We return to 1933 and the world of Baccano! with the second half of The Slash saga, Bloody to Fair—and oh boy is it gonna get bloody.
Directly following the events of the sixth volume, Firo is stressing under the (mistaken) belief that Dallas has kidnapped Ennis and Ronny; Jacuzzi and his gang are trying to avoid warfare with the Gandors and the Martillos, and the struggling with the sudden realization that immortality exists; Maria is disillusioned after she lost a fight, with Tick repeatedly trying to reassure her; and Isaac and Miria, as always, have no clue to the truth of their surroundings.
With the return of Vino, and the introduction of a mysterious group of contract killers called Lamia, the stage is set for unprecedented bloodshed; culminating at the oppressive Nebula building, Mist Wall, as Larva attempts to steal the incomplete (or ‘failed’) immortality elixir with the help of Jacuzzi and his gang.
For this second 1933 novel, Narita steps us into the preludes of the next arc for these characters—tying disparate groups together, concluding several character stories, and opening up many, many new possibilities.
First and foremost for this story though is the new characters—Lamia, a sub-sect group of the Larva group, followers of Huey Laforet. In this cast of new characters we have Christopher, a knife-gun wielder with pointed teeth and red-sclera white-irised eyes; Chi, a gruff man with a iron-claw and perpetual exasperation towards Christopher; Leeza, a disembodied voice of a sultry woman; and the ever-watching ‘twins’ Sham and Hilton. These five, along with spear-user Adele, form the major villains of the novel—followers of Huey with little loyalty to anyone else. Willing to massacre an entire building in order to fulfill their leader’s ‘experiment’, and strong enough to kill as many as needed.
Conversely, the leader of Larva, Tim, is a non-combatant; focused on finding the immortality liquor and stealing it. Hoping to discard his past by following Huey and finding his own understanding of the world, he is thrust back to it when confronted with his older brother who doesn’t recognize him. Tim’s (or Tock’s, if you prefer) arc is an interesting one, giving yet another perspective and motivation to the events of the novel and of the Baccano! characters. As dismissive as he is towards his brother, you can tell there’s a great inferiority he holds (masquerading as superiority) that he hasn’t fully realized. Between the two brothers we get some very interesting ideas—of one who can’t understand the intangible, and of the other who only understands and values the intangible.
Continuing from that idea (and evolving past it) is the pair of Tick and Maria, who work as a foil for each other in the aftermath of the previous book. Both come to major character conclusions in this novel, and the odd couple work well as inverses of each other—they’re similar in occupations and personalities, but motivated from severely different ideals. Seeing as how this book ends, it’ll be interesting to see if and how Narita will approach their relationship dynamic going forward.
Another somewhat surprising character thread that gets concluded this volume is the Genoard siblings being reunited. Dallas is described in the character introductions as ‘human scum’ quite deservedly; but his soft spot for his sister Eve, and her unconditional care for him, gives him a human dimension that his vengeful, jealous, hate-filled existence so far through these books had yet to do. He has some pretty significant moments in this book too, considering his low-rung strength, wit and courage, so there’s definitely a feeling of how he has grown since The Rolling Bootlegs.
For me, seeing Jacuzzi and co. as major players in any of these novels is a plus; I adore the ragtag group of bootleggers and thieves, and unfailingly want to read more about them. Their inclusion also means we also get the exciting return of Vino/Felix/Claire to the story, who always brings an enjoyable (although violent) energy to the writing. His self-confidence and pride never feels undeserving or boastful in these books, and his relationship with Chané has grown enough to be endlessly endearing and earnest. His involvement with the clash at Mist Wall ensures plenty of action and bloodshed for fans, and this novel definitely has some of the best action set pieces in a while; with surprises and plot twists abound shaking things up.
Somewhat surprising for this book is the connection both Chané and Ennis have to our new characters—with Huey now entering the plot as an active participant, even from his high-security cell in Alcatraz, several puzzle pieces have started to fall in place.
1933: The Slash ~Bloody to Fair~ is yet again a wonderful addition to the Baccano! story. It’s a fun, exciting volume full of action and interesting interactions that also introduces a new scale of trouble—bringing in both new and old characters that grow the potential of this universe. Although this novel is technically the end of these events, it truly feels like a prelude to grander things.
Gee’s Rating: Strongly Recommended
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