Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata #BookReview

CriminOlly thinks: 2400 page manga epic is an entertainingly twisty ride. 4/5


Death Note is a fascinating and fun, but also flawed, manga series that blends dark fantasy and detective fiction into a compelling tale with an enjoyably pulpy feel. At 2400 pages it’s a beast of a book, but one that managed to hold my interest.

The set-up is entertainingly bizarre. Outside of the human world, another exists. It’s populated by Shinigami (death gods) who can travel to our world and kill humans by writing their names in notebooks they carry. The story follows Light Yagami, a young man who discovers one of the notebooks and forms a partnership with Shinigami. Light starts using the book to kill criminals in an attempt to create a better world.

Writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata take that concept and run with it. Light ends up pitted against a similarly youthful genius detective (the mysterious L) who is working with the police to catch him. Those police include Light’s father, which mixes a bit of family melodrama into an already rich and colourful story.

The manga was originally published in the popular Japanese magazine Weekly Shonen Jump over a 3 year period, and it has the episodic feel you’d expect from a serial work. I imagine the experience of reading it in its original form was not dissimilar to devouring a Victorian penny dreadful. There’s definitely some padding, with the middle section dragging a bit, but for the most part this is a very enjoyable and energetic read. The plot twists frequently and there’s real pleasure to be had from watching the opposing forces try to outwit each other. The fact that the main characters are young gives is a very YA feel and it would be fair to say it doesn’t dig as deeply into the moral dilemma Light faces as it might have, but that kind of introspection might have ruined the fun.

My favourite parts were the detailed explanations Light and L give of their reasoning, which read a bit like Poirot summing up at the end of a Christie mystery. Less enjoyable was the incredibly annoying and weak-willed female character who becomes Light’s girlfriend, but she and the padding are the only weak points in an otherwise very strong offering.

Video Review

Book Details

Title: Death Note | Author: Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata| Publisher: VIZ Media LLC | Pages: 2400 | Publication date: 5th September 2017 | ISBN: 9781421597713 | Source: Purchased


All 12 volumes of Death Note in one monstrously large edition!

This hefty omnibus combines all 2,400 pages of the megahit thriller into a single massive tome, presented in a beautiful silver slipcase. A perfect collectible conversation piece and a must-have for Death Note fans. Also contains an epilogue chapter never before seen in English!

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects—and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal…or his life?


Content Warnings: None

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