Well, here’s a feature I haven’t taken care of for a little while. Time for another manga review on a Friday.
This week, I’m talking the first volume in the “Black Edition” of Death Note.
Light Yagami is a 17 year old honors student, outscoring pretty much every kid in the country of Japan as he prepares himself for college. One day he spots a notebook on the ground. After picking it up, he sees a Shinigami, a “god of death” from the Japanese underworld. The Shinigami’s name is Ryuk. The notebook was his. Now it’s Light’s. It’s a “death note”. Any name Light writes in the book while picturing the person’s face in his mind will die within 40 seconds of a heart attack unless Light specifies how the person will die. Essentially, anyone whose face and name are known to Light, he can kill. And, like any good well-meaning extremist high on his own intelligence, he decides to make the world a better place by using the Death Note to kill dangerous and convicted criminals.
However, when large numbers of convicted or wanted criminals all die around the same time of a heart attack, that just tells the world’s police forces that there’s a mass murderer of some kind out there. And that means Interpol turns to its best weapon: a mystery investigator, real name and face unknown, that is known only as L. Seeing as how Light’s efforts have earned him the name Kira by the general public, what follows is a cat-and-mouse game between two very smart opponents, both of whom know each other only through aliases. And given that Light is well aware that the police are looking for him, it isn’t long before he’s writing in the Death Note to take out law enforcement officials, and he is more than willing to kill to stay secret.
As for Ryuk, he’s quick to point out to Light–the only person who can see him under most circumstances–that he isn’t really on anybody’s side, but he’s there to be amused. The underworld is boring.
Writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata have created an interesting story starring a nasty antihero. Light starts off the story arrogant, and over time just becomes much worse. He sees no harm in killing anyone who might be close to him, going to great lengths to find out the names of people who are looking a little too close for his comfort. Whatever he was trying to do in killing criminals takes a back seat to eliminating his pursuers, and no one would think of him as a good kid. He’s smart, always a step ahead, and even Ryuk is impressed at how well Light uses the notebook. As it is, L is also very smart, and the more the two circle each other, the more interesting the story gets. I don’t know when I’ll be getting to the next one of these extra-large editions, but this one was a good start. 9 out of 10 decoy targets.