English: Death Note
Published: Dec 1, 2003 to May 15, 2006
Score: 8.841 (scored by 60822 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
drama mystery psychological shounen supernatural undefined
SynopsisLight Yagami is a brilliant 17-year-old student, one of the top scorers on his exams in all of Japan. One day as he leaves school, he finds a mysterious black notebook on the ground with "Death Note" written on it. The first thing written inside: "The human whose name is written in the notebook shall die." Light decides to use this to cleanse the world of evil by killing all the criminals. On the scene comes L, ace detective, who's determined to find Light—who the world now calls "Kira"—and track him down, thus bringing us an epic psychological thrill ride.
Related MangaAlternative version: Death Note Episode 0
Prequel: Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases
Sequel: Death Note Special Chapter
Side story: Death Note: L Change the World
Adaptation: Death Note, Death Note Rewrite
I'm glad I waited until this series was finished before I started. Considering I finished all 108 chapters in less than twenty-four hours, I'm not sure how I would have survived if I'd started earlier.
STORY - Morals and ethics are serious business, and it isn't often that they're addressed so directly in a series. The lines that people draw vary greatly from individual to individual, and the last thing any writer wants is to severely offend any portion of its potential readership. I found it incredibly impressive then, that Death Note could so effectively address such a controversial issue -- capital punishment -- without alienating anyone in the audience. Wrapped up and packaged with some rather generic supernatural elements, Death Note may not seem like anything particularly special at first glance, but the eerie realism in the rest of the world begs the question, "What would you have done?" And I find that connection one of this story's greatest strengths.
Despite the flexibility of his manga though, Ohba's personal morals and overall message is clear. All the same, if his primary intention was for readers to think and contemplate the issue, then he certainly succeeds, regardless of whether individuals agree with his views or not. He doesn't offend them with his opinions, and that's good enough. Death Note's story progresses rapidly and quickly spirals into a very involved suspense; it's a tension-filled chess game that the protagonist and antagonist carefully play (which character is the protagonist depends entirely on your point of view). Yes, there are many more words than actions, and yes, it can be frustrating, and even comical at times, how long the chains of "I knew that you knew that I knew that you knew" become. But these words and lengthy passages of expository serve their purpose and keep you on the edge of your seat, and it's obvious from the beginning that this ain't no shounen title.
Sadly, I've found that a lot of readers stopped halfway through the series, citing that the tension ramped off severely after the major spoiler. While I understand their position, I would disagree and honestly applaud Ohba for breaking through everyone's expectations with said spoiler. If anything, the uncertainty that's left behind and the vague impression that there's already a winner in the battle for justice makes the latter half of the series that much more interesting, even if the absence of certain things may be a blow. The stakes are higher. It's the last stretch of the race. Up until the very end, Ohba is able to keep the ultimate victor a secret. Those last forty seconds waiting for the last few names written into the Death Note to die? Killer. You'll breeze through the pages, but your heart will still be pounding afterwards. And it's all worth it in the end.
CHARACTERS - Death Note had a fantastic cast of characters, and you really find yourself emotionally evolved. You feel for them. You love them. You hate them. You hate them. I find it to be a sign of incredible character writing and development when you can come to hate a characters as much as I hated Light Yagami. Mediocre characters just don't invite that much attention. So I didn't hate Light because he was a bad character; I hated him because of his personality, his morals, his reasons and logic, and the way he used his intellect. It didn't start off that way though. Light progresses a lot during the course of the series; his arrogance heightens, and his character warps. In a way, it was incredibly realistic and fascinating to watch as his personality and growing neuroticism turned him into a sociopath (not to mention frustrating, when certain things about him are revealed). It was also kind of scary. Seriously though, there's no denying that Light is a well thought-out character, and as much as I love to hate him, I can't help but think he's the most well-written character in the series.
L, as the antagonist/protagonist, is just about everything that Light is not, but that isn't as clear-cut as it may seem. As noted by several of the series' other characters, L's tactics can be rather questionable, and so even though his ultimate goal is to defeat Kira/Light, even his morals are not spotless. This adds another degree of realism to the story and provides for a very interesting foil. Additionally, L's personality quirks are some of the most interesting and endearing ones I've ever seen, though this may serve to cancel out the previous realism points for some people. As much of his past remains mysterious for the duration of the series, L's personality does not seem to progress or change as much as Light's. Still, the way he adapts and reacts to each of Light's changes definitely keeps things interesting.
