Otaku Corner #12: Death Note Vol. 5

Death Note heats up in Vol. 5

Bran­don Beatty, editor-at-large

Hello read­ers, and wel­come back to “Otaku Cor­ner,” the sec­tion of GI that cov­ers qual­ity anime and manga series for those who deserve the best in Japan­ese ani­ma­tion. Thus, with this great expec­ta­tion, our motto is “For the otaku, by the otaku!” (patent pend­ing). I’m con­tin­u­ing our cov­er­age of the world­wide smash manga series Death Note, writ­ten by Tsug­umi Ohba, illus­trated by Takeshi Obata and Eng­lish adapted by Viz Media LLC.

Before I get into the review, I want to give those who have not yet read the manga a quick sum­mary of the story plot: Death Note is the story of Light Yagami, a top stu­dent with immea­sur­able prospects who suf­fers from an extreme case of bore­dom. That changes when he finds the Death Note, a note­book of death dropped by a shinigami (Japan­ese god of death) named Ryuk. Any human’s name writ­ten in said note­book dies, and after a few uses on known and would be crim­i­nals, Light vows to use the Death Note to rid human­ity of evil. How­ever, Light’s work does not go unno­ticed by law enforce­ment author­i­ties who, in turn, send world-renowned detec­tive L to stop Light aka Kira.

In vol­ume five of Death Note, Light and L (aka Ryuzaki) are play­ing masterful-yet-blistering mind games via TV, hid­den cam­eras, police offi­cers and even on a col­lege cam­pus! These actions ulti­mately led Light and his cohort (yet dis­pos­able girl­friend) Misa Amane to be con­fined by Ryuzaki in sep­a­rate loca­tions. After weeks in con­fine­ment, Light was able to dis­pose of the Death Note and his mem­o­ries of using it. As a result, Ryuzaki forces Light’s father, Soichiro who is head of the Kira Task Force to per­form a final test of Light’s and Misa’s inno­cence, which resulted in Soichiro per­form­ing a mock exe­cu­tion that not only clear Light and Misa, but also con­tin­ued the part­ner­ship of Light and Ryuzaki. Later on Ryuzaki and com­pany estab­lished a new base of oper­a­tions ( largely bankrolled by Ryuzaki), that with new resources leads the task force to find that Kira has returned; only, this time he’s using his pow­ers to the ben­e­fit of the Yosuba Group, an multi­na­tional busi­ness group.

How­ever, this vic­to­ri­ous gain is not with­out set­backs as Aizawa leaves to return to the NPA because of a dis­agree­ment with Ryuzaki, and Matsuda’s near death forces the task force to form a new plan. For­tu­nately, clear heads pre­vail, and at the end, read­ers are intro­duced to the Kira Eight, a group of men who work for Yosuba who are  ded­i­cated to destroy­ing any­one (includ­ing their own mem­bers) who would stand in their way to obtain absolute power. This is seen at the very end when one of their mem­bers is “sacked,” mean­ing that poor indi­vid­ual is another vic­tim of Kira.

Fans of Death Note will not be dis­ap­pointed in the new arc as it forces the main char­ac­ters to again join forces against Kira in a new per­sona: Greed. As I con­tin­ued read­ing, I real­ized that these eight men are after power and are deter­mined to use Kira to achieve these goals, instead of sim­ply join­ing forces to use their com­bined tal­ents to be a suc­cess. Obata-san has again per­formed the skill­ful com­bi­na­tion of plot and phi­los­o­phy, this time adding in a mix of cor­po­rate cor­rup­tion. The usual sup­port­ing cast of Ryuk and Rem (Misa’s shinigami) make their appear­ances but do not endan­ger the new plot, com­ing in only when absolutely needed. Obata-san’s draw­ings con­tinue to suc­ceed in keep­ing the plot fresh, espe­cially when pre­sent­ing the Kira Eight where one of the men truly has the appear­ance of a demon. I have, so far, in read­ing this series, not been dis­ap­pointed as every new vol­ume has with­out fail brought the ele­ments of ethics and mys­tery with­out being silly. I also would be wrong in not giv­ing Viz Media their lion’s share of the credit, thanks in part to the great trans­la­tion and adap­ta­tion of Alexis Kirsch and the Shonen Jump graphic novel team. This again proves that Viz was the right choice in unleash­ing Death Note upon the U.S.

Will the Kira Eight pre­vail? How long will Ryuzaki and Light con­tinue their “alliance?” Will the Death Note claim more lives? And, will Misa suc­ceed in wrap­ping Light around her lit­tle fin­ger? The answers to these burn­ing ques­tions and more are com­ing in the future of Otaku Corner.

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

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