Baccano!: 1931 Winter The Time of The Oasis

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

This was fun! Possibly as I wasn’t expecting anything from it. This is another book, like Man in the Killer, that was originally written as extras for the DVD releases and has now been fleshed out into a book. In fact, judging by what Narita says, it was barely fleshed out, with minimal editing and a few additions. It also has a plot that revolves around the Flying Pussyfoot train jounrey… again. Thankfully, the main thrust of the book does not take place on the train. Instead this book is a reminder of the best of what Baccano! has to offer. We get a huge number of relatively new characters introduced to us, and they’re all pretty chaotic and have weird character tics. We get a young mafia heir. We get lots and lots of guns, bombs, and hideous violence. That said, this book is very weird in that almost no one actually dies. This is a big surprise given the events of the book itself, but Narita really wants to mention how they’re not dead. It’s a happy book.

As always with Narita, the plot involves several groups coming together. These include: a) half of Jacuzzi’s gang, who are supposed to get the cargo out of the river after Jacuzzi and company rob the train; b) three young women who accidentally kidnap the heir to the Runorata crime family and (without knowing who he really is) try to get a ransom for him; c) The Lemures who are supposed to negotiate with Senator Beriam once Goose and company have taken his family hostage on the train; and d) twin bodyguards of the Runorata Family, who are here to find out who kidnapped the Young Master and make their life very difficult indeed. And throughout all this, there is another player, skulking in the darkness, someone that absolutely no one was expecting to show up in the woods of mid-state New York…

It really is astonishing that there are still members of Jacuzzi’s gang that we haven’t really gotten to know yet. The only one here that we’ve seen before on a regular basis is Chaini (who actually gets to show us that she can speak and is in fact fairly erudite, she just chooses to say “Hya-haah!” all the time). But we don’t really need to know all the new people (who, except for time-obsessed Melody, don’t even get named) to know that they’re family. Pamela, Lana and Sonia are a sort of family as well, and it was amusing to see that their kidnapping idea fell apart in two seconds once they realized that their victim (who had, in fact, stowed away in their truck) is a total cinnamon roll. Even the surprise character, who I don’t want to spoil but is absolutely amazing, ends up becoming part of a family by the end of the book. Families are important in Baccano!, be they street gang, mafia families, or just three youth thieves. Honestly, Huey’s goons don’t stand a chance – they aren’t family.

This is the last diversion from the main plot, and we’re back to 1935 next time. I expect we’ll be seeing Pamela, Lana and Sofia again, as this entire book seems to have been inserted here to set them up for something. Till then, enjoy a lightweight but incredibly fun Baccano! volume.

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