My manga collection: Death Note
Death Note is a very popular Japanese manga series in both Japan and the U.S. The story began when Light Yagami, a high-school student picked up a Death Note and realized that he could kill anyone by just writing that person’s name on it. Light began eliminating criminals all around the world with his note in order to create a world with no evil. The world started calling him “Kira”, which means “killer” in Japanese. Things didn’t go as smoothly as he expected when the world-renowned detective L started collaboration with the police to bring Kira to justice. It didn’t take long for L to suspect that Light Yagami was Kira, and Light had to find his way into L’s task force to get rid of his arch enemy. The mind-blowing fight between L, the good, and Kira, the evil makes Death Note one of the greatest manga of all time!
I first read Death Note in my first year in college when I borrowed the first volume from my classmate. I read it during class and fell in love with it from the very first chapter. Everything about this manga is just perfect, from the beautiful art to the intense story. I couldn’t help but admire the authors for creating such a masterpiece like that. I was hooked on this manga and decided to buy the complete English Box Set from amazon.com. It cost more than $100 including shipping, which may seem high for a short manga that has only 12 volumes, but it’s totally worth it.
The Death Note Box Set by Viz Media includes 12 manga volumes, Death Note how to read (volume 13) and the how-to-use-it booklet. Viz Media’s manga is slightly bigger than the normal Japanese tankoubon edition, which is great because I like reading big manga volumes. The 13 volume features in-depth interviews with the authors, where they talk about various subjects including how the characters were designed, how the Death Note rules were created and how Tsugumi Ohba thought up new ideas.
Some interesting facts from the interview with Tsugumi Ohba in Death Note volume 13 (SPOILER ALERT: please don’t continue if you haven’t read the manga):
- Ohba knew how Death Note would end, so the series turned out almost exactly as he had originally planned.
- He doesn’t remember specifically where he got the idea of the Death Note. One day he just started thinking about the rules and Shinigami.
- He chose a suspense story because he didn’t think he could create a normal fight-style manga.
- He usually read over the previous two or four chapters very carefully before creating the next one. This is for consistency, which he thinks is very important.
- When writing a story, he starts with the ending. Once he thinks up a good idea or plot development, he wants to use it immediately.
- Most of the Death Note rules were created early on, and some were done as the series went along.
- He doesn’t like leaving his home, so he didn’t go anywhere during the serialization.
- Ohba thinks that Light Yagami was a victim, that the moment he got his hands on the Death Note his life was ruined.
- He chose the name “L” after careful consideration. He wanted a letter that felt strong by itself.
- Misa’s Gothic Lolita look is simply because Ohba is into that fashion.
- Soichiro Yagami (Light’s father) needed to die for future plot development. Ohba decided that Light would never kill his own father, so he worked hard to make the death an accident.
- He didn’t want to kill Naomi Misora from the beginning.
- When Ohba resolved to kill L, he was holding back a tear.
- The reason there were two characters after L’s death (Near and Mello) was that L alone wasn’t able to catch Kira.
- According to Ohba, Light sees Misa as a bad person who had killed people. That’s why he’s cold to her and manipulates her.
- With Death Note, Ohba wanted to write about the harshness of reality rather than focus on human drama.
- He thought up numerous ways for Light to lose and decided that switching the notebooks was best.
- He didn’t want Light to lose because of a total mistake on his part, so he had the mistake come from Mikami instead.
- He didn’t decide on Mello’s death until the last second.
- If Ohba had to choose a theme he wished to express through the series, he’d say “Humans will all eventually die and never come back to life, so let’s give it our all while we’re alive.” He doesn’t think it’s very important to debate whether Light’s actions are right or wrong.
- Death Note is not meant to push an ideology or make a statement about good or evil.
There’s also a True Name Card attached to the 13th volume. If you cut it, you’ll see L’s real name. I haven’t done that because I don’t want to ruin my manga. Besides, I already know his real name from a quick Google search. In case you want to know, it’s L Lawliet. It’s funny how L’s real name is actually L, right? I always thought he had a Japanese name, until I read the part in the 13th volume where Ohba revealed that L’s half-English. If you watch Death Note: The Last Name (live action movie) and pay close attention to the ending scene, you’ll see the name L Lawliet on the screen.
When I went to Japan, the first thing I did was to go to Book Off to buy the complete Death Note manga series Japanese version. Almost all the popular manga series are available to buy at Book Off at only 105 yen per volume (used books), and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to buy rare items at really good prices. I was so shocked to see that they also had Death Note Box Set English version (yes, the one I purchased at $100) and they were selling it for only 2000 yen or 3000 yen if I remember correctly. I so regretted buying it from Amazon, but then I realized that those bargains at Book Off are really rare, it depends a lot on your luck.
If you’re a huge manga fan, the Death Note series is a must-have in your collection! If you’re a Japanese learner, you can improve your vocabulary and grammar a lot with this manga. The phrases and Kanji characters are difficult, so you should be at level N2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in order to understand most part. It’s cool to have both English and Japanese versions to read them simultaneously. You’ll remember the words and grammar rules much faster than just reading boring textbooks.