Kagerou Daze Vol. 3: The Children Reason - Light Novel Review

The story of a boy who finally gets to escape the sticks with the girl he is obsessed with! The Mekakushi-dan also do some stuff in the continuation of the light novel series which inspired Mekakucity Actors.

The Lowdown

12 year-old Hibiya Amamiya is obsessed with a few things- first, with getting out of his boring town in the countryside, two, with the “it girl” of his school, the beautiful and cold Hiyori Asahina, and three, with finally getting a cell phone so he just might one day be able to text with Hiyori. One day, Hibiya is shocked to receive a phone call from Hiyori asking him to accompany her to the big city in return for buying him a cell phone. Naturally, he agrees and sets off on his one big shot to make her notice him. Flashing forward a few days to where volume 1 left off, Shintaro and the Mekakushi-dan find Hibiya dazed after an accident and vow to look after him. However, when Hibiya runs off to frantically look for Hiyori, it’s up to Momo to track him down.

How Was It?

The first third of this volume is its strongest, following the uncomfortable story of Hibiya and Hiyori’s grand trip to Tokyo. Right off the bat, we get a rather quick reveal of Hibiya’s rather alarming obsession with his classmate Hiyori, extending to acts such as keeping a multitude of photos of her on his person at all times, as well as spending his free time working on stitching a doll in her form. This continues throughout their little roadtrip to Tokyo, with Hiyori continuing to treat Hibiya like dirt much to his chagrin. I found it difficult to get invested in this plot at all as both of them (in contrast to the blandness of the rest of the cast) are pretty unlikeable - Hiyori is unceasingly stuck-up and rude, while Hibiya’s stalker-like mentality is difficult to empathize with.

While this entire dynamic is disquieting to witness, Hibiya’s narration here is actually one of the strongest character portrayals this series has delivered thus far. Giving the narrators a sense of personality is probably the one thing this series has done relatively well, and this volume is no different as we get a very vivid sense (whether you want it or not) of the depths of Hibiya’s mental-state, providing context for frantic actions later as he searches for Hiyori in the city. If anything, this context was required as establishing Hibiya as anything less than a real oddball would have left the rest of the plot even more toothless than it ended up being as their trip seemingly ends in disaster. However, it seemed as though author Jin expected readers to become invested with Hibiya as his search for Hiyori later in the volume is treated as the emotional lynchpin of the story despite the origins of his emotions being pretty unsettling.

Somewhat unsurprisingly given the first two volumes of this series, the plot gets markedly less interesting when the intrepid teenagers of the Mekakushi-dan get involved with Hibiya’s story. Finding him alone on the side of the road after an accident, the group decides to take him in suspecting he may have the same “eye-powers” that they have. Naturally, they spend a whole lot of time in conversation discussing their powers and blandly bantering without much action at all.

It’s only in the final chapter following Momo that the plot begins to lurch forward as she searches with Hibiya, but this is a pretty anti-climactic finish for the story that more or less suggests that readers stay tuned for this story line to show a light at the end of this confusing tunnel. Although there were no action scenes to really speak of in this volume, what’s really striking is how little of consequence actually happens worth noting, and you could probably sum up this volume in about three bullet points without missing too much of the journey.

This volume marked another installment of author Jin’s predilection with non-linear storylines, but unfortunately this constant shifting back and forth continued to be difficult to follow and did not help the plot at all. The end of Hibiya and Hiyori’s trip intersects with the ending of the series' first volume, with chapters alternating between those taking place in the present with the Mekakushi-dan, and those following Hiyori and Hibiya. This story already has enough problems remaining interesting without being difficult to follow, and all the non-linear format did was make the story less comprehensible. It almost felt as though the non-linear format is used to give the story an appearance of being deeper or more well thought-out than it actually is, but the problem remains that not nearly enough interesting things happen to make this story worth remembering. The lack of urgency is surprising given this volume is a slim 130 pages long, and I’m beginning to find my patience waning thin in waiting for the plot to actually get interesting.

Final Thoughts

Kagerou Daze Vol. 3 does little of note despite initially appearing poised to bring all of the disparate plot strands this series has flying about together in an interesting way. Although Hibiya’s story with Hiyori was morbidly interesting notwithstanding their general unlikeability, it was tiring to get more of the Mekakushi-dan being boring in a plot already has little to offer. The use of non-linear storytelling felt like an attempt cheaply make the story feel more mysterious than it actually is, but this just ended up making for an unnecessarily confusing read. While there is some minor hope at the end of the volume that the plot may finally be getting somewhere interesting, this really isn’t enough to make this book worth reading unless you felt a strong connection to the first two volumes.


Kagerou Daze III - The Children Reason was translated by Kevin Gifford and published by Yen Press on January 26th, 2016. Authored by Jin (Shizen No Teki-P) and illustrated by Sidu, the series is currently ongoing and published by Enterbrain’s KCG Bunko imprint. Volume 4 is scheduled to be published in English on May 24th, 2016. An anime adaption called Mekakucity Actors aired in 2014.

Verdict:

C-

Date of Publication: January 26th, 2016

Translator: Kevin Gifford

Author: Jin (Shizen-no-teki-P)

Publisher: Yen Press



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka