Death Note: Black Edition Volume 1 by Tsugumi Ohba/Takeshi Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

January 30, 2011 by  

The manga that started a sensation worldwide gets its re-release in a special “Death Note: Black Edition” containing two graphic novels per release.  If you have never read “Death Note” or even heard of it, you definitely have to give this manga series a try.  Highly recommended!

© 2003 Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obara. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Death Note: Black Edition Vol. 1

STORY BY: Tsugumi Ohba

ART BY: Takeshi Obata



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: December 28, 2010

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. That changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. Will Light’s noble goal succeed, or will the Death Note turn him into the very thing he fights against?

This Black edition of Death Note contains volumes 1-2 of the series and features 5 full-color pages.

“Death Note”, the series that has received critical acclaim worldwide, spawned a popular anime series, video games and live action films.

Needless to say, the manga series has been quite popular among fans worldwide and with the 13-volume manga series released back in 2003 and ending in October 2006.  The manga series comes from Tsugumi Ohba (“Bakuman”) and is illustrated by Takeshi Obata (“Blue Dragon”, “Hikaru no Go”).  The series was first serialized in 108 chapters featured in Shueisha’s “Weekly Shonen Jump” and then published in tankobon format in May 2004 through October in 12 volumes.

The manga series was released in the US by Viz Media including the light novel based on the series.  And now, the series will be re-released in a graphic novel format which features two volumes each and also featuring five pages that are colored.  The new re-release will be known as “Death Note: Black Edition”, presented in all black cover with cover edges also in black.

And if you haven’t checked out the manga series (or the anime series) yet, now is the perfect time as the Black Edition will be released for $14.99.

Volume 1 of “Death Note: Black Edition” focuses on the character of a very smart high school student named Light Yagami.  Bored with his life, he comes across the “Death Note” that has special instructions that if one was to write their names on the Death Note, the person would die.  They would die of a heart attack if there were no instructions on how the person is to die.  Or die the way the person possessing the Death Note wrote down.

The Death Note is from a Shinigami (death god) named Ryuk who seems to be bored in his own world and thus starts to enjoy how a person like Light starts to use the Death Note.

For Light (who goes by the name Kira), starts out using the Death Note by writing the names of criminals.  He starts to win supporters due to his ideology of creating a new world without these criminals.  But with so many deaths occurring, the police and the International community begin to fear this serial killer.  And along the way, Light is suspected by the police as a person of interest (a person who could be “Kira”) and then Light starts to use his Death Note on those who are onto him.

Because the case has become so high profile and deaths are mounting up, thus a mysterious detective named L is assigned to the case.

Kira continues to use the Death Note in killing hardcore criminals and to create a new utopia but despite what he is thinking is good (and many people supporting him for what he does), his father Soichiro is the police detective superintendent overlooking the case and the NPA Head of Special Investigations.  For L, he suspects that someone close to the NPA is involved.

But Light Yagami (Kira) is starting to feel paranoid when the FBI arrive to Japan to also do their investigation on Kira.  One of the agents, FBI agent Ray Pember is on to him and wanting to make sure that no one in the FBI discovers that he is Kira and wanting to make sure that Pember doesn’t get his information to his father, Light Yagami (Kira) knows what he has to do.

In order to make sure his plans of a new Utopia goes through, despite using the Death Note to kill criminals, now Kira must kill those who will interfere with his plans.

The series becomes a compelling storyline of will L find a way to catch Light Yagami (Kira) or will Light Yagami (Kira) kill L first?  Two geniuses trying to outwit the other in a thrilling storyline of who will be the last man standing at the end.

I can’t tell you how awesome this manga series is.  “Death Note” is truly special as it really show how power can corrupt but taking that cat versus mouse type of storyline of two geniuses trying to outwit each other.

The storyline is well written, the illustrations are superb, this is possibly one of the best manga series I have read in the last 25 years and I have read plenty of manga.

But when I think of how this series has become a worldwide sensation, it’s one thing to have a great storyline and great illustration but it’s because it’s something you just don’t read.  Typically in a manga series such as “Detective Conan” or even in Japanese drama where a lead investigator tries to outwit the criminal, the storyline is typically short and the of course, the good guy always wins.  With “Death Note”, it’s unique in the fact that the storyline continues for 12 volumes (over a hundred chapters) and while Light Yagami (Kira) is a killer, people support his actions because he is killing the criminals and taking them off the street.

But still, murder is murder and the police have a job to do.  So, when you see two intelligent individuals squaring off at each other, both are great at strategy and just seeing how one tries to outwit the other, it’s pretty impressive!

There are literally so many twists and turns in this manga series that after each volume, you want more and more!

Now, of course, I’m sure that many people who read manga or watch anime are familiar with “Death Note”.  And I’m sure many own the previous manga series and may be asking themselves, do I really want to rebuy this?

My answer is that if you own it already, then you don’t.  But if you haven’t read the manga series and only watched the anime series or the live films, then yes, I highly recommend “Death Note: Black Edition” because you get two volumes in one release (there are 12 volumes total, so expect six Black Edition releases) and it’s sold for a lot less than the two volumes that were originally sold in bookstores.  So, at $14.99 (some online stores may have it for a lot less), it’s a pretty cool deal!

Overall, this series features awesome illustration and once again, a fantastic storyline.  If you have never read “Death Note” before, especially if you have never heard of it.  Definitely give “Death Note: Black Edition” a try.  You won’t be disappointed!

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