Wednesday, 11 May 2016

All 12 Death Note Manga Covers Analyzed

The Death Note manga is composed of 12 separate volumes. Each volume has it's own cover art drawn by Takeshi Obata. Manga artwork is generally pretty well-done, but I think that the cover art for the Death Note manga is particularly cool. Below I talk a little bit about the covers for each volume of the manga.

Volume 1 - Boredom


The first volume of Death Note is entitled "Boredom". This is probably a reference to the boredom that Ryuk feels in the Shinigami world (which is what initially prompts him to drop a Death Note into the human world).


The cover art for the first volume depicts the main character, Light Yagami, in the foreground with Ryuk behind him. The neat thing about this work is Obata's use of symbolism. Not only is Yagami identified with the grim reaper (as evidenced by him holding a scythe), but he is also identified as a god. This can be seen by the fact that the backdrop is a cross, a key symbol associated with Christianity. As a result, Yagami is being depicted as a sort of "god of death". This makes sense to anyone who has seen the anime or read the manga, as Light describes himself as a god after using the Death Note.

The first volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 2 - Confluence


Volume 2 of Death Note is entitled Confluence. The title refers to the fact that multiple people (i.e., L, the Japanese task force and former FBI agent Naomi Misora) are tracking Kira and are all poised to converge at the conclusion that Light is Kira.


In the cover art for this volume, L is the sole figure. We have the same Christian symbolism, which was slightly puzzling to me initially since L was never associated with any type of god figure. This can be explained by the fact that the cross is present in all 12 of the volumes, so it's not always referencing the god complex of Light Yagami. Although I think that it was originally included for that reason, as I expressed for above, I think that its secondary purpose was simply to be used as an interesting backdrop for all of the other images.

The second volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 3 - Hard Run


Volume 3 was entitled Hard Run due to the event in chapter 23 (which is also called "Hard Run") where one of the Japanese task force agents runs to a TV station to stop the Kira tape from being broadcast only to be killed by Misa Amane at the entrance to the studio building.


The main feature of this image is Ryuk. I don't think there is any significance to him being on the third volume's cover. I think he was just chosen arbitrarily (but I don't know that for certain). The skulls behind him are a nice touch and we can see the same death note instructions are written on this volume (as they are for all of the volumes).

The third volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 4 - Love


Volume 4 is entitled Love. It refers to the feelings that several of the characters had for each other. For example, Misa Amane felt love for Light and Gelus (a shinigami who was killed for protecting Misa by using a death note) felt love for Misa. Misa's stalker also felt love for her.


Thus, the cover art for this one understandably features Misa at the center since she is involved in all of the different love relations that I mentioned above. Also shown is Misa's shinigami, Rem, in the background.

The fourth volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 5 - Whiteout


The fifth volume's title refers to Light's loss of memory.


The cover art here is pretty cool since you might not notice what it is at first (I know I didn't). It shows L and Light chained together as they are in the story. However, since the chains are drawn so that they're zig-zagging across the image, it just looks like background decoration. Several of the other characters' faces are also overlayed across the cross in the background.

The fifth volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 6 - Give-and-Take


Give-and-Take is one of the more obscure titles out of all of the volumes. It refers to several actions that Misa Amane carries out such as trading clothes with Nori, making an agreement with Higuchi to marry him if he is Kira and trading email addresses with Higuchi.


The cover art of this volume returns to the Christian symbolism, this time with Light holding out his hands in a Christ-like fashion. The wings of the shinigami Ryuk and Rem form the horizontal part of the cross behind Yagami.

The sixth volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 7 - Zero


The title of this volume, Zero, refers to the timer counting down to L's death at 0 in chapter 59. It also refers to the beginning of the Near and Mello arc starting from zero.


The front cover of this volume shows L upside down with a cross of roses behind him. Since this is the volume in which L dies, it's understandable that he would be on the front. The roses may be symbolic of a funeral/death as well, but I'm not certain about that.

The seventh volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 8 - Target


The name Target references a few different events in the 63rd chapter. Specifically, it refers to Light's father's plane going off course, Near playing darts and Mello's "target" (or goal) of obtaining the notebook.


Mello is on the front cover of this volume. I don't know if there's any particular reason for his inclusion other than the fact that he's a main character. We can also see more Christian symbolism in the background with an image of Mary drawn at the centre of the cross in the background.

The eighth volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 9 - Contact


Contact's title refers to Ryuk making contact with the Kira task force and to Light's sister Sayu making contact with sunlight after her kidnapping.


The cover art of Contact features Near. As was the case with volume 8, I don't think Near's inclusion is for any reason other than the fact that he's a main character and the fact that his counterpart, Mello, was already included on the previous cover art.

The ninth volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 10 - Deletion


Volume 10's title Deletion is a reference to the phrase "delete" that the character Mikami uses whenever he kills someone using the Death Note.


The cover art for this volume looks pretty cool. It shows Mello and Near on the bottom half of the image with Light above them. There are also various angelic beings scattered throughout the picture as well, adding to the religious imagery that we've seen throughout the volumes thus far.

The tenth volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 11 - Kindred Spirits


Kindred Spirits refers to the fact that Light and Near both have the same mentality of wanting to win against each other.


The cover art of volume 11 depicts Mikami, Ryuk and I believe at least one other shinigami (although it's difficult to be sure by looking at it). Mikami and Ryuk are depicted simply as a reference to the fact that Mikami is using the Death Note to kill people (and, thus, is able to see Ryuk).

The eleventh volume of the Death Note manga.

Volume 12 - Finis


The title of this volume is self-explanatory: finis means "the end".


The cover art for this one includes most of the main characters (Light, L, Mello, Near and Misa). They are all drawn as though they were sculpted out of a stone. Light again holds his hands outward in a Christ-like pose, referring back to the god-like stature that he gave to himself.

The twelfth volume of the Death Note manga.

See Also


- 17 Anime Like Death Note

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