Friday, November 28, 2014

Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba


This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: January 2001
Pages: 195
Stars: 5/5

The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
 -Death Note

Shimigami are death gods who have the ability to end a person's life early.  All they have to do is write down the human's name into their Death Note, and their subject dies within forty seconds of a heart attack, unless otherwise specified.  If the person was supposed to live until they were sixty years old but the death god transcribed their name into their Death Note when they were only forty years old, the god gets the remaining twenty years of the human's life for themselves.  This in turn allows Shinigami to live forever if they keep continuing the previously described process.  If someone shoots them, they will still live. If stabbed, the god will carry on as if nothing really happened because they have so many years built up.  However, there is a way to kill one of these frightening creatures, but only several know of it and barely any death gods have the knowledge of it either.  With years of life stocking up for them, the Shinigami have become lazy beings, sitting around and doing absolutely nothing.

One death god is different, though.  His name is Ryuk, and he has become bored.  To relieve his so called "boredom," he drops his Death Note into the human world where he hopes someone will pick it up and give him a show to watch.  As luck would have it, someone does pick it up, Light.  Light is not your typical high school student.  In fact, he has above average intelligence and a driving desire for the world to be set right.  Actually, they both describes themselves as "bored."  Once he finds the Death Note, he discovers instructions inside on how to use it, what it does, and just what will happen if he writes someone's name down.  At first it seems like a hoax, something like this can't be real after all.  However, the Death Note has an alluring quality to it that drives a person to use it.  So, against Light's trepidation, he goes ahead and writes a criminal's name down because he has just seen them on television.  Almost immediately, he discovers that they turned up dead.  It works.

Now Light goes on a rampage, believing that it is his duty to rid the world of all those he deems to be scum.  These are top level criminals that he's eliminating.  Tons of names are written down, and he believes that if these men who are condemned to death by his hand are being killed and talked about on the news, then everyone else will be too afraid to sin, therefore creating an eventual utopia that he can dictate.  Also, once he wrote his first name in the book, Ryuk suddenly appeared.  (Once a human uses a Shinigami's Death Note, they can see them.)  Ryuk then reveals that a human user of a Death Note can neither go to Heaven or to Hell after death.  This does not stop Light though.

Soon the police take notice of all of the dying criminals.  They start an investigation to stop whoever is behind all of these sudden deaths, but how can you catch someone when all you have to go on is heart attacks as evidence?  Quite frankly it seems impossible...until they call in L.  L is a last resort for the authorities. He has been known to solve any case given to him.  He's quite illusive, though.  Only one person alive can contact him. Also, L is a very smart cookie.  Together, Light and L go head to head indirectly, trying to outsmart each other and divert their true identities.  Neither can be found out or they will die by each other's hand or forces.  And so begins the journey that all started out of a little bit of boredom....

My thoughts on the book:

I'll be honest, I was really excited to read this manga.  I know that tons of people loved the anime (at least up to a certain point.)  So, when I got it from the library I immediately started to read it.  However, after a short while I wasn't so sure that I wanted to finish it.  It was weird, creepy, and definitely an "out there" type of book.  Plus, I can say that it is absolutely on the list of my top five weirdest books that I have ever read, and this list extends to manga, comic books, and novels.  It definitely tops most of them.  I'm really glad that I stuck with it though because it just became addictive.  I had to know what L would come up with next to try and decide where the killer was located and who he was.  It's brilliant how L and Light try to go up against each other without revealing their true identities.  These two characters were really interesting to read out, and I'm excited to see more of them.  They are pitted perfectly against each other as equally worthy opponents.  Everything is so clever and exciting.  Death Note is a very creative series.

The Shinigami are super creepy looking.  The whole entire ambiance of this book is also really dark, and the illustrations are beautiful, descriptive, and truly well done.  The only thing I will say though is that, while the Shinigami were grotesque and stange looking, it was almost like Ryuk had no change in emotion shown on his face throughout the whole manga.  For me, that was a small let down because the illustrations tell so much of the story and really convince me of the storyline.  (He did have a couple of different expressions going on a few times, though.)

Death Note is your classic series with a new twist that brings to light the question: What is truly wrong, and what is truly right?  For example, is it moral to get rid of a criminal if they killed people and were going to do it again?  What if they were going to be put on death row?  Light believes that you should just eliminate those who can harm humanity because they will ruin all of the good around them.  However, if you take L's stance in his opposite perspective, you would have something  completely different.  Isn't killing bad no matter who is doing it, despite their reasons?  Murder is murder, isn't it?  Both of these points were explored fairly well in volume one, and  I hope to see more of it as I go through the series.  In Volume 1: Boredom, the reader can decide which stance to take because Tsugumi Ohba does a great job of not taking a side or making it clear which way you should sway.  It's all up to you!

So, if you're a hardcore manga lover, this is definitely for you if you haven't read it yet.  If you want to get into the genre, this might be a good place to start as long as you don't mind creepy!

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