By Nayo and Shio Sakura. Released in Japan by GL Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Philip Reuben.
For those of you who sighed with relief when Kirara got her heart’s desire at the end of the last volume of Girls Kingdom, hoping that now she would be a normal character that would not make you want to throw yourself out the nearest window whenever she appeared on the page, well, I have some bad news for you. Turns out that’s just her, and everything she does is designed to make us cringe and cringe hard. Honestly, it’s almost a relief when, several times in this book, she’s left at the mercy of the twin Ayakas, who are of course also terrible but they are terrible in a far more acceptable yuri light novel way. Fortunately, Kirara is not the focus of this book, it’s still Misaki, who remains a great protagonist, desiring to improve herself in the present while, admittedly, having very little regard about her future. Which, again, contrasts her with everyone else in this school whose entire purpose she was completely ignorant of when she applied.
After a prologue where our newly minted maids make a grand tour of all the other hot spots on campus, which is good in that it gives up a quick character sketch of most of the cast but also leans a bit TOO hard on the wacky side, the story essentially has two main plotlines. The first involves Kirira’s mistress Kagura, who plans to start a sporting goods store after graduation, and her desire to have the school’s star volleyball player, Minako (yes, it went there – she even has a ribbon in her hair. No talking cats, though) promote the company. Minako, though, already has an agreement with a mom-and-pop store, and is stubborn about dropping it. The other story involves the restaurant we saw in the first book, which is always empty and gets few return customers. What are Erisu and her admittedly eccentric and goofy staff doing wrong?
Kirara only features in the Kagura plot, mostly out of desperation to get promoted as soon as possible, and drags Misaki along with her. Fortunately, the bulk of the book is still reflected through Misaki, a decidedly non-rich girl (her backstory helps make more sense of the whole “I saw there was free room and board so did not bother to check why” phenomenon) who provides sensible solutions to problems. She is the sort who, when told she is doing something wrong, does not furiously deny it or sink into depression, but thinks hard about how to fix that. She works well with Himeko, a young lady who has to have her own thinking process explained to her multiple times. The yuri here is still mostly on the MariMite level, though I doubt Yumi and Sachiko ever bathed together as much as Misaki and Himeko do. There’s even a side story towards the end of the book about two other residents of the Sky Salon who I would go so far as to call an actual couple.
So, one frustrating character, but overall I still quite enjoy this series, which knows what its audience wants and delivers it with all the subtlety of a pie to the face. But it’s tasty pie.