Standout Panels – Death Note Manga Vol. 1

Most manga posts talk about the plot and characters. Panels, gutter, speech bubbles, sound effects, font, motion lines, and overall page layout are sometimes overlooked when in fact, the impact of these definitely make a contribution to the work.

Spoilers ahead.

1. Context

Light picked up the Death Note, which grants the user the ability to kill a person provided that they know the name and face of the person they wish to kill. He has just finished reading the rules of the Death Note.


The bottom panel is all black. This foreshadows that Light will use the Death Note. Although in an earlier panel he says that it’s stupid, there is a contradiction between what he is saying and what the panel shows us.


2. Context

Light tested the Death Note in person. He wrote ‘traffic accident’ as cause of death, and a traffic accident happened right in front of him.


This death confirmed that the Death Note is real. The entire page is dedicated to this one panel. One, the death is shocking to Light and shocking to us as well. Two, we can bet that things will only get more interesting from here on in.


3. Context

At a G8 Summit, officials representing countries from around the world are arguing over Kira. Kira is the name given to the killer of the criminals. As we know, Light is Kira and he has been mass-killing criminals in order to create a “better world.”


I am focusing on the last panel of this page, but the entire page works as a whole because the rest of the panels emphasize the importance of the text in the last panel. This page is cluttered! There’s a lot of people and bickering, represented by the spiky speech bubbles. Then there’s the last panel, and the background is white. The text silences everyone. From this, we know that L is a very important person.


4. Context

The top half is a flashback, while the bottom half is present day. In the flashback, L talks about a direct confrontation with Kira. In the present day, the Japanese police are watching the public broadcast for the direct confrontation.


Instead of focusing on the panels this time, I am focusing on the gutter. The gutter is the space between the panels. Normally it is all white. However, because we have a flashback, the gutter is black. We can tell that it is a flashback because of the gutter.Β Then, the gutter gradually transitions from black to white. This signifies that we are brought back to the present.


5. Context

A man by the name of Lind L. Tailor claims to be L on TV, and says that Kira is evil. This riles up Light, and he writes down the man’s name in the Death Note.


Light usually writes the names on the lines but here, he writes Lind L. Tailor’s in huge letters. The first letter of the name takes up the space of over five lines! Light’s writing is not straight and you can tell that he wrote this quickly. Just by looking at his writing, you know how Light was feeling. He was pissed!


6. Context

So it turns out that Lind L. Tailor is not the real L. Now the real L is talking to Kira through the same public broadcast. L managed to dupe Light by proving that Kira exists, that Kira is able to kill without being present, and that Kira is located in the Kanto region of Japan.


Look at those motion lines! Motion lines are usually done when there’s an action, but we have a television screen in this panel. The scene is dramatic and it shows how amazing L is.


I hope that by writing this post, everyone will appreciate all the decisions made in manga and ALL comics!

17 thoughts on “Standout Panels – Death Note Manga Vol. 1

  1. Wow…I am pretty much a total noob when it comes to reading manga, so this post was very informative and gave some great insight in things I would otherwise have never known about. Deathnote is next on my manga reading list (I have the entire collection in one volume which feels like ton of bricks lol) but I will remember this post when I start reading it. Wonderful! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. πŸ™‚ I have seen that volume before haha. Have fun reading it – it’s my second favourite anime and has been for about 12 years! Once you’re doing reading the first section/volume, it would be cool if you could remember or think about the things I talked about in this post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes!!! When I saw that strip of black after he said that, my mind was like “Oh, you know you’re totalling going dark.” Haha. That’s one of the things that I love about reading graphic novels, is how distinctly *telling* the artwork, including the panels/layout/etc. can be to the story, and more often than not they are the key element in the narrative. Man, I adored this post so much. It always makes me so happy to see people analyse the art of graphic novels and how it plays to the story. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes!! Thank you so much, Neha! It was really fun writing it and I got to appreciate Death Note just a little bit more than I already do. Plus it gave me a chance to re-read the first volume, haha. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very nicely analysed! I’ve never really read too much into the compositions of panels in manga myself, despite being an avid reader, and now you’ve opened my eyes!
    Now that I think about it, a lot of mangas have a lot of different ways for you to feel things differently and focus on different things just with the sizes and shapes of panels.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Create-A-Story Tag: Crescendo (Music + Sea + Tragedy) | BiblioNyan

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