We’ve reached the end of this tale, as our many disparate threads merging to a singular point. Chicago is wary under the recent bombings from Rail, who is searching for purpose, whilst Jacuzzi and his gang accompany Miria and follow Graham to their old city. Meanwhile, still stuck in Alcatraz, Firo and Ladd have to deal with the aftermath of the previous book, and Leeza’s wrath. Everything’s coming together, and Baccano! is as explosive as ever!
Baccano! – 1934 Peter Pan in Chains: Finale is the tenth novel in the series, with the highest page count yet. With this book, it also signals the end of the longest story arc Ryohgo Narita has attempted for the franchise so far; accompanied by Katsumi Enami’s illustrations. Originally published in Japan in 2007, Yen On’s English edition was released April 2019 with translations by Taylor Engel.
Both parts of the previous 1934 entries conclude here, so throughout the book we not only bounce between the various groups involved but also the two settings as well. Each part and player is crucial to the events, despite the distance, and as always no one ever feels unneeded to the plot—incredible, considering how many individuals we’re following here. Narita has a great affinity for writing diverse and engaging characters, and there are plenty of old and new-ish faces that get to shine.
Starting in Chicago is the always-wonderful gang of ruffians led by Jacuzzi and Nice, back in their old neighbourhood to help their friends. One of those friends is Graham, the crazy mechanic with a penchant for dismantling, called to Chicago as brawn for the Russo family; and the other friend is Miria, travelling halfway across the country to meet her partner in crime and life, Isaac, after his release from Alcatraz. We also have the young Russo ‘grandson’ Ricardo, and bodyguard-slash-friend Christopher, the vampire-looking man with pointed teeth and red sclera. Also floating around are various members of Lamia: The Poet, who spouts nonsensical prose; the incredibly short-tempered Sickle; Sham and Hilton, the disembodied twin voices with thousands of bodies across the continent; and Rail, the young bomb expert trying to find a place to belong in the world. We also have Renee and her group of Nebula scientists, as well as the Daily Days Vice President and his assistant Carol. As if that wasn’t enough characters and plot threads to follow as it is, the prisoners of Alcatraz: Firo, Ladd and Huey, also have their time to shine, with Leeza swearing revenge for the eye-gouging of her father.
Following the theft of said eyeball is what brings these two stories together. The calculated scheming between both Nebula and Huey keeps everyone on their toes, as the two try to out-do each other and gain the upper hand. Unfortunately, that makes everyone else pawns to the grander game, with various levels of importance and insignificance. This includes the main focus of this book, Rail, who reaches an important realisation from the previous book in this one. After the kidnapping of Frank, and the hatred for Huey that has always been bubbling, Rail is in desperate need of control over life. When confronted with the perceived rejection from Chris, it feeds the desperation Rail feels about being a broken puppet—experimented and taken apart countless times, with suture scars across every inch; wanting to destroy everything in the world, themselves included. Struggling with a sense of having no identity, Rail is found (and saved) by Nice, after she goes to investigate the explosions around town she’s being blamed for. The explosives are very familiar, and so Nice feels a sense of responsibility towards the younger kid, and the situation at large.
Whilst this is going on, the fateful meeting of three parties—Graham and the Russos, The Poet and Scythe, and Chris and Ricardo—occurs in an unassuming restaurant, resulting in a major clash. If it all feels a little too coincidental, that’s by design.
The fact is, Rail isn’t the only one of Huey’s underlings questioning and betraying their purpose—Sham’s no longer a mindless follower of the immortal man either. Bolstered by a new perspective after a failed ‘takeover’, the multitude of Sham has successfully supplanted hidden agents into every major group as needed—the Russos, Jacuzzi’s group, even Nebula itself. Even Leeza, the most devoted of Huey’s supporters, gets a taste of the wider world outside of her father thanks to Firo; saving her life from Ladd’s unbridled violence, despite her murderous attacks of revenge against them both. It’s the first time the young girl has experienced kindness from anyone but her father, and it’s the first step towards various possibilities.
This is the end of these current events, but as always, there’s so much more hinted to come from the world of Baccano!. Considering the conclusion of this particular novel, the stakes have been raised yet again, and it makes me excited for the future books to come. One of the series’ great strengths is its feeling of existing as a fully-realised world, rather than an insular bubble of the protagonists. This is helped, of course, by the ensemble cast and their various goings-on, but it also means that it feels like the story is never truly ‘over’, even when things get concluded. With writing like this (and such an engaging translation), it’s obvious how the series has maintained popularity for so long.
Gee’s Rating: Recommended
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