Deathnote is a long-running Japanese suspense comic about a bored demon who gives a gifted teenager control over a Death Note, a notebook that kills anyone whose name is inscribed on its pages. There are many rules governing the Death Note -- the owner has to picture the face of his victim when he writes the name -- and an imaginative Death Note owner can even specify the way that his victims die, in lavish detail.
Light Yagami, the teenaged protagonist, is the only person who can see the demon who gave him the Note, and he and the demon trade quips as Light sets out to improve the world by killing all of its worst criminals. This works for a hundred or so deaths, but then the G8 and Interpol sic L, the world's greatest, most mysterious sleuth, on the trail of "Kila" (killer), the person responsible for all of the killings.
The pacing is very tight, with surprising twists and turns. Light is a great, cheerfully amoral killer, a teenaged megalomaniac who delights in using his prodigious smarts to test the limits of the Death Note, approaching it like a Royal Society natural philosopher devising a series of tests to determine its parameters, to the delight of his demon companion.
The total absence of any disapprobation for Light's deeds is what sets this apart from American vigilante comics. In those books, there's always someone there to wag a finger at the crimefighter, even if it's just the crimefighter's own tortured conscience. That might appear in later volumes of the Deathnote books (I've only just read the first collection, there are 11 in print or due soon).
I don't read a lot of Japanese comics, but this came highly recommended by Secret Headquarters, my local neighborhood funnybook emporium, whose proprietor, Dave, has yet to give me a bum steer. It's a real treat living near a great comics shop.
Update: Dan sez, "it is also is about to be a major Japanese movie, being released later this month throughout Asia."
Update 2: James sez, "Two Death Note films have been released in Japanese theaters. The latest one, 'Death Note: The Last Name,' was a huge box office success when it was released a couple months ago."
Update 3: Hung sez, "there's also
an anime series running right now in Japan. It started running around
October of last year."
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
If you are camping during rainy season, or just want a TSA-approved lighter, these plasma torches make perfect travel companions. These gas-free lighters create a small plasma beam that’s safer than butane to use and more environmentally friendly. It creates a super-hot, splashproof flame so you can get a campfire going, or have a smoke […]
If you don’t want to get stuck footing the bill for a hit and run, this dashboard-mounted camera offers up to 2K resolution to make sure you always have a reliable witness, and it’s available in the Boing Boing Store for 30% off it’s usual price.The PapaGo mounts unobtrusively to your windshield to see everything […]
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]