Death Note Manga – Is The Franchise Spreading Thin?
Manga reviews: A battle between genius detective L and a man called Light who can kill anyone once he knows their name and face, Death Note is a classic manga / anime franchise that’s spreading thin…
Death Note started off as a manga series which has grown so big it’s almost turned into a franchise in its own right. Pretty much every anime fan has seen it. The face of L has become an icon, plastered across everything from bags to mugs (I have even seen a paper fan with his face on it). Turning this manga series into anime, films and merchandise leaves us asking the question: Does it spoil the original story and turn this artistic master piece into the anime industry’s cash cow?
It all started back in 2003 with the release of the original manga series written by Tsugumi Oba and art by Takeshi Obata. The story follows main character Light, who discovers a book of the Shinigami which gives him the ability to kill anyone, with simply their name and face. Light’s twisted sense of justice leads to an intellectual battle of logic and wit between himself and genius detective L. Death Note has been nominated for various awards and is found in almost all top ten lists of anime and graphic novels. Following the trend of any successful manga, it was soon adapted for an anime series.
Only a few months after the end of the manga publication, Death Note had already reached the screens of Japanese television. The anime series was praised for following the manga storyline with only a few alterations to characters and events. It turned into a storyline known by both anime and non-anime fans, becoming famous across the globe with its ability to please original manga readers as well as those who had never watched an anime before in their lives. The 37 episode series was able to cram in the whole manga storyline without the need of added filler and stayed closer to the original storyline than the live action adaptations.
The first Death Note live action film was released before the original manga finished and took the top spot at the Japanese Box Office. However, this did not cover the full story line and a second installment followed a few months later. The live actions films have both pleased and annoyed fans with various changes to characters and events but what really split the viewers was the alternative ending. Bringing animated characters to life is always a hard task, especially with a much loved character such as L. The choice of actors is crucial and is a minefield for causing controversy. Such a unique role will always be tough to perform; this wasn’t accomplished in the live action film and left many fans disappointed with the recreation.
It may have started out as a manga masterpiece. However, it’s the Death Note anime which is at the forefront of the hype. Finding a hidden gem of an anime like Death Note is the best feeling in the world, stumbling across an unknown title that blows you away and becomes one of your favourites. The opposite of this is being nagged to watch a certain series, reading shining reviews one after the other putting the hype through the roof, yet when you finally get round to watching it – it only leaves you feeling let down.
The hype surrounding Death Note is still growing with merchandise, games and the recently released third spin-off film. Although the original fans will remain loyal it is the new fans that will be affected. With such a heavily publicised and recommended anime (especially in such a small industry) new viewers may need to discard their expectations in order to appreciate the original manga and anime series, which will remain a classic for years to come.
Death Note anime – Light
Death Note anime – L
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