Like many of the preceding episodes of Solty Rei, this latest volume opens with Roy Revant in the company of his adopted family. To Roy's puzzlement, Solty can barely suppress her excitement as she mentally recites a shopping list. "Why do you look so happy?", asks Rose, putting into words what Roy, still awkward in his newly reprised father figure role, cannot. If you've been following the series over the first two volumes you may have found yourself asking the same question on more than one occasion. Let's face it, the back-story of Solty Rei is actually rather bleak: the world is scarred from the Blast Fall, Roy's wife is dead and his daughter missing. But, despite this, the series remains unfalteringly light hearted. It is with some surprise, then, that the episodes contained here present two events that can't fail to reshape the series into something very different from what we've seen so far.
First up is a two part story in which a chapter from Roy's past catches up with him. A resemble engineer is discovered dead; or, more accurately, select parts of him are found following a grusome explosion from inside his body. The perpetrator leaves his signature at the scene: another bomb adorned with a clown face logo. Meanwhile, Roy continues his search for his daughter. In a bar, he examines his latest clue when a clockwork robot appears, rasping a mechanical rendition of Happy Birthday, and explodes. Is this the handy work of the same bomber that terrorised the resemble engineer? If so, how did they know it was Roy's birthday?
Roy and co. soon find themselves the pawns in an explosive game of cat and mouse. The frantic search for the culprit isn't particularly noteworthy but the consequences certainly are. They are, in fact, so significant that each development is followed by an episode that allows the characters to come to terms with the preceding events. It would be unfair to reveal the details of either of these two major plot points here, but, needless to say, if you've followed the series this far they are well worth sticking around for.
Of interest, these episodes also offer a little more insight into Roy's life immediately following the Blast Fall disaster. Up to now he has been something of a blank slate , almost paralysed by his grief and inner demons. Following on from the last volume, Solty, on the other hand, is overlooked further. Early episodes (not to mention the series' name) suggested that the unlikely pairing of Roy and Solty would form the emotional core of the remaining episodes. Things have since changed course. Rose seems to have become director Yoshimasa Hiraike's lady of choice, frequently to the detriment of the other cast members. Perhaps the remaining episodes will address this unbalance, answering the questions that surround the mystery of Solty's origin. In any case, this volume without question represents a turning point and it will be interesting to see how things develop from here.