Black Night Parade Volume 2: What I Wanted Most



The feeling of a punch to the gut is one that is very sudden, often accompanied by a sense of shock and betrayal. It is certainly something that many understand the feeling of, but it is not what this volume of Black Night Parade is. Rather, this volume is more akin to a slow and sinking feeling. Something that seeps into your being, penetrating to its very core with a sense of unease. It is a feeling that’s entirely unavoidable despite your awareness of it occurring. And, alongside the other work established here and in the opening volume, makes for a great read. Allow me to explain.

I think the greatest accompaniment to a story that aims to strike deep into a character, and subsequently a reader’s, heart is to provide content in the opposite direction. If all you’re doing is experiencing these deep and heavy aspects, then you’ll never get the most out of them. If all you know is overcast rain clouds, the idea of them representing something gloomy and depressing doesn’t cross your mind. That is all to say that Black Night Parade has more than enough humor and absurdity to last a lifetime. I mean, a young woman having the Buddha as an imaginary friend? The painful clownery of Miharu’s once-ex-again-current-coworker? Mr. Hatty and his incredible antics? There’s a wonderful list of the insanity and oddity that pepper’s Miharu’s time at the North Pole under Knecht/Black Santa, and it’s all to play into that gap moe that catches you off guard. You’ll be howling one moment, and then a switch will get flipped and you lock in for all the little details and tidbits that the volume tosses your way.

Story is something that remains oddly elusive to readers because of ideas like that. Just as Miharu is caught in a whirlwind of change and development, so is the reader. Bouncing around from point to point, place to place, you only are able to put together little pieces of information about a story. What ties Miharu and his two new friends together, just who exactly Miharu is, what the goal of the North Pole is currently, and so on and so forth. Even the little subplots and ideas that stem from the very nature of Knect as an existence. As they put it within the volume, not everyone at the North Pole wants to see another Red Santa.

I suppose I can’t really ignore the elephant in the room any longer, can I? that sinking feeling and the sorrow that comes with it, it’s something that entirely cements Black Night Parade as an impressive and entirely worthwhile series. The author doesn’t need a further accolade in that sense, but in case people didn’t know Nakamura also did Arakawa Under The Bridge and Saint Young Men. So yes, more than anything Nakamura has proven the value in Black Night Parade more than their own work, but I still think it’s worthwhile to point that out. Getting back on track finally, I think a lot of readers can get a little mixed up in terms of the “point” of Santa and the North Pole with Black Night Parade, purely because it feels like it tugs so far in the opposite direction. As I said earlier however, pulling the reader away from the parts it wants to emphasize allows the series to really dig deep into those aspects, clawing the most out of them with each panel.

And personally speaking, it works wonders. The latter third of this volume is dedicated to bridging that initial gap, and it’s an incredible read. I really, really, want to speak on the story of this final stretch in the volume, but at the same time I’m desperate to allow would-be readers to form their own opinions and thoughts through a spoiler-free experience. The conclusion then is that I’ll provide as vague as possible a review on the sequence, which will most likely be awful to read.

Miharu’s character has been about repression, in quite a few ways. Suppressing the desire to quit, bottling up his feelings and hiding them away in a corner, lying through his teeth and attempting to save face and fade into the background. He deeply struggled with his relocation to the North Pole, his new friends-slash-coworkers, and with the responsibility placed on his shoulders. This latter third is all about peeling back the layers of his self to understand where that came from. Finding the cause of his mental blocks and personal challenges, so that Nakamura can establish a path forward for Miharu, a road in which he becomes a better, stronger version of himself that can smile and stand side by side the people around him.

And that makes it a great read. Where insane, odd, and even potentially disturbing humor and art could draw readers in with the first volume, this second volume provides different incentives. A stronger look at the breadth of the story, a deeper look at the characters and their relationships, themes and symbolism that cuts to the core of the series. Make no mistake, Black Night Parade will not think twice of making a fool of itself, but that’s all the more reason to take its serious aspects as such. Potential readers disregarding the series as a Christmas Comedy are sorely missing out.

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