Baccano!: 1934 Alice in Jails: Streets

By Ryohgo Narita and Katsumi Enami. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Taylor Engel.

At the end of this volume Narita announces that they’re making an anime (which we have all already seen, of course), and also that after a Prison volume consisting mostly of old favorites, the Streets book mostly features either new cast members or relatively new ones, such as Christopher. That said, while they may have been new to the reader, I’m sure that the anime watcher is finally relieved to see Gustav St. Germain, his assistant/student Carol, and Graham Specter, who were cameo’d in the last book but show up in a major way here. Narita wrote Gustav and Carol into the anime as bookends commenting on the story in a metatextual way, which fits with what they do, and Graham showed up in one of the OAVs, whose events are described here but not shown. Well, at least I assume that folks are enjoying Gustav and Carol. Graham has a few people who just don’t like him, and I get it – like many, many other Narita characters, he won’t shut up.

Miria is in the foreground of the cover, but doesn’t show up till the end of the book. Same with Huey, whose ominous face takes up the background on the left side. Instead we see Renee, who is introduced to us as almost a parody of the “dojikko” type – busty and gorgeous, but always tripping and bumping into people, and constantly apologizing. Of course, just as we were introduced to Elmer C. Albatross as a smiling, likeable guy and then realized that this was not really correct, it turns out that Renee, like Huey, who she seems to have a connection to, is a bit of a horrible monster. Graham, Gustav and Carol are on the cover as well, in addition to Christopher Shaldred, last seen getting the crap kicked out of him on the side of a building in The Slash. Turns out that had a big effect on him, so in the meantime he’s playing bodyguard to the heir to the Russo family, Ricardo, who turns out to also have some big secrets. Not pictured is Lua Klein, Ladd’s girlfriend, who the Russos have locked up, presumably as leverage. Given Lua’s ultra-passive personality, you’d think they could just tell her to leave, but she does make an effort to escape when it presents itself.

That said, though, I think the most important part of the cast (also not pictured) is Rail, also one of the Lamia/Larva group we’ve come to know, and (as all of them are) one of Huey’s homunculus experiments. Huey’s view of everyone as an experiment tends to dehumanize them, and Renee clearly feels the same way. Add this to their not being “born” the way normal humans are, and the horrific tortures they’ve been forced to undergo, and it’s no surprise that most of Lamia are a bit eccentric. Rail is not sure about such basic things as humanity, and the events in this book really don’t help. That said, the majority of this book, as with a lot of Narita’s works, is a big series of fights and battles, combined with explosions (Rail loves to use bombs, although they are apparently not as good as another bomber we’ve seen in this series).

At the end of the book Miria and Jacuzzi’s gang are back in Chicago, trying to meet up with Isaac, who can only afford rail fare to there. So no doubt Peter Pan in Chains will bring the old and new cast together for a big finale. In the meantime, despite being filled with new characters you’re still learning about, this is a typically fun volume of Baccano!.

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