I recently found another favorite manga character: Inugami Kyouko from the volleyball manga Shoujo Fight by Nihonbashi Yoko. As captain of the Kokuyodani Girls’ Volleyball Team, she’s a trusted leader whose insight and sense of caring for her teammates are as impressive as her talent for the game itself. However, she’s also a huge troll always eager to set up a practical joke, and having those qualities all wrapped up into a single awesome package is what wins me over as a fan and admirer.
Looks-wise, Inugami has deeply piercing eyes, a limber physique, and almost always sports a grin that belies her fondness for ribbing others. It’s that smile which draws my attention most of the time. This is because it’s either setting up a moment where she’ll do something out of the kindness of her heart for one of her teammates, or is the precursor to one of her pranks. The fact that it’s hard to tell which is which is part of the thrill of her character.
Inugami’s jokes come in two forms. The first is a verbal quip, where she’ll nonchalantly comment about something that embarrasses one of her teammates. For example, when their new coach puts the entire team on a fast, one of the other girls comments that it shouldn’t be necessary because all of them are in good shape and can hardly be called overweight. Inugami then suddenly appears behind them to try and correct them: one of her fellow third-years has trouble keeping off the weight. For her trouble, she gets smacked upside her head. This isn’t to say that I think fat jokes are funny, but rather that Inugami’s delivery is where the humor lies.
The second joke type is a prop gag. Inugami’s hobby is constructing items and scenarios that will aid her trickster attitude. She’ll paint a basketball to look like a volleyball and then try to deceive the first-year students into playing with it. She’ll make an entire fake souvenir gift box of volleyball mascot manjuu. She constructs round tables in the vein of King Arthur’s. Once, she even tried to get the girls to play a game in a pool just because it’d be funny. In most cases, she again usually gets socked for her efforts.
If there are any characters I might compare Inugami Kyouko to, it would actually be a mix of Miyako from Hidamari Sketch, who similarly makes weird objects that no one else would think up, and Mai from Nichijou, who is the most supreme troll in existence. The fact that she ends up being the “boke” to other characters’ “tsukkomi” roles is what I think keeps her charming. She isn’t really getting away with her trollish behavior, so she never feels cruel. If anything, Inugami it speaks to a kind of strange innocence in her character, that she’s always interested in having fun.