A bored student and a notebook that can kill people.
Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami, a death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal… or his life?
Light tests the boundaries of the Death Note’s powers as L and the police begin to close in. Luckily, Light’s father is the head of the Japanese National Police Agency and leaves vital information about the case lying around the house. With access to his father’s files, Light can keep one step ahead of the authorities. But who is the strange man following him, and how can Light guard against enemies whose names he doesn’t know?
Title: Death Note
Series: Death Note #1 – #12
Author: Takeshi Obata
Publication: October 10, 2005 by VIZ Media LLC
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Target audience: Young Adult
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Review for complete series (no spoilers)
Death Note is the first manga I ever read, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
I suppose I have to thank my brother for bullying me into reading this because I’m obsessed now. Even though I like to read comics and graphic novels, mangas just never appealed to me. Probably because you have to read them backwards (which really isn’t a problem at all, you’ll get used to it), probably because I’ve only ever seen 15-year-old boys reading them. But don’t let that deceive you!
Death Note is an incredible series, making you question your beliefs and society. It is also incredibly fun.
We meet Light Yagami, a brilliant student who is bored out of his mind. One day he finds a notebook that makes it possible to kill anyone with only their name and face. With the Death Note comes the Shinigami Ryuk, a death god that wants to cause a little trouble in the human world to kill his own boredom. Light starts to write down the names of criminals, fed up with the way the world is evolving. He wants a world free of crime and fear.
I have to admit, it took me some time to understand that Light was the villain, or at least the anti-hero, of the story. I thought to myself isn’t it good that he is getting rid of all the murderers and rapists? At first, it didn’t occur to me that what he was doing was wrong and not his decision to make. I should’ve known that this story was going to be one hell of a ride.
Of course, it doesn’t stay unnoticed that criminals start dropping dead everywhere. So, the detective L is contacted to catch the murderer know to the world as Kira. With L comes the other perspective. Who is Kira to decide who gets to live and who doesn’t? What he does is not justice, it is cold-blooded murder and has to be punished.
And thus, starts the endless circle of agreeing with Light, then with L, then again seeing Light’s point, realizing that L and his food obsession is super cute, realizing that Light is kind of a psycho but somehow still likeable, and so on.
The first half of the series is amazing. We get to see both Light’s and L’s thoughts, trying to outsmart the other and it is the best thing ever. Light playing the role of a normal student and still trying to change the world (see, murder everyone he deems evil) and L having no proof that Light Yagami is Kira yet being very suspicious of him. The whole situation has a very Sherlock-esque feeling to it and I love it.
Unfortunately, the series gets worse as it progresses. We seem to be going in circles, things are explained to us that we already know, and the plot holes are impossible to ignore. I wish they would have shortened the series to keep the suspense and to save us from going through the same thing again and again and again. Also, Light, who was kind of likeable and sane at the beginning, goes full psycho with a god complex and becomes a sexist bastard. Not cool.
Nonetheless, I am giving this series 4 stars. Why? Because it is only the last few issues that bother me. Everything else was great. As was the art by the way. The art was amazing until the very end.
Another thing you should be aware of is that the women in this manga are useless. It becomes clear that this manga is aimed at boys. The women are either Light’s family, brainless and stupid or love interests (who live only to please Light). So yeah, beware.
Conclusion? Read it. It starts out amazing. But expect the drop in quality. Or watch the anime. I personally haven’t watched it yet, but I heard that it is better than the mangas and doesn’t get so drawn-out in the end. Enjoy!