Jesus Christ, this could not have been worse if he had been actively trying to torpedo his career.
The basic idea - Firo and Ennis on their honeymoon aboard a ship with the great grandkids of Jacuzzi Splot and Vino, while Elmer and the other surviving immortals are on a different ship going the other way as terrorists take over both ships - sounds awesome. Indeed, the first volume, Bullet Garden, is a blast - the movie loving chatty mask wearing villains, the Banderas style bad ass gunman, the hilarious goth-loli with a worryingly dark backstory...all great additions, and the the leader of the kids from the original novels framing sequence getting retconned as Jacuzzi's descendant while Vino and Chane are handily replaced by their own great-grandkids, a psychotic child star and her nearly mute stunt actor brother...not really all the far off the original characters, but still promising.
Blood Sabbath, however, is a nightmare.
The leader of the masked men is bad enough - a kid magician, he's Hughie and Monica's descendant, and trying to get revenge on Hughie who he believes killed Monica. Narita never once manages to make it remotely convincing that this is actually what happened, and without us buying that, his character is just obnoxious and emo. He's somewhat balanced by the awesome muscle bound crazy woman who talks like a dirty old man.
The book runs into serious trouble when it tries to bring the religion Elmer was rescued from out of a footnote in his back history and into a role as the central villains of the book. The idea of a religion that worships the pain of abused children and hauls around a group of blindfolded, handcuffed children chanting the writs of their order as they listen to the sounds of their own screams is a BIT too fucking dark for ANY book, and spending the first THREE HUNDRED FUCKING PAGES almost entirely on exhaustively explaining this shit to the hapless undercover woman they've brainwashed and 'married' to the cult leader basically is simply unfathomable. Why did he think this shit would work? Why didn't any of his editors stop him?
Possible scheduling. These two volumes came out just as the anime was ending, and by his own admission the second volume was originally supposed to be TWO volumes, which probably explains why three of the four hundred pages are devoted to meandering unfocused set up and then it abruptly lurches into a cliffnotes clipshow version of the climax, completely destroying the effect of any and all twists and neutering all the new characters added to the first volume, who now get only token, unsatisfying pay offs that entirely get lost in the horrible shuffle.
AS IF THIS WAS NOT BAD ENOUGH, the mother fucking epilogue tries to pull some sort of fucking M. Night twist and resurrect the motherfucker who tortured Chez all those years and who Chez supposedly ATE...but who Szilard ALSO apparently ate, and who is all through this book working for the masked men AND the cult AND fucking orchestrating the entire thing like a fucking puppet master JUST TO FUCKING WITH PEOPLE.
He clearly has ambitious plans to spin this plotline out into several other epoch hopping novels, and I suddenly have absolutely no faith in his ability to do so.