There's no doubt that Death Note has been a worldwide smash-hit - a 12 volume manga which has spawned 3 live action movies, a light novel and an anime series, it's been unstoppable. It seems that the characters and concept have struck a real chord with people across the globe. With the release of Death Note 13: How to Read, we're given a detailed, insiders view of the manga, and it's a real treat.
The book is split into sections. The first and longest section is the character bios, both human and Shinigami. All have entries which include their roles in the series and their eventual fates. There are relationship diagrams for all the characters, and locations are explained and discussed.
Following this chapter, the book examines How to Think, which includes an interview with the series creator, Tsugumi Ohba, Death Note Truths, which is a sort of Q&A session which clears up some of the murkier aspects of the series - it's a fascinating read. Finally this section details the history of all 108 chapter titles.
This is followed by a section called How to Read, which is essentially a rundown of events with a commentary discussing the ramifications of each action, and the possibilities of what may have happened if certain events had unfolded differently.
The following sections detail the exact movements of the Death Notes in the human world and the full set of rules for the Death Note. There's an interview with series artist Takeshi Obata called How to Draw which is a fascinating insight into how certain characters evolved, and how the designs affected the direction of the story. The writer and artist are then interviewed together in a section called How to Create, and the interplay between the two makes for interesting reading.
The most fun and eye-catching area of the book is Ryuk's Notes, which features series commentary as written by Shinigami Ryuk, and is quite brilliant. There are also comics - the original series pilot chapter, and the 4 panel comics which appeared in the serialisation but not the graphic novels.
Phew! Even though fans will know all these details, there's a certain thrill involved in looking up your favourite character and reliving the events that shaped their lives. The writing is intimate and extremely comprehensive, the interviews add plenty of meat and interesting insider details, and the comic areas are superbly presented.
You really couldn't ask for a better guide to the series. It's like a post-match analysis and Death Note geeks, and anyone who has read and enjoyed the books really should pick this up. Apart from the stellar content, the presentation is also superb - from the cover to the tear out list of every characters real name, the amount of thought and effort that has gone into this volume is worthy of anyone's time and money.