The rest of the cast seems to be scattered across the moral spectrum, providing readers with many choices as to who to sympathize with or to relate to. Detective Soichiro Yagami is likely the most moralistic of the lot, though not unrealistically so. His relationship with his son is fun to follow throughout the series, considering their vast differences. Most of the other detectives are also clustered on the "ideal" end of the spectrum, though there's enough variation and personality quirk that they manage to establish meaningfully different personas (ie, they're all definitely different characters, even though their roles are fairly interchangeable). Misa's morals are more difficult to assess as they seem incredibly flexible; rather than morals, her character is defined by her utter infatuation with Light. I find this interesting mainly because it started off as an infatuation with Kira, but once she learned of Kira's identity, her affections were transferred to Light as Light rather than Light as Kira. Because of her lack of a moral standing and the one-dimensional nature of her "love" though, it's incredibly easy to lose interest in Misa, despite her importance as a tool in the grand scheme of things (this is also true for Takada and to some extent, Mikami). The lack of development in her "love" is also what made Rem not-as-interesting to me.
Now, Mello and Near. I kind of feel like Ohba tried too hard to mirror the quirkiness of L's character, what with Mello's apparent obsession with chocolate and Near's with toys. Still, both of them grew on me, and I was satisfied enough with the way they played their parts. And finally, there's Ryuk. What's there to say? As probably the only character with no real ultimate goal, he serves as kind of an objective bystander throughout the course of the series. He doesn't care one way or another as long as things are "interesting." Because of his attachment to the Note given to Light, he does end up helping Kira now and again, but I don't think that hurts his objectivity all that much in the end. In a series rife with moral and ethics, it was ironic to have the character that started it all so removed from all the conflict.
There were no useless characters in Death Note. All of them contributed in one way or another to the series as a whole, either by offering a variation in moral standing or by acting as a tool for another character to use. Sure, there were a few generic archetypes (the butler, the love-stricken slave, the vengeful widow), but I suppose there just wasn't enough depth to go around when the two main characters take up so much of the spotlight. God, I ramble a lot.
ART - Obata draws beautiful stuff, no question about that. From his wonderfully detailed backgrounds to the wide variety of character expressions (including Light's five hundred different creepy smirks), this artist's incredible prowess is evident throughout all twelve volumes of the series. Angles and perspective are expertly rendered and the meticulous attention he pays to each character definitely makes up for the fact that there are a lot of talking heads in Death Note. The human world is wonderfully realistic while the shinigami world offers everything you might expect from the supernatural. Character designs vary from being very simple -- Light and L -- to being very complex -- Misa and the shinigamis -- but all are well done. It's an incredible treat to go through this manga as the artwork is definitely up to par with the sophistication of the story.
OTHER - I've yet had a chance to read Viz's translation of this, so I can't really say much about its English adaptation unfortunately. :< I've heard pretty decent things about it though. Other than that, I really wish I could review the first two live action movies on this site because they were incredibly impressive and are two of the few book-to-film adaptations that satisfied my rampant purist ways, despite significant changes.
OVERALL - Death Note has probably impressed me more than any other manga I've read (which isn't any incredible number, but still). Its degree of sophistication in all categories, story, characters, and artwork, is incredible. The story is significant; the characters are engaging; the artwork is beautiful. It's like hitting the jackpot, and I really feel like this is one of those titles that almost anyone can enjoy; better yet, I feel like this is one of those titles that can act as a gateway for the not-yet-a-manga-fan, encouraging them to explore the media further. Yeah, there's a lot of hype around Death Note, and they're definitely milking it for what it's worth (an anime, three live action movies, video games, and several spin-offs, all in the course of what, two or three years?), but for once, I think this series deserves every bit of attention it gets. Don't take the numbers on this review too lightly. I don't give 10's that often.
Death note is a perfect manga of suspence and thriller. The story line is rich and tasteful and characters really standout from other manga and anime by the fact that they are so different. while reading Death note it will make you think and guess until the end. This manga is has dark themes because the main character basically goes on a killing spree for 6 years to create the perfect world and outsmart this foes.
About the story. The main character is Light Yagami who is a bored Highschool student, he soon finds a Death note which has the power to kill people by writing there name in, he soon finds out about this power and a Death god call Ryku comes to Light. He decides to make the perfect world in which he is God. He starts killing criminals with the death note and soon becomes famous and known as Kira. We then see how the story unfolds and the intelligence of the main characters.
Just something I should point out, you will never guess what happens at the end. read more
The psychological genre is evident in both and the main male leads are both cunningly intelligent.
Both sort of dark and tactical 'games', and a similar character.
Both Phycological themes. Both have a character that is particulary smart or good at solving problems.
