A seemingly normal day starts under the thick clouds of a storm. A young girl stands on the banks of the Hudson River, watching as an oil drum is dredged up from the depths. On the other side of the city, a two-bit ruffian is being questioned by a terrorist group, given an ultimatum he can’t refuse. A Mexican assassin and a mafia torturer head towards a gang of tricky kids, and Isaac and Miria are planning a dastardly revenge. All of this leading towards a showdown at Millionaires Road!
We start another multi-book story with the sixth novel, Baccano! 1933: The Slash ~Cloudy to Rainy~. Unlike the previous two-parter, this time Ryohgo Narita uses this entire book as set up for the next, rather than coming to any real character conclusions. Illustrations are once again provided by Katsumi Enami, and the translation from Taylor Engel for Yen On once again reads superbly. The English novel release was printed December 2017.
Talking about this book in comparison to others in this franchise is harder than most—even for the The Grand Punk Railroad novels, there was separate conclusions given to each book and characters within the events; but this first The Slash book does not follow suit. Instead we’re introduced to the many featured groups we’ll be following; clustering characters new and old together in the usual crazy Baccano! style. Amongst the familiar faces are Ronny and Ennis, Firo and Isaac and Miria, Eve and Dallas Genoard, Jacuzzi and co. with Chane, and the loyal Gandor Family torturer Tick. As always we have some new faces too, with the various members of Larva led by Tim, who deals in cold, calculated predictions; and a rambunctious, self-assured assassin called Maria who, despite her Mexican origins, wields the katana Murasámia. It wouldn’t be a Narita book without introducing a bus-load of new characters to keep track of, so it’s become expected at this point. It’s a skill that is much more difficult than he makes it seem, and to be able to create so many distinct personalities to interact, his worlds fill larger organically. It truly feels like you’re stuck in the thick of New York City, where people abound and the country is shifting.
Although this book feels more so a precursor to the next, that doesn’t mean there is no value to it. The central, obvious theme is family: with multitudes of sibling relationships being highlighted and paralleled, as well as the deconstruction of the parent-child dynamic. There are some interesting moments of revelation between two brothers in particular: one sold off to pay his father’s debts, the other realizing his intellectual superiority over the people in his life. Whether these family members love or hate each other is almost incidental—as we watch how devotion towards another person can warp and challenge your own sense of self, it really doesn’t matter what the initial feelings were. We also see a major shift in the realization of immortality amongst the cast, and it seems the secret has been anything but for a long time.
In addition, for anyone worried about this book missing out on some of the trademark action from the series, fear not! There’s a wonderful showdown between two deadly women at the climax, the results of which seem to be promising on character development for the second half. Just how far the effects will go remains to be seen.
Baccano! 1933: The Slash ~Cloudy to Rainy~ is the first of these novels to feel ‘incomplete’ at the end, knowing that the second half is coming with book 7. For another series that may make it feel unneeded or superfluous, but as always, fans won’t be disappointed with what Narita has given us.
Gee’s Rating: Mildly recommended, feels incomplete without the second part.
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