Death Note Black Edition Vol. 2 Review By Deffinition
Death Note Volume 1 was the first manga book I ever read. Unsure of what to expect In terms of story and unfamiliar with the Japanese graphic novel aesthetic I was perhaps overly cautious as to how good it could be. I’m happy to say that the first Volume blew me away. Receiving a perfect 10/10 it stands as one of the highest scoring pieces on my website and I recommend all to read it.
However, as we have often seen, sophomore curses can plague followup books and with the bar being set so high, it will be interesting to see if Death Note Black Edition Volume 2 can deliver on the potential its predecessor set.
I’m desperate to jump back into the world of Light and the Shingami. The first book set up so many threads that if correctly dealt with, could easily propel the story forward to being one of the greatest ever written in any medium.
So with that out the way, let’s dive into Death Note Black Edition Volume 2.
Paranoid with an Android
The book opens with Light under surveillance. Aware that he is being watched we see the paranoia build within the student and he acts extra normal to avoid suspicion. Writing homework with his right hand and the death note with the other, it’s clear he’s thought out all eventualities. Concealed in a bag of chips with an Android TV displaying criminal names, the note is just as dangerous as ever and he continues his reign of terror uninterrupted even under close scrutiny.
Against his best efforts, L sees through the guise and the first few issues revolve around the two brilliantly second-guessing one another. Gripping to read we as a reader are treat to the two psychologically playing all possible scenarios out in their head in order to counteract and outsmart the other. It really elevates the book to that of a crime thriller, constantly on the edge of my seat I lavished the opening chapters and when L drafts himself in at Light’s school, the stakes rise exponentially.
‘I am L’
Attending school under the name Hideki Ryugia, a famous Japanese popstar, L brazenly walks up to Light and says ‘I am L.’
Placing himself directly in the firing line L wants to see how Light will react to the revelations. It’s a brilliant play that allows L to study his opposition up close and personal but also provides some leeway. Should Light write the name Hideki Ryugia in the Death Note, chances are that the popstar would be the one to die. This will allow L to confirm his suspicions and finally have the identity of Kira.
The move once again cements Death Note as one of the most cerebral books I have ever read. Playing out like a beautiful game of Chess, we see Light lose his cool for the first time.
Watching the character finally snap is enthralling, his cool demeanour gone, the book beautifully depicts a man who could potentially lose it all.
‘I believe that you are Kira’
Announcing that he believes Light is Kira, the tone shifts and the interrogations wrought forth are outstanding. I don’t want to spoil too much but if you are a fan of criminal psychology you will lavish this turn. Only being brought to an end by the news that Light’s father has had a heart attack, it’s breathtaking to see the moves play out in spectacular fashion, panel by panel.
‘The World will be changed for the better’
Similar to serial killers such as The Zodiac and BTK, Kira sends material to the press. Holding the chair of directors to ransom the messages are broadcasts nationwide. Murdering disbelievers in the process to show their authenticity, Kira has made a bold move. It massively raises the stakes and confirms to the world that there is someone judging them all in a cruel game of life and death.
Eventually giving L the ultimatum that he must show his face on television or the Head Of Police (Light’s Father) will die, it’s clear Kira has reached Machiavellian leaves of debauchery.
But this isn’t the Kira we know.
In a brilliant turn of events we learn that it is a copycat killer. A female named Misa too possesses a Death Note. Armed with the eyes of a Shingami, she is able to see the names of everyone, making her infinitely more dangerous than Light ever could be.
Light, slightly disheartened that someone is taking credit for his work, also sees many benefits of the situation. Providing an opportunity to clear his name whilst simultaneously putting a culprit away he decides to join L’s task force and hunt for the new Kira.
Misa is a great character, shaking up the dynamic her naivety allows her to be a wild card in the story. She expertly shows what the average person would do with a Death Note, killing celebrities and people caught up in sex scandals, she seems caught up within the sensationalism of the media rather than using her own judgement. This is perhaps a comment on how new reports and the ilk play to our darkest desires and we wish death on those in the limelight even though they have done little to really deserve it.
Requesting a meet with Kira it puts Light in a difficult position. Now working for the task force he must act natural all whilst still fulfilling the role of Kira and the duality that his personality develops into almost fractures his psyche.
In love with Light
Finding out Light’s identity through her Shingami Eyes, Misa tracks down the student and professes her love to him. In a submissive way she begs Light to be her boyfriend, even giving him her notebook. Whilst it could be viewed as cliched and even obsessive, when we learn that Misa’s parents were murdered in front of her it’s clear that she perhaps has a need for a guardian, one that Kira could easily be.
Light of course sees her more as a means to an end than that of a partner and the weakness she shows actually speaks more to Light’s possessive nature and narcissistic behaviour. Truly lost he is fascinating to watch, unable to interact with her on a personal level it’s clear that the creators have made the female almost into an object and as a reader we must question our allegiance to Light because of this. Planning to murder her eventually it’s brilliant to see her Shingami, Rem, jump to her side and say should she die, he will kill Light. It puts him in a stalemate, one he must outthink and it’s captivating to see Light once again impotent in his desire to kill someone.
Using her obsession as a weapon, Light plots out how he will eventually take down L as we head into the final arc of the storyline.
Out smarting both, L is able to lure Light and Misa into a false sense of security. After allowing Misa to see him and then having her apprehended he puts Light under extreme scrutiny.
Relinquishing her Notebook and therefore memories of her murders, Misa passes all responsibility onto Light. Imprisoned for three days, Rem informs Light that he will kill him unless he rescues Misa.
In a startling conclusion we see Light hand himself in, claiming he may be unaware of his actions. Giving full co-operation we end with Light in a cell, blinded and deafened by his restraints we end Volume 2.
Death Note Volume 2 Black Edition is a slight dip in quality when compared to it’s predecessor. Unfortunately due to some slightly goofier moments, such as the out of place tennis match and poor characterisation of Women, mainly due to Misa’s obsession, the book just misses the mark.
Still spectacular in it’s constant raising of the stakes, the manga does a lot in terms of an producing an engaging narrative and by the end, I was desperate to pick up the next Volume.
This is another breathtaking storyline that whilst slightly behind Volume 1 still delivers. In terms of quality you would be hard pressed to find a book that rivals this rich graphic novel and that’s why it gets a…