Otaku #01: Death Note

Death Note Vol. 1 a stroke above

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

I’m going to throw in a little manga for all of you otaku out there. Don’t worry Marvel and DC comic fans, GI will always have you covered since we know both companies have made a major impact on not only the comic world, but also on worldwide pop culture. For now, though, it’s manga’s time to shine, so I’m kicking it off by asking you to name five of the worst people you can think of. Next, imagine if you had a notebook that could kill them just by thinking of the images of the people you chose plus writing their names in that notebook. If you guessed that I’m reviewing the first volume of Death Note, you’re in the right place.

Death Note is a 12-volume series created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata, who is best known for his work on the Shonen Jump series “Hikaru no Go.” The English adaptation of the Hikaru no Go and Death Note series are published and licensed by Viz Media. In the first volume of Death Note, readers are introduced to Light Yagami, an ace high school student with great potential who finds the Death Note, a notebook of death dropped on earth by a shinigami or Japanese god of death. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies and Light decides to use the Death Note as a weapon to eliminate evil. But when criminals around the world started dying back to back, the International Police Organization sends in a legendary detective known as “L” to hunt down Light who is using a new persona, “Kira.” Be warned that the first volume of Death Note sets the stage for 12 volumes of both supernatural and psychological cat and mouse games.

The first two chapters introduce Light, L, and the discoveries of both the Death Note and the shinigami Ryuk, who is attached to light. Also, readers are shown the methods that Light is using to kill criminals. The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh chapters look at the methods both Light and L use to outwit each other ranging from Light’s method of killing criminals while leaving cryptic clues, and L’s use of agents from both Japan’s National Police Agency and the FBI to investigate Kira. Ryuk’s deal with Light to use his shinigami eyes to expose fake names is also explored.

While reading, I learned that both Light and L have a strong sense of justice, but their level of intelligence during their battle will make readers think of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Moriarty, only this time they are both claiming to be defenders of justice. Readers will find that Death Note’s plot is a first in manga to combining three of the most popular storytelling elements that will please both manga and non-manga fans. In addition it combines sci-fi, horror and mystery genres that will have its readers hooked from volume one to the end. If you are looking for a mix of sci-fi, horror and mystery with nail-biting battles of wits, then Death Note is for you. Will Light Yagami see his dream of an evil-free world come true, or will L deliver on his promise to bring Kira to justice? Stay tuned for further reviews on Death Note as this new classic in manga begins its rise to the top.

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. Contact him via e-mail at brandongi@gaminginsurrection.com.

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