Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just Another Manga Monday #6

Death Note is a pretty popular title here in the states. I imagine it would be decently popular in Japan as well. Usually I am not particularly drawn to many of the mainstream titles promoted in the US, but I won’t knock ‘em before I’ve tried them.

I was introduced to Death Note at Otakon 2007 (an anime convention located in Baltimore) through a screening of the Death Note Live movie. It was interesting…a long film, twisted, calculating, entertaining and surreal. I wanted to learn more. I started reading the manga series and was given the complete box set as a gift one year.

There are 12 volumes + a bonus 13th on “How to Read” the series. This 13th volume is full of character profiles, interviews, origins of chapter titles, story commentaries, design secrets, rules and tricks, and the pilot chapter. Yes. The series is that involved. Let me tell you a bit about it.

The death note is a notebook. Shinigami, or gods of death, use books called death notes to kill human beings. To start the story, one Shinigami named Ryuk becomes bored with the realm of Shinigami and drops his notebook in the human world. A human boy discovers it and opens it to discover the death note rules inside, the first of which being “The human whose name is written in this note shall die.” [Also included with the box set is an additional booklet with all the death note rules.] This boy’s name is Light Yagami, son of the chief of Japanese police. This makes for an interesting mix when Light decides to test the powers of the death note and his own father is investigating the cases. Light decides to use the notebook…but for good. Killing for good? A highly debatable issue. Is killing off criminals in the interest of justice really fair? The public debates this within the story. Those who are in favor of the killings name their savior Kira. They fear and respect him. Meanwhile, a high level investigator named L has been brought in as a specialist due to the growing number of murders throughout Japan.

The character development is great with several key characters: Light, Ryuk, L, Misa Amane, and Rem just to name a few. This series is mind boggling with its intricate plot details. It is a battle of the wits between Light and L with many twists and turns along the way. There is hatred, betrayal and sacrifice. If you like criminal investigations you will enjoy trying to see where the story is going. Death Note is not the mushy shojo I’ve reviewed before. It is a favorite of guys and girls alike- more just to those who appreciate an intellectual story.

There are several live movies, spinoff novels, and an anime series in addition to the manga. Personally I’ve only seen the first movie and own all the manga. I would like the watch the anime when I have the time, especially because I’ve cosplayed as Misa Amane before. If you would like to see more, here is the main website: http://deathnote.viz.com/

If you’re looking for a manga series that is complex, intriguing, stimulating, and twisted look no further than Death Note!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, it's really popular here in Japan, too.

    Interestingly, Death Note is kind of a mistranslation (maybe?) that worked out sounding good. In Japanese, デスノート literally means "Death Notebook," as ノート is notebook. But "Death Note" sounds a lot cooler, huh? Maybe it was on purpose...