Death Note Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0170-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Death Note Vol. #03

By Julie Rosato     January 11, 2006
Release Date: January 01, 2006

Death Note Vol.#03
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Writer: Tsugumi Ohba / Artist: Takeshi Obata
Translated by:Pookie Rolf
Adapted by:

What They Say
Hard Run
Light is chaffing under L's extreme surveillance, but 64 microphones and cameras hidden in his room aren't enough to stop Light. He steps up the game, but before the battle of wits can really begin, a family emergency distracts him. But even though Light isn't using the Death Note right now, someone else is! Who's the new “Kira” in town?

The Review
Death Note pushes forward introducing a couple of new twists, proving that taking risks is still good game.

VIZ uses the original cover art of Ryuk against a pile of skulls with a blue background and logo. The back cover features another picture of Ryuk, this time from the opening illustration of chapter 21. As suggested by this cover, the shinigami once again get a bit more focus throughout the events of this volume. VIZ uses a nice cover stock that combines a matte base 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.

The artwork in this volume has begun to showcase what I think is Obata's most impressive strengths: The subtle aging (or other changes) of characters and the shift of focus, no matter how slight. With this volume, time is passing and Light is changing. More than just aging (he's already a college student!), Light's features have hardened as well. It's a quiet, gradual change, and it's perfect. Another example in this volume is his father, with his gaunt, stress-worn face. Accordingly, this volume also pares down the backgrounds to focus on character art - in particular, faces and eyes. Expression is the singlemost important outlet in a psychological thriller and the artwork here reflects the shift in the battlefield -- likely without most readers ever noticing. And even though empty space has become a greater tool in the storytelling, the backgrounds are still given their due when present (still fairly often). 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. Occasionally the text does suffer from misalignment but it never extends past the bubbles.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Under bribery of apples, Ryuk confirms Light’s suspicion that his home is under L’s surveillance, and there are 64 cameras in his room alone! However, thanks to his careful planning, Light manages to keep up his diligent student act in front of the cameras while still committing acts as Kira. After several days with no clear proof, L allows the cameras to be removed, but he isn't ready to clear the Yagami and Kitamura families yet. L realizes with dismay that if one of the observed were Kira, then they've become so used to killing that they showed no signs of it on tape. This forces him to consider taking drastic measures. In particular he seems considerably focused on Light, as he is extremely intelligent and altogether too perfect.

Under the pseudonym matching that of a pop idol, L shadows Light at his college entrance exams. After both are admitted to the university with identical top scores L approaches Light and confesses his identity as L. Revealing himself and expressing his desire to have Light help solve the Kira case is the first of many moves intended to rattle Light into blowing his cover. In doing so L also assures himself relative immunity, for if he wound up dead Light would be exposed as Kira. However, while Light is aware of having lost this battle he realizes that such a desperate move only proves that L does not have any solid evidence -- the war is still waging, now only one-on-one, and Light is delighted at the prospect.

The two play a game of tennis under the pretext of getting to know one another as friends, but more than a court sport is being played. Afterwards L admits to Light that he suspects him of being Kira but might also like him to join the task force. This move once again puts L one step ahead of Light, but determined to regain some ground, Light has a few questions and demands of his own. Before the two can finish their mental jockeying, they receive some shocking news: Light's father has had a heart attack!

In the meantime, a local TV station receives some curious videotapes from someone claiming to be Kira. The videos deliver an ultimatum to the police: Cooperate with Kira or surrender for sacrifice either the NPA Director-General or L in four days' time. Several innocent people are killed on air as proof of Kira's power. The task force manages to procure the videos as clues, but not without casualty. The police naturally decide to fight, and L, convinced this is a copycat Kira, agrees to the demands. Watching these events unfold from his room, Light realizes that this fake Kira is both his ticket to beating L and the greatest danger to himself. Both he and L know that they must get to the fake Kira first. To that end Light decides to join the task force (and L decides to ask him to join), but who's that girl walking down the street with a shinigami behind her?

Now is where we really have to start paying attention. L's been outed, Light's openly under suspicion, and the volley of their mental games is dizzying. Light is still horrifyingly confident but he's also starting to crack -- he's losing (and more than just his cool) and trying too hard to look calm. His undoing might just be in his nonchalant façade; L can certainly see through it. (At the very least I would think it normal to register some surprise over L revealing himself…)

I did feel that the tennis game chapter was a tad superfluous -- as shallow a bridge between plot points as it was for the boys' conversation -- and it caused this volume to rely more heavily on explanations (a trap typical in shounen manga). However, I suppose laying out the reasoning steps in a battle of wits is forgivably appropriate and even necessary, at least in this stage of the game, and their determination to win over the other (no matter the battlefield) is as strong as ever, making this volume yet another page-turner. The artwork in this volume is also fantastic and added to the experience (see my comments above).

In the end though, L wins this volume; he really drove it forward. I think he truly suspects Light, despite the book's best efforts to diffuse his suspicions -- he's too smart and he covets Light too much for it to be otherwise. Unveiling himself to Light allowed their battle to begin in earnest, another reason I think L believes him to be Kira. It also raises the stakes for the series, as did the introduction of a second Kira. Injecting new characters can do one of two things: Enhance depth or water down the result. So while not entirely surprising moves, they both prove taking risks is not out of the question. It's twists such as these that illustrate how this title manages to carry on the suspense and I'm looking forward to seeing how it keeps me guessing.


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