Cover of Zaregoto volume 1 as published by Del Rey Manga
|Genre||Romance, Mystery, Comedy, Psychological|
|Written by||Nisio Isin|
|Original run||February 5, 2002 – November 7, 2005|
|Written by||Nisio Isin|
|Original run||February 5, 2004 – March 25, 2010|
Zaregoto Series (Japanese: 戯言シリーズ Hepburn: Zaregoto Shirīzu?) is a Japanese novel series written by Japanese novelist Nisio Isin and illustrated by Take. The series was published in Japan between February 5, 2002 and November 2005 by Kodansha Books. It was followed by a spin-off series also published by Kodansha Books, Ningen Series (人間シリーズ Ningen Shirīzu?), focusing on the Zerozaki clan. The first volume of Zaregoto, The Kubikiri Cycle, was released in North America in July 2008 by Del Rey Manga and the second volume The Kubishime Romanticist was released in June 2010, also by Del Rey Manga. No further information regarding the future of the series in English has been released.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Setting
- 3 Characters
- 3.1 The "Outer" World
- 3.2 The "Violence" World
- 3.3 The "Politics" World
- 3.4 The "Economical" World
- 3.5 Guests on Wet Crow's island
- 4 Novels
- 5 Development
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
The story revolves around a narrator whose name is never mentioned and the mysteries he encounters, but after the second book, the series comes with more and more fighting and action. The narrator tends to try in vain to keep out of the story, but instead of being the bystander he wants to be, he always gets dragged into the center of everything. Though it seems the narrator does a lot in the story, he always finds out at the end that whatever he did was meaningless.
According to Tomo's explanation, the world is divided into four separate kinds of territories:
- The "Outer" World (the word of peace and war) is the normal side of the world. The holder of the highest mediocrity.
- The "Economical" World (The Four Gods and One Mirror, <RULE>) is the holder of the strongest economical powers of the world. The closest to The "Outer" World.
- The "Politics" World (The Kunagisa Organization) is the holder of the strongest ruling powers of the world.
- The "Violence" World (The Murdering Name, The Cursing Name) is the holder of all unusual, heterodoxy, special powers of the world. This world is a world with no order, only lawless massacre.
The "Outer" World
- "I" (ぼく?)
- "Nonsense Bearer" (戯言遣い zaregoto tsukai?). The narrator of the Zaregoto series, people call him by all sorts of nicknames beginning with the phonetic pronunciation of his family name Ii (井伊) such as "Ii-chan" (いーちゃん）, "Ikkun" (いっくん), "Ii-tan" (いいたん). Birthday is in March, birthplace Kobe. His real name was never revealed, but in Hanging High School he played a name-guessing quiz with Shiogi Hagihara (later mentioned), but the answer was not revealed either.
- After graduating eighth grade, he entered the ER3 system (a type of genius raising school) and went to Houston, Texas for five years; with the death of his good friend, Magokoro Omokage, he withdrew from the system. Now, he is a resident of the Antique Apartment, second floor, and also a student in the Rokumeikan Private University. He consistently downplays his own abilities, but inevitably ends up solving the mysteries he encounters.
- Jun Aikawa (哀川 潤 Aikawa Jun?)
- "Humanity's Strongest". Known famously throughout the world as humanity's strongest contractor. About 24 years old. Whatever legal or illegal, if paid she will get it done. A master of disguising, sound imitating, lock picking (even ones with fingerprint scanners), and mind reading. Presented with the names "the Most Powerful Private Contractor in the World", "the World's Greatest Entrepreneur", "Overkilled Red", "Desert Eagle", "One Against A Thousand", "The Storm Before The Storm"...
- In the first book, Jun was invited to help solve the murder on the island, but she does not appear until the novel's epilogue. At the beginning of the book, Ii-chan presumes that Aikawa is a man.
- Harukana Ii (井伊 遥奈 Ii Harukana?)
- "I"'s little sister. When she was young, she was kidnapped by the Kunagisa organization. When "I" and Tomo met, he still didn't know of his little sister's existence, even though she was living almost right beside him. She is one of the few people who knows of "I"'s true name. She died in an airplane accident.
