This series finally started delivering on the disturbing things it had been trying to illustrate in previous volumes with the fifth one. The good news is that things get even worse for our protagonists here! In the wake of the fire on the riverbank, Takao gets a visit from some policemen, grounded, a visit from Saeki, and a trip to the principal’s office all while he’s in a desperate funk about what has happened to Nakamura. She does show up eventually and in a very dramatic fashion as the two of them plot their ultimate act of transgression against the town.
One one hand, you really feel for Takao’s parents as their son’s antics have now progressed well beyond the point of youthful insubordination and into flagrant disrespect and potentially lawbreaking. We do find out that it was his dad that introduced him to Baudelaire, but otherwise there’s this helpless feeling of “How did we raise our son to be like this?” that suffuses their actions. It’s probably a sign of old age, but I sympathize more with them than Takao and Nakamura who are completely in the throes of their own self-absorbed rebellion. This lack of sympathy for them does make it easier to watch their downward spiral in anticipation of its climax. How low will they go? The excellent cliffhanger ending provides a hint as well as what is sure to feel like the longest wait between volumes yet.