Light Novel: Zaregoto Volume 1 and 2

You see, I don’t get to read novels very often; so my knowledge in literature may be limited. However, if there something I know, is that Zaregoto is a fun read, especially for a person like me. The “me” as an anime fan is a sadist, the “me” in the internet is a narcissist and the “me” in the real world is passive and apathetic. Back to the subject, Zaregoto is written by this totally unknown author called NisiOisin. All this dude has done in his life is Bakemonogatari, Katanagatari and Medaka Box…No Big Deal >.>

English Publisher: Del Rey (formely), Kondasha USA (now?)
Number of Volume released: 2
Price: 11-12 bucks each.
Genre: Action (sort of), Mystery, Murder

Zaregoto is first and foremost a mystery detective light novel series that revolves around a nameless narrator who, while he does not consider himself to be a detective, circumstantially solves murder cases (at least for the 2 first volumes). The narrator, nicknamed differently by various characters, is an apathetic, pessimistic and mundane college student, who, at times, crosses back-and-forth the border between sarcasm and lies in order to try remaining neutral. Also, he has a horrible memory capacity. His punchline is “nonsense”. Apparently, in the japanese version, he’s called the Nonsense Bearer. Then, we have the female lead, Kunagisa Tomo, who is a hacking genius, that plunged Japan into chaos to the point where the country has to evolve its electronic defense. She calls the narrator, Ii-chan.

In volume one, The Kubikiri Cycle, the two main characters are invited to a mysterious island along with other geniuses. NisiOisin uses a general formula to create the murder case, involving the regular detective routine elements. You know: someone dies, the main character looks for clues and the case is solved. The usual stuff. That was fine and all, but something was missing. A good ending. And I’m not talking about “They live happily” kind of the ending. The Kubikiri Cycle lacked overall purpose. Why person X killed person Y? What was the lesson learned by the main character? The answer to these questions just seemed pointless. We just happened to be introduced to the 3 most important characters of the entire series, the other being Aikawa Jun (Who? just the world’s strongest character in the series). The background of Ii-chan and Kunagisa is given, which is only so much important. That’s it, that’s all. Oh and there’s some techno-babble about computers. I guess it important to know what’s the difference between a Workstation and a PC.

In volume two, The Kubishime Romanticist, Ii-chan is going to college and meets an energetic girl called Aoii Mikono who invites him to her friend (Emoto Tomoe)’s birthday party. After the party, Tomoe is found dead, strangled. Ii-chan also forms a bond with a famous serial killer, Zerozaki Hitoshiki, whom Ii-chan may have more common points with him than he thinks. This book is without a doubt the better book out of the two. The murder case of this book isn’t better, but there was a strong focus on the motives of the characters such as the Emoto’s murderer, Ii-chan and Zerozaki. And of course, NisiOisin can’t help but to insert phylosophical discussions between Zerozaki and Ii-chan.

In volume one, many characters such as Maki, a genius fortune-teller with mind reading ability, loathed for his personality. But, it didn’t feel very obvious as to why a lot of people despise him so much, until The Kubishime Romanticist brings depth into Ii-chan’s personality. As we slowly learn who Ii-chan really is, It becomes frightening how he perceives others, himself, death, life, etc. (even more frightening when I can relate to him a certain degree). When people around him die, he isn’t phased out because he isn’t able to emotionally connect with them. He just moves on, since he just forgets thanks to his bad memory. He actually shows more concern towards a serial killer than towards the people who tries to befriend him. And, at the same time, it’s part of the charm that makes him a great main character. Ii-chan, who does not like or hate anyone except Kuganisa, is a bit like the reverse of Araragi, from Bakemonogatari, who is the harem protagonist that must help and love everyone.

Overall, Zaregoto was an interesting read, in my opinion. This light novel series presents an anti-moralistic cast of characters, which makes this work quite cynical. Each book is over 300 pages and takes about 5-6 hours to start and finish. There are illustrations at the beginning of each arc showing the various characters to facilitate visualization. The English translation is good, despite some little issues like some confusing honorifics for  the main character. Kunagisa calls him Ii-chan, but some call him Ikkun. Why not Ii-kun? And also, the books would really need the use of footnotes, because some of the japanese terms remain in Romanji. Street names are fine, but, when naming of food, clothing and furniture are kept, it get awefully complicated.

As to when Volume 3 will come out, the answer may be Never! I have no idea how well or poorly the books sold in North America. Kondasha USA (the subsidiary to Kondasha Japan) is now taking care of Del Rey’s titles. I hope that book gets a release, but I sure won’t hold my breath till then. If there’s no new release, then, hopefully, there’ll be an anime adaptation since NisiOisin talked about a 10 anime project. Counting Bake, Nise, Kizu, Katana and Medaka Box, there’s 5 spots left. Actually, 4 left since NisiOisin said the 10th anime will be an original story.

If you see the 2 books on a bookstore nearby, BUY THEM! SUPPORT THE SERIES!! I want the 3rd volume to be released!!!

3 Responses to “Light Novel: Zaregoto Volume 1 and 2”

  1. 1 Anonymous
    8 February 2012 at 4:10 am

    The second book sold extremely poorly. Wretchedly so.

    Here’s this, though: http://zaregoto.pbworks.com/

    Sure, it looks dead on the surface, but that’s exactly what Nisio wants you to think.

  2. 21 February 2012 at 2:47 am

    Thank you for recommending the book, I just started it and I like it so far.

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