The Residents of the Antique Apartment
The apartment which "I" lives in. The real name of this place is unknown, "I" is the only one calling it The Antique Apartment. Existed before the Meiji period. Made mainly of wood, three stories, four-mat room with horrible sound insulation, bare light bulb, shared toilet, no bath; the rent is 10,000 yen per month, though.
- Miiko Asano (浅野 みいこ Asano Miiko?)
- "I"'s neighbor. 22 years old. A freeter, and also a master of kendo and kenjutsu. Kicked out of her previous apartment, she was taken in by Nanami Nanananami after found wandering in the streets. Always keeps her hair in a ponytail, usually wears a jinbei, with kanji representing her emotions at the moment, over casual clothing at home. Miiko hardly expresses her feeling through facial expression, but surprisingly, she has a rough temper when fighting. Once an information is received by her, it will be hard to make any changes to it afterwards. Likes sweet things, sake, and collecting antiques. Owns a Fiat 500, which is often borrowed by "I". Can never stop getting into trouble with the guests at a new work place, but still finds a job teaching at a kendo school momentarily.
- Miiko is really concerned about "I"'s personality. "I" confessed to Miiko, but she reserved it saying she'll consider about it if "I" becomes a better man. Once had four relationships going at the same time, and three were girls, because she can't resist wanting to help the weak do everything for them.
In the second book, "I" attends Rokumeikan Private University. It is located in Kinugasa, in Kita Ward of Kyoto.
- Mikoko Aoii (葵井 巫女子 Aoii Mikoko?)
- Born on April 20. According to "I"'s assumption, Mikoko is about 155cm and 50kg, a fairly normal girl. Usually has a high temper, and will hit anything nearby randomly. Owns a vespa(vintage model) and calls it "scoot", which made "I" very angry because he thinks it's disrespecting for the vespa. Likes to use exaggerating metaphors. Will take off clothes when drunk. Have feelings for "I". Tomoe Emoto's first friend, and best friends with Muimi Atemiya.
- Tomoe Emoto (江本 智恵 Emoto Tomoe?)
- Born on May 14, 20 years-old. A petit girl with twin tails, but has an aura of an adult. Likes shiny things. Lives alone. Tomoe stayed in the hospital for a long time during middle school, so she is actually held back for a year. She became friends with Mikoko in high school, because having an inferiority complex made her see Mikoko as an ideal being. Will become a kissing maniac when drunk. One of the few girls "I" is interested in. The witness of the beginning of the Kyoto serial killing.
- Muimi Atemiya (貴宮 むいみ Atemiya Muimi?)
- A yankee(delinquent). Brown hair. Has a little sister named Muri(Muimi means no meaning, Muri means unreasonable). Been smoking since elementary, but she doesn't smoke around non-smokers. She went to the same elementary school as Mikoko, and became friends with her because she saved Muimi from the depths of delinquency.
- Akiharu Usami (宇佐美 秋春 Usami Akiharu?)
- Went to the same high school as Mikoko. Brown hair. A very normal human being, "I" can never remember what he looks like. Has a frivolous personality. After the second book ends, "I" completely forgets about his existence.
- Sasaki Sasa (佐々 砂咲 Sasa Sasaki?)
- A police officer, teamed up with Ikaruga. Has a business like relationship with Jun Aikawa. Kyoto Prefectural Investigation group, First Division(murder cases) chief. Straight black hair with a cool and calm mind.
- Kazuhito Ikaruga (斑鳩 数一 Ikaruga Kazuhito?)
- A police officer, teamed up with Sasa. Kyoto Prefectural Investigation group, First Division member. Wears a sun glasses, black hair combed all back, tall. A normal person.
The "Violence" World
- The Killing Names consists of seven families, "Niounomiya(匂宮)", "Yamiguchi(闇口)", "Zerozaki(零崎)", "Susukino(薄野)", "Hakamori(墓森)", "Tenbuki(天吹)", "Ishinagi(石凪)". The sequence starts with the strongest. These families possess incredibly ridiculous killing abilities.
