Echoes of Baccano 2002 here; definitely a Baccano novel but far removed from the main thrust of the series in time and tone.
And like Baccano 2002, that makes it all the stronger. The story of Hughie and Elmer's first encounter, back when they were both around fourteen or fifteen, The Ironic Light Orchestra quickly spirals outwards into a really fucked up mystery novel. While unpredictability has always been one of Narita's strong suits, he really topped himself here. With Elmer and Hughie's personalities not yet fully formed, their energies still raw from their horrible, horrible creation...myths, almost -- the focus initially seems to be on them, and the supporting cast just foils to illustrate that. But Narita's characters have a way of exploding in ways you don't see coming. One character here makes such an impact I'm seriously thinking about reading back through the series to see if she's been mentioned before.
Along the sidelines, the infamous samurai, Denkuro, mentioned in passing in any number of novels but never actually a main cast member, finally shows up; a few other major characters make brief appearances or are mentioned in passing, indications of the network that will eventually draw together and summon a demon. Although perhaps the most astonishing twist in this sucker was the minor bad ass who abruptly -- in the epilogue! -- turns out to be Maizer...which is apparently intended as an aural pun on Miser. Argh.
I sort of trapped myself here by not wanting to actually talk about the plot -- it was a bit too good to spoil even if the chances of many people other than me reading the series any time soon are super slim. So this ended up more incoherent than usual.