Clockwork Planet, Vol. 3

By Yuu Kamiya, Tsubaki Himana, and Sino. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by fofi.

Last time I said that reader sympathy was largely shifting away from Naoto and towards Marie. I’ll go further this time: Marie is why I’m reading this series. There’s actually some decent not-Naoto characterization in this volume, as RyuZU begins to actually appreciate who Marie is and AnchoR is able to realize that she is not merely there to be a giant Mass Weapon of Destruction (though she possibly wishes she learned that lesson a bit earlier). But it’s Marie who the reader follows throughout the book, as she’s now become the star far more than Naoto has. This despite the fact that, like Naoto, she too is shown to be something more than human – after she angrily rants about his amazing hearing one too many times, Naoto comes right back and mentions how Marie’s eyesight is just as ridiculous, and allows her to perform equally impossible tasks. They may not be a romantic pairing (though AnchoR calling them her parents is not helping), but together they are a force of nature.

The basic plot of this series has been the same over the three books, as this book picks up shortly after the end of the second one. Things are looking very bad for our terrorist heroes, who are up against a very crafty enemy, who knows both when to show off its amazing power and when to step back and simply watch the government fall apart. The scenes with the cabinet were viciously satirical, and you get the feeling that the authors are no great fans of politics in general. Meanwhile, RyuZU is out of commission, Halter and Vermouth are down to brains and heads, (and not necessarily both), and Marie is constantly feeling as if the end has finally arrived. Naoto gets frustrated with this, mostly as he’s no0t that type of personality (which is why his characterization suffers – where can he go from here?), but I feel for Marie, as this is indeed a horrible situation it’s impossible to get out of. Luckily, with her, Naoto and his “wife and daughter”, they can achieve the impossible with a bit of effort.

The afterword suggested that this volume was mostly Kamiya’s work, and I’m not surprised, as there are elements of the book that are rather sleazy, particularly everything involving Vermouth, who is absolutely horrible and yet absolutely hilarious. This volume is also considerably longer than the others, and is one of the longer light novels on my phone – when it hits print, I’ll estimate it may be around 300 pages. There’s a lot going on here. That said, almost all the plot threads get wrapped up nearly – in fact, a bit too nearly. If I didn’t know there was a 4th volume of the series I’d swear that this was the final one, and I wonder if their editor made it end like this just in case they were late with the manuscript one too many times. In the meantime, I understand the anime was not well loved, but fans might want to give the novels a try, as they’ve gotten very good indeed.

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