Will Takane Enomoto be able to hide her identity as a legendary gamer when her class creates a competitive video game for their school’s culture festival? The series which would later become the hit anime Mekakucity Actors continues here!
Takane Enomoto might have a little too much game for her own good. Stuck by day in a class with only her classmate Haruka and a seriously slacking teacher, by night Takane is a legendary gamer online. Tasked with coming up with an idea for their classes’ culture festival booth, Takane suggests with Haruka’s enthusiastic endorsement they create a shooting video game where entrants will play against her. However, Takane meets her match as she frantically tries to stop her online identity from being revealed.
Directly adapting the events of Vol. 2 of the original light novel series, Kagerou Daze Vol. 3 changes protagonists, following Takane as her class prepares for the culture festival. Although the first half of the volume is almost entirely spent in conversation between Takane, Haruka and their teacher, almost no background context is given as introduction for any of the characters. While the dialogue is still fun and proceeds at a good pace, I would have liked if some more time was spent developing Takane as a protagonist. We only ever get an outsider’s perspective to her as she reacts in certain ways but we never see what really makes her tick or why she actually does what she does. It’s not exactly a good thing that I can easily boil down the characters and their entire personalities to “tired-gamer girl”, “sick nice-guy” and “slacking teacher”, and sadly the characters never develop into anything more than these descriptors even as the story rolls along.
Taken just at face value, the plot isn’t bad and it’s fun to watch Takane and her gang struggle frantically to put together their shooter for the festival. Notwithstanding the flat characters, the banter still manages to be funny and it was interesting to see how their booth played out. The art is also hit and miss, with the relatively spartan character designs failing to impress. However, I really liked illustrator Mahiro Satou’s decision to portray Takane’s one-on-one matches with festival patrons by showing them in game, and these panels were by far the best drawn in the entire volume.
Although this volume is framed as a story of how Takane’s life changed forever, the execution feels rush and lacks the clarity to deliver. This is where the lack of development for the character comes in, and it’s difficult to come up with a concrete answer to a hypothetical “so what?” regarding the plot. We aren’t told why any of the events that happen actually matter, even though it feels at times like the book is loudly trying to answer this question in obtuse ways. For example, the volume is book-ended by scenes suggestive of what the point of this side-story is, but they lack the context necessary to really make sense without spending the time necessary to develop any of the characters. Additionally, members of the Mekakushi-dan from the main plot line make cameo appearance, but it’s not clear why any of that matters considering how inconsequential and poorly they were developed in the previous volumes. It’s really tough to say what should be taken away from this story in the end, and while it was more or less enjoyable in a simple sense there is no enduring relevance offered in connection to the main plot line or development of the characters.
Kagerou Daze Vol. 3 is a fun story, which wouldn’t be a bad thing except for the fact that’s all it is. Considering how little happens in this volume, it’s remarkable how rushed it all feels as the characters receive almost none of the character development necessary to make the plot actually feel consequential. Three volumes in, it’s still impossible to gauge what direction this series is headed in or why readers should really care about this unremarkable group of teenagers. What we’ve got so far is a collection of stories never establish what the point of it all is, making it more and more difficult to recommend following the series until it establishes what type of story it wants to tell.
Kagerou Daze Vol. 3 was published by Yen Press on October 27th, 2015. Drawn by Mahiro Satou and based on the original story created by Jin (Shizen No Teri-P), the series is currently ongoing in Media Blasters’ Monthly Comic Gene. Volume 4 will be published in English on January 19th, 2016.
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