By Jin (Shinzen no Teki-P) and Sidu. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Kevin Gifford.
Each volume in the series has competed to see who in the Mekakushi Dan has the worst childhood, and we may have a new winner with Kido, who gets the focus here. The book is divided into two parts that it goes back and forth between, like previous volumes in the series. The main story continues, with Shintaro, the Mekakushi-Dan and a newly revived Takane trying to find a way to stop Tateyama – or rather, whatever is behind Tateyama – and figure out how to stop this whole mess. This is interspersed with Kido’s childhood, being a child of an affair whose mother then dies several years later, causing her to be taken in by her rich father. Kido is an introverted self-hating mess, which honestly fits pretty well with what we’ve seen of present-day Kido, so the flashbacks work pretty well. Luckily, she also has a big stepsister looking out for her. Unluckily, this book is called “From the Darkness”.
Kido’s sections are the strongest in the book, doing a good job (despite the author’s self-deprecation in the afterword) of a realistic young girl resented by most people in the mansion, ignored by her father, and waiting to be abused by a sister that she’s sure hates her. But Rin does not, in fact, hate her, and after a series of painful to read but oh so accurate scenes of Kido wondering when the next blow is going to fall, she gradually begins to open up to the other girl and speak. Unfortunately, her dad is not merely cold and withdrawn, he’s rather unhinged, something which I wish was written in a slightly less abrupt way – the shortness of these books means that sometimes motivations get either left out or reduced to a villain monologue, and in this case it’s the later, as Kido’s father insanely expounds on why he went mad. After tragedy strikes, Kido finds herself in Azami’s realm, where Azami – rather startled to be meeting someone – realizes that Kido has one of her Eyes, and tries to explain as best she can. This section works much better.
Things don’t get much better in the main storyline, where we learn that you rarely gain a cool cyborg body without its creator having the ability to take the body over and turn it evil. Balanced against this is the reunion of Shintaro and Takane, who has to explain why she did what she did as Ene – which is fairly heartwarming – and why she ACTED like she did as Ene – which is the funniest part of the book. Unfortunately, while Shintaro’s plan to take out Tateyama is a good one, as I said, it reckons without one of the group being possessed. And so how we end the book with Shintaro dead, Kido dead, everyone else presumably about to die, and the realization that Book 8 not only may be the last but also isn’t out in Japan yet. This will have to satisfy Kagerou Daze fans for now, but I think it will do a fine job.
Also, will Seto ever get developed?