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Death Note Vol. 1 – Manga Review

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My shipment of manga from Amazon.com came in, and though I’ve been busy adding features to Anime Nano, I found some time to read volume 1 of Death Note. I usually lean towards the cute manga, so I was taking a gamble with this one. So does this manga deliver, or would I rather write my own name in the notebook after reading it?

Death Note tells the story of Yagami Raito (given the translation “Light” in the English manga). One day he finds the notebook of a bored shinigami. The “Death Note” allows him to kill anyone whose name and face he knows within seconds.

Being a righteous guy, Raito uses these powers for good (in his opinion), and kills scores of international criminals. He figures the world would be better off dead without them, and he’s doing everybody a favor. After Interpol figures out that someone is murdering these criminals, they send super-secret agent “L” to catch Raito.

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The story (so far, at least) deals with the cat and mouse chase between L and Raito. L is supposedly the greatest detective ever, but Raito seems like a worthy adversary. It isn’t really clear who is actually on top, since both L and Raito are both really good at playing the game. It was a little suprising to me that this much cognitive energy was required while reading a Shonen Jump manga, but I welcome it!

I thought the manga kind of put aside the issue of whether or not Raito is actually Raito or Wrongo (sorry, couldn’t resist). Even the authorities who are tracking him down aren’t sure if they’re doing the right thing. He is getting rid of criminals, after all. It would be interesting to see what Raito would do if he found out that he had killed an innocent person who was framed… Maybe they’ll explore this later on in the manga.

I guess it’s left to the reader to decide how they interpret Raito’s actions. Again, this seems really contrary to most of the mindless stuff that Shonen Jump releases. Technically, it’s released by “Shonen Jump Advanced,” so I’m not sure if there’s a difference.

Not everything is high-class, though. Those Interpol scenes seemed really stupid and silly to me. Are their meetings always that dramatic?

While I usually try to take it slow with manga (for maximum enjoyment), I pretty much read this whole volume in one sitting. Each chapter left me wanting to find out what happens next. The stakes keep getting raised higher and higher as Raito and L try to find out who the other is.

Generally, the opinions I’ve read about Death Note are good, and I agree. I wasn’t too sure about what I was getting myself into when I bought this manga, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you’re into detective-type stuff, or the morbid in general, I’d suggest checking out the first volume of Death Note. Then again, a live action movie and anime are coming out, so I dunno if I want to spoil it…

19 replies on “Death Note Vol. 1 – Manga Review”

DN ran in Shounen Jump in Japan… “Shonen Jump Advanced” is just a Viz label and doesn’t really mean anything, heh.

Also, for the record, “Light” is not a translation. His name was always Light, but until it became clear that this was the writer’s intention, people called him Raito because ライト are the katakana used for representing the English word Light in Japanese. When you’re writing in English, typing Raito instead of Light makes about as much sense as typing Eru instead of L.

In response to Dagger’s post I had figured “Shonen Jump Advanced” was for the manga with a rating of T . Since prior to that, unless you actually took time to check the rating, there wasn’t much of a way to tell something like RuroKen which had a T rating from the T rated mangas like Naruto and Bleach.

As for the original post on Death Note, I’m glad the manga is still able to live up to the overwhelming hype it has received. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’ve been reading it before it became popular, mainly due to the fact it’s hard to measure when that is, when I first read the manga I hadn’t heard anything about it. It has since become one of my favorites and I can say without question that if you liked the first volume you’ll continue to like the series. It only gets better from there, although I’ve heard it kind of drops off eventually which doesn’t surprise me too much. You can only write something at a high level for so long before it becomes damn near impossible to top.

I bought it when it first came out so long ago and up till the battle with L concluded it was certainly the most thought-provoking shounen Jump manga ever. Most different too.

In other words, read it. There’s a lot of food for thought in the form of ethical issues, detective duels and characterisation.

The Raito=Light thing seems to be the author’s attempt to connect his character to the letter ‘L’. Which holds much greater meaning later in the story. ‘KIRA’,’L’,’M’ and ‘N’.

As for which romanization to stick to, it’s really up to preference. They’re both perfectly valid since Raito himself confirmed that his name is written with a rare pronouncation of the character for ‘moon’. The japanese thinks foreign words are cool and the foreign fans think japanese words are cool.

ahh this is a legend manga! i am totally hooked! it makes u think which quite alot of mangas dont, its quite serious but i luv it cos its full of suspense!

Ahh this Death Note series is amazing! i truly think its my favorite manga because it makes you really think about the consequesnces of your actions and has lots of suspense! The art alone is absolutley amazing, detailed perfectly, but not too much like some manga (King of Bandits Jing has, in my opinion, too much background detail and takes away from the manga) The artist who does the visual part of this story is also the one who does Hikaru No Go, but Death Note seems more detailed and more “realistic” when it comes to the art of the people.

I would rate this manga a 8.5/10! why the odd number, you ask? The 8/10 would be too low, but i dont think its deserving of a 9 either XD Really, nearing the end of this series it got very complicated, and more over i had to really think and read over some parts to get it all straight, because it was going by really fast and it was all very very confusing (to me anyway) Also, at times, i found the manga was moving too slow, and some parts of the manga were unnessecary and needn’t be there at all.

All in all, its still a great read and worth picking up! Can’t spoil it or you, but if you get started youll have to read it to the end! Sorry for going on and on like that, its gone from my two cents to like a five dolar bill

i wanna say IT’S SOOO CRAAAAZY ARE U !!!
U CAN BELIEVE IF IN THIS REAL WORLD ,SOMEBODY GET IT?????????????

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