Overall Rating: A++
Synopsis: A psychological/supernatural thriller created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata, Death Note follows a high school student, Light Yagami, who discovers the notebook of a shinigami that allows him to kill anyone by writing the victim's name while picturing his or her face. Light's goal is to create and lead a world cleansed of evil using the book, but where is the line between an honorable goal, and mass murder?
The note book has a series of instructions written by the shinigami, Ryuk, who owned the book, and holding the book allows Light to see Ryuk. After confirming that the book works, Light begins a killing spree, wiping out all of the major criminals whose identities are televised. Soon, this attracts the attention of the International Police Organization, and a mysterious detective known only as "L".
Through a stunt that kills a man sentenced to death in prison, L learns that "Kira" (the name the public gives to the mysterious killer of criminals), is located in Japan. L then quickly begins working to determine who Kira is. Light realizes that he must kill L, and it's a race to determine who will survive.
As you can tell from the rating I gave Death Note, I loved this series. Originally, Leah and I debated about how to review it, because we both wanted to, and eventually decided we would come up with interview questions we would both answer. However, since then, Leah has been working on her excellent webcomic Willrad, and her art and jewelry, which you can see some of in her Etsy shop, and hasn't had time to participate in Hobotaku (though I hope she'll be able to come back at some point. So, I have gone ahead with my answers to her questions about the series. I will try not to spoil anything in case you haven't read it, but if that's the case, you should go out now and pick up the first volume. It's one of the best manga I've read.
What sets Death Note apart from other manga?
One of the reasons I think Death Note is one of the best series of Manga is that I wasn't sure which side to be on. How far would you go in the same situation? The characters are all really well-developed, which made me feel attached to both sides of the conflict. It's pretty unusual for everyone in a story to be interesting and well-developed, so that made the plot a lot more interesting for me.
Who was your favorite character in Death Note?
I have to say Light. I loved seeing his development, and he seemed to be the most morally conflicted character. Of course, by conflicted, I mean he was the most willing to compromise his morals, but you also saw a lot of depth to his decisions (and even some different sides to him).
What genre is Death Note? And what other manga do you think it resembles?
I would say it's a supernatural/psychological thriller. You could probably apply a couple of other genres as well. It's hard to compare manga in general, because they cover so many different genres, but I think something like Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad might be closest. Obviously not for the plot, but I feel like the character development and amount of detail in the plot is very close in terms of quality.
If you were offered a Death Note what would you do with it?
Honestly, I would probably go down a similar path to Light if I ended up using it. I would hope to have the willpower not to use it, but I think the temptation would be huge.
Were you satisfied with the ending?
This is a hard one to answer without giving any spoilers, but the short answer is yes. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the end, but then again, I wasn't sure the series could keep being as exciting as it was. Yet, every volume I picked up I would wonder if it would keep up the intensity, and every volume they delivered. The ending wasn't completely unexpected, but how it unraveled surprised me, and just made me want more. How they would pull that off, I have no idea, but I know there is at least one light (not the character, but the style of book) novel that the creators are putting out that revolves around L and another character from the series, Naomi Misora, set before the manga begins.