So my first interaction with NISIOISIN’s writing, like many, was with his Monogatari series. I’m up to date with the English releases of Monogatari and after more than ten volumes, I’ve grown attached to the way in which NISIOSIN crafts his stories. So attached in fact, that I’ve sought out some of the author’s other works.
For AnimeUKNews a few months ago I got the chance to review Vertical’s first omnibus volume (volumes 1-3 of the Japanese release) of Katanagatari, which I found to be fairly similar to Monogatari in terms of how its written. Nothing really happens until the end and it’s very comedy driven. Ultimately I think I’d been hoping for something more, especially after reading the second season of Monogatari.
The second season of Monogatari is special because almost every book is narrated by a different member of the cast. This works out well for NISIOISIN because it shows off his abilities as a writer at great length because every story is so different. Some characters are more serious than others, some are purely comedic and some treat their tales almost as mysteries. It showcases NISIOISIN’s ability to dip in and out of various styles and do them all justice and I guess that’s what I wanted to see more of and ultimately ended up seeking out.
While reviewing NISIOISIN’s other works I was vaguely aware of the fact he’d once written a Death Note novel – Death Note: Another Note – The Los Angeles BB Murder Case. Now I’m not the biggest fan of Death Note’s manga, but I have read it all and enjoyed it for what it was so I decided I’d give the novel a try. I bought it before Christmas and it sat in my pile of books for awhile, but this week I finally got around to giving it a read and I realised how much I like NISIOISIN’s writing all over again.
Another Note takes place before Death Note itself, although it does assume you’ve read Death Note and know what happens to L. As the full title of the book suggests, it’s a murder mystery story and as readers familiar with my work probably know – I love mystery novels. After all, my favourite book this year so far is Eiji Mikage’s Masquerade and the Nameless Women.
Anyway, what I found from reading Another Note is that NISIOISIN tells a mighty fine mystery. Unlike in Monogatari and Katanagatari, the story of Another Note was always moving and making progress. Most crucially for me, I never worked out the twists and turns until I was meant to. The book is very well written and it was satisfying to figure out the answers just as the protagonist did. The book leads you in the right direction and gives you just enough to reach a conclusion before the main character does, leaving the smugness of being right and cheering when you realise you solved the problem in a similar way to the protagonist (as all too often I reach the answer in a roundabout way and get disappointed by the actual route to solving a puzzle).
I’m really glad I gave Another Note a chance, but it does frustrate me how little of NISIOISIN’s work can be read in English. I’m not necessarily talking about the popular series like Monogatari and Zaregoto, but all the one offs. Surely among them there are more gems like Another Note that would keep me turning the pages and refusing to put it down. Some of the Monogatari books share in this quality, but I’d love to see NISIOISIN unchained from the mountain of franchises and instead write some more one-off mystery novels. He has a talent for it. In fact not just mystery novels, I’d love him to take on a variety of different genres that perhaps aren’t fantasy or driven by comedy. I guess some of this probably already exists in Japan, to which I can only hope that the English publishers license more of his work to bring over. At least until my ability to read Japanese has improved to the point where I can work around the problem.
Anyway this has been a long post to say that Death Note: Another Note – The Los Angeles BB Murder Case is a great read and if you like NISIOSIN’s work (and Death Note) it’s definitely worth a look to see how good his writing is when he’s not busily talking about panties through Araragi-kun.