Death Note (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 17 FEB 2008

Death NoteLight Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal… or his life?

Boredom: Light tests the boundaries of the Death Note’s powers as L and the police begin to close in. Luckily Light’s father is the head of the Japanese National Police Agency and leaves vital information about the case lying around the house. With access to his father’s files, Light can keep one step ahead of the authorities. But who is the strange man following him, and how can Light guard against enemies whose names he doesn’t know?

The Death Note anime that concluded its run on television proved to be one of the best anime series ever shown, running deep with intrigue, mystery and suspense. It was an absolutely clever and fantastical piece of writing, all springing from the twisted mind of Tsugumi Ohba.

Of course, as is the case with most anime shows, Death Note is indeed a direct adaptation of the manga, all which starts with Death Note volume 1, first released in 2003 in Japan and then 2005 in America.

The story tells of Light Yagami, a brilliant but arrogant student that stumbles upon a lost Shinigami notebook. Reading the rules inside, Light learns that the book holds the power of death and soon embarks on his holy quest to rid the world of all evil. Of course, so many unexplained deaths in such a short space of time cannot simply be ignored and Interpol mobilizes the world’s most successful and mysterious detective on the case. Thus begins the extreme battle of wits as Light and L battle for supremacy – with death being the only prize for the loser.

Volume 1 introduces us to all the main characters of Death note, most specifically Light, L and the shinigami Ryuk. It takes us on the beginning of Light’s journey as he discovers the book and starts out on his quest, slowly learning the various rules governing the notebook as he goes along. L is introduced and soon the extreme battle of wits rages on in full force, leading to some of the most suspenseful and clever writing you will ever see in quite some time.

Tsugumi Ohba writes a compelling story which is fast paced and extremely clever. It hides just enough details to always keep you on your toes, but at the same time reveals enough for everything to make sense. It is suspenseful, intriguing and dashed with mystery, but at the same time makes a lot of social commentaries as it examines the motivations and goals of the two antagonists, forcing you to choose just whose side of the story you want to support.

It is extremely clever and disturbing at the same time, and Ohba will keep you guessing right up to the very last page.

Takeshi Obata, most famous as the artist behind the hugely popular Hikaru no Go!, handles the artistic duties on this manga, providing us with some very detailed, dark and stylish visuals. His lines are very clean and his people and backgrounds are all beautifully detailed and proportioned. The only slight niggle I have is that Light’s eyes are sometimes too boyish, but other than that Obata does an absolutely fantastic job in conveying the tone of Ohba’s story to us.

Death Note is one of those mature, thought-provoking stories that you should not miss out on and it would be a crime if you passed this one by. Do yourself a favour and pick up Death Note ASAP for what is guaranteed to be a thoroughly enjoyable and dark ride.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.