Hi there twitties. It’s unfinished business time: since I recently gave the third volume of HakoMari a spin, it makes sense to also read the fourth one, as they form a two-parter. So, here we go. It won’t be a long post, though.
Summarized, the book looks like this: in the upcoming session of the deathgame called the Game of Indolence, Hoshino Kazuki will be the Player. He now has the edge on other participants, since he retains the memories of the previous sessions. But, if he dies in the game, he dies for real. His goal is to lead the game to a happy ending in which nobody dies. For Kazuki, this is an opportunity that won’t happen again, so he’ll have to work extra hard… He’ll have to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. And there will be yuri.
That’s not the only bit of good news, though. After Hoshino Kazuki tumbled his way through volume 3 in the most pitiful way possible, this time he redeems himself to some extent. Kazuki makes use of the advantage he has over the other players and does a decent job at checkmating the others and forcing them to sit still. He manages to impress his competitors, and me too. One could say his refusal to kill even if it ends in his own death is kind of annoying, but now he’s in a scenario where being a pacifist is beneficial, which wasn’t the case before. Then again, it turns out he still doesn’t go far enough in his powergaming efforts – one of the other participants announces they’re the dictator of this fantasy kingdom now and takes others as hostages. Kazuki will have to be dealing with that mess for a big chunk of the volume. A mess that would not happen if Kazuki was firm with his co-participants and took full power over the pack before somebody else did.
After that crisis is dealt with… there’s a pause. We get to see what’s happening in that dark space where Daiya is watching the game, and then we’re served a huge twist: volume three was like “Is Daiya the one responsible for the deathgame? Yes, he is! Or maybe not! …Unless!” We finally learn that it wasn’t Daiya, but someone else. Kazuki will have to figure that out too, now. And then somebody dies…
People get killed, forever destroying the option to lead the game’s outcome to that happy
end Daiya promised Kazuki. Then again, was that the truth or a clever ruse meant to shove the clumsy hero into a dead end? I’ll just skip to the very end: real Daiya kills the bad guy (their real self) and so the Game of Indolence is forced into a state of “forced termination”. All’s well that ends well. Except for the villain. In the end, it didn’t matter whether the “happy end” was real or not.
So yeah. HakoMari v4 was a disappointment. While volume three revived my interest in the series, the other half of the story of Kingdom Royale pretty much put all my hype back where it was a month ago. Bummer. While volume three was a fun, airtight deductive story, volume four proved it can’t be that forever. On one hand, I expected Kazuki to fail his spin in the Game of Indolence and then count on Otonashi Maria to use hers to break the game. That did not happen, there were no extra spins, but… at what cost? The story only found resolution thanks to a hearty dose of bullshit. Bullshit like people guessing things they wouldn’t normally guess. And, that resolution happened *beside* the framework of the deathgame, beyond the reach of its rules, which killed all the satisfaction one would usually expect to have at the end of a murder mystery. Well, I guess they did find that “backdoor” to victory Maria had wanted to find from the very beginning… You should read HakoMari v4, since reading only volume three and nothing more is pointless. I had decent fun with the book, but… that ending. I hate it when mysteries end on bullshit instead of a proper solution.