- The Cursing Names consists of six families, "Tokinomiya(時宮)", "Tsumiguchi(罪口)", "Kino(奇野)", "Nukumori(拭森)", "Shibugi(死吹)", "Toganagi(咎凪)". The sequence starts with the strongest. These families refuse any physical battle, but the deaths caused by them are no less than The Killing Names. They attack their enemies through abnormal ways such as hypnotism, poison, and other ways; to defeat their enemies, they will not hesitate to deceive their allies as well. Every family has an opposing side in the different Names, for example: Niounomiya's opposing family is Tokinomiya(the second kanji in their names are the same)...The only exception is the Zerozaki family.
Known as the "Niounomiya Circus". Ranked first in the Killing Names. A family that kills under contract. Due to their special techniques when killing, people refer to them as "The Killing Magic Organization, Niounomiya Circus". There are a total of fifty-three branch families, including the Sawarabi family and the Miotsukushi family under the Niounomiya family. The opposing family in The Curing Names is the Tokinomiya family.
- Rizumu Niounomiya (匂宮 理澄 Rizumu Niounomiya?)
- Hannibal. The little sister of the Niounomiya sibling and Izumu's counterpart. She is a detective dressed in a black mantle and a straitjacket. Currently 16 years old (22 years old for her body). She does the investigating in the Niounomiya sibling. All of Izumu's weaknesses are harbored by her. A former member of the Thirteen Stairs.
- Izumu Niounomiya (匂宮 出夢 Izumu Niounomiya?)
- Man Eater. The big brother of the Niounomiya sibling and Rizumu's counterpart. Although Izumu's the "big brother", she is actually female. Currently 18 years old (22 years old for her body). She does the killing in the Niounomiya sibling.
Known as the "Zerozaki Bandits". Rank third in The Killing Names. A group of unreasonable serial killers gathered not by blood relations, but by the thirst for blood. Contains twenty to twenty-five members. The only family without an opposing family in The Cursing Names.
- Hitoshiki Zerozaki (零崎 人識 Zerozaki Hitoshiki?)
- The Human Failure. A child born through incestuous action(no blood relations, meaning two Zerozakis gave birth to him), a Zerozaki in the Zerozaki. The serial killer of the Kyoto serial killing. "I" was supposed to become one of his victims when he encounter him on Friday 13th under the bridge. Has a tattoo on the right side of his face, dyed hair, three earrings on the right ear and one cellphone strap on the left ear. He is about 150cm tall. Zerozaki is the mirror self of "I", hence the other way around, too. Always wears a vest full of knives.
The "Politics" World
The "Politics" world is controlled by the Kusanagi Organization, one of the few Zaibatsu that still exists in Japan. Seven organizations that hold control of the world is under Kusanagi, it consists of "Ichigai(壱外)", "Nishiori(壱弐栞)", "Sanzaka(参榊)", "Shikabane(肆屍)", "Gotoride(伍砦)", "Rokukase(陸枷)", and lastly "Hachikiri(捌限)". All of their name starts with a number, with seven(柒) not included in the list.
- Tomo Kunagisa (玖渚 友 Kunagisa Tomo?)
- "The Blue Savant". Due to the recessive genes, she has an unusual appearance consisting blue eyes and blue hair, but is still a beauty. Diagnosed with Savant Syndrome. 19 years old.
- Tomo is Ii-chan's closest friend. She is a genius in the field of computer engineering with a very eccentric personality. While Ii-chan was in Houston, she led a group of notorious computer hackers consisting of nine people including herself.
- Nao Kunagisa (玖渚 直 Kunagisa Nao?)
- Tomo's big brother. He became the leader of the Kusanagi Organization during the latter part of the story (was formerly the secretary of his father). He has a well-rounded personality that appeals to people around him, which is completely different to his little sister. He has a sister complex.
- Douji Kasumioka (霞丘 道児 Kasumioka Douji?)
- Nao Kunagisa's close friend. His whereabouts are unknown. He is the one who first called I the Nonsense Bearer. He is also the one who gave Tomo the nickname Blue Servant.
The "Economical" World
The "Economical" world consists of five big Zaibatsu, "Akagami(赤神)", "Iigami(謂神)", "Ujigami(氏神)", "Ekagami(絵鏡 )", and "Origami(檻神)". Together, they are called the "Four Gods and One Mirror(四神一鏡)".
