While I’ve enjoyed the previous two volumes of this series, I haven’t been entirely crazy about them. Though the love triangle at its core between jellyfish otaku Tsukimi, gorgeous cross-dresser Kuranosuke, and his straight-laced brother Shu is competently handled, there’s not a lot much new there. Even when you consider the crossdressing angle. Mangaka Akiko Higashimura does have a solid parallel plot as the other female otaku of AMARS come together under Kuranosuke’s guidance to start a dressmaking operation in order to save their residence from being demolished. Yet this part of the series is also home to its most annoying element: The other female otaku.
If one of Higashimura’s goals with this series was to show that female otaku could be just as annoying and lacking in social graces as their male counterparts, then mission accomplished. It’s not that the social awkwardness of nerds can’t be mined for good comedy. The problem here is that things are played up to such a zany extent that the characters start feeling like joke machines rather than actual people. “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” fangirl Mayaya has been the worst offender for most of the series (and this volume). The way she proclaims the similarities between that classic tale and her life have been grating for a while now, along with her active incompetence at just about everything else. Then you have misconceptions that are meant to come off as hilarious, but just make the characters in question look dumb. Even if doll fanatic Chieko does know an incredibly talented dressmaker, you’d think she’d mention that this person’s skills relate only to dolls rather than actual people.
Yet there is hope to be found for these characters in this volume as well. Mayaya, specifically. As it turns out, the tall thin otaku is perfectly suited for one role in the girls’ dressmaking operation. Said role is also one that forces her to confront her insecurities and actually grow a little as a person. There is some wackiness attached to said growth, except now it actually feels like it’s coming from the character this time. If Higashimura can actually bring some humanity to the most annoying of these otaku, then maybe there’s hope for the rest of them here. I’ll keep reading to see if that’s the case.