Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Zerozaki Hitoshiki no Ningen Kankei: Zaregoto Tsukai to no Kankei

Nanananami Nanami may have been listed as a Witch in several volumes without actually appearing, but it turns out that's just the name of her doujinshi circle, and she's a fujoshi who spends most of her timing fantasizing about what Holmes really meant by, "My dear Watson." She does have a slightly skewed perspective on the world, which is probably why she thinks, "He's cute!" when she runs into Zerozaki Hitoshiki in the middle of the night, despite the giant knives in his hands.
For a book that purports to examine the relationship between Hitoshiki and Ii-chan, and to tell the true story of what Hitoshiki was up to in Strangulation Romanticist, this was sort of a disappointment. It's not actually a novel at all. Each chapter follows a different minor character, starting with an extremely meta analogy comparing their personal problems to their issues with mystery novels. Then they run into Zerozaki and he babbles at them for a bit before not killing them.
Emoto Tomoe and Kigamine Yaku fill this slot in the first two chapters, and I had to fucking go pull the Zaregoto series from my shelf to even identify which volume they were in. Neither one of them had a personality to begin with. Palindromically named Emoto Tomoe pretty much showed up and died; Kigamine had a funny catchphrase but largely served as a foil to the rest of the cast. Consequently, neither of these chapters really held my attention.
Nanananami Nanami's belated appearance was certainly welcome, but since she doesn't actually fucking say much of anything, I remain far more interested in her famously antagonistic relationship with Ii-chan, which we may well never see at this point.
Sasa Sasaki's chapter works better, if only for the section which recounts her first encounter with Ii-chan from her perspective.
And Aikawa Jun's chapter is the only one that contains any actual plot, and a rather belabored explanation of the truth behind Zerozaki's killings...which like basically everything in the volume and a lot of Nisio Isin's later writing violates the crap out of "Show, don't tell" and ultimately doesn't add up to much.
Suzunashi Neon's brief appearance contained a few fascinating nuggets, but overall, this was far and away the most disposable of the four books. The first three went a long way towards restoring my faith in Nisio, so it's a shame he wrapped things up by indulging in a lot of his recent flaws. Still, there was more than enough interesting stuff in here to make me glad I read it; I just can't help wishing he'd managed to stitch that stuff onto a narrative instead of a contrivance.


  1. First I thought 'Come on, that doesn't sound too bad' but your last sentence sums up yout opinion pretty well and I guess I can kind of understand your problem you seem to have with this volume.

  2. It's a perfectly fine book...well, maybe not the two chapters with boring characters, but the latter half of it was a fun read. It just should not ever have been released as the LAST volume. If this had been second and Iori had been last I kinda think my opinion would have been been reversed.
    (Also, Zerozaki's meeting with Suzunashi takes place in the present day, eight years after the Zaregoto timeline, so that whole "he's dying" thing in Iori is even more bizarre. I'm starting to think that was something he was playing with and forgot to revise back out.)
    Actually, each book has an afterward which gives a different recommended order for reading the four volumes, in case you decide this particular volume should be read last. So clearly he was a bit ambivalent about it himself; the published order is simply the order he wrote them in.

  3. I guess you mean the order it was published in Mephisto?

    Well, the amount of characters and stuff that's still open for possible development kind of shows this more or less typical method of writing found in several novel series... Just write and if there's anything unexplored, write a spinoff. And then a spinoff of the spinoff. Then a prequel. And a prequel of the prequel. Oh and if possible let all your series play in the same universe so there can be crossovers.

    Still have to read the JDC Tributes and 難民探偵 to see if he can actually write a self-contained book, but with the latter I find it too risky to start reading after all those negative reviews.

  4. The first JDC Tribute was excellent. Haven't read the second.