Light Novel Review: The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria [Volume 6]

Forewarning: The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria has been licensed by Yen Press. Please support the official release once it comes out.The content in this volume will reveal a lot of spoiler related details, including the details in the last volume. 

The Wish Crushing Cinema-

It’s the final act of the fight between Kazuki Hoshino and Daiya Otomine.

While Daiya holds the upper hand against Kazuki by having Aya Otonashi by his side, there is only one more movie until Kazuki’s ‘Wish Crushing Cinema’ crushes Daiya’s box.

The battle that started in the ‘Game of Idleness’ will end in this final confrontation.

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Both characters are pushed to the limit in this edition of HakoMari. Kazuki continues his path to rescue Maria, committing inhumane acts, while Daiya slowly breaks down, remembering his deepest traumas. Through the actions of these two, HakoMari addresses the path to becoming an ideal being, and the difficult decisions one has to make in order to achieve it.

After Maria was sidelined for a couple of volumes, serving as a supporting role, we are given information about her personal history. This is actually the first time HakoMari has addressed Maria’s background. Daiya conducted research on Maria’s family and pieced together a vague reason for Maria’s personality. While this volume doesn’t focus directly on Maria/Aya Otonashi’s background, the story instead provides an interesting dynamic between Daiya and Maria/Aya Otonashi, and how Daiya views her. Through a movie screening in the last volume, the story constructed a solid relationship between these two characters, and how the story explores that relationship is interesting, especially when you consider the juxtaposition between Daiya and Kazuki.

Any reference to Maria/Aya is either as a goal or helping boost Kazuki’s determination in the last three volume. Fortunately, she has been given a supporting position, to reaffirm her beliefs. This key point in the story is both critical for Daiya and Maria/Aya as the former reflects upon his character, and the latter is given an initiative.

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Each of the side characters have a designated purpose, now that Daiya and Kazuki has forced them to be involved. Haruaki surprisingly makes a large impact on both Daiya and Kazuki with his unique situation, Kasumi was used as a bartering tool for their fight, and Kokone bears the crux of the entire situation.

Kazuki and Daiya, while opposing each other in viewpoints, have a couple of similarities between them, which by the end of the volume splits them apart distinctly. The main similarity between the both of them is that they share the same friends which embody the concept of ‘everyday life’ for them. What sets them apart from one another in this case, is how they view their own ‘everyday life’. Other examples are their perception of Maria Otonashi versus Aya Otonashi, and their resulting human nature at the end of the volume.

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I said in a previous review of HakoMari that the series takes high school experiences for character development, while giving it that HakoMari style. As we discover in this arc, at its core of Daiya and Kokone situation is a case of bullying and a tragic love story taken to the extreme. At the same time, Kazuki indirectly gives the volume a sense of regret and sorrow when paired up with his cold-blooded personality and the situation at hand. It’s a unfortunate tragedy for all of the characters, with the impression of no happy endings. However, seeing how this series organizes all these stories and characters and brings them together in a climatic conclusion is truly a notable feat.

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The illustrations contain the same style as the previous volume, with its older look on the characters and similar style with the black and white illustrations. The characters are given full body profiles for the color pictures, which add a bit more detail and emotion. I also want to point out the eyes for some of these characters as their expressions look like empty gazes, overcome with despair.

The hearts of the human nature was a central theme in this edition of HakoMari, invoking feelings of regret, hatred, guilt, and sorrow. All the characters come together in this final confrontation with a meaningful purpose to serve, despite the immense of despair that awaits them. As the volume leads into its final arc involving Kazuki and ‘O’, how HakoMari concluded this arc and its characters’ development is worthy of praise.

Rating: Highly Recommended


Author: Eiji Mikage

Illustrator: Tetsuo (415)

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