On Eighty-Six v2

The cover.

Hi. I’ve just finished reading Eighty-Six volume 2. I don’t really have much to say about it, but decided to at least try writing a thing on it. Well then, here goes nothing.

Pretty much all my negative expectations turned out to be true. The first volume was a concluded, well-rounded story that could only be spoiled by making a sequel. And yet the sequel was written, as it happens in the LN world. The book messes a bit with the chronological order – it begins on the battlefield, Shin fights as a part of the armed forces of the Federacy of Giad now that the Spearhead managed to (barely) make their way through the Legion’s territory to the other side. Alongside him fights a newly made friend who then promptly dies. Meanwhile, the reader is bombarded with descriptions of combat and the fictional technology used to wage the war. At that point I was ready to prematurely throw the book at the wall – it’s insufferable to get through, I could not care less. It gets better, however.

For the longest time, I’ve thought Asato Asato reached for a forbidden move and employed a retcon in the second volume of the series to be able to write a sequel – the Republic still exists and Lena is still a Handler. However, as we learn at the tail-end of the novel, it’s set in that short gap between the end of the “proper” part of Volume 1 and its epilogue. Okay.

The “in media res” introduction concludes together with the first chapter. Then, the Eighty-Six are welcomed by the peaceful, democraticly ruled Federacy, get a little girl for a mascot (who’s also former royalty), and even become legally adopted by its president. President Ernst decides to make sure his new children have as little to do with war as possible in their new life, now that they successfully escaped the fascist hell of the Republic. But, having spent their entire lives on the battlefield, the entire former Spearhead squadron goes against his wishes and returns to the army in the novel’s climactic moment. Which was supposed to be moving, I guess. I can’t help but side with the president, who thinks the kids only want to get back to the maelstrom that is the war against the Legion because it’s the only thing they know. But, Shin and his comrades declare they’re “going back to where they belong” and their choice soon proves to be the correct one – the Legion starts its ultimate offensive, meant to solve the question of humanity once and for all. Without Shin and his teenage war veterans, the Legion surely couldn’t be stopped – while the Federacy’s soldiers are dying left and right, the heroes stand their ground with hardly any difficulty, like they’re playing Dynasty Warriors. Well, at least their 無双っぷり is justified by the plot. The Federacy is saved. And then, the Republic falls (in the epilogue). The end. That’s wasn’t much, was it? The last page is numbered 189.

My biggest problem with Eighty-Six v2: it continues the story of Volume 1. But that’s all it does. It’s an exercise in storytelling and nothing else. We get to know what happens next, meaning be damned. Volume 2 is not a continuation of the ideas of Volume 2, nor does it bring any new food for thought to the table. Which is a gigantic disappointment if you consider that Eighty-Six v1 was all about substance – it was an impressive marriage of storytelling and meaning. Bummer. I’ve heard the series gets good in a few volumes, but I refuse to stay this long to wait for it. DROPPED. Bye, Eighty-Six. At least the first volume was memorable…

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