The third volume of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Kabu no Isaki was published in 2010. There has been no officially sanctioned English edition of which I am aware.
Just as in volumes one and two, the world is filled with marvelous things, many of them everyday items magnified tenfold. Isaki is still trying to make a living flying a Piper Cub that belongs to semi-retired celebrity pilot Shiro. The world may be transformed into something rich and strange, but planes are still cool.
People familiar with volumes one and two may be thinking “Finally! Answers to all the mysteries!” Hahahaha! Dream on.
After gossiping with Isaki about fellow pilot Sayori, Shiro takes the Piper Cub for a spin. Only one small problem: Isaki had only just landed and had not yet refueled. How much fuel is in the plane, beyond “enough to get it to altitude”, is a question Shiro will have to answer for herself.
Shiro’s carefree piloting style is distinctive enough that her very serious, very ambitious younger sister Kajika realizes who is piloting with a single glance. A disapproving glance. But nobody dies, so it’s all good.
Shiro dispatches Isaki on an errand to Mt. Fuji. Imagine a Fuji much much larger than it is in this world. Grandeur on a grander scale.
In Isaki’s dreamlike world, Mt. Fuji is almost thirty-eight kilometers high, about four times the height of Mt. Everest. It is not clear to me that there is still an atmosphere at the summit. Did the atmosphere mysteriously expand tenfold as well as the mountain — or not? Either option raises questions1. One also wonders what happens when an embiggened volcano erupts in this world.
With a package delivery as pretext, Isaki sets off to explore Mt. Fuji. Despite her best efforts, Kajika is unable to go with him. It is only after Isaki leaves, sans cell phone, that his boss realizes that she gave him the wrong package.
Not that it matters, as the delivery is just an excuse for Isaki to explore the world. Shiro is a cheerful plot facilitator.
No sooner has Isaki left but an unexpected visitor drops out of the sky. Almost crash-lands, as a matter of fact. Exciting landing procedures are a Sayori trademark. This time, she’s driven by an urgent need to use the bathroom. Kajika would be unhappy at this incursion by someone she clearly sees as a rival … were it not that Sayori can be useful. She can deliver the correct package to Isaki. Oh, and Kajika as well.
How convenient that Sayori’s plane can fit two people. Sort of.
There’s no way that squashing a jealous teen and her older rival into a small plane for hours or days could turn out badly.
While Isaki enjoys a pleasing interlude at a rudimentary air field, Sayori and Kajika enjoy some quiet time together, up in the air where they cannot possibly get away from each other. Kajika is less than overjoyed to discover that Sayori’s passenger seat is more suited to an infant or small dog than a teenager .She lets the pilot know she is unhappy. Again, what could go wrong?
Sayori retaliates by taking the plane on a few stunt-pilot manoeuvres. Kajika becomes airsick, which isn’t something I’d expect from an experienced pilot.
Strange weather forces the pair to land at a very peculiar-looking airfield for emergency laundry and shelter. While their clothes are drying, the pair discover that the world’s embiggening has turned what would otherwise have been merely annoying weather phenomena into terrifying events.
Isaki touches down at Kouzu, a vast, busy airfield. Although separated by many kilometres, he and Shiro enjoy very similar meals. The world is filled with wonders but also commonplace delights.
It’s likely that Sayori has landed at the same airfield as Isaki, but the scale of the place makes finding him impossible.
Unlike YKK, this Ashinano setting does have modern(ish) communications; the author has Isaki forget his phone in order to facilitate the chase plot. It’s very curious, therefore, that this world seems to be entirely innocent of anything like Air Traffic Control, even at large fields.
The key to enjoying Ashinano is, I think, not to be too wedded to the idea that the story is headed to a specific destination. Instead, just enjoy the trip and the scenery along the way.
Kabu no Isaki is not available from any North American bookstore, as far as I know.
Please email corrections to jdnicoll at panix dot com.
1. As in, if the atmosphere is ten times thicker, does that mean that atmospheric pressure has increased at ground level?