see.
    Our two main Tybalts, Sawa and Sarasa, got extended coverage of their auditions, and the volume concludes with all the characters reactions to finding out whether they got the parts they wanted or not. Those final pages were some of the best in the volume, as we got to see them each express their grief, joy, disappointment, or growth through their reactions to the casting. I'm not going to give anything away, so you'll just have to read it yourself.
    The art continues to be fine. I would describe it as well done, with some nice facial drawings, but not quite my preferred style either, and maybe a bit simple at times. I do find the lack of textures and screen tones makes it a bit more boring than my favorite artists, but technically it has a distinct rhythm to the art. So at least it's recognizably unique to this mangaka and not a generic look. The panels where we "see" the characters the students are portraying as they are acting in this volume are a cut above the normal art in the series. 
    The more I accept this series for what it's going to be, the more I will try not to pick it apart for what it's not. So as a shoujo series about an all-girls acting school, and with the plucky but raw (and apparently straight) Sarasa as our heroine, it's plenty decent. A slightly darker story, with the focus on her roommate Ai and Ai's complex internal life, and if Ai were also lesbian so we could get a true LGBTQ lesbian story (not just a fluffy yuri story - which also have their place) would have made it awesome. But now I know that where I hoped this series would go after the prequel volume's undertones, are not where it's actually going to go. So I'm putting to rest that sadness and I'm going to keep reading "Kageki Shoujo!!" for what it is.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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