Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases Review: Naomi Misora’s Murder Mystery Investigation
So the last week has been quite a busy one, and as a result I haven’t been able to write about anything until now. It’s a sad thing, because what I’m writing about here is indeed something I finished exactly a week ago, and it certainly doesn’t help that two of my ongoings (Danganronpa and Shingeki no Kyojin) just ended. Adding on the fact that I’m getting close to finishing Chobits and Angel Beats! Track Zero and, well, there’s quite a task ahead of me. But anywho, back to the post at hand. I happened to have some time to start reading light novels, and it just so happened that the one I decided to read through was Death Note’s prequel, Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases. I can definitely say that it’s very different from the story that Death Note provides, but it is a great read for any fan of the series regardless and does a fine job of expanding on the cast.
The story focuses primarily on Naomi Misora, an intelligent FBI agent and a character who fans of Death Note should most certainly recognize. Misora, who was off duty at the time, just so happens to be chosen by L to help investigate a series of brutal murders that have taken place in Los Angeles. Misora goes to investigate and ends up coming across an individual known as Rue Ryuzaki. Sound familiar? Misora remains suspicious of Ryuzaki, but ends up working with him to uncover the mystery at hand. Three murders have already taken place, and it is up to Misora and Ryuzaki to prevent the fourth from taking place.
As I’m sure the synopsis has made clear, Another Note is far from the supernatural story of Death Notes and shinigami and all those other wonderful things the original series provided. While it does have a psychological mind vs. mind battle taking place, it isn’t quite like the unusual encounter between Kira and L. At its core, Another Note is a murder mystery novel, and a vast majority of the story revolves around Misora’s investigations and how she looks into the clues at the crime scenes. Because of this, the story does go at a relatively slow pace, and those who aren’t especially fond of reading through the crime scene investigation process might not enjoy the novel as much as the comparably thrilling story of the original. All the same, however, Another Note does have a very worthwhile story, and while it may feel slow and rather uneventful, things do play out in quite an interesting way. The novel is filled with humor (after all, Ryuzaki is a very….unique individual, to say the very least), but it is definitely serious when is required, and the story picks up a lot near the end of the book.
One thing I really enjoyed about this novel is how it added more to the cast. Misora, a character who had a very limited role in the original story, gets the spotlight here and the readers get to learn more about her past as well as the way she thinks and acts, making her a much more interesting character. With Ryuzaki playing an important part in this novel (and being as bizarre as ever), members of the L faction will certainly have a good time seeing how he interacts with Misora. Another thing to note is that Mello is the narrator of the story, and he references the individuals and events of the manga/anime many times, which connects the original Death Note story to an otherwise very different tale with only certain key characters bringing the two together. But perhaps the most intriguing of them all is not the characters from the original story, but the novel-only character and killer (this is not a spoiler, as the very first page does reveal this), Beyond Birthday. Beyond Birthday is initially portrayed as a disturbed murderer, but as the story begins to reveal more about his character, he becomes a much deeper and more sympathetic character. Beyond Birthday is a fantastic addition to the Death Note series and might actually be among my favorites after finishing the novel.
It’s probably pretty obvious already, but to really enjoy this novel, it’s best that you’ve completed the Death Note series, whether you’ve read the manga or watched the anime. While the novel does come before the DN story chronologically and doesn’t necessarily require knowledge of it to understand (for the most part, at least), there’s a lot more to enjoy if you’re already a fan of Death Note. Characters like Misora and L won’t matter a whole lot to a newcomer, but those who are already familiar with them from Death Note will connect with them much more. References to things such as the Shinigami Eyes and characters like Kira and Near will also go above the reader’s head without background knowledge of the original story, so it’s ideal that the reader already knows the details. It’s also important to note that the biggest plot twist relies almost entirely on the reader already having finished the original Death Note story to have the impact it does for reasons only those who have finished the novel would understand, so even with the other things aside, the reveal would be comparably disappointing and perhaps even obvious to a newcomer to the series. That said, it’s probably pointless for me to keep going on about this anyway since light novels are hardly on the radar of the masses and anyone who cares enough to not only look into this novel but to actually begin reading it is probably already an established Death Note fan, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give a warning about that. Death Note’s quite the enjoyable series anyway, so why not finish it first?
In short, Another Note may not feel entirely like the story it came from, but it is still a very worthwhile addition to Death Note and is a good read simply because of how it expands the Death Note world. Misora, a character who wasn’t particularly important in the original series and probably wouldn’t have received much development otherwise, gains a lot from being the main character of this novel, and there is even some information about some of the backstory of Wammy’s House, making this more than just the random spin-off it might otherwise seem to be. The story may not be as thrilling or complex as the original Death Note, but it is still very entertaining and appeals in a way that even the original story did not. Having finished Another Note, I would rate it an 8/10, a must-see (er, read) for anyone who loves Death Note. On the whole I would say I still enjoyed Death Note more than this prequel novel (after all, you can only do so much with a short, single volume novel) but that does not make this any less worthy of a read. It certainly felt quite different reading through a light novel instead of my usual anime or manga, but light novels do seem worth it and I imagine I’ll be able to get through a few more if all goes well.