Otaku Corner #09: Death Note Vol. 4

Death Note Vol. 4 slows action

Bran­don Beatty, editor-at-large

Read­ers, wel­come back to Otaku Cor­ner. In this issue we con­tinue to look at the world­wide smash manga series “Death Note.” For those that have just started to read Otaku Cor­ner and Death Note, I would like to get you up to speed.

Death Note is the per­fect blend of gothic hor­ror fused with an intrigu­ing sto­ry­line in the tra­di­tion of Sher­lock Holmes, only this time it is in manga form. So far, I have reviewed three vol­umes of Death Note and took some time off to only review other ani­mated series to keep from exhaust­ing Death Note. So, hold one and get ready: Your friendly neigh­bor­hood otaku will once again present to you a bat­tle of wits between high school achiever Light Yagami and ace detec­tive L, two cho­sen men brought together by the Death Note, a note­book that will kill any­one whose name is writ­ten in it. Light aka Kira, who has one copy of the death note, vows to rid the world of vio­lent crim­i­nals, while L vows to stop Kira’s numer­ous killing sprees and restore justice.

In the fourth vol­ume of Death Note, writ­ten by Tsug­umi Ohba, illus­trated by Takeshi Obata and pub­lished by Viz Media, we last left L (aka Ryuzaki) and Light (Kira) recov­er­ing from an attack on TV news per­son­al­i­ties. Light’s father, a top offi­cer in Japan’s National Police Agency, was instru­men­tal in uncov­er­ing evi­dence at a local TV sta­tion of a sec­ond Kira. As a result, the two duel­ing geniuses called a truce to track down the sec­ond Kira, who is later revealed as Misa Amane, a up-and-coming model/actress who not only has her own death note, but the shinigami with her, Rem, has given her the abil­ity to see people’s true iden­ti­ties. The draw­back is that it would cost half of her lifespan.

Light, as a mem­ber of Ryuzaki’s team and Kira, is found quickly by Misa who offers to help him kill L in exchange for Light becom­ing her boyfriend. Light, at first, tries to threaten Misa with death, but Rem threat­ens to kill if any harm falls upon Misa. At the same time, Light tries to bal­ance life as Kira, an inves­ti­ga­tor and col­lege stu­dent while plot­ting to kill L. When Misa arrives at Light’s col­lege and tells him L’s real name, Light seems ready to declare vic­tory. How­ever, L’s wits strike again as Misa is taken into cus­tody by the NPA and is held by L in an undis­closed location.

Light, not­ing that the odds are against him, acts on his plan to keep sus­pi­cion from him­self and Misa by beg­ging Ryuzaki to con­fine him for a period of time. Light’s father, Soci­hiro, protests Light’s deci­sion, which results in him request­ing con­fine­ment as well. L agrees to Soichiro’s request except that his con­fine­ment would be dif­fer­ent in that Sochiro would still have access to infor­ma­tion, while Light is sep­a­rated and cut off.

DN Vol. 4 keeps all of the thrills and mys­tery intact, com­plete with the psy­cho­log­i­cal tac­tics that L and Light use, which are asso­ci­ated with high risk and high rewards. L decides to go under­ground to pro­tect him­self, while Light, who has a an ally in Misa, pon­ders if she is either a lia­bil­ity or an asset to his plans as Kira.

Obata’s illus­tra­tions are still top notch, cap­tur­ing every character’s emo­tion, while at the same time Obha’s story line remains flaw­less by keep­ing the fusion of super­nat­ural and mys­tery ele­ments intact. I also like the back­story to Misa in how she received her death note and Rem via another shinigami’s death in which Rem killed her stalker. In short, the fourth vol­ume of Death Note, while short on high-octane action, con­tin­ues its lure of prepar­ing read­ers for the next action-filled volume.

Vol­ume 4 has take a break from the fast-paced action and focuses mainly on emo­tions, yet con­tin­ues the strong pace of super­nat­ural hor­ror and mys­tery. You should be warned that the action and mind games will pick up again in its high-paced style with even more twists and turns that will keep you guess­ing who has who. My fel­low otaku, come back to “Otaku Cor­ner” for more Death Note reviews. A piece of advice: be wary of the gothic blondes. They are VERY possessive.

Bran­don Beatty is editor-at-large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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