Baccano!: 1711 Whitesmile

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

For those who may have been expecting this book to be partly an adaptation of the 1700s episode of the anime, ht’s not. We do see everything up to the Advena Avis sailing off, though, so you can go right from this book to watching Episode 7 and depress yourself even more. That said, apart from one character, this book is fairly light on depression. Monica is still dead and a lot of people have feelings about that, but for the most part this is a standard Narita “have everything get more and more chaotic till it explodes” style book. Its best aspects are those focusing on Fermet, who continues to remain the absolute worst and you’d think the author would be tired of showing him doing even more evil shit, but no; and Elmer, who is Fermet’s kryptonite, as we discover here, and is not someone I can describe as evil but is also someone I cannot really describe as a human being, either. Elmer is disturbing. As for Huey, well… also disturbing, frankly.

It’s been a year since Monica’s death. Huey and Elmer have both vanished, but a lot of alchemists have come to Lotto Valentino for one reason or another, including Szilard Quates, who thinks all this immortality stuff is a load of crap; and Victor Talbot, who is a lot less angry and bitter than he would eventually become. Unfortunately, the town is under the control of the Dormentaires after the events of 1710. Equally unfortunately, there’s been a string of explosions and fires going on. Is someone trying to get the town to destroy itself? If so, they’re doing a pretty good job. Amidst all this, we also meet Maiza’s brother Gretto, who is basically “young dumb teenager in love”, and Sylvie, a maid at their household, who is less dumb but no less in love. Can they manage to have their forbidden love by escaping on the Advena Avis? Indeed, does the ENTIRE cast need to escape on the Advena Avis?

I’d mentioned this was a happy ending for most everyone in that they don’t have really bad things happen to them till they’re on the ship, which we saw in the anime. The exception to this is Niki, who is back and deeply in love with Fermet, which is both terrible (as Fermet is, well, Fermet, and gets off imagining her most despairing face) and also terrible in a different way (because she’s still, even after all these years, idealizing suicide). Her fate is horrible but also doesn’t make much sense timeline-wise if you look at it closely, but that’s not uncommon for Narita, who has never been good about keeping track of stuff he wrote and/or how long something is supposed to take. That said, the best scene in the entire book is right at the end, when Fermet gleefully tells Elmer and Huey about Niki’s fate… and the response he gets from Elmer makes him completely flip out. Elmer is the one person who cannot be emotionally manipulated at all by Fermet, and honestly more people should have this reaction to Elmer. It’s great.

This brings the 1700s books to an end, and we’re in the home stretch now. Narita calls the next arc the last 1930s one, and it’s the longest arc yet (and indeed still unfinished). Back to 1935 next time. Till then, enjoy the author saying “gee, what would piss off the reader more than what I did to Monica?”.

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