Recommended-Death Note

Continuing my new obsession with manga, I’d like to recommend without hesitation “Death Note,” by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba. I’ve just plowed through the first three books, and can’t wait to buy the next volume.

Light Yagami, a brilliant student, discovers a notebook “accidentally” dropped on earth by a Shinigami (death god). The Shinigami notebooks are remarkably easy to use–basically, all one has to do is write the name of someone they want dead in it, and the victim suffers a heart attack within 40 seconds.

Light starts with noble aspirations, taking out hardened criminals. But once law enforcement suspects foul play, Light realizes that he needs to start killing everyone tied to the investigation. Did I mention that his dad is leading the investigation? Or that the death god Ryuk follows Light around, everywhere he goes?

There are lots of twists and turns, and I’m addicted to watching Light’s morality spiral out of control in his acts of self-preservation. Things never once show signs of getting better, especially as famed detective “L” begins to tighten his net.

“Death Note” is a beautifully drawn, gloriously dark book. There’s a sequence of panels in Volume Two that should serve as as an instruction tool for anyone interested in creating graphic novels or sequential art.

For those who’ve avoided manga, as I had for years, this is a fantastic way to start in on the medium.

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