Four Gods and One Mirror's relationships
- Iria Akagami (赤神 イリア Akagami Iria?)
- A true princess of the Akagami plutocrat, but was exiled to Wet Crow's Feather Island due to D.L.L.R Syndrome(a sickness that makes people want to kill). The little sister of the twins. Now, she is the owner of the island and has an inexhaustible amount of time and money.
- Has an unshakable trust towards Jun. 21years-old.
- Rei Handa (班田 玲 Handa Rei?)
- Rei is the head maid on Wet Crow's Feather Island.
- Akari Chiga (千賀 あかり Chiga Akari?)
- The eldest of the triplets. A maid on Wet Crow's Island. Has an upheaval personality, but very smart. 27 years-old.
- Hikari Chiga (千賀 ひかり Chiga Hikari?)
- The second of the triplets. A maid on Wet Crow's Island. Likes to haggle, has a bit of mysophobia. 27 years-old.
- Teruko Chiga (千賀 てる子 Chiga Teruko?)
- The third of the triplets. A maid on Wet Crow's Island. Rarely talks, but if she opens her mouth, only lies will come out. Iria's bodyguard, has superior fighting skills(quote Hikari," Invincible in short range" ). 27 years-old. Once defeated the notorious Kishishiki Zerozaki wearing an iron mask, so was known as the "Masked Maid". The only triplet who wears glasses.
Guests on Wet Crow's island
Wet Crow's Island is the property of the Akagami Plutocrats. Its purpose is to keep the exiled heiress away from the rest of the world. In Russian, it means "The End of Despair". Now, it is a place for geniuses to gather under the invitation of Iria.
- Akane Sonoyama (園山 赤音 Sonoyama Akane?)
- Genius scholar. One of the Seven Fools in the ER3 system, and the first Japanese to enter in her twenties. 30 years-old. Raised out of Japan, so she is bad at yojijukugo, but very proud of her math and English abilities. Black straight hair, tall for a woman with a slender body. Went to a normal public high school. Severed her ties with her family. Champion of a karate tournament.
- She was the second murder victim.
- Kanami Ibuki (伊吹 かなみ Ibuki Kanami?)
- Blue-eyed, blond genius painter. The ultimate individualist. Was blind several years ago, now, her body is weak and handicapped, uses a wheel chair. She doesn't have a fixed style of painting. 29 years-old. She always has an air of mystery around her, likes to keep a clean and neat appearance corresponding her huge pride. Her catchphrase is," Don't you know?"
- She was the first murder victim.
- Shinya Sakaki (逆木 深夜 Sakaki Shinya?)
- One of the two none geniuses invited(Shinya and "I"). The caretaker and former teacher of Kanami. 32 years-old.
- Maki Himena (姫菜 真姫 Himena Maki?)
- Real name is Shinari Himena (姫菜 詩鳴 Himena Shinari?). A genius fortune-teller, has a cynical personality. 29 years-old. An ESPer, has the ability to see the past, see the future, use telepathy, see through, hear everything. She described her ability as watching large amounts of TV about other people without her on will, but she can only see two more years in her own future. Blond ponytail. Her catch phrase is," I know the past, the future, people, and the world. I am an ESPer who knows everything."
- She constantly picks on Ii-chan due to his personality.
- Yayoi Sashirono (佐代野 弥生 Sashirono Yayoi?)
- The genius chef of Wet Crow's Island. Can create the ultimate delicacy for the diners preference. Short hair with a straightforward personality. 30 years-old. Has absolute pitch and absolute taste. Can identify up to twenty thousand different kinds of tastes and twenty different levels of pitches.
