A manga involving three kids who have to save the world has potential, but something in Volume 1 feels a bit off.

Kigurumi Guardians Volume 1Title: Kigurumi Guardians (Kigurumi Boueitai)
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Supernatural
Publisher: Kodansha (JP, US)
Artist: Lily Hoshino
Serialized in: Nakayoshi
Translation: Athena, Alethea Nibley
Original Release Date: August 29, 2017

When you think about how much manga can be produced on a year-to-year basis, it’s incredible. However, many stories (at least 6 out of 10 times, I’m spitballing) will contain some young kids in high school having to save the world. Or do their homework. But there’s going to be some twist, one small thing that makes it stand out from others of its ilk. So from the title Kigurumi Guardians, you’ll know immediately that something is gonna be up with this.

…Wait, you don’t know what Kigurumi means either? Well, yeah, that’s a crazy way to start what shapes up to be a pretty fun ride by Lily Hoshino — though volume 1 takes a while to pick itself up.

The Kigurumi meaning derives from a combination of two Japanese words (Kiru, to wear + nuigurumi, stuffed toy = Kigurumi). Search up the meaning and you’ll see some nice people in those costumes, and it can look comfortable to wear. So, knowing that, what’s a Kigurumi Guardian? Well, Hakka Sasakura finds out in the worst way. She is a normal student who loves the student body president, but upon returning home, finds a kigurumi in her house. Unlike actual kigurumi, Hakka learns this one seems to be all costume, no human inside. She, along with two others, learn that they have been chosen to be with these kigurumi in order to fend off an organization from another dimension.

The one who chose them? The student body president himself.

Kigurumi Guardians will only be as interesting as the characters, so Hakka seems okay, but is very much a kid. Nobara is cool in one way but seems to be the usual elitist-type protagonist, and learning she also loves the student body president means at some point Hakka and Nobara will come to blows over this emotionally. Satsuki is the playboy, and apparently can get with a boy or girl. These three were chosen since their way of “love” is different from anyone else, and that will be able to help them in their quest to quell the invasion.

Of course, the biggest aspect is that they won’t actually be looking to fight anyone — the kigurumi will, and that’s where things get sketchy! For the three protagonists, their kigurumi — named after spices (Ginger, Fennel, and Basilico) — in stuffed animal form is great, but it’s when they are able to transform (into three beautiful bishonen of course), their powers are a lot greater. The problem comes is how they activate their powers — it involves a kiss.

Imagine of course kissing a stuffed animal as it then transforms into a guy. and then you end up locking lips with a changed kigurumi.

Kigurumi Guardians Volume 1
Well, if this isn’t awkward…

This is where it gets fun, and showcases the personalities of each character and where they stand. For Hakka for example, she’s disgusted her first kiss was taken away from her like this, and is not happy about it. Neither is Nobara, who has a kiss and slap rule anytime her kigurumi, Basilico, does it. Satsuki seems to not care, but I do wonder if this will continue, or will we get the backstory on why he’s letting this happen. Either way, all three have now been thrust into a situation where they don’t know how long they’ll be dealing with this. They just have to follow the lead of the student president, who…definitely goes out of his way throughout volume 1 to show he has an additional agenda. What that additional agenda is, it’s not completely clear.

So there’s definitely some potential in Kigurumi Guardians, but I do feel it doesn’t establish itself in a great way. For example, immediately having an enemy show up in the school to establish how dangerous the organization is felt flimsy at best. The battles aren’t much, but they are there, and aren’t drawn the greatest.

That said, this is clearly not looking to do that — it’s a case where Hoshino’s drawing gorgeous characters, gorgeous animals, and is taking advantage of common magical girl tropes and twisting it around. But it can establish itself better I think. I suspect something weird will happen that will change the nature of the series, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing that when Volume 2 arrives.