Baccano!: 1935-A Deep Marble

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

It’s been a long time since we’ve been here. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we continue to have about three Baccano! novels translated every year. However, the plot in the 1930s, with Firo, Ladd, Jacuzzi, et al can be generally considered the “main” plotline. And since Peter Pan in Chains, the 1934 novel, we’ve seen three books set in the 1700s, two set in the 21st century, and two set in the 1930s but as “side stories” taking place in between events we previously read about. And we still have one more of those to go, I warn you. But for the moment, we’re in the home stretch. The author has stated that the 1935 arc will be the last one set in this time period, with an “epilogue” taking place in 2003. This is the big one. But, as I said, it’s been a while. For English speakers, about three years. For the Japanese readers, over five years. As such, it’s no surprise that this volume, while not exactly a recap, is certainly a reintroduction to most of the main cast.

Several things happen at the start of this book. Isaac and Miria, still trying to not be thieves but also broke, go looking for a job. Jacuzzi’s gang is also broke (I mean, it is 1935), and so he too is looking for work. Ricardo and Christopher are in New York, and are ALSO looking for work. Ladd gets out of Alcatraz prison and reunited with Lua, Graham and Shaft. Another character from a long, long time ago is also released from captivity, and unfortunately ends up right in the middle of things. And of course Huey Laforet is out of prison and therefore back to his usual tricks… which include Chane, who is very happy to be reunited with him but also conflicted due to her love for Claire/Felix. Through all of this, Firo is just trying to run his casino. Unfortunately for Firo, Narita books tend to be “slow burn leading to an explosive climax”, and that explosion is in that very same casino.

This is a fun book to read, despite the fact that it feels like everyone is showing up to do their “bit”. Isaac and Miria are flakey. Jacuzzi cries a lot but also shows gumption. Ladd, Graham and Christopher are incredibly violent, etc. That said, there is an ACTUAL plot going on here as well, involving the Runorata family building their own secret casino and inviting representatives of all the local gangs, including the Martillo and the Gandor ones. They’ve got some heavy hitters in charge, including people you would not normally think would be associated with the dark underbelly of society. And also a new character, named Melvi, who is very interesting to a heck of a lot of people for reasons that only come out at the end of the book… and even then, there’s more of a “how on Earth could THAT happen?” than anything else. Then again, we have seen something like it before with our favorite Big Bad, who is also in this book, albeit in only one scene.

So yeah, it’s all setup, but it’s fun setup. And you’ll be delighted to know that the next book is in fact Part 2 of this arc. So perhaps we can actually keep track of things a little better.

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