Saturday, June 28, 2014


The latest volume of Billy Bat begins with an excerpt from one of Kevin Yamagata's Billy Bat stories. A text box at the end announces that the story has ended without revealing the answers to several questions, one of which relates to the plot of the real-life Billy Bat. This got me worried that Billy Bat itself would end with this volume, leaving its mysteries unresolved. In hopes of reassuring myself I flipped to the end of the book (a bad habit of mine which has several times resulted in spoiling myself), where I saw that the title of the last chapter was "Last Scene," which didn't reassure me. Unable to stand the uncertainty, I went to the net (another bad habit), where a comment on a review on amazon.co.jp stated that volume 14 wasn't the last volume. And it isn't.

More importantly, this is the volume that finally explains the plot so far. There are still mysteries left, including the ultimate origin of the Bat. But we learn the relationship between the two Bats, the purposes of their manipulations, why there is a drawing of the Bat on the Moon, and why the fate of the world is at stake. And the answers aren't letdowns.

Aside from this, volume 14, along with the previous volume, reveals a lot about one of the principal bad guys, whose shadowy presence in the first eleven volumes I had noted in my overview of those volumes. And his story is unexpectedly moving, especially the last page of volume 14.

Considering volumes 12-14 overall, I'll admit that volume 12 was a little slow, but the other two volumes are back up to speed. In my overview of volumes 1-11, I wrote that "if Urasawa and Nagasaki can maintain the level of the first eleven volumes until the end, [Billy Bat] may well turn out to be Urasawa's best work." The more recent volumes have only strengthened this opinion.

You can follow the links in the overview referred to above to see my reviews of the first eight volumes as they appeared.

Billy Bat is written and drawn by Naoki Urasawa, with Takashi Nagasaki assisting on the story. It's published by Koudansha in Japan, in their Morning line. Volume 12 costs 648 yen, while volumes 13 and 14 cost 619 yen. (At least, those are the prices on the books themselves; I just noticed that amazon.co.jp lists higher prices.) Their ISBN numbers are: Vol. 12: 978-4-06-387230-9

Vol. 13: 978-4-06-387272-9

Vol. 14: 978-4-06-388326-8.

Here's the amazon.co.jp page for Billy Bat volume 14, follow the links there to get to the pages for the previous volumes.

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