~written by Tsugumi Ohba
~illustrated by Takeshi Obata
Deletion is the tenth volume in the widely successful twelve volume manga series Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. Death Note also has a thirteenth, companion volume in addition to anime, live-action, and prose adaptations and spin-offs. Deletion was originally published in Japan in 2006 and Viz Media released the English-language edition in 2007. Viz is also now re-releasing Death Note in two-volume omnibuses called Death Note: Black Edition (because the covers are black), so Deletion will be found in the fifth omnibus. The series has its ups and downs, but for the most part I have really enjoyed it. The story and themes are interesting and Obata's artwork, as always, is excellent. Deletion picks up the story immediately where the previous volume, Contact, leaves off.
Just when it looks like Light, who is also acting as Kira and posing as L, has finally gotten a one-up on his adversaries Near and Mello, he quickly loses much of the ground he has gained as the two young men start grudgingly working together and sharing information. Near has determined that the new L is most likely Kira and that Kira is most likely Light. Mello shouldn't be far behind him in reaching the same conclusions. Now, they just need the proof. Near begins by attacking the trust that the members of the Japanese taskforce investigating Kira as built amongst themselves. As they begin to suspect each other and especially Light, who is leading the taskforce, Light has fewer and fewer options left to him for escape, none of them particularly good.
Teru Mikami is probably one of the most interesting character to be introduced in Death Note, certainly in recent volumes. He is also the only characters to have his entire past revealed. To do so, Ohba and Obata resort to a flashback sequence which feels a little out of place at first but ultimately I think it works. Plus, it gives Obata a chance to show off great skill at drawing a character at different stages of maturity while still remaining recognizable. The tone of the flashback also shifts away from the surrounding narrative. It almost reads like it could be a religious text. If Kira is God, as many people want to believe, Mikami is his prophet. Mikami is undeniably intelligent, smarter than even Light expected, making his adherence to extreme moral beliefs even more terrifying and disconcerting. It is obvious that he could be a very dangerous person working on his own. The question remains whether Light will be able to control Mikami's fanaticism or not.
After a few volumes with some very significant action sequences, Deletion is a return to the more cerebral elements of Death Note. Instead of running in with guns blazing, the men battle it out with their minds as they try to out-think and out-maneuver their opponents and sometimes even their allies in order to take control of the situation. This doesn't mean things have become any less intense, dangerous, or deadly. Near has forced Light to take risks he would rather not and Mello is just waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike to appear. Even Mikami is proving problematic as his ideals quickly diverge from those held by Kira. Panels do become a bit text heavy through all of this as characters explain things or think things through. While some are spelled out very thoroughly, other leaps of logic are difficult to follow. Usually the characters end up being correct, but I can't help but feel that they are making some unfounded assumptions or conveniently forgetting things as needed. Still, I am very interested in learning what happens next in the following volume the series, Kindred Spirit.