Monday, 14 September 2015

Review: Death Note Volumes 1+2 by Tsugumi Ohba

Title: Death Note I
Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Cover Artist: Takashi Obata
Publisher: Viz LLC
Release Date: 18th January 2011 (Originally published 2003 in Japan)
Genre: Manga
Page Count: 392
Original Language: Japanese
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: Death Note 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Movie Adaptation: I think so? There is also an anime series

Where you can buy it:  AmazonThe Book DepositoryWaterstonesBarnes and Noble,

A couple of years ago, I finished my GCSE's, and as a reward for my hard work my mum let me choose a book from Waterstones whilst she bought me a £20 voucher at the same time. This was the book I chose, and for someone who had never read manga before, I was really excited to read it - not to mention the cover is beautiful! Anyway, only this year did I pick it up after completing my A Levels, and HELP I THINK I'M OBSESSED.


Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. Will Light's noble goal succeed, or will the Death Note turn him into the very thing he fights against?

*SPOILER ALERT: This review assumes you are familiar with the book* 

Wow. Just wow.

I can't really explain how deep my love is for this manga series (or what I've read of it so far). I think anyone who is interested in the Japanese entertainment industry has read Death Note or seen the anime, and I don't know anyone who doesn't like it.

This is a review of the first two volumes of this series because I own the black edition books which put two volumes together for each book. I think this works out cheaper overall, although the black editions are about £10 each. I think they are beautiful nonetheless and would totally recommend going for these versions.

The first two volumes explore how Light copes with taking on the responsibility of the Death Note and doing it in his family home, where his father who works for the police force lives. This becomes a big problem pretty early on because people immediately notice that a lot of people in the same area in Japan are dying; mostly criminals, and mostly via a heart attack. Civilians in Japan relate this to the work of a mythical character from the past called Kira, and so everyone is on the look out for the killer.

With the only other person who knows about Light's actions being Ryuk, his death god who dropped the note in the first place, he is pretty much left to deal with the psychological torment of sentencing people to death. He starts off with just killing off criminals and dangerous people, but as others get in his way, he begins to threaten innocent people as well. 

I am so in love with this series because of the moral issues it contemplates, which are especially focused towards our protagonist Light. He is such an interesting character, and we get to analyse him and judge him on our own as we see him deal with becoming an indirect murderer of sorts. My guess? He is a sociopathic teenager who becomes disconnected with his actions because he thinks he isn't doing anything bad because its 'only a name in a notebook'. As the book continues, we see him become more disengaged with the outside world and become Kira, and he ends us enjoying the power a lot. It also doesn't help that he is so intelligent that no one, not even his own father or super-detective L, can catch him. 

With such beautiful artwork and a captivating plot, I devoured this first instalment of the series and was quite hypnotised by the characterisation, the twists, and the action. Obviously, this has to be 5/5 cups of tea!

About the author:

Tsugumi Ohba is best known for authoring the Death Note manga series with illustrator Takeshi Obata from 2003 to 2006, which has 30 million collected volumes in circulation. The duo's second series Bakuman. (2008–2012), was also successful with 15 million in circulation. His real identity is a closely guarded secret, but there is speculation that Tsugumi Ohba is a pen name of Hiroshi Gamō, pointing out that in Bakuman the main character's uncle was a one-hit wonder manga artist who worked on a gag super-hero manga, very similar to Gamō and Tottemo! Luckyman in all aspects, and also that the storyboards drawn by Ohba greatly resemble Tottemo! Luckyman in style.

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