Rating - 3: worth reading once (borrow it from a library)
A slow build-up volume.
All the pieces move into position as we approach the final act. Near has it all figured out, but he refuses to act until he has proof of his deductions. Mikami is borne along by faith in his god of death.
Near is finally getting impressive. Some of that is the advantage of being a latecomer, finding everything that previous parties fought and died to uncover. Some of that is his mental skills, notably being able to observe several streams of information simultaneously. And then there is Mikami, who is easy to find because he does not bother to hide.
You have to love that character. Light envisions himself as a god of justice. Mikami just wants to be an agent of justice, joyously deleting the foes of order from existence. He is completely unalloyed. And he is stylish.
This volume has setup chapters, which probably worked well in the original run but are somewhat tedious in the collected edition. The characters are brought into proximity, and Near borrows L's solid steel cajones by calling Light, tipping his hand, and challenging him directly. This gives us a chapter of the "I know that he knows, and he knows that I know he knows, but can he prove..." that has not been fully present since before The Eight. It is good in doses, but an entire chapter of it wears. It is amusing to watch the other characters listening but not getting it.
For that chapter, it is amusing. Then it keeps happening for the entire volume. The characters drop some hints about their plans or point out elements that are important, but keep their cards close to their chests. This gives us several chapters of Light and Near announcing that they have plans then not bothering to tell anyone about them. They also repeatedly explain things that happened on-frame but do not describe their plans and preparations that we did not already see. This is not compelling reading.
It does seem that Light knows more about what Near knows than vice versa, especially since Light sets up disinformation for Near. That can't go well for Near. Light and Near are describing their conflict as if they were having a one-on-one fight, which they are lately, but Mello's absence is conspicuous. Ryuk is the other dog that has not barked for quite a long time.
Near's toys are becoming more amusing. The figurines and finger-puppets are excellent, a wonderful adaptation of a classic motif to Near's style. His other toys continue to be overly visually distracting in a way that L's sweet-tooth was not, but I hope that the illustrator had fun with those over the issues.
Misa: vapid, ill-mannered, ill-used tool. She was more interesting as a wild card. It is sad to think that she was an effective player for a volume or two, only to come to this caricature. They put the entire female cast in a room and failed to pass Bechdel's Rule. Pitiful.