Death Note Vol. #05 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, May 01, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Writer/Artist:Writer: Tsugumi Ohba / Artist: Takeshi Obata
Translated by:Alexis Kirsch
What They Say
After a week locked up with no one but Ryuk for company, Light is ready to give up his Death Note and all memories of it. Freed from his past actions, Light is convinced he's innocent. But L is ready to keep Light under lock and key forever, especially since the killings stopped once Light was incarcerated. Then a new wave of Kira crimes hits Japan. Someone else has gotten their hands on a Death Note, and these new deaths aren't focused on making the world a better place, they're focused on making money. Big business can be murder, and Kira has gone corporate!
Hey, what does this button do? Oh, it's a manga reset.
VIZ uses the original cover art of Light and L with a lime-green background and logo, with chains pulled taut behind them. The chain motif is significant to this volume and it can be seen in several illustrations, and of course Light and L spend their days handcuffed together now, as seen in this picture. The back cover features Misa and Rem from the color page spread of chapter 28 (4th volume). VIZ also uses the nice combination of matte cover stock with glossy logo accents. The author's note, recap, and table of contents start the book off and there are ads for other Shonen Jump Advanced titles, a Shonen Jump subscription mailer, and survey card in the back. Color plates are not included, as is the usual standard with VIZ's Jump titles.
I've raved about the artwork in previous reviews, and there isn't much different to say for this volume. Still impressive, it remains one of my very favorite aspects of this series. Due to the events of this volume, we're treated to a less-sinister looking Light, and a more haggard L. There are also several new characters introduced, so there's plenty of new things to look at here. Also as settings and locales have become important, there is again a good amount of attention given to the backgrounds. I do miss seeing more of the shinigami though, since they added that distinct otherworldliness to the composition. The printing and art reproduction are still quite good, lines and details are crisp and the black spaces solid.
SFX and in-panel text are translated and overlaid, as is the standard practice with VIZ's Shonen Jump titles. There aren't very many SFX in this title, but the overlay job is still good. The translation reads smoothly, with no noticeable errors or obvious localizations. The translation includes the use of honorifics by L but his are the only ones (except one instance by Misa as well). L may be a special case and I like their inclusion, but don't see why they couldn't be used universally. Of notable improvement is the readability on the "How to Use the Death Note" pages found at chapter ends, whose clarity suffered due to font and printing in the last volume.
Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Surrendering under the guise of fearing he unconsciously acted as Kira, Light agrees to confinement to prove his innocence - or his guilt. But before long he secretly informs Ryuk that he relinquishes ownership of the Death Note, and now with both Misa and Light adamantly denying any involvement or knowledge, L's in a tough spot. A spot made even tougher given that the killings stopped as soon as Light surrendered.
Eventually the killings do start up again, which really throws L for a loop. Next the police support ends under mysterious orders from above and the task force, now down to unrelenting core members only, must operate as something of a rogue-ops group. After a little life-or-death test L is convinced to let Misa and Light out of confinement, but he still doesn't trust them at all. In order to keep close tabs on the original Kiras - not to mention stay alive - everyone plays house in a new high-tech, high-security building together.
Now working with L to solve the case, Light soon notices a trend in the new Kira killings: They all seem to benefit the Yotsuba financial group. A mysterious man is shown making a deal with Rem and he's got a boardroom full of greedy comrades eager to take advantage of the powers of the Death Note. Now in need of bodies, (and also at liberty to do so), the task force enlists the help of some exalted underworld criminals to help with their investigation and infiltration of the company. What will they find? Can they solve the case before the third Kira kills them all?
Several new characters are introduced in this volume, but none of whom I liked as much as Ryuk, who was gone (and sorely missed) after only a handful of pages. A lot of time was spent in the new building evaluating the case as it had changed, and with Misa and Light free from their Death Notes they were almost like new characters themselves. At the very least they each had new roles to play. But in this case pumping the manga full of new blood only diluted what made it so intense. Not to mention it feels like we're being lectured on the dark side of humanity via the corporate scum. It was somehow much more palatable when it was just a sociopathic megalomaniac college student...
Wow, be careful what you wish for. I said in my last review that I almost wanted Light and L to be friends -- it'd be fascinating because Light was so genuinely detached and secretly brutal and L so deceptive -- but it's not worth the expense of losing those things between them. What drove this series forward, making it a page-turner was the incredible tension, the fear of death for one and capture for the other. The fact that it could, with one wrong move, end at any moment. This volume burns off some of that suspense as the series hits the brakes and stalls for time.
It's true the manifestation of Kira's evil still exists and therefore a case still exists for L to solve, but purposefully-mysterious men in a boardroom just don't do it for me. Perhaps I've just seen one too many shonen anime, or maybe it actually is just a lame reset device, but either way I'm just not buying it. Pitting L and Light's mental brilliance against each other made it worth paying attention - but with them working together who could possibly compete? That boardroom full of corporate baddies? Please. Plus I can't buy Light's innocent act -- I know it has to be real since he has no memories of killing with the death note, but after four intense volumes that suggest otherwise, it's too much to ask of us to believe in his new (original?) personality.
The thrill isn't all gone; the hook here is that we're to assume (hope) that Light had a great strategy for Rem and Ryuk to follow before he started this charade, and that he'll somehow return to his earlier self. Even though Light's surrender appeared to be a move of desperation meant to save himself from Rem, he isn't the type to give up on his goals so easily and we'll want to keep reading to find out what trick he had up his sleeve. For now I will; this detour hasn't ruined everything (yet), but it had better swing back to the main road, and quick.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left