Rating - 3: worth reading once (borrow it from a library)
I am really enjoying reviewing volumes of a completed series one-by-one, without having read the entire thing. It lets me note items as they arise, rather than trying to view the whole thing in hindsight. I imagine one of my friends who has read/seen the whole series reading these and laughing with the knowledge of what lies ahead. (Just kidding; like anyone reads this.) I must remember to take that "whole series" view at the end.
L's forces split over what path to take in pursuing the new Kira. Misa precipitates a final confrontation.
Is Misa only momentarily effectual, or is this enough of a reunion with Rem to make her an interesting character again? I fear that she will remain a one-note character after a strong introduction.
This volume has similarities to her introduction, bringing a bit of action into the series. It is done more effectively this time, both in terms of characters' competence and the writing for the action sequences.
It is a strong conclusion that brings back elements dropped earlier in the series. It shows that more is going on behind the scenes than the point-of-view characters know (or let on). Good. If L gets to be more of a child, the adults can act more like grown-ups.
It is nice to see plans flawlessly executed despite being spelled out in advance. It is nice to see mistakes being made, to greater or lesser detriment. It is nice to see unexpected elements arising to save the day (or just make it easier). The writing mixes cynicism, optimism, and realism in a refreshing way. We have a series about serial killers that remains remarkably bright and upbeat.
This is perhaps the reason for the injection of comic relief in the previous volume. Before The Eight, no major characters were completely unsympathetic. There is some reason to like even the minor characters. Sure, most of them are trying to kill or imprison each other, but they are upbeat, self-assured, and not needlessly cruel.
Except maybe Light. Two entire volumes stepping away from what a complete psycho he is could be a bit much. It does give us two contrasts, to take my usual theme. This other Kira is not an idealist and has no noble motives. This is the black to Light's gray. Meanwhile, we have white Light, what Light would have been like before crashing into Lord Acton's maxim. He does not see acceptable casualties. That makes Light a more sympathetic character, because he is fundamentally a good person, and it makes his mass murder and self-declared divinity more tragic.
No, the volume does not ponder that. It moves swiftly through The Eight's arc. But given the pace at which I am reading the series, I have time to reflect.
My only visual note is that Wedy gets shiny leather pants. Those pants are her characterization, in case you were hoping for more. Did anything with Misa and Rem or with Light's mother and sister meet Bechdel's Rule? It is probably not a good sign that I cannot remember his sisters name and that I am not sure his mother had a name. Maybe they will come back. You'd think that someone in his household must share some of his potential along with half his genetic code.
The story arc is briefly interesting but not particularly likable. It is a common problem in series that the first part is the best known, and so naturally everything gets compared to Light vs. L. Misa was briefly up to playing on the same field with our main characters, but The Eight were both less interesting and out of place. The entire structure of the story had to change to accommodate them, in return for which the main plot gets a few points of advancement. It ends well, but it was not the best conceivable way to spend two volumes.