Death Note: Black Edition Volume 3 Review By Deffinition
The Death Note series has set a phenomenally high bar thus far. Dramatically it stands as one of the most thrilling graphic novels that I’ve ever read and the Manga Series has been a Marvel to behold thus far. Ending on a nail-biting cliffhanger, Volume 2 left me instantly wanting more and it will be interesting to see whether Volume 3 can capitalise on the hype.
As with all of my reviews I will be recapping the storyline as I go and discussing how the plot points make me feel. So, it may be best to avoid reading this review for now if you don’t want any spoilers.
With that out the way let’s dive into Death Note: Volume 3.
Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Confined for over Fifty Days, Light is under heavy surveillance. In what is the character’s lowest point thus far, we see him monitored day in and day out. Realising that his Father could be a hindrance to the investigation, L in-prisons him also.
Whilst this is a slow-paced opening, it provides a wealth of paranoia. The series has become famous for its characters constantly second-guessing one another and this introduction is no different. Whilst initially the murders cease, upon their continuation we see L develop an inferiority complex and he has no other choice but to left Misa, Light and Light’s father go.
Pushing them to the brink the characters all feel broken now, at the abyss we see the anger within them quadruple and as a reader I found myself switching sides throughout. It’s breathtaking to see everyone act like a happy family on the surface but have twisted machinations below. When L enforces that he and Light should be handcuffed to one another 24/7 the stakes rise exponentially. I loved this ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ motif and it recaptures the excitement that the prior two entries possessed. The book depicts some of the most complex characters in comic history and I believe that readers of the series so far will love this opening.
In This Together
Unfortunately in the second act of the first collected volume, the plot strays from its original aesthetic. More concerned about revolving around how Light, L and Misa would go on dates together it seems to lose the sinister aspect of Death Note and feels more like Dawson’s Creek than a story of murder.
Losing its grip on reality I found myself shaking my head upon the discovery that L has constructed a high rises building in order to monitor the two suspects. When asked how he acrewed the funds, instead of explaining he just brushes it to the side saying ‘he had to do it’. This to me signifies that the writer had no way to explain it so just implied we should take a leap of imagination. It’s lazy writing, especially in a storyline that was so invested in logic and rationality in its beginning. Providing the first real misstep I found myself perplexed at the new aesthetic and was no longer in favour of the direction that the storyling was going.
White Collar Kira
In order to avoid suspicion, Light allows Misa’s Death Note to go into the hands of another. Held by the head of a corporation, the murders continue. Decided by committee the Yotsuba corporation kill all competitors, allowing their shares to increase whilst the other companies collapse. Satirically looking at corporate greed it provides a plateau of parody and manages to throw L off the scent of Light. It works as a divisive distraction that cements just how ahead of the game Light really is, even if he doesn’t know it anymore. Which brings me to my next point.
After Forgoing the Death Note whilst confined, Light loses all memory of his acts as Kira. This completely dilutes the character and in all honesty, I found that the book lost its edge. Missing Ryuk, Light loses his duality and becomes a slightly one-dimensional character. He merely feels like a back up to L and these middling chapters seem to span the majority of the book, bogging its pace down severely.
Death Note is at it’s best when Kira and L are locked in Battle and without this element, there is very little to thrust the plot forward. Sure there is the corporation storyling but this is merely dressing and doesn’t add much to the overall depth of the work, especially when we have had far more interesting narrative points in the past.
Infiltrating Yotsuba under the guise of Misa Misa modelling for them. Our detectives come to the conclusion that one of their board members is Kira and the investigation heavily shifts to focus on the eight of them.
Bored of the Board
Aware that they are Kira, L refuses to arrest them due to lack of evidence (even though they have admissions of guilt on tape), which adds further padding to the plot. Suffering heavily, from lack of characterisation, the Chair are simply nowhere near as likable as Light was when in the role and it becomes hard to have any attachment towards them. Possessing neither the wit nor demeanor of our protagonist they really feel poorly developed and I longed for the days when Light was in possession of the Death Note.
After the investigation team leak information that implies that Misa knows L’s identity, she is invited for an interview. Her old Shingami, Rem, confronts her and exposes Light’s plan, filling in the gaps in her memory. However, even this wasn’t enough to save the book at this point.
Whilst the narrative had performed well at teasing the identity of the New Kira, I ultimately found the reveal to be disappointing. Tricked into confirming his power upon attending a date with Misa, the storyline once again suffers from this teenage tv drama aesthetic. Plaguing a lot of the plot it really made me question whether I was even enjoying the storyline anymore and I was desperate for it to end and get back to what had initially made the book so interesting. Light Vs L.
Luckily for the finale of the volume the plot majorly picks up. The group spring into action and set the trap to capture Kira. It’s an astounding ending that manages to capitalise on the mundane setup thus far. Catapulting the book forward it finally felt like the narrative was back on track and this finale will win round several of the naysayers that feel the way I did in regards to Volume 3.
Ending with the Yotsuba board member in custody we are left with the hope that the next Volume will perform better than this one did.
As you may have guessed, Death Note Black Edition Volume 3 is nowhere near as good as it’s predecessors. Relying heavily on teen angst, poorly developed villains and an absolutely dismal love story it fails to deliver. Going into this I was expecting a psychological thriller, desperate to see how Light and L would survive as cohabitants but for whatever reason the storyline drops this aesthetic in favour of a bland subplot.
However, I know that what’s done here has the potential to go stratospheric in terms of quality and hope that this is just a bump in the road on what has so far been a great journey.
Due to the disappointment that I had with this book I am scoring it a…