Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba

deathnoteLiving a mundane life, Light Yagami, finds relief from his boredom after discovering a notebook that had fallen from the sky. On the front is written “Death Note” and inside the book the first line of the instructions reads, “the human whose name is written in this note shall die.” Light throws the book aside thinking of it as a messed up joke, but something compels him to test it out. He turns on the news to see the name and picture of a criminal who is currently holding hostages for a ransom, so Light takes his pen and scribbles the name into the notebook. After forty seconds of no change, Light starts to turn off the TV when the news announcer exclaims a change in the situation as the hostages run out of the building unharmed. The victims state that all of the sudden the criminal collapsed and police later affirm that the criminal died of a heart attack, which proves that the death note is real. At first Light is terrified, but after a second thought he finds justification for his actions. He famously states “This world is rotten, and those who are making it rotten deserve to die. Someone has to do it, why not me?” However, he fears that his mind won’t be able to stand the weight of killing others but after speculation he concludes that he can’t trust the job to anyone else and that only he can do it. Light decides to

“use the Death Note and change the world” with the notion that he will become, “the god of this new world.”

Light continues to kill criminals with heart attacks and sure enough the public and officials become suspicious of these “coincidences.” They soon start to realize that there must be some mastermind behind these coincidental deaths. The detectives and secret organizations from around the world start digging into the case and only one starts to approach the truth. The famous detective, L, uncovers through a simple test that the mastermind is living in Japan, and starts using espionage techniques on Light after studying the connections of those in the Japanese Police Force. While some of society strongly supports Light’s actions of killing evildoers many believe it is just wrong. L states that Light’s work “isn’t divine judgment. It’s the work of some childish killer who’s playing at divine retribution. That’s all.” Throughout the series Light and L are trying to get the better of each other as one conceals and the other chases until one falls.

The Death Note series is a manga (or a Japanese graphic novel) that was published in 2003 and grew in popularity until its last chapter in 2006. The series was written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata with a total of 108 chapters, which later receives its own anime adaptation in 2006. The characters in the series are illustrated more realistically compared to more greatly exaggerated art in other manga series and has more dialogue in each page than most others. The series has been so popularized however, that another edition was published in full color with intriguing cover art. In one we see Light Yagami carrying a golden scythe and a red apple as well as accompanied by a death god. The scythe represents his power to kill others and the red apple that he holds high represents life and the new world that he will create. In another it again shows Light accompanied by his death god but he is bare handedly extending his harms while standing with one foot on top of a skull. This image is another depiction of Light’s power to kill others and dispose of rotten people in order to create a new and better world.

The series is a mind blower full of suspension and unexpected twists as each of these two geniuses fight to outsmart the other and bring their own justice to the world.

Reviewed by Inti K. ’18