Ryuk, a bored shinigami (death god) creates a Death Note book which possesses the power to kill those whose names are written into it. He later accidentally drops the book into the human world. In spite of knowing that he could be stuck on Earth for a potentially long time, Ryuk decides to follow the book into the human world. Only more boredom and decay exist for Ryuk in the Shinigami world and he could certainly use the amusement.
Also bored and disillusioned with his world, high school student Light Yagami only finds enjoyment in being at the top of his class and among the highest ranking students in Japan. While leaving school one day he walks upon the Death Note book and reads its instructions. While at first Light dismisses the book as a prank, his curiosity gets the better of him and decides to take it home. He soon discovers the book’s powers after testing it on two criminals, both of whom both died within 40 seconds of Light writing their names in the Death Note book while thinking of their faces, just as the book instructed.
Light devises a plan to rid the world of its evil inhabitants to create a perfect Utopia where he is its God. With the increasing number of mysterious deaths among prisoners and criminals continue to rise, the police have no clues while the public begins a fan base on the internet for the unknown murderer who they name “Kira”, a play on the English word, “killer”. Soon an international police investigation is underway and along with a famous anonymous detective known only to the police and the public as “L” they will work to uncover the true identity of Kira.
Death Note features a cast of some of the best characters I have seen in a long time, and the fantastic interaction between Light and Ryuk provides the viewer an in depth look at how Light will continue his life as Kira. While forcibly bound to Light until the destruction of either the Death Note or Light himself, Ryuk appears to be enjoying himself as he often quietly comments on how much humans, especially Light amuse him. At times, even Ryuk questions Light’s use of the book and if he has the right to use it to deliver his own sense of justice. This fact is especially amusing given that Ryuk is a very frightening looking shinigami. He is very tall and skinny with huge yellow bugged-out eyes, a large creepy smile full of sharp teeth and a ragged pair of black wings sprouting from his back. Ryuk and Light even appear to be friends at times, since Light is unafraid of Ryuk and even provides him with a constant supply of his favorite food, apples. However, they both understand that Ryuk is only there to observe and has no personal stake in Light’s fate, so therefore will not offer his assistance.
The battle of the brains between Light and “L” keeps the storyline fast-paced as they both realize they may have finally met their match. Volume 2 will surely bring more complications to everyone investigating Kira, especially Kira himself.