- The most frightened after the murdering started, which is to say the most normal one since nobody except her was influenced by the dangerous atmosphere.
|No.||Title||Japanese release||English release|
|01||The Beheading Cycle: The Blue Savant and the Nonsense Bearer
Kubikiri Saikuru: Aoiro Savan to Zaregototsukai (クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い)
|February 5, 2002
|Ii-chan and his friend, the computer genius Tomo Kunagisa, are invited to Wet Crow's Feather Island in the sea of Japan. The island is owned by Iria Akagami, a wealthy disinherited heiress who has been living in exile on the island with her maids for the last five years. For entertainment, she regularly invites geniuses like Kunagisa to stay on the island. When one of the guests is found dead - decapitated - Iria decides to ask Jun Aikawa to solve the murder. But it will take several days before Jun will arrive, and Ii-chan decides to investigate the mystery while they wait.|
|02||Strangulation Romanticist: Hitoshiki Zerozaki, Human Failure
Kubishime Romanchisuto: Ningen Shikkaku, Zerozaki Hitoshiki (クビシメロマンチスト 人間失格・零崎人識)
|May 8, 2002
|June 22, 2010
|Two weeks after the kubikiri incident, while eating lunch in the university cafeteria, he meets a girl named Mikoko Aoii, a friend he doesn't remember. She later invited him to her friend's birthday party for tomorrow, and with nothing better to do, he agrees. While buying birthday presents for tomorrow, he encounters the infamous serial killer of Kyoto, Hitoshiki Zerozaki...The next day, Ii-chan and Mikoko arrives at her friend's apartment and with three other people including the host, they started the party. However, the morning after, the host is found strangled to death.|
|03||Hanging High School: The Nonsense Bearer's Pupil
Kubitsuri Hai Sukūru: Zaregoto Tsukai no Deshi (クビツリハイスクール 戯言遣いの弟子)
|August 5, 2002
|Aikawa Jun takes Ii-chan with her to rescue a friend in a high school that trains girls to kill.|
|04||Psycho Logical (Part One) Gaisuke Utsurigi's Nonsense Killer
Saiko Rojikaru (Jou): Utsurigi Gaisuke no Zaregoto Goroshi (サイコロジカル〈上〉兎吊木垓輔の戯言殺し)
|November 5, 2002
|Ii-chan and Tomo visit a secret laboratory to rescue one of her hacker friends.|
|05||Psycho Logical (Part Two): Attractive Kouta
Saiko Rojikaru (Ge): Hikaremono no Kouta (サイコロジカル〈下〉曳かれ者の小唄)
|November 5, 2002
|As Ii-chan tries to solve the murder, he crosses paths with a thief.|
|06||Cannibal Magical: Niounomiya Siblings, Masters of Carnage
Hitokui Majikaru: Satsuriku Kijutsu no Niounomiya Kyōdai (ヒトクイマジカル 殺戮奇術の匂宮兄妹)
|July 5, 2003
|Ii-chan meets the Niounomiya twins -- she's a detective, he kills people -- and makes himself an enemy.|
|07||Uprooted Radical (Part One): The Thirteen Stairs
Nekosogi Rajikaru (Jou): Jūsan Kaidan (ネコソギラジカル〈上〉十三階段)
|February 8, 2005
|Ii-chan's enemy declares it is time for their final battle, and assembles thirteen companions to fight him.|
|08||Uprooted Radical (Part Two): Overkill Red vs. The Orange Seed
Nekosogi Rajikaru (Chuu): Akaki Seisai vs. Daidainaru Shu (ネコソギラジカル〈中〉赤き征裁vs.橙なる種)
|June 7, 2005
|Aikawa Jun must fight her successor, Ii-chan's old friend Omokage Magokoro.|
|09||Uprooted Radical (Part Three): The Blue Savant and the Nonsense Bearer
Nekosogi Rajikaru (Ge): Aoiro Savan to Zaregoto Tsukai (ネコソギラジカル〈下〉青色サヴァンと戯言遣い)
|November 8, 2005
|As his enemy's plans crumble, Ii-chan takes the initiative.|
The Beheading Cycle went through a number of drafts; Tomo Kunagisa was originally intended to be the series' protagonist, but during the rewriting process, Nisio Isin realized that Ii-chan had become more important. After finally completing the novel, Nisio proceeded to write Strangulation Romanticist in three days. With Hanging High School, Nisio began consciously moving the series away from traditional mystery novel structure. 
The series has been selected by Takarajimasha's Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! three times as one of the ten best light novels of the year: in 2005 when it ranked second, in 2006 when it topped the list, and in 2007 when it placed third.
The series was a bestseller, and grew in popularity as it went on. While the first volume debuted at number eight on the novel charts, the final volume debuted at number one and remained at the top for three weeks.
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