Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria review

Apr 16, 2021
Thoughts on the First volume:
It was decent.
The story is about a teenage boy named Kazuki Hoshino who goes to school one day to find that a new transfer student named Aya Ontonashi has arrived, who declares war on him. That evening, she is found dead. The main character then discovers that his entire class have been reliving the same day (2nd of March) over and over again 27,000 times. Only Maria and sometimes Kazuki remember and at the end of the day, someone always dies.
The story is morally complex and has very well written and realistic characters, and the psychological taxation of the situation is not ignored. Imagery is well described and the book's true villains are revealed through some genuinely great plot twists. With that said, the book is far from flawless. After the first plot twist is revealed, the book's focus shifts to the necessity of one girl needing to accept her inevitable death in order to end the horror of the Repeating Classroom... The ending of the book ruins this and any tension involved for reasons I won't spoil. The ending also inexplicably undoes the removal of certain characters from existence, ruining all of the tragedy and horror that had been built up and making some of the more horrific deaths seem like pointless edge-fests. Also, while the rest of the characters are really interesting and well written, the main character just isn't. We learn nothing about his life and history or his personality beyond that he has a crush on another character (a girl named Mogi). I honestly think that Mogi herself would have actually been a far better main character due to her history and importance with what was going on, and her mentally unstable personality. Our lead by contrast is just a bland self-insert, and it almost made certain scenes boring.
I also don't understand why the book never even tries to show us how the parents and teachers are affected by the pseudo-time-looping that's going on, since apparently only the classroom and a few nearby areas actually go through the loop. We never even see our main characters interact with their families. Since it's established that time isn't really looping, it also makes no sense that the appropriate amount of time doesn't appear to have passed in the real world after the Repeating Classroom ends.
We also learn nothing about why the mysterious "O" (the true main villain) is so interested in Kazuki or why he put all of the other characters through the horrific events of the novel for so long despite himself getting bored of them. Aya also tells Kazuki a bizarre amount of things that she realistically wouldn't if she actually believed that he was lying, and to make matters worse, her reason for believing that he was lying make no sense:

Basically her goal was to find out who was behind the Repeating Classroom by finding out who remembered her real name from the previous time loop. The problem here is that no villain with a brain would ever tell her her real name in the first place, because that would give away everything. Instead of considering that he might remember for the same reasons she does, she instead assumes that he's a complete moron. This makes her entire plan to reveal her enemy feel incompetent, and counteracts every other attempt to make Aya come across as being ultra-intelligent.

So, overall the book is plot-hole ridden and shamefully edgy but has a lot of intrigue and a well put together mystery with mostly satisfying reveals, with only a few cop-outs. 6/10, recommended.


Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria
Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria
Autor Mikage, Eiji