Story: Tsukasa Fushimi
Artwork: Sakura Ikedia
What They Say:
Kirino seems far out of the way, studying in America…but is he really that far away from the thoughts of Kyousuke? That’s the problem on Kuroneko’s mind, who’s glad to be by Kyousuke’s side, but fears she may only be a substitute. Meanwhile, a new challenger appears when Kuroneko joins the Gaming Club: Sena Akagi, whose overactive imagination wishes to pair Kyousuke up with her brother!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s rough times for Ruri “Kuroneko” Gokou. Adjusting to life as a is quite difficult, she hasn’t found a group of friends to hang out beside Kyosuke. Moreover, it feels like Kyosuke is focused more on his sister Kirino than on her. With her return, can she quickly adapt to her surroundings, finding her bearings?
We find this series continuing to see Kuroneko’s acclimation to the school. While she still finds periods of isolation from people, she should take solace in finding the gaming club useful. Instead Sena Akagi has other plans, wanting to derail her from joining. Seeing Kuroneko fight for her position proves engaging. We see her come up with ideas, and justify them as well as looking for ways to knock Sena a peg so that she can truly stay in the club. It proves to be more than just a simple hobby engagement from Tsukasa Fushimi, as the extent of the trials to get into the gaming club creates a sense of compassion and goodwill that would want to carry on into further chapters. You as a reader will feel invested into seen to success of Kuroneko, and will feel happy when she obtains certain benchmarks that puts her on the track to entering the club. While people will feel happy about that issue it’s the story between Kuroneko and Kyouske that proves a bit shakier.
Fushimi tries to expand on what we see with the relationship develop between Kyouske and Kuroneko and that’s where some of the issues started to crop up with the story. While Kuroneko makes valid points about why Kyouske should stop projecting hey sister on to her, the store doesn’t delve into the relationship aspect that would justify this issue. For those that know the story of Oreimo, it’s obvious, but for those that are coming in it’s not necessarily as clear. Why would somebody have a more than just fond memories of their sister? It’s understandable to know that Kyouske cares about Kirino, but why would Kuroneko feel like there’s a competition between her and Kirino? The volume does not clearly answer this question, and for some that might be a bit disappointing. You would assume that it would not be such a big plot point, but the way the story is working it’s looking like it will be a pivot which only works if you are catering towards the fan and not necessarily riding as if you’re trying to grab a larger audience. Fushimi doesn’t work hard enough to make that distinguishing point and it’s disappointing.
The biggest issue for this series so far is its target audience. The story feels like it wants to broaden the audience, however, the way in which the series handles the story, it only caters towards the hardcore fans of the series. While that’s not necessarily a bad endeavor, it walks a fine line between catering and sometimes stumbles. While seeing references for Kirino seems great, for those who don’t know the story they may wonder why Kyouske’s more invested into her. For those who are fans, there seems to be fan-service moments but it doesn’t do much to satisfy the pallet for those who would be fans.
It’s interesting seeing Kuroneko pushed as a character. On the onset of this trade, she’s timid and while wants to get involved to show her charismatic side, isn’t given the chance. It’s towards the end that we see her gain her confidence, with the apex being a rousing speech to motivate people to invest in her project. However, this development only feels temporary and especially because of the competition she has between Sena Akagi and herself. Sena’s confidence and seniority pushes Kuroneko out of her comfort zone to produce a better idea and work for the gaming club. The question, which this issue does not address, is will Kuroneko continue on this path of building her confidence and charisma. It’s somewhat a shame because answering it now instead of building up for later would only make the plot events more interesting to unfurl.
Sakurai Ikeda’s art style isn’t bad. It clearly communicates the Oreimo style people who watch the series or read the light novels would know. The problem is that it feels a bit simplistic for Oreimo. As you read through it tends to hold on to said characteristics but doesn’t give them a sense of flair that would make reading the manga graphically stand out. Understanding that, it at least maintains enough to satisfy most fans of the series and make them want to read.
We’re clearly seeing progression in this release. Between the plot and the character development of Kuroneko, the volume advances things for the readers. However, it fails to do anything to bring in new people in the flock for them to feel like they should get into the series. It moderately does enough to keep fans, but at the same time fans will want more from this series going forward. It will be interesting to see how this series progresses when in its attempt to cater towards both.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: August 4th, 2015