Another Note – Light Novel Review
As a big fan of Tsugumi Ohba’s Death Note manga and its anime adaptation, I was excited to find out there exists a spin-off novel based on the franchise. Titled Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, the book is written by Nisio Isin, who is the author of the famous Monogatari light novel series that spawned several anime adaptations by Studio Shaft. What’s more, Another Note has been translated into English and can be ordered from sites like Amazon. Its length is 176 pages, including the afterword.
The story follows FBI agent Naomi Misora who collaborates with L, the world’s greatest detective, to catch a homicidal maniac terrorizing Los Angeles. What makes this spin-off vastly different from Death Note, is that here the reader doesn’t know from the start the identity or motivation of the culprit. At each crime scene, the murderer has left a cryptic message that leads to the next victim, and it is up to our protagonist to figure out each message in order to catch the killer and prevent further casualties. Most of the novel consists of Naomi investigating the rooms of the victims and discussing different theories with L. Like the original series, there isn’t much action, so if that’s what you’re expecting, look elsewhere.
As far as the quality of the writing goes, Nisio Isin’s text is on a professional level, and the localization is done well. If, up to this point, you’ve been satisfying your Death Note hunger with mediocre fanfiction, I strongly urge you to pick up this novel. That being said, one thing that is kind of distracting is the ridiculous names of some characters. For example, Backyard Bottomslash. The novel takes itself quite seriously, so hilariously improbable names like that seem very out of place, although they do serve some purpose in the grand scheme of things.
Naomi Misora’s character makes for a likable lead that the readers can probably relate to. She is proactive and serious about her work, but not a stick in the mud. In addition, her reactions to her fellow detective’s odd behavior makes for some funny comic relief, which is welcome in an otherwise grim story. The discussions where the two analyze the murderer’s messages and try to get into his mind are very enjoyable for the most part. There is some improbable reasoning that might make you scratch your head, but nothing too outlandish by the original story’s standards. However, the discussions can get overwhelmingly prolonged and complicated, which is why I don’t recommend reading Another Note in one sitting.
And what would a Death Note spin-off novel be without a surprising twist ending? Without spoiling anything, I for one was caught completely off-guard by the revelation in the last chapter, but it all made sense and did not feel unnecessary or forced. All the loose ends get tied nicely and the story leaves you with a good aftertaste. However, some fans might be a little disappointed that in the end, the events in the novel have no relation or effects whatsoever to the events in Death Note. It’s not a prequel that changes how the audience perceives some characters, like Fate/Zero for example, nor does it give any major insight to the characters of L or Misora. Another Note is simply a good stand-alone side story to people who like detective fiction and the Death Note franchise.
Overall, I strongly encourage any hardcore fan of Death Note to check out this novel. It’s by no means a masterpiece, and it doesn’t add anything to the original story, but it’s a well-written and enjoyable read with a great ending.