Betsy Speicher

Death Note

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3 posts in this topic

Death Note is my second favorite manga, I've been reading it for the last couple months. I find it exciting and the whole time you're asking yourself 'Who is evil' Great recommendation!

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Mild Spoilers:

Light Yagami is a brilliant student, following in the footsteps of his father to become a NPA detective (a very honorable position in Japan.) But Light is bored, and increasingly disenchanted that the criminal justice system actually provides justice. The story starts when Light finds the Death Note; inscribed on the inside of its cover, “whomever’s name is written in the Death Note will die.” Light casually experiments with the Death Note (not quite believing it) and learns that it is for real. At first he is uneasy with this power, but eventually comes around to the idea of using the Note to rid the world of evil; he then begins killing criminals wholesale.

( The Death Notes belong to the Shinigami, which roughly translates to “reaper,” they have human-like personalities, and use the Death Notes to extend their own lives; occasionally, a Shinigami will drop a Death Note into the human world, just to see what happens.)

Light doesn’t only want to kill criminals, but have potential criminals know they are being judged; so he kills them in all the same way, with a heart attack, which is the Death Notes default way to kill (The Death Note can control the time and way a person dies, with stringent limitations) which alerts both the media and the authorities. The public (which both condemns and celebrates him) give him the name KIRA, the God of Justice; which Light gladly adopts (it is here we begin to see the seeds of his Megalomania.)

The authorities have no idea how to deal with this, they don’t know if it is an international conspiracy of vigilantes, a disease, or an avenging God. So the authorities hire a secretive and brilliant international super-sleuth, simply called L.

Even though he doesn’t know what powers are at work, L knows it is not an international conspiracy, and is able to almost instantly deduce that KIRA works within limitation (he needs a face and a name to kill), and after reviewing media exposure and the criminals that were killed, L deduces that KIRA lives somewhere in Japan. He sets up a trap to lure KIRA out, which Light falls into perfectly; L then narrows KIRA's position to the Kanto region of Japan (not a large area.)

Soon, L is able to come up with a list of possible suspects; at the top of the list: Light Yagami (I won’t ruin for you how he is able to do this.)

At its core, this is essentially a detective story. With two opposing forces (Light and L) in a kind of cat-and-mouse game, except both sides think they’re the cat.

Now, detective stories and fantasies usually don’t mix very well, the need of detective stories for a logical universe kills the harmony; but author Tsugumi Ohba mixes the two exceptionally. This is because the mythical elements are very limited. There are only the Death Notes, and the Shinigami, both of which work on very stringent rules. The nature of the Death Note is actually outlined in a dozen or so main rules that govern its behavior. Actually, Light spends some time experimenting with the boundaries of the Death Note (by experimenting on prison inmates.) All the rules are in place before the characters begin to ‘play’, how they work within these rules is what makes these books interesting.

I have so much more to say (I haven’t even mentioned the philosophical undertones); but that’s all I can do right now. I’ll post part two later.

-Ryan

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