By Ryohgo Narita and Katsumi Enami. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Taylor Engel.
One of the main themes in Baccano!, and indeed in most of Narita’s work, is that everyone is connected to everyone else, and the connections can be closer than we think. The 1935 arc seems to be this writ large, as we get a lot of reunions of various characters and other characters thinking “wait, they know each other?”. Even the new connections are things I would not have expected. Melvi may have hired Claire to be his bodyguard, but it’s clear there’s no love lost between the two. After meeting Chane’s father last volume, Claire ends up meeting her mother in this book, though I’m not sure that meeting will go quite as well, given Renee is broken and also evil. Mostly, though, these two books take one of the most minor villains from the earliest parts of the series, gives him a backstory and real character development, and then pairs him off with the closest the series has to an innocent sweetie pie. The connections are startling, but they work.
If you thought we were going to get a lot of casino shenanigans in this book, I’m sorry to say we’re still in the ‘set up the dominoes’ part. Melvi is making his presence known everywhere, and no one likes him, including the reader. (Then again, Baccano! fans do love the bad guys…) He’s clearly not got the Runorata Family’s agenda in mind so much as his own, and his own agenda definitely involves making Firo miserable. Meanwhile, in the doctor’s clinic (which is staffed by, among others, Fermet, who I would not trust to give me a sugar pill), the other half of the cast gathers together. This includes Nader, who is still trying to deal with being dragged back into chaos; Roy, who has cleaned up after the events of Book 4; and Isaac and Miria, dressed up as doctors and nurses, because they can. Add Ladd and Graham, Victor’s boys, and so many Lamia we can’t even be bothered to name them, and you have the usual ruckus.
I’ve talked about this before, and it’s even more annoying that it’s happening again; Ennis deserves more than to just be a damsel to make Firo do things. She’s not even *in* this book and she gets kidnapped; it’s really irritating given how much ass she’s kicked in the past. Chane wasn’t in this volume either, so there is a bit of a macho streak to it, to be honest. We do get to see Claire be Claire again, after a long break where he’s barely appeared. That said, he works best in small doses. As does Renee, though I fear we may get more of her than I’d like. Just because she has Felix the Cat drawn on her artificial eye does not make her more likeable, especially when she keeps talking about Huey giving her one of their daughters, presumably for science. Oh yes, worst of all, you can’t just tease the Dormentaire ship and not have Lucrezia turn up! That’s just mean!
In any case, I suspect the next 1935 book will have the chaos actually begin. That said… we have one more detour to make, to the last of the “written for the DVD releases” stories expanded into a novel. It dares to ask the question: can we really add even more to that freaking train journey than we already have?