The manga of Kageki Shojo!! has a little bit of an odd publication historical past; the primary two volumes ran in Jump X, a seinen journal, which was canceled earlier than the story had an opportunity to conclude. Fortunately, it was picked up by the shojo/josei journal Melody, and continued its run as Kageki Shojo!! (Be aware the additional exclamation level.) Seven Seas launched the Bounce X run as Kageki Shoujo!! The Curtain Rises final 12 months. And so, whereas this e-book is labeled as the primary quantity of Kageki Shojo!! correct, it’s miles from the beginning of the sequence.
This invitations the query of whether or not or not Kageki Shojo!! vol. 1 is an effective place to begin for the sequence. The reply is… type of? It was definitely written as a continuation, quite than a contemporary begin, and presumes familiarity with Ai, Sarasa, and the Kouka theater. On the similar time, the characters are broad sufficient at this stage that it isn’t too arduous to select up on their fundamental personalities, although there are a pair story beats that basically solely make sense if you understand Ai’s background because the daughter of an actress, or Sarasa’s love of Rose of Versailles. You probably have even a passing familiarity with Takarazuka Revue, you will acknowledge what Kouka is supposed to be immediately.
There’s additionally a marked shift in tone, focusing extra on the character of theater and Sarasa’s relationship to it quite than an examination of inauspicious points and trauma. I would not ascribe the change to the transfer from one journal to a different, since it isn’t just like the shojo/josei class is a stranger to melodrama, nor do I need to assume every other purpose. It is not a nasty change both; extra of a lateral shift that is simply nearly as good and fascinating to learn. The truth that there are fewer landmines to step on is a bonus, since The Curtain Rises undoubtedly had its coronary heart in the proper place however could possibly be clumsy.
Now that Ai and Sarasa have settled in at Kouka, their training is nicely underway. Whereas they take pleasure in most of their courses, studying the varied efficiency arts they’re going to want on the Kouka stage, one stands proud like a sore thumb: performing class, which is completely lectures for his or her first 12 months. Sarasa convinces their trainer to advocate for extra hands-on instruction, however the traditionalists of the board are proof against the concept of adjusting the curriculum they’ve used for many years.
This ties into the quantity’s strongest operating theme: the strain between custom and modernity. Though Sarasa’s childhood nonetheless has but to be totally explored, there have been some tantalizing hints up to now: her kabuki actor boyfriend, references to bounce class, a flashback of her donning a standard wig and kimono and becoming a member of in a procession. She hails from Asakusa, Tokyo’s Edo-era leisure district and the middle of the shitamachi, a hub of conventional tradition with quite a lot of still-active geisha. She’s not curious about doing issues a sure method simply because that is how they’ve at all times been executed, however on the similar time, her grounding in conventional Japanese theater arts might show to be a legal responsibility within the comparatively new Kouka Revue.
This quantity firmly cements Sarasa because the protagonist of Kageki Shojo!!, as a substitute of sharing the highlight equally with Ai, however there are nonetheless some good beats for the opposite characters. Whereas the story would not lean closely on her trauma, there are nonetheless different damaging results from Ai’s unstable childhood and adolescence that she’s coping with, and a few foreshadowing for her personal future difficulties discovering her voice as an actress. Alternatively, none of their classmates get a lot in the best way of storylines this quantity, and with the pretty easy artwork type, a lot of them find yourself mixing collectively within the background.
To not denigrate the artwork, which is gorgeous within the ways in which rely most. Kumiko Saiki has an eye fixed for paneling for max impression, making certain probably the most highly effective moments of the quantity have a superb weightiness. The scene from the anime’s trailer, of Sarasa wandering out onto the stage though it is implied to be taboo for college students, is right here on this quantity. Saiki’s mild, delicate linework, alongside together with her mastery of intuitive panel movement, creates magnificence and expressiveness at a degree few manga can obtain. It actually is ideal for a sequence about theater, the place portraying a personality’s persona by means of distinctive physique language and expression is essential.
There is a reverence for the theater right here that as somebody with deep roots within the performing arts myself, I appreciated. The characters could also be coaching to be actors, however the costumers, set designers, lighting crew, and stage crew are all key gamers as nicely, and Kageki Shojo!! takes the time to present them their due as nicely. Everybody is crucial to the magic of the stage, and each type of performing has its personal traditions and superstitions which might be necessary and legitimate to those that love them.
Like its heroine, Kageki Shojo!! is simply getting began however reveals huge promise.