Girls Kingdom Vol. 2 Review

I could read this series forever.

Having successfully beaten off the attempted takeover of the Sky Salon in the first volume while also neatly helping her room-mate land a gig, volume two finds Misaki reflecting with relief on the latter… and noticing that she’s gotten a bit more into this whole being a Seraph thing than she’d realized. But any chance that this might lead to some deeper introspection on our hapless lead’s part is quickly washed away on a froth of antics involving very serious matters like why a campus restaurant is failing, and why foreign classmate Sara thinks Misaki and Kirara are truly dreadful maids. And if that weren’t enough on her plate, Misaki also ends up dragooned into trying to smooth matters out between volleyball star Minako and the glamorous Kagura, both pictured on the cover. But, fret not – even if there’s precious little time for Misaki to squeeze in academic studies, she does manage to get two baths with her own mistress, Himeko.

Girls Kingdom continues to charge full speed ahead in the same vein as it had in its debut volume, which is to say that things remain quite firmly ridiculous and extremely entertaining. As was the case with that first volume, too, the elements that simply shouldn’t work (of which there are many) are generally pulled off with aplomb by author Nayo, who manages to make it all seem so easy (and kudos, too, to translator Philip Reuben, who strikes the right tone for the English translation). Every time I put it down to go do something else, I marveled a bit to myself at how much I was enjoying given how much of the basic elements I don’t like. Truly, this is a series I could probably read endlessly.

Ok, now the negative take… although, I can’t entirely extricate it from an observation that we did have a slight improvement from last volume. Overall fanservice actually declined a bit this time around, largely as there was no extended underwear-buying scene, and, yes, even despite the shared baths. But the Kokonoe sisters still feature prominently, and that they now basically have a trapped victim in the form of Kirara manages to make them feel even worse than before. Kirara’s stoic endurance of their groping and general sexualized harassment is deeply unpleasant; we know she’s never going to complain or put up resistance because she’s too grateful for the opportunity to serve Kagura to risk upending things. I’m hoping as the cast continues to expand that there’ll be less space to waste on the twins.

Speaking of groping, this remains more properly a yuri-adjacent title rather than a yuri title, although I wouldn’t go so far as to call it solely subtextual. It’s not subtle about it at all, hence my aversion to calling it a matter of subtext, but it does tend to operate as being more hay for humor about Misaki’s tendency toward ignorance and obliviousness. Perhaps… somewhat oddly, it put me in the mind of Monica Nolan’s Lesbian Career Girl series, most strongly Lois Lens, Lesbian Secretary, as while Lois is certainly more aware of her desires, there remains a wide-eyed gee-willikers similarity between her and Misaki in terms of observational skills. (By the way, Lesbian Career Girls is a fantastic series, please go read those books… and when you have, you can then read Nolan’s blogged serial that is centered around the women’s boarding house Lois lives in.)

Tangentially, Misaki’s a character type I don’t often like, but here she makes for a good anchor upon which to tether the story. Whole thing would be utterly doomed if it wasn’t centered around a girl who finds the whole situation somewhat absurd (I shudder to imagine if Kirara were our vantage point).

Volume three is slated for June, and, yes, I have already pre-ordered it (and this despite my recently resolving to rein in my book purchases, which have become totally out of control under pandemic). A very silly series that I’m wicked glad got picked up for this English language release. Can’t recommend it enough in particular for folks who like their light novels to be over-the-top (Strawberry Panic fans who didn’t take StoPani seriously as a piece of drama in particular should give this one a go).

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