Death Note by Shusuke Kaneko – Manga & Book Review

death note review
death note review

Description: Death Note is a manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata of the Hikaru no Go fame. Tsugumi Ohba is a pseudonym; his true identity is unknown. It was published in Weekly Shounen Jump from 2003 to 2006. It has 180 chapters spread out over 12 volumes.

Plot Overview

The premise is interesting, a notebook that can kill in the hands of a well meaning 17 year prodigy with megalomaniac tendencies. Light Yagami is a tensai or genius, and like the typical anime tensai, he is bored and detached from his daily high school routine. Destiny answers his craving for excitement by handing him the “death note”.

The death note comes with a set of instructions and on a whim, Light decides to test the authenticity of the notebook’s claim by writing the name of 2 known criminals. To his surprise, the notebook made good of its claim and the criminals die within 40 seconds.

Light pursues a double life, tensai by day and vigilante by night. This is one of the obvious yet effective ironies of the series; the boy’s name is “Light” yet he brings death; and yet again, by bringing death to criminals he acts as the light or savior of society.

The mysterious deaths of the criminals did not go unnoticed. L, a brilliant yet quirky detective embarks on a crusade to unravel the serial killer behind the deaths and a game of cat and mouse between the two tensais ensues.

The original owner of the notebook is Ryuk, a shinigami or death god who amuses himself by observing how Light uses his notebook.


The manga is a visual treat. Under the masterful strokes Takeshi Obata, the youthful pretty boys of the manga will delight any fangirl while the character designs are edgy enough for the male readers to appreciate.


The overall mood of the series is very dark, very goth – Japanese style of course. The biggest appeal of the series is its light take on morality, pun intended. Society assumes that greater responsibilities rest on the shoulders of tensais like Light because he is smarter than the average bear. He lives up to this assumption by playing judge, jury and god. So what does society do? It hunts him down. Light, superior IQ and all, is just as vulnerable to boredom, vanity, and pride as Homer Simpson – maybe even more so.

Interestingly enough, the 3 significant characters Light, L and Ryuk all started the ball rolling because they were bored; suggesting that the original sin may be – just maybe – boredom and not pride as Sunday schools have led us to believe.


Death Note is an edgy, entertaining read. It makes use of the traditional manga / anime character stereotypes and elements but still manages to surprise and thrill its readers.

  • Keywords: Takeshi Obata Notebook Criminals Ryuk Bored
  • Illustrations and Layout: Very Good
  • Entertainment Value: Excellent
  • Replay Value: Very Good
  • Plot: Excellent
  • Genre: Detective fiction, Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Shonen, Supernatural
  • Volumes: 12

also check out our other posts on anime reviews and manga books.

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