Somehow I had the feeling I'd end up doing this when I scribbled out that ramble about this book. It wasn't enough for me to talk about reading it, noooo. I just had to want to share it, too. Sometimes I think I set myself up for this kinda thing.
This'll probably be what I do when I don't feel like doing the image cleaning/editing/typesetting that's required for Bambino! I'll still try to get a chapter out for that at least every few days, though, so don't worry too much. I know these bits have already been translated on bakatsuki but I hear those are J to C to E translations and we all know what that means.
I am not doing the dramatis personae, because it contains a shitload of spoilers and honestly I don't even know why it's at the front of the book.
Complete PDF here!
Baccano! 2001: The Children of Bottle
Written by Narita Ryougo, illustrated by Enami Katsumi.
Preface & Prologue
Personal Thoughts on the Immortal, Elmer C. Albatross
Written by: Huey LaForet (Immortal, Terrorist)
Elmer C. Albatross. My friend, and also the only person on earth who I think of as "human." Every other thing in this world - even my own daughter - is nothing more than material for my experiments. I thought of him for some reason today, this day before I put my plan into motion, and decided to put my thoughts down on paper lest I forget.
There was great despair in his past. No, maybe saying that there was nothing but despair would be a better expression. The man known as Elmer was born solely to be given despair. He was born as a living sacrifice to a cult. In other words, his own mother bore him in the hopes that he would become a sacrifice.
A noble sacrifice, he was abused as a sign of respect, and tortured as a sign of love. He was at the mercy of the dozens, no, hundreds, of twisted hopes that surrounded him. A decade passed, and lo, he was rescued. No, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he fell into new and deeper depths of despair.
The witch hunts that spread across the whole of Europe like wildfire - the power that had caused countless innocent souls to be wrongly accused... The influence of that power made itself known, at length, to that cult as well. The boy who was to be a living sacrifice was saved, just moments before the blade of sublimation fell upon his head. The boy who had been captured by heretics and doomed to death was then raised up as the boy who had been saved by God.
When I met him, five years after the events mentioned, he laughed as he explained his peculiar past to me.
"At that moment, I knew there was no such thing as God in this world. That's why I want to make people laugh by myself."
Though Elmer's smile was clear, I could not help but feel as though that very smile served to show the dark inside him.
"I don't know much about the emotion you call happiness. I don't even know if the expression my face is holding right now is a real smile. That might be why I want others to smile and be happy. I think maybe then, I'll be able to believe that my own smile is also genuine."
But can he, a man who knows not happiness or laughter, give that to others?
I asked him this question and he laughed, as though it had only served to amuse him further.
"I see. Then that means that everything I do is a worthless act of self-satisfaction... Don't you think that's pretty funny?"
He is a happy man. As that thought rose in my mind, a tiny bit of envy made itself known in my heart, and at the same time I laughed in front of another person for the first time in my life.
I have much to write still, but it seems the FBI's minions have arrived outside. My, my, Victor is unexpectedly impatie (the rest of the page is blank)
The Woman Known as Sylvie Lumiere, Immortal
Tougo Denkuro (Immortal, Unemployed)
Only the thirst for revenge could be seen in Sylvie's eyes.
When this one left the boat, it would be a lie to say that there was no hate in him for Szilard. But the fire in the girl's eyes burned even hotter than that of Maiza, who had lost his younger brother.
Though Sylvie had been determined to take her own life when Szilard betrayed us, it seemed as though Master Elmer and Master Maiza's efforts managed to calm her. But this one realized that her eyes were filled, not with sadness, but with silent flame.
"Sylvie, please don't think about it too much. For his sake."
"Oh, yes. I'm fine now."
Though Sylvie smiled as she replied to Master Maiza's words, the light in her eyes changed not at all.
As we disembarked from the boat, perhaps she sensed this one's stare. In tones that were barely audible, her face looking as though any moment she might burst into tears, and yet at the same time filled with terrible hatred, she spoke.
"Mr. Denkuro... When will these emotions of mine disappear? Do you think that this feeling, this rage, will fade over the course of the long, long time called eternity?"
As this one searched for a reply, flustered, her features hardened and she spoke harshly in clipped tones.
"Then I have no need of eternity."
Verily, gentle in appearance but with a core of steel. But this one could not say for certain whether her strong resolve was right or wrong. Could losing something change a person so much? In that case, how much would we all change over the course of time beyond imagining?
