Story & Art by Spica Aoki
Translated by Taylor Engel
Lettering by Lys Blakeslee
The crazy monster girl love story of Kaiju Girl Caramelise continues with its third volume. After a swirl of events, Arata and Kuroe have finally confessed their love for each other and become a couple. Now, Kuroe must keep her kaiju powers in check and gain the confidence to embrace her newfound relationship.
Kaiju Girl Caramelise has the kind of premise that would have been entertaining even as an episodic story, but the fact that it continues to progress its narrative is truly commendable. In this volume, there is a clear change in Kuroe’s approach to her predicaments. Rather than find ways to constrain her emotions publicly, Kuroe is trying to express them in safe and healthy ways. The first step in doing so is her decision to publicly display her relationship with Arata. Kuro initially fears how people will judge Arata if they know he’s dating an outcast like herself, and she grapples with her own self-worth as a result. Kuroe feels like a burden to those around her, but through Arata’s love, she realizes that she shouldn’t worry about the judgement of others. Kuroe is slowly becoming independent and proud of who she is, and it’s wonderful to see.
A major addition to the cast in this volume is Kuroe’s classmate Rairi, a social media influencer who loves makeup. After she befriends Kuroe, we learn that her natural face looks like a gorilla, and that she uses makeup to hide her insecurity with her face. Like Kuroe, Rairi is self-conscious about the judgement of other people, and their similar burden makes their friendship very compelling. Rairi’s friendly and upbeat attitude is also a refreshing quality. She genuinely cares about the people around, and wants to help them in any way she can. In Kuroe’s case, she provides Kuroe with support in her relationship with Arata, and helps her use makeup as a form of empowerment. Rairi is a wonderful new character, and it will be great to see more of her moving forward.
As usual, Spica Aoki’s art is simply gorgeous. The main motif of this volume is beauty, both internal and external, and that is reflected in the artwork itself. Kuroe’s appearance is the most dynamic, as she shifts from a brooding look when she’s nervous to a glowing and softer one when confident. This contrast is especially apparent when Kuroe wears Rairi’s lipstick, and is immediately in awe at her own appearance. Even Kuroe’s kaiju form glissens this time around, representing Kuroe’s newfound confidence. Just like it’s heroine, Kaiju Girl Caramelise is a truly beautiful manga.
Kaiju Girl Caramelise continues to be a fantastic series that captures the insecurities of adolescence and romance in a creative way. Kuroe’s character has made tremendous strides since the first volume, and the addition of Rairi has elevated the strength of the cast even further. A kaiju has never looked so lovely.