When I reviewed Volume 7 of 86, the anime adaptation had just wrapped up. Now as I return to take a look at Volume 8, we’re quickly approaching the return of the anime for its second half, so there is certainly plenty to enjoy if you’re a fan of this series! For now, let’s find out what the latest light novel has in store.
Volume 7 ended with Shin confessing his feelings to Lena, as well as the two sharing a kiss (much to the joy of both us readers and the cast alike), but Lena got embarrassed and ran away before responding to Shin’s feelings. Now a month has passed and the two haven’t talked about that night at all and with a new mission about to begin, they won’t necessarily have the chance to – but all their friends know about the exchange and will surely push them to face each other sooner or later.
However, the main plot for this book is that the Eighty-Sixth Strike Package is sent to help countries near the coast that have been struggling to fight off the Legion for some time now. This will be the first time the group have fought on the ocean, which brings with it new dangers but together surely they can win, right?
While this mission is certainly dangerous, it doesn’t help that the minds of the cast are elsewhere. The Merciless Queen revealed to Shin that there is a way to stop the Legion for good and if her information turns out to be true, the end of the war is within reach. But for the 86 who have known nothing but the war, they still don’t know how to live in a world without it, which is something Theo, in particular, is struggling with.
The theme of the previous volume was all about how far Shin has come and the fact he (and others among the 86) have found things worth fighting for and that they want to live for, but Theo has nothing but the bonds he shares with his comrades. Throughout this book, he thinks about what it is that he wants to live for and talks to both his friends and the new people the group are assisting about his feelings.
Theo is a character who hasn’t had a great deal of development lately, so I’m pleased the author took the opportunity to put the spotlight on him. Theo has never been one of my favourite characters (not that I disliked him) but this storyline certainly made me appreciate him more than I did before and I think that will be the same for a lot of readers.
As always, the majority of the novel is split between a big battle and the emotional repercussions on the cast. Fighting on the sea is something no one is used to and as the situation grows ever worse, it becomes a real possibility that anyone could breathe their last any second which certainly takes a toll on Lena and the group. Of course, this is also where 86 excels since the fear that any of the cast could be killed is what makes the series such a compelling read, especially when author Asato Asato cheerfully throws in a few red herrings to keep you on your toes!
The only downside is that because we swap perspectives a lot in the latter half of this book, it’s difficult to follow the naval battle. Asato writes it well enough with the same level of description as we’re familiar with, but it’s just difficult to grasp what’s happening on the ship compared to the Eighty-Sixth Strike Package in their Reginleif units. It’s certainly not a mark against the book, but it does mean the concept for this fight isn’t as interesting as it otherwise could have been. It’ll probably be handled better in the anime, should the adaptation carry on long enough to reach this volume.
Volume 8 of 86 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Roman Lampert. The translation reads well with no issues to note. Volume 9 of the series is due out in January but, as previously mentioned, if you need a different fix of this series in the meantime, then the anime will be back on our screens for the Autumn season!
Overall, Volume 8 of 86 pulls no punches with its emotionally driven story and shines the spotlight on one of the less developed characters. This is certainly one of the most memorable entries in the series and will be one the readers will be thinking about for a long time to come!