Both involve highly intelligent people generally outwitting others, but whereas Death Note was involving a killing spree and utopia, Liar Game is about trying to get out of a game of, well, lies. The artwork is sort of similar, too, and I personally think Akiyama is more intelligent than Light because Akiyama generally has his plans run right from the get-go and has already factored most outcomes, whereas Light relies too much on others' reactions. Akiyama's reliance on reactions is more like putting the last brick on the castle; castle's already complete, but a perfectionist just needs that one last brick.
The main conflicts run like complicated cat & mouse games, with psychological strategies and out manoeuvring between genius characters. There are more puzzles in Liar Game, but Death Note does have it's moments. However Death Note is supernatural with an anti-hero main character while Liar Game is realistic with a naive girl/con-artist protagonist main pair. They have quite a similar detailed art style, though Death Note is more gothic.
Both contain some very smart people who have to think all the time: whats next? to survive. Both are ingenious. The authors must be really clever.
Both manga are very clever although death note has a better art, liar game has a better plot but both balanced perfectly with their each style
Both revolve around psychologyand how allows one or more characters to come out on top by manipulating the others.
Both involve highly intelligent main characters, though Amamiya reminds more of L then of Light. The Characters are facing problems that they have to solve using their brain. Liar Game is more focused on tricking people, but when you liked DN (like me) it's quite possible that you might like Liar Game too.
They both have main characters that use wit to advance or accomplish their goals (Akiyama and Light), but Death Note is much darker and sometimes gets close to more of a seinen manga than shounen. And Akiyama totally looks like L. :D
Both manga are brain-thinking. It is both mystery and suspense. It is an out-wit battle between the good and the bad.
Death note goes in the direction of fantasy where Liar Game goes into reality.
Death note is a detective battle to find out each other moves before one get kills
Liar Game take theory into practise by using maths and science to a row of games where survive to the fittest is fundemental to avoid bankrupcy to the player.
The art is different but the psychological aspects in the manga are similar.. Very interesting insights.. I am very selective when reading manga especially phycological manga. As far as lost+brain is concerned, it suck. Thus recommendation of liar game should not be taken lightly. liar game and its psychological aspects are almost on par with that of death note. Enjoy...
Aside from boasting hyper-intelligent strategists for their heroes and anti-heroes, both series probe into the depths of the human psyche. While Death Note plays with morals, Liar Game deals with manipulation.
both have intelligent plot and characters and constant battle of wits
Its like Death Note in psychological terms, and it also keeps you on the edge of your seat. I really recommend anyone who reads Death Note to read The Liar Game, it WILL pull you in!
A fairly obvious comparison. Death Note and Liar Game both deal with psychological issues and have a battle-of-wits plot line. Both male leads progress through the story and show the genius workings of their brains as they overcome each obstacle thrown in their way.
They both shows great psychological battles between the characters, while Nao seeks to change people to be more honest with different weapons.
Very very similar characters between Light and Shinichi Akiyama. Both are about the battle of wits and revolves around getting rid of evildoers.
Raito, L, Mello, Misa, the Death Note itself, all of them appear in this manga in some way.
-same art style
Similar plot - high school student is bored with the world and plots how to change it for the better.
Similar art style.
Both series have a high school student protagonist who's fed up with the degradation of society and uses the series gimmick to try to revolutionize it. Death Note is great for anyone who thinks LOST+BRAIN was on to something, and LOST+BRAIN is good for anyone who wants just a little more of what Death Note had going on.
Unbelievebly similar main characters; both are top students with genius level intellects who despise the world and the people around them, and therefor reaches the conclusion that they must change the world they live in. However in LOST + BRAIN the main character uses hypnotizm instead of a death note.
the two main characters of these mangas have only one objective : to cleanse the world. actually, lost+brain is more brutal tan death note because the main character kills even his closest FRIENDS. while on death note, light only kills those who oppose him. read the manga and see for yourself!
The two main characters, Light and Ren are two smart students who live in a world that they do not like. They want to change it but not necessarily with the right way ...
So have fun!
Both have brilliant main characters who wants to change the world through the use of death note or hypnotism (Lost+Brain)
Extremely similar! Of course I must say death note is much better, LOST + BRAIN is enjoyable.
The protagonists are almost identical in every way - both geniuses disappointed by the world and the human nature, both ruthless, both trying to take control (be the gods of the new world ;-). Although the "powers" differ the rest, including the darkish atmosphere is there.
Both main characters want to change the world.
Both main characters are smart.
Both main characters are in a "psyhological fight".Like : "Light - L" , "Hiyama - Kuonjii"
Both main characters want to change the world.
Both main characters are smart.
Both main characters are in a "psyhological fight".Like : "Light - L" , "Hiyama - Kuonjii"
Main character of Lost+ brain has the similar looks, style and dreams as Kira, but different power also setting is different - more realism. if you liked death note you will definitely like lost+ brain.
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