Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Artist: Takeshi Obata
Type: Fiction, comic (manga)
I read it: November 2007
This is one of two manga series I’ve read in entirety, the other being the brutal and entertaining Battle Royale. Death Note is equally entertaining (albeit far less violent) and was a great start for someone like me who was new to the medium. It’s an English translation from Japanese with the same artwork and proper backwards pages. Although I just finished it this month, I started it over a year and a half ago. Having to wait on each volume to be released was worth it to be able to finally finish the series.
The story is of genius Japanese student Light Yagami finding a Death Note dropped by a Shinigami, a god of death (or reaper). With this book Light has the power to kill individuals at will. After discovering this power he tries to create a type of utopia, causing a mastermind his same age to be hired to uncover and halt his plans. The series is heavy on two key concepts: logic and morality. On one hand, the story is an elaborate who-dunnit where the reader witnesses two competing sides duking it out cerebral-style to try to best the other. On the other, it is a tale of what-would-you-do possibility in a world where one person gaining godlike power can attempt to become that god himself.
Although the story is centered on supernatural events, everything else that unfolds is realistic in a hyper-intense police chase/spy movie kind of way. Gunfights, bugged mics, special task forces, car chases, dark suits and shades, double-crossings, timely switch-outs, and cell phones abound. Every volume is expertly written and packed with twists.
Because of the amount of dialogue, there is a lot more reading involved than (I assume) in most mangas. The artwork is nothing to shout about at first, but it is impeccably realistic and entirely fitting for the story. Another note: most fans would split Death Note into two parts, one from the beginning through book 7, the other from 8 to 12. I can’t say why without spoiling a lot of the plot, but there is a significant change that occurs that might cause some readers to lose interest about halfway through. However, I do repeat that it is a satisfying story to the finish.
Alright. If you’ve considered reading a manga but haven’t yet, start with Death Note and see where it takes you. It’s a great example of what the medium can offer, and it explains why apples might sometimes float in midair.