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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