Title: Death Note
Genres: Mystery, Drama, Shounen, Supernatural, Psychological
Author: Ohba, Tsugumi
Artist: Obata, Takeshi
Publication: Weekly Shounen Jump
Start Date: Dec 2003
End Date: May 2006
Number of chapters at review: 108
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 108
Light Yagami is a 17 year old high-school student, who believes in one thing. The world is rotten. However, he is not the only one, who shares his believes. Shinigami Ryuuk thinks the same thing. And thus, one day, Ryuuk left his death note – a note than can kill a person whose name write in it, in the human world, to see what will happen. And the one who picks it up is… Light. Using this death note, he decides nothing more, nothing less, but to rid the world of all evil and become the god of this new world. However, before he achieves that, he still has to overcome another obstacle. The world-wide infamous detective L, who has never failed a single case before, decides to figure out who stands behind the killings of criminals, and personally bring that person to the electric chair. And that’s how the story of Death Note and the battle of the two chosen ones begins.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Obata’s art is… special. Everyone knows that. But how do you explain his way of drawing to a newcomer, who hasn’t seen a single one of his works? The answer is simple. Describe it with words (yeah, how original ¬_¬). In DN, the events take place in our real world, with our real characters, living in a real city, driving real cars, eating real breakfast and watching real TV. Thus, Obata’s art style is what can be described as “realistic”. And by realistic, I don’t mean just realistic body proportions. I mean realistic hair style, eyes, noses, ears, hands, feet, clothes, everything. Obata achieves all that by using many different techniques, be that sharp lines to draw out the borders, dark screen tones to give the page/panel a heavy feeling, or just movie-like camera angles. Obata’s art can be so detailed, that the word “photorealistic” sometimes crosses your mind.
The plot. The one things that is discussed the most abut DN. It is loved and it is hated. Well, “hated” is maybe the wrong word, but there still are some cases, when people express their “negative attitude” towards DN’s plot. Especially after a certain event, which I can’t tell you (because it’s a spoiler). However I assure you, that you will, no matter what, read DN to the end. I’m so sure about this, that I would bet my real death note (assuming I had one). Though, back to the actual plot. The plot follows one storyline, and even though it does sometimes divert from it, to explain small situations (e.g. flashbacks), the plot still can be considered constant. Ohba likes to explain things from different POV’s and then come to a single conclusion. I’ve said this a billion times and I’ll say it another billion, but DN’s plot is impossible to mention without the plot twists that occur in it. It is without doubt, one of the best written stories in the entire manga history.
*evil laugh* … The characters, yes, the characters. If there is one thing that everyone agrees on, then it is the characters. Or to be more precise, the two main characters. Light and L. The plot arranged it that way that Light and L were constantly compared with each other, and all the differences/similarities between them were bright as the sunlight. The characters are so well written, that people literally took over their habits (e.g. L’s sitting position). Light and L, are without doubt, two of the best written characters in the entire manga universe. But they’re only the main cast, after all. Let’s not forget the supporting characters. Though, as the name suggests, they don’t have as much screen time as the MC’s, they still play a big role in the storyline, sometimes even a key-role, that neither the protagonist or antagonist could fill in this moment. All the characters serve a purpose, and something like overcrowded cast is definitely not about DN.
Death Note is a manga that focuses mainly on the battle between the protagonist and the antagonist. With both of them believing that it’s them, who do the right thing and not the other party, you can safely say that DN’s main theme is “Good vs Evil”. And whenever there is a conflict, there is only one way to overcome it - “Justice”. “Justice” is another theme that runs constantly through the storyline. Having pointed out those two main themes, I still have to say a few words, about the smaller ones. Both protagonist and antagonist, use (mainly) their brains to fight, instead of their fists, and thus it inevitably leads to “psychological battle”.
To my deepest regrets (or maybe not) Death Note is not what you can call the epitome of originality. To clear things up. The thing that is not original is the mix of settings out of detectives, criminals and police. However the fact that a shinigami appears in this story is reason enough to bring up the score a little. But even that is still not enough for me. The reason why I gave DN such a relatively high score is because of the plot twists that occur in this manga. They are of such a high quality, that it makes you want to re-read them again and again, even though you already know how they end.
Death Note is without doubt, a must-read manga. For people, who have only read mainstream battle manga before, DN will introduce the aspect of non-mainstream. People, who have some bigger experience in the manga universe, will find an absorbing and intriguing storyline, put together with high-class art and outstanding characters. I honestly haven’t heard of people who regret having read DN. Death Note is a manga that can compete on the level of big mainstream battle hits (e.g. Big 3). Stop reading, whatever you are reading now, and start Death Note.
I agree with your review except on the Theme. I would actually give it more. I mean what's important is the not about what it focus, but yes how does the author portrait it. And they have portrait it perfectly. Everything was done amazingly. It was without any doubts an awesome manga, though i don't think it would be that awesome to read weekly. For me it was perfect because when i read it it was already completed so i could read a ton of chapters each day! Without any doubts one of the best mangas ever created IMO.
I'd say the first half is outstanding! The second half sucks in comparison (sort-of like The Matrix movies vs the sequels to it). But you may have a different opinion.
Either way, definitely read the first half!
In case I wasn't clear: I'd give the 1st half of the series 10s in every category.
(*eats a potato chip dramatically*)
Last edited by Cyrs; August 24, 2012 at 11:47 PM.
I just bought the entire manga series from amazon, 50$ for it is a sweet deal...
I agree with Cyrs,
The manga loses a bit of luster in the 2nd half. It doesnt have the same impressive impact.
From psychological point of view, monster is way better.
---------- Post added at 03:36 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:34 PM ----------
About the review,
I think 10 is a little high, specially considering u rated it 7 and 8 on 2 occasions. 9 would be fitting IMO.