Light Novel Review: The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria [Volume 2]

Forewarning: The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria has been licensed by Yen Press. Please support the official release once it comes out.

“Sevennight in Mud-“

That is the name of the “box” that torments Kazuki Hoshino and his everyday life again. Not known to Kazuki, he apparently confessed to his close friend, Kokone Kirino, and his companion in the Rejecting Classroom, Maria Otonashi, in the same night. Kazuki and Maria investigate this new phenomenon but as soon as Maria realizes the power of this “box”, she tells Kazuki that she can’t trust him anymore, for he may not even be the real “Kazuki Hoshino.”

What will Kazuki do against this new “box”…when the culprit is able to possess his body?

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Volume two of HakoMari has our two main characters fight against another box, but this time, the power of the box has directly affected Kazuki Hoshino, possessing his body for a short time. This leaves Maria Otonashi to fight on the frontline to try to figure out the owner of the box in Kazuki’s absence. This volume expands on the relationship between Kazuki and Maria and tackles the meaning of happiness for certain characters, but at the expense of a weaker plot and antagonists.

At the very beginning, neither the characters nor the reader know what’s going on, so we are left to fill in whatever tricks the “owner” did to Kazuki’s precious everyday life. This portion of the novel takes its time to set up the rules and restrictions for this particular box. While one of HakoMari’s strong points is how the characters discuss possible theories behind the box’s power and how to counteract it, this volume spends a lot of time having the characters discuss what to do, and this is from both sides. This results in certain portions taking a long time to confirm facts and dispel confusion.

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With the “owner” of the box possessing Kazuki’s body, the narrative is split between two perspectives: the “owner” and Kazuki.

Similarly to the last volume, we see the thoughts, motivations, actions, and backstories of the owner. Without giving too much information, something happened to the “owner” which made them want to use their box. HakoMari has an interesting approach to the troubles of owners. Instead of dealing with their predicament directly, HakoMari chooses to pursue the solution to that predicament, which is heavily distorted, and have our main characters tackle that issue instead. It’s like if an “owner” had a rough history of living in poverty and he/she wished to becomes a ruthless chairman of a large corporation to gain money, and our main characters try to convince said person not to be one. There isn’t any significant problems in the way HakoMari handles it, but it does leave out those details to focus on the solution.

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Kazuki leads the story in the beginning with the seemingly normal high school hijinks. However, once the “owner” has taken hold of his body, Kazuki falls to the sidelines. His parts aren’t the most engaging portions of the volume. He often mopes around, lamenting about his crumbling everyday life while being dragged along by the “owner” and Maria. Luckily, Maria is there to save him from his lackluster despair (and the story at some points)

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Despite the “owner” and Kazuki being the narrators for the story, Maria takes the spotlight, heavily participating in both perspectives. Her character is still the same. She has an unyielding personality like in the last volume and she is still being viewed as an extraordinary being from her peers. She’s also a vigilant person when it comes to anything regarding the box and the volume covers her actions counteracting the attacks of the “owner” and cooperating with Kazuki. While all of this is happening, we are introduced to Maria’s unique temperament. In addition to her refusal to use violence against a person, she will extend her hand to anyone who need help, to the point of self-sacrifice. Unfortunately, a certain companion isn’t too happy about her method, and while it was avoided this time, the confrontation is inevitable in future volumes.

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Back in volume one of HakoMari, we saw Kazuki and Maria/Aya Otonashi view each other as enemies but since then, the both of them are warming up to them. The conversations the two have on the surface may be about the “box”, but at times they exchange friendly banter and even say shoujo-like romance lines to each other. The box may have been the initial problem for Kazuki and Maria, but the misunderstandings between the two was the bigger obstacle for the two, and the most charming part of the volume.

“I won’t lose sight of you. So, please. You, too,–

–don’t lose sight of me anymore.”


“I promise you a future in which we can go eat strawberry tart peacefully tomorrow.”

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The illustrations are more rough in character design, speaking mostly about the color illustrations. The facial features look a bit awkward in the pictures with lots of people, but the drawings contain the same color styles as the last volume. The black and white illustrations are also similar to the last volume, containing dates instead of time iterations.

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The development in Kazuki and Maria’s relationship is what holds this volume together, overcoming obstacles both against the “owner” and their misunderstandings towards each other. The premise for this edition of HakoMari isn’t as captivating in comparison to the last volume but by presenting more foreshadowing to future volumes, it keeps things interesting.

Rating: Recommended


Author: Eiji Mikage

Illustrator: Tetsuo (415)

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