Manga craze anyone?
Death Note is quite a popular manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata that came out in 2003. It has often been voted as being the best manga in Japan and it has also quite a popular appeal along with a dedicated fandom worldwide.
But is it worth all the hype?
Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!
P.S. No Spoilers Ahead.
For one, it revolves around a unique concept of a notebook (or a death note) owned by Shinigamis in which one can write a person’s name and s/he will die.
What will happen if this falls into the hands of a bored, model teenager and a top of the class student, Light Yagami?
Does he decide to kill? Or trash it? Or pass it on?
Or does he become a ruthless killer or a vigilante? And can a vigilante be separated from the category of a ruthless killer?
Take a guess before going on!
On the opposite side, we meet L, the world renowned, faceless, candy loving, detective, who is on the case of Kira, the name that the public gives to a mysterious killer who can kill without any fear and is targeting criminals of Japan.
The story as it winds its way through Light Yagami’s possession of the death note, also gives ample insight into the psychological states of both L and Light. Both characters share eerily similar traits-intelligence, dynamic personalities, logical reasoning, sharp minds- yet they are divided by this thin line of good versus evil. They could easily be the yin and yang of the story.
L and Light’s rivalry is legendary and fraught with nail biting suspense, along with their concise, precise, piercing guesses about each other to be one step ahead!
What irks me most is the depiction of Misa, Light’s girlfriend. She does have her own sense of reasoning, uses her way to get what she wants and plays the death game shrewdly. But the manner in which she is almost enslaved to Light’s wishes and to her love for him is reminiscent of typical anime female characterisation that is focused on the kawaii culture.
With sharp and crisp illustrations by Takeshi Obata, Death Note, is a mix of several genres put together in one. It is a police crime thriller, a psychological thriller, a detective manga, and a justice oriented and good versus evil story all rolled into one. I read the black edition of the series which I absolutely adored. There is something sublime about the black and white illustrations that vividly brings out the conflict of the story.
Death Note has been made into a pretty faithful anime series of 37 episodes as well that will help you to re-imagine the characters particularly their voices and actions. I particularly enjoyed L’s mysterious, deep voice that matched his peculiar personality very well.
Apparently, there are some Japanese movie spin offs on L such as L: Change the World and other American adaptations such as the 2017 Netflix movie. But since I have not seen them, I cannot vouch for them. Watch at your own risk! 😛
Although, what I would love to see is a gender bender version of Death Note where the two protagonists are female and going off against each other but not in a trivalised or a sexualised manner but rather where they act like normal human beings and not caricatures and use their wits and edgy personalities.
Does anyone know about any gender bender fan fiction of Death Note? Share in the comments below!
Have you read the colour version of the manga series? Was the effect any different?
And finally, what would you do if you got hold of such a powerful notebook? Whose side would you be on?
Well you may not be able to get your hands on the actual notebook itself, but you can get hold of the Death Note manga series online over here!