Light Novel: Zaregoto

Zaregoto is a light novel series by the exceptionally prolific author, Nisio Isin. There are currently 9 novels total, with the first two being translated into English by Del Rey Manga. It has a spin-off series focusing on the Zerozaki family, the Ningen series, where 7 novels have been published. The author has also written some short stories about Aikawa Jun. A first collection has been published and there may be more in the future.

The series is narrated by the college student Ii-chan (or Ii-kun, or Ii-tan) as he tries his best to be an "passive observer" of the strange characters, mysteries, and inevitably, murders around him. The cast of the series is quite extensive, except most characters only appear or survive for a single novel. The only other frequent recurring characters are "The Blue Savant" Kunagisa Tomo, and "Humanity's Strongest" Aikawa Jun.

The Kubikiri Cycle ("The Beheading Cycle") introduces Ii-chan and Kunagisa as they are invited to the secluded Wet Crow's Feather Island for a gathering of geniuses. The island is owned by Akagami Iria, a wealthy disinherited heiress who has been living in exile on the island with her maids for the last five years. When one of the guests is found dead - decapitated - Iria decides to ask Aikawa Jun 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.

The Kubishime Romanticist ("The Strangling Romanticist") takes place two weeks after the Kubikiri incident, at Rokumeikan Private University. While eating lunch in the university cafeteria, Ii-chan meets a girl named Aoii Mikoko, 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 Zerozaki Hitoshiki...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. There is also a spinoff known as The Ningen Series that focuses on the Zerozaki family.

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This series provides examples of:

Series Overview
  • The Kubikiri Cycle: The Blue Savant and the Nonsense Bearer
  • The Kubishime Romanticist: Hitoshiki Zerozaki, Human Failure
  • The Kubitsuri High School: The Nonsense Bearer's Pupil
  • Psycho Logical (Part One) Gaisuke Utsurigi's Nonsense Killer
  • Psycho Logical (Part Two): Sour Little Song
  • Cannibal Magical: Niounomiya Siblings, Masters of Carnage
  • Nekosogi Radical (Part One): The Thirteen Stairs
  • Nekosogi Radical (Part Two): Overkill Red vs. The Orange Seed
  • Nekosogi Radical (Part Three): The Blue Savant and the Master of Nonsense
Spin-offs
  • Zerozaki Soushiki no Ningen Jikken (Zerozaki Soushiki's Human Experiments)
  • Zerozaki Kishishiki no Ningen Nokku (Zerozaki Kishishiki‘s Human Knock)
  • Zerozaki Magashiki no Ningen Ningen (Zerozaki Magashiki's Human Human)
  • Zerozaki Hitoshiki no Ningen Kankei (Zerozaki Hitoshiki's Human Relationships)
    • Niounomiya Izumu to no Kankei (Relationship with Niounomiya Izumu)
    • Mutou Iori to no Kankei (Relationship with Mutou Iori)
    • Zerozaki Soushiki to no Kankei (Relationship with Zerozaki Soushiki)
    • Zaregototsukai to no Kankei (Relationship with Zaregototsukai)

