Death Note #1 (amazon)
Out of all the recent manga series starting these days Death Note was the series I’ve been looking forward to reading the most and it didn’t disappoint me. This is a Shonen Jump Advanced title, which means that it is geared towards an older teen audience. Death Note begins with the stories of two beings who are drawn together by boredom. Ryuk is a Shinigami (death god) who finds his realm very unexciting. Light Yagami is an overacheiving high school student who thinks his world is a mess. Ryuk drops a death note in the human world – the death note is a notebook that holds the power of life and death over humans. If the owner of the death note writes a person’s name in the book while visualizing their face, the selected person will die of a heart attack within 40 seconds . The death note’s owner also has the ability to specify the details of the death, if he wishes to stray from the default heart attack setting in the notebook.
Light picks up the notebook and promptly embarks on a righteous crusade to make the world a better place by killing off criminals. Light is the only person who can see Ryuk, and the death god sticks around to observe the fun as he finds Light’s actions very entertaining. The authorities start to realize that there’s a problem, and Light shows himself to be diabolically clever as he negotiates his new power of death. He’s determined to build a world without crime, and like most teenagers he sees himself as the most important person in the universe.
Takeshi Obata’s art is great, Ryuk is both demonic and endearing and Light starts to look a little worn about the edges and slightly manic as the volume progresses, what with all the stealthy killing he’s involved with. I’m totally captivated by this series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next – is Light going to maintain his conviction that he’s making the world a better place, what is Ryuk hiding, how is Light going to deal with his family, and how is he going to evade capture when the law is after him?