86 –Eighty-Six–, Vol. 9: Valkyrie Has Landed

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

There is an awful lot going on in this volume of 86, but we have to start by talking about Kurena, who pretty much owns this book. When we last saw her at the end of Book 8, she was in a very bad place, her screw-up having cost lives, and throughout this book we see her fragile psyche try to recover from it. She’s grasping for a renewed purpose, which for the most part in previous books has been “Shin”, but now that she’s finally acknowledged that he’s in love with Lena she needs something else. It could be the war – after all, getting back her mojo and becoming the best sniper of all the 86 is certainly something that would be an excellent goal for this book. But, as she realizes to her growing horror, having something war-related as a goal is not cutting it anymore. It’s not what the others are doing. They’re all trying to END the war, to find a future that does not involve constantly fighting the Legion. And I’m gonna be honest, that nearly breaks her.

Our core unit that we’ve known since the first book is now down a member, as Theo is forced to retire from military service, something that he tries to cope with over the course of the book. As for the rest of the group, they’re all headed to The Holy Theocracy of Noiryanaruse, a country whose religion and military needs have combined in a disturbing way, and whose general is an odd mix of high priestess and idol singer. Several countries are sending units to try to take care of the Noctiluca, the Legion’s main weapon from the previous book, which has settled in a ruined and ash-filled area of the Theocracy. The battle will be tricky. The ash turns out to be very hard to navigate in, the entire plan hinges on a sniper who’s having a crisis of faith, and, most importantly, when you combine several countries to try to achieve a task, they may not always be on the same page – or even in the same book.

As usual, the bulk of the back half of this book consists of a large battle, which I can’t really review except to say “hey, nice combat, 5 stars!”. So I’ll go back to 86’s core theme, which is that war is terrible, the idea of “constant war” is an easy one to slip into, and that to prevent that everyone needs SOMETHING that they can think of doing when this war finally ends – because otherwise it never will. Shin has Lena, Anju has Dustin, Raiden… will be getting a book to himself soon, I expect, and this entire book is about Kurena’s journey to find a purpose in life. As for Theo, while I doubt we’ve seen the last of him, I suspect we’re going to see him about as often as we do Annette (who does show up here to rally his morale). His future is not in battle, much to his dismay. As for the war itself, our heroes are faced with actually having to fight soldiers who are not Legion… and they hate it.

This feels like we’re headed towards a grand finale, but we’re not there yet. Nevertheless, this is a fine entry in a very fine series.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind