~written by Tsugumi Ohba
~illustrated by Takeshi Obata
2007 ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
Confluence is the second American collection of the wildly popular Death Note manga series, bringing together chapters eight through sixteen. It immediately follows Boredom and is just as good if not better than that first volume. By writing the name of a person in the Death Note while visualizing their face they may be killed. The specific circumstances of their death may also be indicated, otherwise they will die of a heart attack. Of course there are some rules and limitations to the Death Note's power which must be discovered through its use.
Light initially had good intentions when using the Death Note, focusing on convicted criminals for his victims. He is determined to eradicate evil from the world. But as the investigation into the murders intensifies, he resorts to less honorable killings to keep his identity a secret. Fearing for their lives and safety, most of the investigative force has dropped off the assignment. In the meantime, the mysterious and reclusive master detective known as "L" has been forced to reveal himself to what is left of the team.
Death Note is a very clever series and I'm really enjoying watching Light and L try to outwit each other. Sometimes its hard to tell exactly who has the upper hand. It's still early enough in the story that I could imagine either of them winning out in the end. At the moment, I find Light to be the more sympathetic character, although I'm sure his descent into corruption is far from over. L I just find kind of creepy. Ryuk, a death god and the original owner of the Death Note, is still hanging around to see the show, although he is finding himself being manipulated into actions he probably wouldn't otherwise take.
As the plot grows in complexity it is also increasing in depth. The character development, especially that of Light, is fantastic. The artwork has improved over the last volume, particularly in its consistency. I didn't notice as many translation problems as there were in Boredom, but Confluence still had some translation issues in addition to a few cultural reference that some readers (myself included) might not entirely understand. These for the most part were rather minor and were not critical to the enjoyment of the book.
I can tell that Death Note is a popular series from the simple fact that the books are rarely found on my library branch's shelves as they are usually checked out (or in some instances have gone completely missing). Almost the only way to get a hold of a copy is to join the waiting list. Even though I've only read the first two volumes of the series, I'm already impressed and understand the manga's popularity. Confluence is a great follow up to Boredom, and I'm definitely looking forward to finding out what happens next in Hard Run.