I managed to avoid retaining anything from the first book, so it was quite a relief that this volume consisted almost entirely of over the top action. You don't need to remember a great deal about the Ice Witch to get a kick out of her fighting with the one eyed samurai in a crowded airport as he opens chasms in the floor beneath her and she has to catch hold of the staff she immobilized when he tried to hit her with it. You don't have to remember any of the character backstories to cringe as Nagi gets stabbed through the heart by a stake made from the body of her own mother. You do probably have to have read virtually everything Kadano has ever written to make much sense out of the last chapter, in which virtually every mysterious faction that has been kicking around the outskirts of the Boogiepop series assemble, shuffle themselves and decide to start fucking shit up. Akemi starred in her own Boogiepop novel, Heartless Red -- her unique talent for bullshit has allowed her to have a successful career in the Towa Organization without actually having any of the powers she claims to have. Introduced to Asukai Jin by a character from his fucking Faust short stories, she decides to make him the next head of the Towa Organization, and uh, I guess that plot will happen next time. There's a lot of set up for it. Meanwhile, the doctor from the Shizuru-san novels betrays Nagi, and Akemi sends her to see Beat Pete, at which point the novel ends, having finally caught up to the teaser cliffhanger at the end of Beat's Discipline. Oh, and Nagi is turning into an evil witch doomed to fight through all eternity with another witch, both of which move from host body to host body throughout time. The other witch has quite a lot of plans carefully laid over the last few centuries, having sent Nagi's mother THROUGH TIME. I strongly suspect they are a parallel universe manifestation of the dueling witches seen in the Jiken series. Meanwhile, Riki Tiki Tavi possessed Aya, giving her superpowers but ultimately placing her against Nagi and the other witch in a battle she cannot hope to win.
In other words, great fun, but it is no longer possible to read anything Kadono writes without first reading everything else he has ever written, preferably in chronological order, including stuff that only ran in magazines and they've never been nice enough to collect in book form, ha ha ha ha ha.