Author: Tsugumi Ohba | Illustrator: Takeshi Obata | Page Count: Approx 400 in each volume (2424 in total)
“We’re both using them as bait to lure each other out...
and we’re both well aware of that…”
At its most basic level, Death Note is the story of two determined individuals, each of whom have people that support them in various ways.
The first is Light Yagami, a seventeen-year-old high school student with a high IQ, an elevated sense of superiority and a tendency to get bored easily. He wants to make the world a better place and doesn't care who he has to step on to achieve it.
The second is his nemesis, the mysteriously named L, a young, reclusive detective with a sharp, analytical and overly-suspicious mind. L never fails in anything he does but he’s never been up against anyone as merciless as Light Yagami before.
What unfolds is a battle of skills, wills and wits between a pair of evenly matched masters of second-guessing and deductive reasoning. When the line between who’s the protagonist and who’s the antagonist begins to blur, the question of what's right and what's wrong grows more and more difficult to answer.
Revelling in the chaos caused by the actions and reactions of the two main characters is Ryuk, a Shinigami. Ryuk’s not the sharpest tool in the box but that trait makes him arguably more interesting: there’s the possibility of a false sense of security being devolved between the Shinigami and the human it attaches to.
Obata’s artwork is amazing. He gives every detail full attention, from the smallest car headlight to the largest building. I could fill an entire post about just it.
I must mention Misa Amane. The story doesn't have many female characters, but even if it had Misa would eclipse them all. For a time she’s one of the most fascinating, tragic additions to any manga I've ever read. It’s a shame that she gets shuffled to the side as the story goes on.
Note: There are six volumes in the Black Edition that when collected together contain all twelve of the original mangas. Alternatively, you can buy a box set for only a few notes more that collects the same twelve books as individual editions. The box also includes a thirteenth volume of character profiles and production art, etc. The reason I chose the Black Editions is because they're slightly larger than the usual manga format (the same as a Viz Big) and seeing the art presented as beautifully as possible is more important to me than shelf-busting packaging.
5 distinctions out of 5