Light Novel: Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria
Aya Otonashi / Maria Otonashi.
A dark, psychological mystery series of Light Novels
written by Eiji Mikage.
Kazuki Hoshino is just an Ordinary High-School Student
who gets a strange sense of deja vu when the new student Aya Otanoshi transfers in. Matters are only made more confusing when she claims that this is her 13,118 th
transfer and that she is here to break him. After realizing he is in a time loop, he is forced to work together with her to escape. And at the heart of the plot lies a mysterious entity called O and the boxes capable of granting any wish.Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria
("The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria" in English) can be read here.
By the series's nature, a vast number of the tropes listed on this and associated pages will be spoilers
. It is highly
recommended that you do not view these before reading the corresponding novels.
Tropes present across the series as a whole:
- Be Careful What You Wish For: An overarching theme.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Maria. She won't leave anyone who needs help alone. Ever. Combined with her pacifist tendencies, this turns out to be a troublesome character trait.
- Dub-Induced Plot Hole: For a long time, the name "O" (the letter) was mistranslated as "0" (the number, which is referred to in the title). The ending of Volume 5 made the error in this abundantly clear.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Happens to the characters in the first volume where Aya, Mogi and O and later Kazuki are the ones to keep their memories. Also happens in volumes 3 and 4 where the genuine players of the game keep the memories of previous iterations.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: What Maria truly wants, although she wavers over this due to it violating her wish. Kazuki also has this motivation at first.
- Literal Genie: The boxes grant the users' wishes, but also grant any doubts the user may have had along with their wish.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The effect of using the Flawed Bliss is forgetting about everything related to everyone who the person it was used on knows.
- Man Behind the Man: O in volume 1 and Kamiuchi in volumes 3 and 4.
- Manipulative Bastard: Many characters.
- Meaningful Rename: Played with a lot. Maria renames herself Aya, her dead older sister's name, setting up a mask she wishes to become the truth within the unlimited time she has inside the Rejecting Classroom. However, she inadvertently tells people her real name and uses it as a test to find out if others remember the fact they're in a loop. Kazuki remembers it and starts calling her Maria, which prompts her to return to her real name, as evidenced when she introduces herself as Maria in the end of the volume. Flashforward to volume 5 and she's ignoring Kazuki's Be Yourself speeches, once again only wishing to be referred to as Aya. Cue the epilogue of volume 6 when she uses the Flawed Bliss and she recognizes herself as Maria in her thoughts. No wonder this is a major plot point.
- Mind Screw
- My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Maria. She's built her personality based on her dead sister's Aya, whose name she starts using, and took on her ideals. Those are the reason she seeks to become a perfect box... misguidedly. Whenever she finds that out, she'll forget it right away.
"Your 'wish', Maria, is to strive for your ideal. But once your 'Flawed Bliss' became flawless, wouldn't you realize that there is no Aya Otonashi within you?"
- Red Herring: The initial assumptions set up for many characters or plot points are wrong or misleading.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Ryuu Miyazaki to a certain extent. Mogi also counts though none of her murders stick. Also pretty much everyone in volume 4 although those aren't real murders either.
- Yandere: Kazuki Hoshino
Tropes specific to Volume 1:
- Anachronic Order: The time loops allow for the reader to discover pertinent information from any loops at the time when it becomes most relevant to the plot.
- Foreshadowing: Not the only example but perhaps the most noticeable is Haruaki's "Why not just kill him?" suggestion, shown to be repeated in several iterations and implied to have been repeated in all or close to all. Its repetition can be attributed to how the characters remain static throughout the "Groundhog Day" Loop, so when asked the same question, Haruaki would naturally respond with the same joke. Of course that's not the case and it all becomes clear when Haruaki is revealed to be 'O' under disguise.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: The Rejecting Classroom.
- It's for a Book: Kazuki frames the idea of the time loops as this when asking Daiya for advice.
- Red Herring: Kokone's mention of mascara at the beginning is this.
Tropes specific to Volume 2:
Tropes specific to Volumes 3 and 4:
Tropes specific to Volumes 5 and 6:
There is one thing I'm sure of. I won't stop. No matter how pointless it is, and even if it's no different from endlessly diving into the sea.
"I don't need anyone to stop me."