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review 2017-09-23 06:14
Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases by NisiOisin, original concept by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, translated by Andrew Cunningham
Death Note: Another Note - NisiOisiN

I’ll start this review off with a warning: the book assumes you’ve read (or watched) most of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note. I’m going to be writing this review with the same assumption - there are major spoilers for the series from here on out.

Okay, so this book stars L and Naomi Misora. If you don’t remember who Misora is, she was the FBI agent who began investigating Kira after her fiance, FBI agent Raye Penber, was killed by him. The book’s narrator is Mello, who has decided to write down some of L’s cases after his death, starting with this one. You know, in between hunting down Kira or something.

Anyway, Misora is trying to decide whether to resign from the FBI after a particular event that got her suspended when she receives an email from her fiance that actually turns out to be from L. L wants her help with a case he’s currently working on: the Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, also known as the Wara Ningyo Murders or the L.A. Serial Locked Room Killings. There have have been three murders so far and, due to the murderer’s pattern, L believes there may yet be a fourth and even a fifth, unless he and Misora can find the killer first. L sends Misora to be his eyes and hands, although it’s not long before she’s joined by Rue Ryuzaki, a suspicious and strange private detective who has a habit of crawling around on all fours and eating disgustingly sweet snacks.

I went into this feeling somewhat hopeful. My one previous experience with NisiOisin’s writing was Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale, which I loathed, but this was a Death Note prequel starring one of my favorite characters from the series, L, so it was possible it would be better. I figured I’d be happy if NisiOisin delivered a competent mystery that stayed true to L as a character and didn’t include multi-page panty descriptions.

Panties showed up once but weren’t described in detail. L was okay, although he occasionally came across as a little pathetic. There was one part where he seemed to be fishing for compliments from Misora, and I found myself wondering how old he was in this story. I spent a good chunk of the book a little annoyed with him, because it seemed like he’d arranged for Misora to “help” him primarily so that he could get a chance to look cool around a pretty woman. Thankfully, the situation wasn’t quite what I thought it was, although that wasn’t revealed until fairly late in the book.

As for Naomi Misora… I don’t recall having any particular opinions about her when I read the original series and watched the anime, but NisiOisin managed to make me dislike her somewhat. Some of that might have been the translator’s fault - for example, Misora’s word choice when she came up with an idea that she realized wasn’t very good: “no, that was retarded” (124). But Misora’s rant when L asked her what she thought about Ryuzaki was definitely all on NisiOisin:

“‘Creepy and pathetic, and so suspicious that if I weren’t on leave, I’d move to arrest him the moment I laid eyes on him. If we divided everyone in the world into those that would be better off dead and those that wouldn’t, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d be the former. Such a complete freak that it amazes me he hasn’t killed himself.’” (55-56)

I have a feeling that NisiOisin intended readers to find this humorous, Misora accidentally and very pointedly insulting L, but instead it made Misora seem horrible and cruel.

The mystery itself left me feeling torn. The puzzles the killer left behind were incredibly contrived, and I had trouble believing in the solutions Misora and Ryuzaki came up with, several of which relied heavily on what I felt were unfounded assumptions. Three murders didn’t give them much data to work with when trying to figure out the murderer’s patterns, and their justification for the date when the fourth murder would occur was, in my opinion, particularly weak.

According to Wikipedia, one of the things NisiOisin is known for is creating characters with extremely strange names. As amusing as it was, I wish he’d reined that tendency in here, because it made the characters seem like idiots. The police noted that each crime scene had Wara Ningyo dolls (similar to voodoo dolls?) nailed to the walls, that the murderer had painstakingly wiped away all fingerprints, and that they were all “locked room” murders, but they couldn’t find any similarities between the victims. The first victim was a 44-year-old male freelance writer named Believe Bridesmaid. The second was a 13-year-old girl named Quarter Queen. The third was a 26-year-old female bank clerk named Backyard Bottomslash. Although the characters considered the possible implications of the alliteration in the victims’ names, not a single person commented on how strange those names were and whether that strangeness might be part of the killer’s pattern.

The book’s pacing was terrible, and the tone should have been tense, considering there was only a short amount of time before the next murder, but NisiOisin kept peppering the story with awkward little jokes. My attention started to wander but was captured again when it was revealed that this case had a closer connection to L than I originally thought. The final revelations did take me by surprise, but I was also annoyed by them. It boggled my mind that a killer who was supposedly so smart couldn’t come up with a better way to beat L in a battle of wits. Even if he’d succeeded, he’d still have lost.

Not only would he have been dead, he’d never have been 100% sure that L couldn’t figure out what he’d done.

(spoiler show)


It was a quick read the offered a few nice tidbits for fans of Death Note in general and L in particular, but the tone and pacing could have been so much better, and the final revelations somehow managed to be both surprising and disappointing. I have one Death Note novel left, Death Note: L, Change the World, and I hope it turns out to be better than this one.

