Sunday, March 17, 2024

Kageki Shojo!! Vol 9 and 10 (manga review)

A high school girl with short light hair and a fencing swordA high school girl dressed as a gangster and another girl who is in mild shock

    The girls are entering their second year at Kouka Theater School. These were two of the better volumes so far for a few reasons:
    1) We got to see how they've grown and how they process now being senpai to the incoming students of the 101st class.
    2) We get a bigger focus on Ai.
    So if you've been reading my reviews of Kageki Shojo!! so far, you may remember that I really liked the prelude volume "Curtain Rises" with its heavy focus on Ai and have been a bit underwhelmed by the main series with its focus on Sarasa. While Sarasa is an interesting and engaging character, I still feel she functions best as the friendly foil to push Ai along. With volume 9 and particularly 10, we get a bigger does of Ai and her interiority which I find more compelling, complex, and interesting.   
    Where much of where Sarasa's writing and her development occurs externally, Ai is a very internal character and so when the writing focuses on her, it feels like the story has more depth with both the outside objective world and what is going on inside.
    We also get to see some interesting growth and choices by Ai that signal how she is slowly healing in this new environment, away from her mother, and under Sarasa's influence. Volume 10 is a somewhat joyful volume for Ai, not that it's outwardly a festive volume, but mostly that the growth we see is moving Ai into a more complete and whole and ultimately well-adjusted person.
    There is also some time getting to see how the girls' acting class for second year will be different than the first year and how that will push all of them in some new directions. This is also intimately tied into one of the areas that Ai shows growth (the other main one being her attempts at being a good senpai and therefor coming out of her shell a bit). There is definitely a sense in these volumes of a trajectory for the series. Whether it will end with their initial auditions for the Kouka troupe, or maybe follow them beyond, is uncertain, but we do get the sense that this series and these characters are going somewhere and changing along the way.
    I hope the heavier dose of Ai continues through the rest of the series.


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