Graphic novels are all the rave these days. Sales are higher than ever in the comic book/graphic novel market, and a sector of the publishing industry that was once deemed a niche category is now being given careful consideration. Want proof? Look no further than the critically acclaimed television show, The Walking Dead. Well into its 4th season, it continues to garner record breaking viewership and happens to be so successful that the executive producers want to keep the show running for another ten years. None of this would have happened without the success of the graphic novel, the medium in which the television series is based.
Graphic novels and comic books have now become “cool” and “acceptable” to the mainstream audience. There was once a time when the market was reserved only for “fan boys” and “geeks,” but now it is not uncommon to see a diverse group of people, of all ages, gender and race – flock to the theaters to see the new Captain America movie.
You may ask, what does any of this have to do with Death Note? What is Death Note?
Death Note is a popular manga (Japanese comic book) series that embodies the essence of a supernatural thriller, boasting a mind-bending narrative, complex characters and deep philosophical themes. Think of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, in terms of comparison and grand scale.
It is the story of Light Yagami, a brilliant young man who is at the top of his game when it comes to academics, friends and women. But despite what many would consider the perfect life, he is terribly bored. That all changes one day when he comes across an unimposing notebook lying the grass. Titled “death note,” he picks it up out of curiosity and takes it home to examine it further. To his surprise, he soon comes to a shocking realization: if a person’s name is written down in the death note…they will die.
Light Yagami soon uses it to “cleanse” the world of “evil,” with the intent of creating a utopia for all mankind. Little time passes before he begins thinking of himself as a God with his newfound weapon. However, the sudden and widespread deaths of criminals do not go unnoticed. A world renowned detective, only known by the letter L, takes on the case behind the mysterious murders, engaging Light in a shadowy game of cat and mouse in which the stakes only rise higher and their game becomes more and more dangerous.
I won’t spoil any of the fine details or the ending, but this is one of the few stories I’ve read in my life that wowed me. This includes other forms of entertainment such as movies, other books, comics and more. The story is perfectly crafted, the twists are astounding and shocking, and the characters are so alive that you’re not sure if you want to know the ending at all (since not all of them survive).
This is not just a comic book. This is not just a manga. It is a masterpiece that everyone should have the pleasure of reading. Weaving together a tale that is both entertaining and thought-provoking is not an easy feat to accomplish, yet Death Note manages to succeed on all levels, even with a premise that might sound silly at first.
So, why should every author take a chance at reading Death Note? Here are a few reasons.
1.) Engaging in a form of entertainment you might not be familiar with will open your mind to new ideas and creativity. You may even find yourself looking for other manga to devour!
2.) A masterpiece should be experienced by all those who seek to create their own in the future. For example, it is a widely held belief that if you are an aspiring writer, you must experience Shakespeare in some form. This is because he was revered as a master of his craft. As writers, we must learn from others before us, imitate the best they have to offer, and then once we have mastered the rules of our trade, we can break them, and begin to forge our own path.
3.) You will learn that any premise can work. An ugly idea can easily become a beautiful swan, as long as it’s properly executed. You may be afraid to write out a particular story because the premise seems odd or unpopular, but this doesn’t mean it can’t work. It’s all in how you tell the tale.
4.) You will realize that the best kind of stories don’t just entertain. They teach. It’s commendable if you know how to make a reader laugh or cry. But it’s downright impressive when your readers begin embedding lessons from your story into their lives.
Death Note is one of those stories that transcend beyond the page in a variety of ways, teaching the reader the art of storytelling while taking them on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. But don’t take my word for it. Why don’t you find out for yourself?