A friend of mine, a fellow librarian, recommended this series to me after finding out that I enjoy reading manga. I had heard about it (if you work in a library or known people who like manga, most likely you’ve heard about Death Note) but I didn’t know what it was about. This meant that I was rather skeptical, but completely game. I’m glad I took the risk and my friend’s suggestion — because I completely fell in love with the series.
Death Note is a manga about a teenage boy named Light (well, he’s a teenager in high school when the series starts, though not when it finishes). He happens upon something called a Death Note which he soon learns is a notebook owned by death gods (known in Japanese as shinigami). The gist is that if someone’s name is written in the Death Note, that person dies. Of course, it’s not that simple, there are all sorts of rules but I won’t go into detail — because of spoilers! It’s definitely worth reading the series to find out more.
The stories follows Light as he finishes high school and moves onto college — and what he decides to do with the notebook. This is a spoiler, but Light does decide to use it and in doing so, he ends up in a battle of wits with several different characters.
Death Note was written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. Together, both have created a fascinating character study — not only of Light, but of several of the secondary characters as well as Lights adversaries. One of the things I liked about the writing was Tsugumi Ohba’s ability to change the way I viewed certain characters throughout the whole series. My feelings about Light changed throughout the story and I thought this was especially impressive, considering the medium of the story itself.
My favorite character, though, was an FBI agent from the US who was briefly in the series near the beginning named Naomi Misora. Therefore, I was super excited when my friend told me that there was a spin-off novel about her. Her story, which was hinted at in Death Note was fully told in Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases. The book, though note directly related to the manga series serves as a prequel (though it’s meant to be read after you’ve finished the original manga). It tells the story of one of Naomi Misora’s cases and gives a lot of background on her that wasn’t included in the manga. I absolutely loved it and I’m really glad it exists and was translated into English.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys manga. It’s probably not for everyone, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Though I’ve heard some negative things about the anime, I’d like to give that a go and, perhaps, watch the live action movies.