Well, its fitting that I’d make my return with the latest volume of Girls Kingdom.
Much as was the case in the second volume, in volume three Misaki is continuing to live the maid’s life largely unexamined, with only a scant moments of consideration given to her original goals of getting a good education so she can get a good office job. In a different series, this would be perhaps worrisome; in the world of Amanotsuka Academy for Girls, it really matters not, as the worst that could happen to a gal is… well, it doesn’t matter so much what the worst is, so much as that any trouble is easily cleared up with a little bit of effort. So as Misaki faces difficult struggles like what to buy as a gift for her mistress Himeko, or what to do about a seemingly perfect classmate who has taken to sleepwalking due to missing her original mistress, one knows she’ll be able to overcome it… and in time for her to take plenty of baths with Himeko!
So, yes, Girls Kingdom is continuing apace with its silliness and frothiness… and exactly the right tone for it, which, thank goodness, because there’s so much in this volume which couldn’t work if it were meant at all in seriousness. Young women start acting like frail figures in gothic novels because they can’t handle not getting to serve their mistress, and effervesce about how a maid’s happiness in life is to wait on someone hand and foot. To be a maid is a way of life in these books, and self-abnegation is what maids run on. I’ll note, not for first time, that having Misaki as the lead contributes to the series managing to pull things off; she might be getting sucked into the mindset a bit herself at this point, but much of what goes on just is not second-nature to her and her hesitation and puzzlement at points underlines that much of what is going on is ridiculous.
I’ve described the previous volumes as having been yuri-adjacent rather than yuri proper, but I found myself mulling whether that’s the best way to put it at this point. No one ever kisses, and no one’s calling anyone their girlfriend, but it’s also completely impossible to not get that we are meant to read the relationships as being yuri. And I feel comfortable after three volumes in pointing at it and saying – this series is very camp. In its campiness, it rings to me as being very queer… but I suspect a lot of people would disagree with me on that particular count, because of its refusal to commit to calling a spade a spade on the relationships, and because it exists in an environment which is so clearly a fantasy one, and a fantasy one that is generally constructed to avoid any actual lesbian identity arising. But author Nayo’s over-the-top approach in utilizing a familiar construction itself is clearly intentionally done, hence my judgment of it as camp. (And, yes, I will stand by that even as we got TWO bath scene illustrations this volume!)
If you didn’t enjoy the first or second volumes, you’re hardly going to enjoy this one, although I can say that there is a slight decline in the presence of the loathsome Kokonoe twins… the cast keeps expanding, so I am mildly optimistic that that means less and less room for those two (but not at all optimistic that they’ll vanish entirely). I went and pre-ordered volume four (slated for August) right after finishing this one, so you know I definitely loved it.