Flash Review – Decapitation (Zaregoto Vol. 1)

Genius is a precious commodity in human society, which is why one richie-rich girl started a collection of them on her private island. The nameless protagonist is not one of these geniuses, but a tag-along of his friend, who is, but nonetheless he kicks back, relaxes, and then one of the geniuses gets her head lobbed off. Just another day in murder mystery paradise.

The Geniuses:

Genius is a slippery term that can mean whatever you want it to, but this book takes one such definition and nails it down without debate or having to explain its reasoning. From this, you get the sense that everybody Mr. No Name meets really is a genius of some kind. And even though the book’s got its boot stamped on its definition, there’s a spectrum of genius on display, and it’s a marvel to see them range from a girl who, aside from being a godly chef, is ordinary next to Mr. No Name’s friend, who basically solves the entire mystery in fifteen seconds but is so focused at hacking Russian documents that she can’t be arsed to tell everybody whodunit.

The Mystery:

There’s a lot more to this mystery than what information it presents to you, but it does so through taking advantage of facts and knowledge that’s generally commonplace but isn’t simmering on the front burner of your noggin day and night. Solving it requires Kama Sutric creativity, and while the full picture is a hair obtuse to look at, it’s a solution that’ll have you smacking your forehead and griping that you’re not a pedigree genius.

Jun Aikawa:

There’s that phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” to describe how splitting your focus leads to mediocrity, but Jun Aikawa said, “Mediocrity? Never heard of such a thing. By the way, would you like this life-sized origami elephant I folded with my teeth?” She’s one of the geniuses invited to the island but can’t make it due to battling King Ghidorah, and when she does show up, the very first thing she does is kick the daylights outta Mr. No Name. For a character who makes her debut in the last twenty-something pages, she takes the rug right out from under everything else great with this novel.

The Verdict:

Excellent from start to finish. I wouldn’t label it a work of genius, but it is tightly woven and smartly done, and it contains perhaps my favorite quote in any novel, when Jun complains that if somebody wants to be stupid and believe stupid things, they have every right to be.

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