Let me start this review by sharing the exciting news that Studio Apartment, Good Lighting, Angel Included is getting an anime adaptation! There’s no release date yet, but the first trailer is looking pretty cute. With that said, let’s continue with the manga and find out what Volume 3 has in store for us.
Volume 2 revolved around introducing us to Shintaro’s childhood friend Tsumugi, who found out Towa was an angel. While Tsumugi is terribly jealous of the fact Shintaro is living with such a pretty girl, she quickly finds herself won over by Towa’s charms and makes friends with her. So going into Volume 3, the only thing Shintaro needs to worry about is his day-to-day worries, right?
Well, unfortunately for our protagonist, he’s never far from trouble and a casual shopping trip quickly escalates when he meets a schoolgirl who is being chased around town by some suspicious individuals! And to make matters worse, the girl (called Lilishka) proudly proclaims herself to be a vampire?!
At first, Shintaro assumes Lilishka just has a serious case of chunibyo syndrome since she’s wearing coloured contacts and also works at a nearby maid café. But later that day, she breaks into his apartment and asks to nibble on his neck after being unable to forget his tasty scent! Towa is naturally immediately jealous and wails at Lilishka, begging her not to eat our protagonist, but the vampire ends up staying the night with them anyway before vanishing the following morning.
Then, back at school, Shintaro runs into Lilishka once again, discovering that not only does she attend the same school but they’re even in the same grade! The vampire quickly invites him to join the Occult Research Club that she belongs to and declares that Shintaro is now her servant. After the third-year members of the club graduate, there’s only Lilishka and the other new character, Hisui Tsurumi, so Lilishka is desperate to recruit new members. And if Shintaro joins, then Tsumugi and the snow lady Noeru are bound to follow…
Three volumes and 17 chapters in to Studio Apartment and it feels like we’re still in the set-up phases for some reason. It’s great to have more characters join the cast, but it feels like this is happening so much that it overshadows those we already have. For example, due to Lilishka and Hisui, we don’t see much of Noeru, Tsumugi or Towa (which seems strange given she’s one of the main characters!) and in many ways, we never got the chance to get to know Noeru in particular properly before moving on.
There’s also a general sense for me that we’re ending up with too many supernatural beings. We have an angel, snow lady, vampire and toward the end of this volume, a kappa! Shintaro even jokes about the fact he’s encountering so many, which admittedly is a good gag but illustrates the problem at hand. And it’s a shame because author matoba did a much better job of introducing and juggling the cast of As Miss Beelzebub Likes, so it’s a shame to see this title face these struggles.
It isn’t to say Studio Apartment is going downhill. Yes, it might be having some issues, but the jokes are still solid and I do like the characters, even if there’s the general sense of there being too many. And when it’s at its best, the series is charming thanks to its expressive artwork and cosy slice-of-life storylines. If these issues persist, I’m not sure how much longer I will continue reading it, but for now the good outweighs the bad.
Studio Apartment, Good Lighting, Angel Included Volume 3 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Kei Coffman with lettering by Katie Blakeslee. As usual, the dialogue reads well and there are a couple of pages of translation notes at the back of the release. Also included is a delightful colour page depicting Towa enjoying some tea while surrounded by cats.
Volume 4 of the series is currently scheduled for an English release in December with #5 following in April. Afterwards, we will be very close to catching up with the Japanese releases which I imagine will significantly slow down the release schedule.
Overall the third volume of Studio Apartment, Good Lighting, Angel Included feels weighed down by character introductions. There’s still plenty of comedy to enjoy, but there’s a sense that we’re quickly approaching capacity for the supernatural beings and I hope author matoba can right the ship before we get too far off course going forward.
Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.