Baccano!: 2002 [Side A]: Bullet Garden

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

The first volume of this two-parter reminds me very much of the fist volume of the last two-parter we had, The Slash. It’s very short, almost all setup, and seems to be saving all its tricks for the back half. It also features a new character I don’t care for, and once again brings up Firo’s paralyzing fear of sexuality, which is not a plotline I like either. Adding this all together makes it one of the more “average” volumes in the series, and it feels sort of like the first volume in a DRRR!! arc as well – you’re reading along waiting for fun, only to be told the fun is four months from now. Fortunately, there is a BIT of fun to be had here – Claudia and Charon *are* new characters I like, being genderswapped carbon copies of their great-grandparents, Czes gets a lot to do an an ominous foreboding about what’s going to happen, and Illness is a treat, though her terrifying backstory reminds me of Huey and Elmer – deliberately, of course.

Firo and Ennis, we are told, married somewhere around 1980, fifty years after they first met, but have never had a honeymoon – or indeed consummated their relationship. On finding out about this, the Camorra bosses pay for him and Ennis to travel on an ocean liner’s maiden voyage – and, Firo still being extremely wary of what comes with a honeymoon, he invites Czes to come as well, much to Czes’s frustration. The cruise also features Claudia and Charon, great-grandkids to Claire and Chane (who, while not immortal, are both still alive and active in their nineties), who are in the film industry; Angelo, a sniper who is out for revenge on the terrorists who wiped out his South American gang; said terrorists, the Mask Makers, whose name seems awfully familiar to Firo and who have a love of modern cinema; and Bobby Splot and his gang, who stow away on the boat to get revenge on people because… well, because Bobby is terrible. He’s a disgrace to his great-grandfather Jacuzzi.

I am aware that Bobby will likely improve in the next book, but, like Maria in the first Slash volume, I have to rate him based on this book alone, and boy, he grates. To be fair, this is deliberate, as the book wants to have him NOT be his great-grandfather, in contrast to Claudia, but still. The plotline going on here seems complex, and you get the sense that we’ve barely seen the start of it. Someone seems to want to recreate the 1931 train incident, only without Isaac and Miria (who briefly appear, but are not on the boat). The Mask Makers are clearly a reference to the same group we saw in the 1705 novel, which makes you wonder what they’re doing here almost 300 years later. And, to make things even more interesting, the terrorists’ plan involves meeting up with the SISTER ship of this huge luxury liner, which is going in the other direction and scheduled to pass them.

We briefly hear what’s happening on the other liner, and honestly it sounds a lot more interesting than events here. As such, I suspect that the 2nd and final book in this 2002 arc will be far more exciting and interesting. Till then, enjoy Claudia, Charon and Illness, who are a lot of fun.

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