What if you were given the power to kill? Anyone you wished and no one could find out you did it? You could kill anyone by simply writing down their name and knowing their face. What if someone was given that power and decides to use it to enforce his own justice?
This is the premise on which Death Note is based on.
Light Yagami, a high school student, finds a notebook. Not just any notebook: a Death Note. It was dropped by a shinigami (death god) named Ryuk and grants the ability to kill anyone by knowing the name and face. Light first thinks of it as a joke, but soon comes to learn its true power. He decides “cleanse the world” from evil and become the world’s “god” using the notebook. He wants to create a world where people he deems are morally correct and good. Light becomes known as a “god” called Kira through killing those who commits crime both big and small. The killings attract the attention of a genius detective, who is only known as “L”. L believes what Kira is doing is wrong and need to be brought to justice. There begins their game of cat and mouse to see who is truly bringing justice.
Some quick facts
- It was published in December of 2003 and ended three years later in May of 2006
- There are 12 tankobon volumes (manga books).
- Serialized (published) in Shueisha’s manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump
- The Death Note manga has sold approximately 30 million volumes as of 2015.
- A anime adaptation was aired from October 3, 2006, to June 26, 2007
- In 2007, the first three volumes of Death Note were on the American Library Association’s 2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list.
- On ICv2’s “Top 10 Shonen Properties Q2 2009”, Death Note was the third best manga in North America.
- Won the 2008 Eagle Award for Favourite Manga as voted by UK fans.
- According to a survey conducted in 2007, by the Ministry of culture of Japan, it occupies the 10th place among the best manga of all time.
- Many Live Action Adaptations
- Three Japanese films have been produced based off the manga, there is another that will be released this year.
- An American film adaption which is currently being filmed (Rated R)
- A Japanese live action drama was released in 2015
- A musical adaption has been produced and had successful runs in both Korea and Japan.
This is a masterpiece of a manga. Certainly, one of my top favorites. The fundamental story does have a strong cultural base, so it may be slightly confusing to non-Japanese readers. It delves deeply into morality and what is justice. There is not a “good” and “bad” side but rather two sides who are battling each other to prove that their justice is the correct justice. Light and L are some of the best developed characters I have seen. There is two of what could be called arcs, both of which featured a suspenseful story that keep me reading.
I would recommended for older readers as it deals heavily with morality and death. It raises many questions, which would be harder for younger readers to understand.
I think it is fantastic but read it for yourself and decide.
Death Note is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.