Kagerou Daze II: A Headphone Actor

By Jin (Shinzen no Teki-P) and Sidu. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On.

I had talked a bit last time about trying to balance a series based on something else – be it a game, visual novel, or in this case a series of music videos – between fans who already had a grasp of the story and new readers who didn’t really know what was going on. After reading this second volume, I feel it safe to say that the Kagerou Daze series is very much biased in favor of the former. I was confused after the first novel, and so decided to spoil myself a bit on what’s actually going on. (Those who know me will be surprised I waited that long.) It definitely helped, and I was able to make a few connections I might not have, but it’s still a fact that the Kagerou Daze light novels will appeal most to hardcore Kagerou Daze fans.


Honestly, I think the biggest problem I have with the second book is the story order. After the last volume ends on a vague cliffhanger, we get 120 pages of what appears at first to be a completely different story, involving a grumpy, introverted girl and the guy that she can’t really admit she likes making a homebrew video game for the school festival. It’s only when Kido and Kano show up to play and Kido uses her “out of sight, out of mind” cheat that we realize this is actually taking place a year or two before the first book. This is helped further when we see Shintaro, the supposed hero, show up… and he’s a horrible jerk, even worse than the histrionic but basically harmless shut in we’re used to. We now want to see what led to him shutting himself away.

The most interesting parts of the book are Ayano, Shintaro’s scarf-wearing not-girlfriend who appears to have no self-worth at all, and of course Takane Enomoto, who actually does turn out to have been in the first book after all. This is what I was talking about when I said that it felt like this book came out in the wrong order. I think it would have a much stronger, more devastating ending if the amusement park fluff had come first and then we’d seen Ene’s backstory. After 3/4 of a book where nothing really happens, there’s a series of horrible events starting with Haruka’s collapse that take the reader down a well-earned path of ‘what the hell? No seriously, what the hell???’.

Aside from the devastating bits, there really isn’t much happening here beyond character development, but that is what these novels are for. They’re taking the characters from the music videos and showing us what their hopes, dreams, and motivations are. And, of course, spelling out what’s hard to say in a video. The “Headphone Actor” in the original video was Takane, but in the novel it appears to be Haruka as well, and I have a sneaking suspicion his fate is going to be as dark as hers is. I’m still pretty confused, but I’ll definitely be reading the third volume early next year.

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