Feb 19, 2009

Death Note vols 1-3 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

Light Yagami is a seemingly ordinary high school student. He's more fortunate than most: he comes from a well-off family, he’s obviously intelligent, and he has outstanding grades. His only problem is that he’s a little bored. One day after school, he comes across a notebook with the words “Death Note” written on it. According to the instructions on the first pages, if he writes a person’s name on the Death Note while keeping their face in mind, that person will die. He can specify the cause of death; if he doesn’t, it’ll be heart attack.

Yagami is sceptical at first, but after a little testing he realizes that the Death Note is indeed real. It was dropped by a shinigami, a god of death, who, like Yagami, was a little bored, and decided to stir things up in the human world for his own amusement. Light Yagami begins to use the Death Note to rid the world of criminals. Despite the natural causes of death, the police quickly realises that there is a pattern to all those criminals dying suddenly. They dub the mass murderer Kira, and call an investigator that goes by the nickname L to help them with the case. Very quickly, things turn into a cat and mouse game between Kira and L.

Death Note is seriously addictive. I read the first three volumes in a single afternoon, and already I want more, more, MORE. What’s interesting is that this series’ protagonist, Light, is not exactly sympathetic. I mean, even if you happen to agree with killing criminals, which I don’t, pretty soon it becomes obvious that he won’t stop at that. He is, in fact, a psychotic killer with a God complex.

And yet. And yet I don’t want him to be caught. Mostly because watching his duel of wits with L is just so interesting. I guess this means that the character I identify the most with is the shinigami, who refuses to take sides and is just watching the whole thing with interest.

I’m not sure if I’d call Death Note a thriller or a mystery, but I suspect it will appeal to fans of those genres, as well as to fans of dark fantasy. Technically speaking, there is no mystery, as the reader always knows what both Kira and L are up to. But the books still manage to be very suspenseful. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, trying to anticipate how they’d each try to outsmart the other next. So far, Kira is winning. But L is clearly a worthy opponent.

My first foray into manga was definitely a successful one. I have a feeling I’ll be reading the rest of this series before long.

Other Opinions:
Rhinoa’s Ramblings vol. 1, 2 and 3.
Books & Other Thoughts vol. 1 and 2
Biblio File vol. 1-6

(Did I miss yours? Let me know.)


  1. I wonder why he doesn't just think of L and cause him to die. Or maybe he's never seen his face?

  2. Amanda, exactly. L is careful to keep his identity hidden. And to be able to use the Death Note to kill him, Kira would need both his face and his real name.

  3. Cool, another manga to discover! And it has the "Nymeth's approva"l. Perfect:)

  4. I haven't read this series yet, but I'd seen the movie adaptation (in Japanese with subtitles). It was great!

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed these - I really need to continue with this series some time soon.

  6. It does sound like a neat series and I just found out that it was adapted into a series of live-action films!

  7. I love the way the plot twists and turns - it's just awesome the way Light and L turn the situation around.

    Have Misa appeared et?

    I shall not spoil you - but there's some major plot twists ahead of you. And the ending - it was a little disturbing.

    Heart L. :)

  8. What a premise! I'm intrigued and I've not read any manga so maybe this should be my first intro to it. I'll make a note of these!

  9. I decided to give this a try, but I am 4th on the waiting list for volume 1... Kind of ruined my plan of getting a few of them at a time because I can get the others no problem, so they will come in and I will be waiting forever for the rest.

  10. This series sounds fantastic. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. I'm not sure if I'd read this manga series but I did hear many good things about it.

  12. Valentina: hehehe. I'll have to try some Valentina approved Manga next :D

    Melody, I have the movie hear to watch, actually... a friend lent it to me. I think I want to finish the series first, though.

    Darla: Thank you (and Rhinoa) for recommending them!

    Ladytink: And there's an animé series too. I have both, but I want to finish the series first.

    Dark Orpheus: She has - I finished book 4 last night. I'm looking forward to those plot twists!

    Iliana: It really is a great premise. I hope you enjoy them if you pick them up :)

    Kailana: Waiting is no fun :/ And these are so addictive that I do recommend having several available. Sort of like Fables :P

    Framed, you're welcome! Hope you enjoy them.

    Alice: It seems to be very popular!

  13. I'm so glad that you enjoyed these, they are seriously addictive. I have read the fourth as well but I accidentally over heard some people talking about it and I am keen to read more and see if what they said was true. I really hope you read more in the series.

  14. I hadnt heard of this before, but it does sound very good. I have never read manga.
    great review :)


  15. Rhinoa, I'm definitely continuing with the series! Thanks again for recommending it :)

    Naida, you should give it a try sometime!

  16. I think I'm definitely going to have to try this manga too this year after hearing you and Rhinoa talk about them but also because it's just so famous here in Japan.

  17. Oh dear library, please, please, please have these!!! I was hoping to read The Dreaming next for Rhinoa's challenge, but now I'm even more excited about these!

  18. Thanks Nymeth...now I can add Manga to my list of reading outside-of-the-box!! This series sounds very cool!!


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