  • Action Girl: A lot of those in the series. Especially in Sumiyuri Academy, where everyone, from students to teachers, are one.
  • Action Girlfriend: See Battle Couple.
  • Action Mom: Hitoshiki's mother (and Soushiki's adopted mother) is implied to have been one, as a member of the Zerozaki family.
  • All There in the Manual: The Zaregoto Dictional, a "dictionary" about the series published after the completion of the main series.
  • Amazon Brigade: Shiogi, Tamamo and Ichihime used to be one back in middle school fighting the Zerozaki family.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Kunagisa and perhaps Ichihime
  • Battle Couple: Niounomiya Izumu and Zerozaki Hitoshiki. They are formidable fighting together. Shame it only happened once
  • Blood Knight: Hitoshiki, Izumu, Tamamo and Jun all have shade of this.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Most of the characters in the series don't care about morality. It is most obvious in the Zerozaki family: They kill people because they are serial killers and that's it. One of the few people with a strong sense of justice is Jun.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of the guests on Wet Crow's Feather Island.
  • Catch Phrase: "It's a masterpiece" by Zerozaki, often echoed by Ii-chan
  • Closed Circle: Wet Crow's Feather Island. Because of Iria's dislike for police, the murderer was never arrested.
  • Doppelgänger: Zerozaki, despite looking nothing like Ii-chan, is described as this.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: The Miotsukushi sisters do that sometimes.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Aikawa Jun. Ii-chan thought she was a man before actually meeting her.
  • Great Detective: Rizumu claimed to be one. And of course there is Ii-chan and Aikawa Jun.
  • Heel-Face Turn: All of the 13 Stairs betray the Big Bad Saitou Takashi in the end, some even on his orders.
  • Heroic BSOD: Ii-chan suffers from one after Izumu's death and Jun's defeat to Magokoro. Kunagisa talks him out of it.
  • Hero of Another Story: Members of the Zerozaki family in the Ningen series and Aikawa Jun in some short novels.
  • Hikkikomori: Kunagisa
  • Hollywood Hacking: Team
  • Idiot Savant: Kunagisa has been diagnosed with Savant Syndrome, she's unparalleled with anything involving computers, but helpless in many day-to-day activities.
  • Insufferable Genius: Aikawa Jun, as well as a number of the guests on Wet Crow's Feather Island, particularly Ibuki Kanami and Himena Maki.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Aikawa Jun is able to do anything and everything.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Atemiya Muimi used to be one in highschool.
  • Jekyll & Hyde and Red Oni, Blue Oni: It may not look like it, but the two Niounomiya twins are split personalities. The weird part comes in when Rizumu (the main person, usually shown red) is a girl and Izumu (the crazy one, usually shown green) is a guy. To show even more differences between the two, Rizumu is usually the light-headed personality and the detective, whereas Izumu is the killer and wears a straitjacket as a fashion statement because he thinks killing with his hands is boring.
  • Knife Nut: Zerozaki Hitoshiki. He has knives hidden all over his body.
  • Locked Room Mystery: The murders on Wet Crow's Feather Island.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Akagami Iria, an exiled heiress who surrounds herself with various geniuses for entertainment. And perhaps Kunagisa Tomo.
  • Mystery Magnet: As Ii-chan comments himself, he's become far too accustomed to seeing dead bodies.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast - "Humanity's Strongest," "Overkill Red," "The Most Powerful Private Contractor in the World," a.k.a. Aikawa Jun
  • Never One Murder: Subverted, as Akane faked her own death in The Kubikiri Cycle. Played straight in allmost all the other books.
  • Never Suicide: Subverted. Mikoko killed herself, and Ii-chan made the scene look like a murder.
  • Ninja: The Yamiguchi family bear a lot of similarity to ninjas, but they are never named such in-universe.
  • Noodle Incident: Many, as Nisio Isin is quite fond of them. Aikawa Jun's past is one prime example.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: The Kunagisa clan and all their associates have names with numbers from 1 to 9. Curiously, the number 7 officially does't exist, but it is mentioned in the spin-off as a secret team only known to the main family.
  • Oblivious to Love: Ii-chan, not that you should believe him.
  • One-Gender School: Sumiyuri Academy (or the Hanging High School) is an all girls school.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The narrator, Ii-chan.
  • Professional Killer: Niounomiya Izumu and perhaps everyone of the Niounomiya family since they are killers for hire. Yamiguchi might count as well, but the difference is that the members of the Yamiguchi family choose their own masters and are only loyal to their masters. And there is the Sumiyuri Academy, where girls are trained to be some kind of mercenary...
  • Punny Name: Tomoe Emoto, Nanami Nanananami, Kasuga Kasugai... and much more.
  • Psychic Powers: Himena Maki is a world-renowned psychic. She's capable of precognition up to two years after her introduction, at which point she will be brutally murdered and mindreading, which she uses to insult the main character about his major personal problems every chance she gets.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Kyoto Police, especially Sasa Saki. She is friends with Jun, so it is understandable.
  • Serial Killer: Zerozaki Hitoshiki killed 19 people before he was stopped by Aikawa Jun. And to think his whole family are just like him...
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Hitoshiki is only 150cm while Izumu is said to be very tall.
  • Tragic Dropout: Hitoshiki, he dropped out of middle school after his whole class was killed by Izumu.
  • Transsexual: Izumu is a compecated case: She identifies herself as male (or more exactly, as a "big brother") thus being the opposite of her twin sister Rizumu who is female (and the younger sister). It is implied this was a artificially created opposition to become stronger as Izumu. On the other hand, Izumu is dressed as a female and her love interest is male.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Ii-chan is especially bad in The Kubishime Romanticist
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ii-chan is forced into this in order to infiltrate the Hanging High School.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kunagisa has blue hair, which is described as quite unusual. The color of her hair seems to be a symbol of the extend of her genius. At the end of the series, it is described as having almost turned black, implying she traded her genius for her health to be with Ii-chan.