Hey everyone, welcome to the second day of the Biannual Bibliothon – turns out I’ve started earlier than everyone else. Blog posts and the event are actually starting 23 July, but oh well. I’ve never had a head for dates and such, I’m such an idiot! Oh well, I’ve started so I’ll finish! I’m enjoying these blog prompts more than anything, and it’s a great way to keep writing.
Day #2 is hosted by MissSassyKassie who has asked participants to write a book review – something that our bookish community relies and thrives on! So without further ado, enjoy the first proper review on this blog! I read this for the Summer Biannual Bibliothon for the challenges Read a Book That Has Been Banned/Is Still Banned, and the Throwback Challenge – A Book Set in Another Country.
Death Note Vol 1 is written by Tsugumi Ohba, with art by Takeshi Obata. This is a manga from Shonen Jump Advanced, who have published popular manga’s such as Bleach, Naruto and One Piece. This is the first volume in the twelve part series – each of the chapters are collected into one book, known in Japan as a ‘tankōbon’. Traditional manga is read right to left, which can be confusing for some people who are unfamiliar with these books. I consider myself a seasoned veteran, so I’m used to this – I’ve read and collected a lot of manga over the years, including seven of the Death Note books. The manga series relies heavily on the paranormal, police procedures/criminal investigations, and the concept of morality. Sounds good so far, right?
Death Note Vol 1 follows Light Yagami, a 17 year old, top student in Japan. Whilst his intelligence is through the roof, he is incredibly bored. As he leaves school one day, he finds a Death Note on the ground, and picks it up. A Death Note is a book where supernatural creatures, known as Death Gods or ‘shinigami’s’, write the names of humans. As the instructions say, ‘the human whose name is written in this note shall die’. At first, Light is sceptical of the notebooks abilities, until he witnesses its incredible power at work. And so begins Light’s journey, closely followed by shinigami Ryuk, as he begins to cleanse the world of criminals. Things aren’t as simple as that though. The Death Note has rules, and it isn’t long before the killing spree catches the attention of legendary detective L and his police cohorts. Light needs to bend his rules and guard himself against his enemies.
The first book in the series is gripping – the concept of the Death Note is very interesting, with its many rules. Whilst Light and Ryuk explain the rules as the story progresses, the manga also prints pages of the Death Note, complete with the instructions such as: ‘If the cause of death is written within 40 seconds of writing the persons name, it will happen’. The artwork is incredibly detailed, especially Ryuk, who is imposing and definitely frightening for a shinigami. And as ever, it’s interesting to see how Japan is depicted – a country on my to visit list!
However, the book does raise issues of morality. Is it moral to kill someone, even if they are a killer? This is something the book addresses straight away, with many of the police staff becoming aware of what is happening – Matsuda even states that within the past few days ‘there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of violent crimes committed worldwide, especially in Japan’. Light can choose whether to give people heart attacks or be cruel and provide descriptions of how someone dies – this could be physically and mentally damaging to not only himself, but to the readers. This is part of the reason why this book was banned in many cities of China… Its something that the reader starts to question – would they be able to do the moral thing? And what is moral?
The manga series had great success. Since its release, it has been adapted into two anime series (Death Note and Death Note: Relight). There has also been two light novels, a video game, six film adaptations (the sixth is coming to Netflix later this year), a TV series, and a musical. There has been merchandising and lots of cosplay of the many characters. Overall, I’d say it’s been a success!
You can pick up Death Note from most booksellers as well as online stores, such as Amazon.
So that completes my first review and also this challenge! Have you read Death Note? What did you think to it? Let me know, and as always, if you have any recommendations, please let me know!