Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Now that Hakka and her fellow Guardians are getting the hang of things, there are other issues to be explored – like the fact that Hakka's family has found out about Ginger's human side! They still don't know that Human Ginger and Penguin-Thing Ginger are the same person, but they do develop a few misconceptions about Ginger and Hakka's relationship – which isn't at all helpful when it looks like the next potential shell is about to be chosen by their enemies!
Now that the basic premises have all been introduced in Lily Hoshino's magical team spoof Kigurumi Guardians, it's time to actually get to know the characters a little bit. We have a pretty good grasp of Hakka as a person by the time volume one ends – she's excitable, impulsive, and determined to do the best she possibly can. That stands in contrast to her two fellow students – Nobara affects a regal attitude at odds with what she and Basilico are supposed to be doing, while Satsuki just seems generally disinterested in nearly everything. Both of those suppositions are about to change with the plot of this book, however, as it turns out that there is something Satsuki is interested in: Hakka.
Not that that's made explicit, but it is certainly implied. The major plot point for this sophomore volume is that Hakka's older brother walks in on Hakka and Ginger about to effect a repart – and since Ginger is leaning over Hakka, who is reclined on the couch, he immediately jumps to the conclusion that his little sister is involved with a no-good older man. Since Hakka can't come up with a good reason why she'd be kissing a guy who isn't her boyfriend, she's forced to go along with the fiction, and the end result is that her brother wants to accompany she and Ginger on a date. During the course of this, they meet up with Satsuki and Fennel, who end up joining them. Not only does this freak Hakka's poor brother out even more, it also makes it known that Satsuki is more than a little interested in Hakka.
What's perhaps the bigger takeaway from this journey into romantic subplot territory is that Ginger is not pleased. Although he doesn't say anything, he immediately begins trying to keep Satsuki and Hakka apart, whether in human or kigurumi form, and he also allows his jealousy to show in the form of kiss he gives Hakka in order to repart: where before it was a simple peck on the lips, after the date is becomes something rather more adult and with what appears to be an added intent behind it. Not that this should come as a major surprise, given the general setup of their partnership, but with the revelation that Ginger is twenty-four years old this volume, it is a little uncomfortable. (Remember, Hakka is fourteen.)
Hakka herself actually says that she's not at all ready for a serious boyfriend, which is a nice change from the boy-crazy heroine we're more likely to see (as well as an admission that her crush on the group's leader is much more innocent than we might have at first assumed), but it does compound the problem. She acts very much like a regular fourteen-year-old girl during this part of the story, seeking out advice and clothes from Nobara with neither of them doing a particularly great job with either. More interesting is the revelations about Nobara's family life we get as a result of this – she's been trying to present herself as someone higher up the social ladder than she really is. Whether this is because she wants other girls to think well of her or because she's afraid of being bullied by the crueler members of her class isn't entirely clear, but it feels like it could be a combination of both factors. Like many middle schoolers, Nobara is very concerned with appearances, which is why she tries so hard to be cold to people like Hakka and Basilico who could ruin her carefully cultivated school persona. She's Hakka's exact opposite in this way – Hakka just charges into situations, work or social, and goes with her gut over how to act and what to do. Nobara could never bring herself to do so, and she doesn't understand how Hakka manages to do things like befriend an idol or get involved with the popular student leader of the school choir when she's so brash.
This is likely to become the next major character development point for Nobara as the machinations of the bad guys begin to play out with their new target. She's going to have to learn how to channel her inner Hakka a bit in order to successfully fight alongside Basilico, although first she's going to have to see the value in not simply letting her more powerful partner carry the burden of the work. Both girls stand to learn a lot from each other, and their parallel character development should be interesting to watch, perhaps moreso than their individual moments. The question then is how Satsuki, outwardly the calmest of the three students, will add to this mix; presumably volume three will give us a little more information about him.
Kigurumi Guardians is still a fun story in its second volume. Playing with both magical team tropes and those of the romance genre, it manages to successfully combine them into a story that never feels too much like a spoof while also keeping away from excessive seriousness. With Hoshino's beautiful art the series is even more appealing, so if you're in the mood for something on the light side and haven't picked this up yet, it's well worth doing.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : A-
+ Beautiful art, story maintains a good balance between serious and silly, nice character development for Nobara
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