86 –Eighty-Six–, Vol. 7: Mist

By Asato Asato and Shirabii. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Roman Lempert.

The good news for this volume is that, after several promises from the author that did not quite pan out, we finally get a volume that is a breather and relatively lighthearted. The bad news is that this means that Lena falls to pieces, knowing she wants to confess to Shin but being tormented by her own self-loathing… which is something I accused Shin of in the previous volume, so it’s nice to see they have something in common. Things are not helped by a Republic officer showing up and basically being the worst thing ever, reminding her that she was one of the “white pigs” that everyone so rightly despises, and unable to see past that to her own growth. I mention this because it will last the entire volume, and you may find it wearying. Certainly everyone else in the cast does, as (with the exception of Kurena and Frederica) they all really, really want the two to finally get off their asses and confess. Fortunately, they’re in not-Switzerland at a resort, so have the time.

Our heroes are there because, despite a fakeout prologue that tries too hard, they have been on the battlefield FAR too many months in a row, and are entitled to some R&R in order to relax and not have to worry about the Legion attacking at any moment. That means going to a different country altogether, where they can enjoy bathing scenes (with all the fanservice you might expect, including literally lining up in order of breast size), delicious food… well, ersatz food, but some of it is real, spelunking in the nearby mountains, and, perhaps highest on the agenda for the top brass, questioning the Merciless queen, who was captured in the last volume but who doesn’t want to talk to anyone… except Shin. That said, she’s not very happy with the answers that Shin gives to her. But then, her own answers are seemingly not good news for anyone… except Shin knows they have a secret weapon.

Again, this is the closest we’re ever likely to get to 86: the Romcom, and it is very willing to hammer on those buttons – there’s even a pillow fight, fer chrissakes. We do get resolution at the end, I’m happy to say, though if I were the reader I’d avoid reading the Afterword, which has a sort of Monster at the End of This Book “YOU TURNED THE PAGE!” feel to it. There’s some interesting teasing regarding the other characters – I was going to grump about some heteronormative dialogue going on, but later on this is flipped around, and it’s implied we have at least one Eighty-Six who’s a lesbian. The serious stuff is good, I will grant you, and promises some interesting future crises. But I think the author was trying hard for a certain mood here, and mostly succeeds – heck, there’s even one of those “whoops, I walked in on your confession, don’t mind me” (leaves and gets beaten up by everyone else) scenes.

Next volume should resume normal service, I’m sure. Till then, enjoy Shin and Lena being big ol’ dorks and not spitting it out.

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