Extras:

Includes one page of color artwork by Takeshi Obata and a page of black-and-white artwork before each chapter.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-09-23 01:08
Reading progress update: I've read 176 out of 176 pages.
Death Note: Another Note - NisiOisiN

On the one hand, bravo to the author for tricking me so well. On the other hand, eh, I'm easily tricked, and the author's methods annoy me. That was one of the most aggravating "here's what actually happened and what the killer's plans were" I've read in a long time. And breathtakingly stupid on the killer's part. Was there no better way to beat L than

dousing himself in gasoline and lighting himself on fire

(spoiler show)

?

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text 2017-09-22 16:54
Reading progress update: I've read 134 out of 176 pages.
Death Note: Another Note - NisiOisiN

More odd names, as Misora and Ryuzaki try to figure out whether the killer's fourth victim is going to be a woman named Blackberry Brown or a man in the same building named Blues-harp Babysplit.

 

This whole book makes me think of one of those adventure games where you solve really weird puzzles by doing things like combining a rock, a doll, a coat hanger, and some duct tape in order to figure out that there's an important clue on a particular spot on the floorboards (not actually an example from the book, although they did just somehow figure out that the killer

turned an entire room into a picture of a clock, with the victim as the clock hands

(spoiler show)

). I take issue with the way Misora and Ryuzaki decided on the date when the next murder would occur.

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text 2017-09-22 02:58
Reading progress update: I've read 104 out of 176 pages.
Death Note: Another Note - NisiOisiN

Notes:

 

- I'm thankful this is so short, because the pacing is terrible.

 

- Nisioisin has resisted writing lengthy panty descriptions, but weird little jokes are everywhere. This book's tone is bizarre.

 

- So far it's a terrible mystery but decent Death Note tie-in novel. Except it's kind of screwing with the original series. If this murderer is considered a canon character and L knows what he's capable of, then L should probably have figured out some of Kira's abilities more quickly than he did.

 

And now for a quote:

 

"'Don't worry. I'm a top.'

 

'A top?'

 

'An aggressive top,' Ryuzaki said. 'I have never once been submissive. One of the few things I can boast about. I have never been submissive to a traffic signal.'" (82)

 

I can practically hear the slash fic being written. (And see what I mean about weird jokes?)

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text 2017-09-11 01:34
Reading progress update: I've read 54 out of 176 pages.
Death Note: Another Note - NisiOisiN

This is going to be a quick read, from the looks of it. As Death Note fanfic, it's interesting enough, with lots of asides and cameos meant for fans of the original series. As a mystery, I'm currently unimpressed.

 

The setup is okay. Three locked room mysteries involving an obsessive killer who completely cleans up all possible fingerprints in the victims' homes, going so far as to unscrew light bulbs and wipe the sockets. The killer's methods differ from one murder to the next - the only thing all three have in common (aside from the victims' odd names) is that obsessive cleanup and the Wara Ningyo dolls nailed on the outside walls of the homes, always one less at each murder. It seems that the killer also left other clues the police didn't catch, that L and Misora, his temporary assistant, have just started to find. Unless L has already found them all and is just waiting for Misora to catch up.

 

The problem is that, so far, more time has been spent on describing L acting weird and mysterious than on the murders themselves. We just know that the first clue (a crossword puzzle) was very difficult, so difficult that the police couldn't figure it out, but of course L could. Although the author has the opportunity to show us this crossword puzzle, he doesn't - it's just mentioned in vague terms. I figured out the basics of the next clue so fast that it made me doubt Misora's intelligence that she didn't at least get that far.

 

And now we have L fishing for compliments.

 

Okay, so Misora doesn't actually know she's in the same room as L right now. She thinks she's communicating with him via cellphone and that the guy in the room with her is someone completely different. (Why L enlisted her help if he was planning to investigate on his own baffles me.) She gets suspicious, calls L up, and describes the situation and this "stranger" to him. His response:

 

"'Was he cool?'

 

'Hunh?'

 

L's question came completely out of left field, and he was forced to ask it a second time before Misora answered, still unable to work out what he was driving at.

 

'No, absolutely not,' she said, honestly. 'Creepy and pathetic, and so suspicious that if I weren't on leave, I'd move to arrest him the moment I laid eyes on him. If we divided everyone in the world into those that would be better off dead and those that wouldn't, there's no doubt in my mind that he'd be the former. Such a complete freak that it amazes me he hasn't killed himself.'

 

'...'"

 

I have a feeling that Nisioisin intended this to be humorous (L fishing for compliments and getting the exact opposite), but it was so over-the-top harsh that it actually made me gasp. Yes, he's creepy, suspicious, and weird, but saying he'd be better off dead and that it's a wonder he hasn't committed suicide is just plain horrible.

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