Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Death Note

Death note is a popular manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, I first heard about it in an ad for the boxset while I was reading Shonen JUMP! at the library, I looked it up in the system and checked out the first volume of the manga (As I do to see if it's any good before getting the entire series) and I finished it that day I was so engrossed in it. It follows the journey of Light Yagami, vigilante with a god complex and a notebook of death, and L, the detective on his trail from the beginning to the end. The manga is entertaining and engrossing, you'll never be able to figure out the twists as they happen, which is why I won't reveal anything specific here. Suffice to say that it's a great work of literature that is in every bit deserving of its popularity and is all wrapped up by the end, you'll wish it was longer and will be left wanting so much more.
Then there are the adaptions of the manga, an anime that follows the plot almost precisely and a movie trilogy that takes a few liberties with the story, they're all Death Note, and they're all entertaining. In theory Warner Brothers is adapting the manga into a live-action movie and/or series of movies, which as long as they follow the plot and take few liberties should be good as well. There was a prequel novel that I read that kept me guessing until the end, which I recommend you read as well, it's called Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, and is just as good as the manga.
There was also a "What if" sequel novel called L: Change the WorLd based on the third movie, it essentially adapts the events of the movie of the same name to the manga Death Note universe. The entire franchise is complex and entertaining, even if the movies didn't live up to the quality of the manga or anime.
There is also a trilogy of games for the Nintendo DS devloped by Konami as Japan exclusives, even though they would have made a ton more money with an international release. The first one is called Death Note: Kira Game, a strategy game where you take control of L or Kira and attempt to unmask Kira or destroy L respectively. From what I've heard it's a good game and if you know or want to learn Japanese then a Death Note game is as good a reason as any.
The second game is called Death Note: The Successors to L, which follows the second half of the manga and the story of Ls sons attempting to continue their fathers work and unmask the now infamous vigilante Kira.
The third game is called L: The proLogue to Death Note: Spiraling Traps, it is set sometime before the manga or anime and possibly parallel (Resident Evil 2 and 3 style) to Another Note, unlike the first two games it is apparently a puzzle game where L assists you, an FBI agent who has been trapped in a hotel and has to find a way out.

The franchise gets points off for not releasing the games outside Japan (Even the Jump! fighting games with the main cast in them weren't released outside Japan), but extra points for dubbing the movies and releasing them in North America, no matter how brief. The anime gets extra points for adding another twist to the ending and for being dubbed excellently, as well as an amazing theme song. The manga gets points off for removing a few religious implications that would have made perfect sense in context, but all in all the official translation screws up less things than most of the fan ones I've seen, if you don't look it up they won't bother you. If you're used to color comics like most people in the US are then you'll notice the manga is in black and white first. Don't let that get you down, it doesn't need color to convey everything it does. This is a unique thriller in the sense that you never expect what's going to happen, even though it's essentially a comic-book. Death Note is manga at its best and anime at its best, if you have to read or watch anything Japanese, let it be Death Note.
Hulu has it streaming free with Japanese audio and English subtitles, but I prefer the English dub. It's not too common for someone to say they prefer an English dub of something, but I like the English voice actors, I think they did a good job and I don't like having to read the script when there's a perfectly good English version out there.
I can't rate this franchise, or even the individual parts of it. I had a hard enough time coming up with words to describe it without giving away major plot twists. You really have to read it, watch it, and play it for yourself to experience it, I recommend that you go through it all, and read the 13th volume of manga since it has the pilot chapter, which will be just enough to hold you over until WB comes out with the new movie. Believe me, by the time you're done with it all you'll want a lot more. The manga is only 12 volumes (with the 13th as a guide) so it won't take you too long to finish it. The anime is only about 37 episodes of 20 minutes or so apiece, so that won't take you too long either, string it out for as long as you can so you aren't left wanting more too soon and you don't miss anything. I've been planning this entry ever since I finished the manga, and you can see that it's pretty long. I hope I haven't missed anything or bored anyone, so I'll finish with this: Go get the first volume of Death Note, and then decide for yourself.

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