You can close your eyes and dwell in the past for only so long. At some point, you must open them and move forward. And there’s comedy too.
Art/Story: Aka Akasaka
Translation: Tomoko Kimura
English Adaptation/Editor: Annette Roman
Touch-Up Art & Lettering: Stephen Dutro
Cover & Interior Design: Alice Lewis
What They Say:
Will Chika agree to train genius Miyuki one more time to make up for yet another of his surprising deficiencies? Then, Miyuki’s sister and father meddle in his (mostly hypothetical) love life. Are they too soon or too late? Rumors that plague Ishigami have serious personal and academic consequences. The much-anticipated, much-dreaded Sports Day finally arrives! And Chika dreams up a new game for the student council to play together—with literally explosive results.
Who cares what other people think?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Perhaps the most interesting development that occurs as we get further into the series is how the narrative focus of the chapters begins to branch out. In the early volumes, the chapters were overwhelmingly focused on Miyuki and Kaguya, which is appropriate as they are the main “couple” at the center of the action. As we have gained new members of the cast (the usual expansion of characters that happens when a work is a success and needs to provide some greater diversity of distractions, especially when the base concept is so limited as it is in this work), there are now more stories to tell and more perspectives to show.
Among those whose inner world we now see a bit more of are Miyuki’s younger sister Kei (who is amusingly odd in her own, but also quite dependable, a Shirogane trait that only seems to exist in their generation as their parents are not so reliable) and Kobachi Osaragi, the glasses-girl friend of Miko Ino, the newest member of the Student Council, who gives us some background into the main draw of this volume.
There had been two previous chapters titled “Yu Ishigami Closes His Eyes” giving us some looks at the socially awkward, afraid-to-death-of-Kaguya Treasurer of the Shuchiin Academy Student Council. There was some kind of dark secret hidden about his past and how he has been a pariah to much of the student body outside of the Student Council. Finally, all the threads are drawn out at the Sports Festival, where Yu goes outside of his comfort zone and actually takes part (joining the Cheering Squad). We learn that in middle school there was an incident involving a girl in his class, Kyoko Otomo, who was being double-timed by her scumbag of a boyfriend. Yu discovered the boyfriends’ behavior and tried to call him out, but instead wound up beating him up which then gave the impression that he was unhinged and jealous of the boyfriend (and liked Kyoko). Eventually, Otomo withdrew from Shuchiin and her friends never forgave Ishigami. The only reason that Yu was not expelled outright was that Kaguya and Miyuki found his situation too mysterious and decided to investigate early into their tenure at the head of the Student Council. Being geniuses…they were able to figure out the truth: that Yu was trying to protect Kyoko from learning about what really happened.
Things come to a head at the Sports Festival where Kyoko comes to visit (she’s now at another school) and while she’s still angry at Yu, he has finally found the courage to move on with his life and throw away the past. He’s helped, oddly enough, by the Cheer Squad, all made up of “normies” who don’t really care about what things are like in Yu’s specific class (as they’re drawn from all the classes) and embrace him as one of their group. The circle is closed, Yu moves on, and Kyoko remains eternally ignorant of what actually transpired.
That’s not to say that there isn’t more comedy to be had. Kaguya has an encounter with Shirogane’s father which leads to some trolling at her expense. We get yet another replay of the standard gag of “Miyuki needs Chika to tutor him in something he is physically incapable of doing” (this time, dance), the new variation being that Kaguya enters as a competing coach with humorous results. And the volume ends with yet another weird game thought up by Chika.
It may be that the light tone tinged with all kinds of darkness (inside Kaguya’s heart) of this work has made it possible to incorporate the somewhat more dramatic, heavier story of Yu Ishigami’s past without it oppressing or depressing the overall run of events. It’s a heavy story but I don’t feel weighed down by it coming to the end. It could be that even in the sad place that it goes, there is still humor to be mined and Kaguya-sama remains true to its whimsical nature. Originally, I was worried a bit that this series would get bogged down in its very small premise, but Aka Akasaka has managed to broaden things out nicely. I continue to look forward to future volumes.
The Shuchiin Sports Festival looks to be a major occasion. Miyuki is busy trying to learn the “Soran” dance. Yu has joined the Cheer Squad (really?……yes). And a bit of Yu’s dark history (his pariah status and what happened in middle school) finally comes into the light. All while involving twerking and crossdressing. While the main battle between Miyuki and Kaguya takes a backseat this volume, the cast and reasons to care about them has expanded enough that it’s fine just to be around this group of oddballs again for more fun.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Package Rating: A-
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: July 2nd, 2019