Penguin Revolution Volume 1

Penguin Revolution volume 1 cover

The author of Land of the Blindfolded, Sakura Tsukuba, has another story about a girl who sees things others can’t. In Penguin Revolution, Yukari sees wings on people who have the talent to be stars.

Since Dad’s a flake who’s almost taken them to ruin, Yukari dreams of stability; her goal is to become a public servant. She’s nonplussed when she once again sees wings on a classmate. As if all that wasn’t enough, it turns out that the classmate is a boy pretending to be a girl… and quite a lovely one at that.

Yukari quickly finds herself part of the secret, wrapped into his world of talent agencies and wannabe teen idols. She winds up crossdressing herself in order to work as the boy’s manager and stay as his roommate. It’s rather artificial, motivated by a shady agency head who makes odd decisions no one questions because of his power. (Convenient for plot twists, that is.)

Penguin Revolution volume 1 cover

Read with a jaded eye, this could almost be a satire of common shojo conventions: the crossdressing, the dreams of stardom, the normal girl with special ability, the drive to achieve good grades at a prestigious school. Or perhaps it’s just a new take on expected elements.

I found the characters two-dimensional. We’re told what their motivations are, but it’s superficial knowledge, because on paper they feel like they’re just going through their paces. I don’t get the sense of desire on anyone’s part that I need to believe their reasons for putting up with the unbelievable situations the creator puts them in. The events are rather disconnected as well — this book is more like unrelated sitcom episodes than chapters of a continuing story.

I’m not sure why the boy’s crossdressing is even introduced, since the next few chapters deal with his acting aspirations, where he’s a boy, so we rarely see that plot element except in passing. The last chapter tries to make up for it, though, by becoming more farcical about the two changing clothes and not getting caught. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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