Three centuries passed, and though this one found his way to the village where he had heard of a singer who matched her description... alas, too late. It seemed that she had left along with someone who this one surmised to be Master Maiza.
So be it. This one has resolved to journey these foreign lands in search of those long lost faces. Goodness, when will the day come that this one once again sets foot upon his homeland?
Report on the Immortal, Nile (excerpt)
Written by: Victor Talbot (Immortal, FBI)
I will refrain from writing my personal thoughts regarding the subject, one "Nile." This is due to the fact that, upon examining the statements he has given, one can easily determine the nuances of his personality.
"I am a king. I was taken in solely for that purpose, and named after the river that was my mother. The archeologist who took me in never gave me a surname, and so I never called him Father."
"Upon gaining eternal life, I found myself gripped by an increasingly powerful fear. A fear that one day, having become a being which knew nothing of death, I would come to forget the concept of other peoples' passing, as well. And so I strode forth onto the battlefield. I journeyed everywhere there was war, resolving to hold death ever close to my side. Even should that death never take me."
"And as the years passed, before my eyes... I beheld a great mountain of corpses. I say this: it was a sight which I had seen so often it was now tiresome.
"But... upon losing those who I had called comrades on the battlefield to death, unable to protect them, I realized a truth. That immortality itself no longer pained me. What would truly send me to my knees would be the time to come when everyone but myself would some day succumb to death and I would be swallowed in complete darkness.
"It was no different. Not one bit. Though I thought that losing those dear to me one by one would be the tragedy of immortality, I learned that that thought was little more than folly. Immortal or mortal, there was no difference whatsoever. The number of losses meant nothing. It was always the same.
"Yet... there was one thing that had changed. My face. I cried out at my own helplessness. I thought that my mind would explode from rage, or be crushed by sadness. But the face that stared back at me from the lake's mirrored surface was... nearly expressionless, with only a hint of sourness about it.
"I was terrified. To think that throwing myself into war in order to remember death, to continue to exist as a human... would instead result in becoming inured to death itself. And that is why I am afraid. Afraid to look upon my own face with my own eyes."
The subject, who came to me during the Cold War, gave his account in an exhausted voice and vanished. Instead of arresting him, I laughed calmly and sent him on his way.
...In the end, submitting this report would end up jeopardizing my position, so as of this moment I will make this report my secret diary. I'm just not cut out for this stuff. Shit, shit, shit. Those god damn... (what follows is endless griping about FBI executives)
The Deal Made by the Immortals, Isaac and Miria
"Say, Miria. Is it just me, or... are we not aging at all?"
"Wow, you're right!"
"...Mmm. I don't know how this came about, but at this rate we'll end up having to attend the funerals of all our friends. You know, like on television. Those who live forever are always the most unfortunate."
"I don't want that..."
"It's okay! Think about it. Loved ones die all the time even if you live a normal life, right?"
"Yes... you're right."
"And not only that, but grieving over our misfortune would be a disservice to the dead. After all, the fact that we're sad for the dead just means that they gave us many times more happiness while they were alive!"
"In the East, they say that you have to ring a bell 108 times for a person to be born again. They call this 'bonnou'1) - that's short for 'born know'. In other words, they know that they'll be reborn! So instead of just watching people die, let's enjoy life with the new people who're coming into the world!"
"...So that's it! In that case, our sadness and happiness will cancel each other out!"
"Right in one! That's why we have to enjoy every new meeting even more!"
"Wow, Isaac, you're right!"
"Let's string 108 bells onto our clothes to show our determination!"
"54 for each of us!"
"That means people will be born again all the time!"
"We're refreshing them! It's like every day is a birthday!"
"Then every day is a party!"
"Yay! Happy Birthday, Isaac!"
1) Isaac's incredibly lame pun is, in typical Isaac-and-Miria fashion, based on wild misunderstanding of second-hand information. It's mostly in reference to the Shinto custom of ringing a large bell 108 times on New Year's Eve, once for every impure thought blocking the way to Nirvana. In Japanese, these earthly desires are referred to as 百八煩悩 - hyakuhachi bonnou. The rebirth thing is a reference to the Buddhist belief in reincarnation; as long as a soul cannot rid itself of all 108 earthly temptations, it will be constantly reborn onto the mortal world instead of passing on to Nirvana.
Preface & Prologue