Title: Death Note, Volume 1
Series: Death Note
Authors: Tsugumi Ohba (Story) & Takeshi Obata (Art)
Rating: 4/5 stars
Light Yagami, ace student and top of national charts with his test scores, is bored with everything, but that changes one day when he discovers the Death Note of the shinigami (death god) Ryuk, who is equally bored with his existence and dropped his Death Note on purpose in the human world, just to entertain himself. When Light discovers the purpose of the Death Note, that by writing a person's name, the way they die and the time that they will die in the Death Note and that person will die in that manner, he decides to take it upon himself to rid the world of its criminals and force the world to be a better place. However, he quickly becomes deluded into thinking that he will be able to rule the world as Kira, the Savior; that he will be able to exact judgment on whomever he feels is unworthy of living.
Obviously, the world's police forces take notice of the growing number of deaths of the criminals, both imprisoned and free, and decide that Kira needs to be held responsible for the deaths of so many, even if they are criminals. The mysterious super-sleuth L, who has never shown his face to anyone, decides that he need to team up with the police to help them track down this killer. A fast-paced game of cat and mouse ensues as Kira and L try to discover more about each other, as neither have shown their faces, while Ryuk sits on the sidelines, enjoying his entertainment.
I find the story intriguing and the plot is original. This first installment moves along rather quickly, setting up the key characters and plot points, but given that the series is 13 volumes long, there will still be plenty of story to be told, so I don't feel that it was rushed for no reason; I think Tsugumi Ohba simply didn't want to waste a lot of time introducing the main characters. This is my first real experience with Manga in general, so for all I know all series are started like this.
The art is fresh and crisp, and it is not hard to follow at all, even with the story running backwards to Western eyes (the story reads from right to left). Printed entirely in black and white line art with some shading, Takeshi Obata's style lends itself perfectly to the pacing of the story. I'd be interested to see some more of his work sometime.
An intriguing and unique story told in a nice, clean presentation, I'm really interested to see where the story of Death Note goes from here.