Kagerou Daze III: The Children Reason

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

After two volumes of being very confused, I think I am finally starting to get a handle on Kagerou Daze, and elements of the plot are now coming together in ways they hadn’t before. As with the second volume, this book is divided into two parts, which interlock in alternating chapters. One details the struggle of a young boy in the city and his hopeless crush on a girl his age who seems to be using him as a baggage holder. The other continues to show us Shintaro and Momo getting involved with the Mekakushi-Dan, and dealing with the eye powers – which now have one more member, as the boy from the first story shows up with red eyes and a desperate need to save the girl he loves.

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I’ll be honest, I found the Shintaro plot a lot more interesting – almost the reverse of the second book, where it was Takane who held my attention. Part of the problem is that Hibiya and Hiyori are both not very likeable kids – Hiyori deliberately, as she’s written as very much a stereotypical arrogant rich girl (complete with a “Mean Girls” sort of accent, with lots of ‘likes’ interspersed), but I suspect we’re meant to sympathize with Hibiya’s somewhat stalker-ish obsession with her more than we do, and the doll he creates that can speak n her voice is just icing on the cake of creepy. That said, he fares much better in the second story, where he’s allowed to be what he actually is away from his crush, a confused and emotional young kid.

Shintaro and Momo also grow over the course of this volume, although I have a sneaking suspicion that Shintaro may regress soon. The scene between him and Kano is the most powerful in the book, both to show the pain and despair that Ayano’s death sent Shintaro spiraling into, and also to show the reader that Ayano is somehow connected with this group as well, and not just Shintaro’s dead friend. It also shows us a cruel and vicious side to Kano, which I had suspected was there but hadn’t seen till now. As for Momo, she and Hibiya get off on the wrong foot (he calls her “Gran”, which I suspect is Oba-san in the original, and she understandably freaks given she’s still in high school), but quickly develop a sibling-like relationship. He seems to have seen her teacher before, too…

The writing here is quite interesting. It’s rare to see a Japanese book with English wordplay – the title of the book, The Children Reason, and one story within, The Children Record, could have multiple meanings, and the original Japanese used the English words. (The author does need to get better at remembering how he’s numbering, though – going from 01 to 02 to 03 to IV was jarring, and that was also in the original Japanese.) There’s also some subtle callbacks, such as Ene having a complete freakout when she sees Konoha, which sounds so much like her old self that Shintaro almost figures it out before she distracts him. Overall, I remain interested, despite a majority of the characters having serious character flaws, and will definitely pick up the next volume.

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