Illustrated by Takeshi Obata
Light, a high-achieving student with lots of future prospects, finds a strange notebook on his way home from school one day. Upon touching it, he can see Ryuk, a Shinigami, or god of death. Ryuk explains the basics of this notebook, which is a Death Note: if the person in possession of the Death Note writes a person’s name while picturing them in their head, they will die of a heart attack within minutes. Light decides to try the Note out on a couple of “deserving” criminals - ones who have committed some pretty violent offenses. After discovering what he can do with the Note, Light puts himself on a path to rid the world of evil. It doesn’t take long before people begin to notice; the news media and citizens gossiping about all the deaths believe it’s Kira, a god of death wreaking vengeance on the world. It also doesn’t take long until the police get involved. A crack detective-by-hobby, similar to Sherlock Holmes, takes on the case and helps the Japanese Police continue their investigation. With this young ace on his tail, Light has to be extra careful about how he conducts his Death Note business.
This is a pretty dark read. Human nature leads us to want a likable protagonist, but that's not the case in this story. Light is a logical being but overall he’s still a killer. Ryuk mentions several times that he’s not taking any sides, and it’s clearLlight doesn’t really need Ryuk's abilities in order to carry out these murders, so we can’t say that Light is being influenced by an evil entity. Light comes up with his idea of a crimefree utopia and killing criminals all by himself, but in his pursuits, he can't limit his murders to just criminals. The young detective, “L”, is an interesting person, but still not completely likable. He’s eccentric and ultra-competitive, just like Light, so he understands Light's tendencies - L's just using them for good instead of murder.
This title is better for older teen audiences. There are some deaths on the page, and Light does use suicide for a type of death from the Death Note, so these things might be too much for younger readers. Additionally, Ryuk is purposefully drawn extremely creepily. He has pointy teeth and huge bulging eyes.
Obata has perfectly illustrated this dark, unsettling title. Ryuk is pretty terrifying, and he's positioned really well in lots of panels - he's always around Light, but the way he's juxtaposed with other characters is sometimes really well thought-out. There is lots of detail to characters and backgrounds.
This edition is the Black Edition, and it is a 2-in-1 omnibus.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 10-12
Publisher: VIZ Media
Publication Date: December 28, 2010
ISBN: 9781421539645 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Demons, Supernatural, VIZ Media
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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