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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