Death Note, Volume 3: Hard Run

Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Illustrator: Takeshi Obata

U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421501703
Released: January 2006
Original run: 2003-2006 (Weekly Shōnen Jump)

Hard Run is the third volume in the Death Note manga series, collecting chapters seventeen through twenty-five. Hard Run, along with the first two collected volumes (Boredom and Confluence), was included on the Top Ten list of the 2007 American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. This is not to say that older audiences won’t enjoy the series as well—its sophistication is sure to win the appreciation of many adult readers in addition to teens.

Despite being the main suspect in the Kira case, Light has so far been able to avoid leaving any concrete evidence leading to him as the killer of criminals worldwide. In fact, his alibis come across as being too perfect and L, the brilliant detective heading the case, becomes even more interested in him. So much so that he follows Light as he begins college, posing as a fellow student. Surprisingly, he ultimately reveals his identity and invites Light to join the investigation even though he is suspected to be Kira. But the battle of wits is cut short, or at least put on hold, due to a family emergency. It appears another Death Note may have been dropped and now there is a second Kira on the loose.

Hard Run was a little more quickly paced than the previous volume, Confluence. Light and L still seem fairly equally matched, but when it looks like the eccentric investigator might be starting to get the upper hand, the possibility of a Kira copycat complicates everything for both him and Light. The introduction of a second Death Note in the human realm ensures the continued complexity of this series and I expect that things will be kicked up another notch at least in the upcoming volumes.

Death Note is a popular manga series, and for good reason. It’s smart, well drawn, and complex. The characters are engaging and the story addicting. I am fascinated by Light and how his obsession with creating a perfect world is steadily corrupting him. L still is a bit creepy although I am beginning to get used to his bizarre behavior. Ryuk (a Shinigami death god and original owner of Light’s Death Note, which he dropped out of boredom) continues to amuse me, especially in regards to his supposed apathy and his delight in the whole situation. I remain impressed with this series and definitely look forward to reading the next volume, Love.

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