Review: Kagerou Daze (Vol 2)

(Kagerou Daze -- official artwork)
(Kagerou Daze — official artwork)

For general information on this series: Kagerou Daze entry

This review is for the second volume of Kagerou Daze by Jin (Shizen no Teki-P), featuring art by Sidu. The English edition was released by Yen Press in September 2015. By the end of this year, there will be five volumes out in English. There are six volumes of this series out in Japan, with a seventh releasing this August.

Vol 2 -- A Headphone Actor
Vol 2 — A Headphone Actor

If I were to review the second volume of Kagerou Daze in one line, I would simply call it a fun and pleasant experience. It is a light and breezy read, filled with characters that are easy to like. Good art, and a good translation. The plot meanders in this story just as much as it did in the first volume, but at this point I think it’s safe to say reading Kagerou Daze is more about enjoying the ride rather than anticipating the reveal.

That said, there are still some tricks up this story’s sleeve that manage to keep things interesting. The first two acts of this volume are devoted to a new set of characters, and a conflict that at first appears entirely unrelated to anything established in the first volume. It would probably be accurate to describe Kagerou Daze as a series of interconnecting short stories, and it remains a mystery what it is exactly that all of them are leading up to. It’s not a typical setup, and this volume follows in the first’s footsteps in regard to not answering any of the bigger questions that the story brings up. This can feel like the overarching story is dragging its feet, but I was overall able to overlook this thanks to the lively characters and their spirited interactions with one another.

kagerou daze pic

The first two-thirds of volume 2 features the viewpoint character of Takane, a grumpy and hotheaded girl who is secretly one of the nation’s highest-ranking video gamers. In high school she attends a class that has only one other student–an airheaded and cutesy boy named Haruka. The two make for a bit of a gender reversal of a typical light novel setup, amusingly lampshaded right off the bat with a scene of Takane walking in on Haruka while he’s changing clothes (complete with illustration, of course). Rounding off the cast is their questionably lackadaisical teacher, Mr. Tateyama, who was part of an amusing scene in the first volume. The story centers on the three preparing for a school festival, but as you can imagine that’s simply the stage for a more dramatic plot that builds up under the surface.

The final act returns to the cast from the first volume, giving us Shintaro’s point of view once more as the Mekakushi-dan group takes a trip to an amusement park. It’s perhaps as close to “slice-of-life” as you’re going to get from current English LN releases, to the point where you can almost forget most of these kids have some kind of supernatural ability. But perhaps that is the charm of Kakerou Daze? On paper the characters’ back-stories are larger than life, but that does not stop them from getting scared by a tacky haunted house exhibit. It’s silly, but there’s a genuineness behind it all that manages to smooth things over.

Cho’s Rating: Recommended

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