Light Novel Review: The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria [Volume 4]

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

The Game of Idleness-

Kazuki Hoshino has returned from playing three rounds of Kingdom Royale. He meets Daiya again with a new goal; to save Maria who is powerless in this game of deceiving and killing. Daiya proposes a deal with Kazuki.

He proclaims that if nobody kills anyone during the eight days of Kingdom Royale, he will destroy the box.With the possibility of victory, Kazuki accepts.

But how will Kazuki reach the end game when the fear of death haunts the others and murder may be their only option to survive?

HakoMari4_01

Contiuning from the last volume, Kazuki Hoshino is determined to save Maria from the Game of Idleness. With a possible method of destroying the box, Kazuki enters the game of Kingdom Royale with the goal to keep everyone alive for eight days without killing anyone. Unlike in previous volumes where Kazuki is being dragged around by Maria or whatever force is at hand, Kazuki is actively taking action doing everything in his power to reach his goal, no matter how ruthless and merciless he has to be.

HakoMari4_05

After playing three rounds of Kingdom Royale, he has obtained the necessary information needed to accomplish his goal. From here on out, the story is about Kazuki trying to make everyone survive and how he has changed because of it. Like Maria and Daiya says later on, this isn’t the typical Kazuki we know. He’s a lot more calculating and wary due to knowing the true personalities of each individual. He predicts the actions of Iroha, avoids the deception of Yuuri, and locks down Kamauchi’s whims. But as a result of his new mentality, he becomes unbelievably cruel and heartless. He deliberately torments the other characters by using their guilt to make sure they bend to his will. Kazuki’s priorities have changed and the way he acts to achieve that goal is enjoyable, and it sets the precedent for future volumes.

The only one that has the right to become the «king»—is me!

—No. I don’t hold a grudge against them. But… I will smash them up until they give in to me.

If the last volume was all about revealing the real personalities of each character, this volume is dedicated to the motivations behind those characters. The resolution in Iroha and Yuuri’s relationship plays out like a high school drama and Kamauchi’s backstory tells his story about his abused lifestyle. Similar to the previous volumes, HakoMari takes typical high school experiences and uses it as a basis for character development, while incorporating sprinkles of supernatural and psychological elements (and death of course.)

HakoMari4_04

Daiya, while not an exception to this grouping, has much deeper wounds than we are hinted to in this volume. His significance in the latter half acts like a preview for the next arc to come, and considering we don’t know much about him at all, whatever details involving him are immensely captivating.

I watch Daiya Oomine roar, clenching his fists.

Why does Daiya Oomine react like this to that name?

Why does the name of my admired, docile Senpai make him suffer?

“——Aah.”

I see. I remembered.

I remembered who Daiya Oomine was in the past.

The illustrations are this edition are brighter in color choice and softer in linework. Otherwise, nothing much has changed. The black and white illustrations are the same as the previous volume (the profiles of all the characters) but the concepts drawn besides those are bland and uninspiring in comparison.

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Volume 4 of HakoMari wraps the Game of Idleness quite nicely. Having resolved the problems from each of the characters, Kazuki displays his determination and willpower to do what’s necessary for his newfound desire. His change in mentality and the actions he does moves this plot forward and keeps it intriguing. Additionally, the volume establishes the course the series will take by foreshadowing Daiya’s impending confrontation.

Rating: Highly Recommended


Author: Eiji Mikage

Illustrator: Tetsuo (415)

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