Title: Death Note
Written by Ooba Tsugumi
Illustrated by Obata Takeshi (also artist of Hikaru no Go)
Chapters: 1-14 (22 chapters released in Shounen Jump in Japan)
Summary: Shinigami are ugly creatures who merely have to write your name and the circumstances of your death in a little black book, called a 'Death Note', to kill you. But one shinigami is tired of this endless existance. He leaves his notebook on the ground in a school yard to see what will happen, and it is picked up by ace student Yagami Raito. What does he do with it?
Why, he uses it, of course!
Raito determines himself dispenser of justice and begins to murder hundreds of criminals across the world, earning himself the name 'Kira', the katakana that approximates 'Killer'. But such acts, 'righteous' though they may be, cannot go unpunished by the world. Police across the world begin to investigate Kira, headed by the mysterious young man known only as 'L' - and he is the one boy who could possibly match the genius of Raito.
It's the match of two geniuses! Will 'Kira' escape, or will 'L' catch him? We have yet to see.
Art: It's a very realistic style and very consistent. If you've seen Hikago's art and liked it, you'll like this art. The characters are very expressive with their faces especially - Raito has this look that is just horrendously spooky, and wait until you see L's face - he's tired around his eyes in a way that says a lot for the sort of life he leads. His mannerisms suggest reclusiveness as well, and this is all just expressed by the art. And the shinigami? Appropriately disgusting. XD
Storyline: This story is a dark, twisted one, so beware if you're not up for a psychological twist. You view most of the series from the eyes of the pathological sociopath Raito, which leads you to root for him even though you know that what he's doing is wrong. However, it's also an extremely intriguing path. Raito is a genius. So is L. And as they play cat and mouse, one finds himself wondering who exactly is chasing whom.
In some ways it seems as if the story is destined to wrap up too quickly - L seems to be rapidly closing in on 'Kira', and 'Kira' is feeling the heat already in chapter 13. Additionally, it seems at first as if there will not be enough action, since all Raito must do is write down names in a book to kill them. But the writer does an excellent job of keeping one intrigued with the investigating team, and the ways Raito kills people.
It seems as if more twists are waiting for us in the shadows, however, as the Shinigami that gave Raito the book holds yet more secrets for us. And one cannot help but wonder how this will all end ... because it cannot end well.
Overall: I think this series has great potential, and I look forward to more chapters. <3 Will justice prevail? and if so, whose justice?
I highly recommend this series.
I rate the story PG-13/R for psychological themes.