Monday, August 24, 2015

Novel Review: Angel Notes

As per my policy after one of my reviews on myanimelist was deleted without warning, this serves as an archive of my random reviews of things on that site

One of the earliest works by writer and co founder of the company Type-Moon, Kinoko Nasu, Notes is the foundation of the shared universe across most of his works such as Tsukihime or Fate/Stay Night, which is commonly referred to as the Nasuverse. It’s a bit strange to say it was the foundation when the timeline of Notes makes it chronologically last, as it’s set far in the future.

Notes, or Angel Notes as it’s also known is a short story written for an angel themed anthology magazine, and it’s also an incredibly hard thing to describe. I’m not sure if I’m even fit to judge this story, as its experimental nature defies a lot of what you’d expect, but rest assured it’s a unique experience.

Notes plays with the chronological order of events, something that Kinoko Nasu would return to in the Light Novel series Kara no Kyoukai, another Nasuverse work. The story itself is quite simple, but its non standard presentation elevates it over the merit it has as an idea. Despite being incredibly short, a massive amount of worldbuilding is thrown into the mix, most of which is irrelevant to anything else in the story or nasuverse as a whole. This is, in my opinion, one of Nasu’s greatest strengths as a writer, his stories are so packed with minor background details of the world that it really feels like more is happening then just the story you’re being told right there.

Most of the worldbuilding is done in an almost encyclopedia entry style throughout the chapters, detailing the elements of this fictional world to a needless degree, never does Ado Edam, the Slash Emperor become relevant to t5he actual plot of Notes, but yet he is described in entries of past events. It might sound like I’m being critical of this but I’m really not, without details like this there really isn’t much going for it.

The encyclopedia entries along with it’s strange, barebones narrative craft a short story that is more of a puzzle then it is a piece of fiction, leaving much of the events up to the reader’s interpretation, and as such I find it hard to really rate something like that. Now, I find it hard to rate anything, because how can I accurately describe my complex thoughts on something with a single number score? But that’s how we do things around here, so I’ve tried to figure out what I would rate this and finally came to a decision on 7/10.

Why 7/10? It’s probably my subjective bias as someone who’s as close to being a fanboy of the Writer and universe in question as you can get without being obsessed with it. As a standalone story it has some interesting things going for it structurally, but it’s real value lies in it’s relation to the Nasuverse, as that’s really all it is, an extremely rough prototype for the workings of the shared fantasy universe of type-moon’s light novel, visual novel, and anime series.

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