Rating - 3: worth reading once (borrow it from a library)
Everything runs off the rails and still keeps going. Pick your favorite way this could all go horribly wrong for everyone involved!
Near makes inroads into L's team. Light anoints a new Kira. Mello is stuck on the sidelines.
Visuals get the first note: that is one heck of a cover. The others have had some great character illustrations and images, excellent poster work, but this one captures the moment in the series and the spirit of the whole. The use of lighting and bright colors makes it stand apart from earlier covers, along with the layout and images echoing Christian iconography (with Light as God). And take a closer look at those cherubs.
Near gathers information well. He deduces well, although he seems to be placing a very strong Bayesian prior on L's judgment; usually wise, but perhaps inadvisable given L's experience just before the time skip. Near suddenly develops insight into people, rather than deductive analysis about facts. I am not sure if there was an undertone I missed, if it just never came up, if this is supposed to represent hidden depths, or the author just never considered how his autistic detective might approach human interactions. There might be enough evidence to support his conclusions here, but I also suspect a bit of cheating in that the author and readers know more than Near, so we may not see what he would need to know to make the intuitive jump and catch up with us.
That would be a strange problem for this author, given how much the first half of the series depends on "I know that he knows that I know..." Then again, this is about who knows what, not the recursive psychological games. Someone out there must have tracked who knew what and did Near have enough information to make that deduction fairly.
Near has a moment of quasi-effectiveness here, or at least a good tactic. His gathering his robots as he leaves headquarters is a great visual, more of a child you would want to protect rather than his annoying dithering about with toys in his other scenes.
Mello is stuck investigating. Maybe the author is planning a long game for him, with this entire volume setting it up, but it looks more like showing him doing the right thing and Light still winning.
The theme of the first half is doing things right and still losing. Everyone has plans that they execute properly but are countered in part by their opponents. For Light, that looks a lot like having events spiral out of control even as he is putting things together.
Light is ridiculously lucky, unless we can get some evidence that he knew more about Mikami before. He found the perfect person. I hope that goes badly, as Mikami is too perfect, and Light faces someone who is more of a true believer in Kira than he is. Idealists are dangerous.
I also wonder when Light will have problems with basing executions on media reports. It is not as though he is vetting all his victims thoroughly and giving them a fair trial. There is no chance for appeal or showing an erroneous arrest after you have a heart attack and die. How many innocents has Kira killed? How easy would it be to make a false arrest or accusation and have your victim disappear?
How easy would it be for someone to do that to Light? Similarly, how easy would it be to reveal who L is and that he is hunting Kira?
As I said, pick your favorite way this could all go horribly wrong for everyone involved.
Did Aizawa just quietly become the hero of this series?
Lastly, we have a new role for a prominent female character. In a shocking turn of events, she is an easily manipulated, subservient tool of the main characters.