While the first instalment of light novel series 86 was a thrilling and unforgettable story, the second volume began a prequel story which didn’t quite capture what I loved about the tale. Today I’m here to take a look at Volume 3, which brings the prequel to an end – but is it satisfying conclusion? Let’s find out!
Volume 3 opens with an attack on the military base where Shin and the members of the Spearhead squadron are stationed. The Legion has built a railgun weapon, which threatens to destroy not only the Federal Republic of Giad (where our cast fled to) but also the Republic of San Magnolia (their old ‘home’).
Faced with no choice but to run into deep Legion territory, Shin and his squad agree to lead the charge against the weapon. It’s a mission with a slim chance of survival for the group, but Shin reasons that if they don’t take it on, they’re all likely to be killed by the railgun regardless. The group are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, but on the battlefield, Shin begins to wonder what he’s even fighting for…
This instalment of 86 is a lot more action-driven than Volume 2, which makes for a better read overall. While there was nothing wrong with the world building in the previous volume, I think this series shines on the battlefield with life-or-death stakes.
Author Asato Asato writes action scenes well and they always pulled me into the world and kept me turning the pages. It’s easy to keep track of what’s happening and what the characters are doing. Asato excels at writing these scenes and it’s one of the things I loved about Volume 1.
It’s not that I dislike the soul-searching Shin and the others went through and continue to go through this time around, but Volume 3 is better balanced. It ties together everything that has been building up and delivers a satisfying conclusion to the sort-of prequel story.
With Shin beginning to wonder what he lives for and ultimately finding his answer, this volume makes me appreciate the prequel more than I did in my last review. While it wasn’t something I thought needed explored initially, by the end I was sold on it and glad the author decided to flesh out Shin’s character in this way.
The only complaint I have with this volume is that we still don’t see all that much of Lena (despite her being on the cover). In the previous volume, we saw her a couple of times in San Magnolia, and that continues this time with a few short passages revolving around how they’re dealing with the Legion’s new assault over there. She is involved more than last time, but it’s still so little that I can’t help wishing we’d seen more of her.
By the end of this volume, we’re back at the point of the end of Volume 1, where Lena is brought back into contact with the Spearhead squadron. I hope this signifies that we’ll see more of her in Volume 4 because she was a great character back at the beginning of the series.
This volume of 86 comes to the West thanks to publisher Yen Press and has been translated by Roman Lempert. The translation reads well and is problem-free. One thing I like about this release, in particular, is the colour illustrations by illustrator Shirabii, which depict the characters in a variety of situations and include a detailed character chart. Shirabii has provided some fantastic images throughout the book that capture some of the most emotional scenes.
Overall, 86 Volume 3 offers a satisfying conclusion to the prequel story. With this behind us, I’m excited about the future and to find out what awaits Shin and Lena on the battlefield. If it keeps up the heartfelt emotion and gripping action then I’m sure 86 will remain a fantastic light novel series.