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.

Thoughts

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.

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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.

Thoughts

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.

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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.”

Thoughts

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.

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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.

Thoughts

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. Then, the gutter gradually transitions from black to white. This signifies that we are brought back to the present.

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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.

Thoughts

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!

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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.

Thoughts

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.

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

What’s in a Scene? Crimson Hero

This two-page spread is from chapter 1 of the manga, Crimson Hero. I wrote this some time ago in 20 minutes (timed).

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This manga, Crimson Hero, is a shojo manga targeted primarily to teenage girls. The look of the panel is tense. Nobara is engaged in an argument with her traditional mother so there are tension and societal pressures that Nobara is feeling. This is shown by Nobara’s upset facial expressions in panels 5 and 8, and the use of spiky speech bubbles to emphasize the dangerous and toxic mood.

Panel 9 has a black background and white speech bubbles. This contrasts with the rest of the page because this is the only one that looks like it. There are no characters or background details. This emphasizes the tense mood of the story and also how Nobara is feeling. She is making a decision that is not trivial by any means – this decision of moving out to pursue volleyball will affect her high school years. The black background conveys a sense of determination in Nobara, that she has made up her mind and will stick to her decision.

Nobara’s upset facial expressions in panels 5 and 8 starkly contrast with her mother’s uninterested, stoic face. Her mother’s face in panels 3, 6, and 7 show that she is the no-nonsense, strict kind of person who does not seem concerned about her daughter’s goals, desires, dreams and wishes. This has implications on the story because the character differences bring out conflict, creating a dramatic effect on the reader.

The speech bubbles show a difference in character when we look at Nobara’s speech bubbles in comparison to her mother’s. In panels 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, Nobara’s speech bubbles are not perfectly round. This mirrors her internal feelings of frustration at her mother for not being allowed to pursue her desire to play volleyball at school. Her mother’s speech bubbles, on the other hand, are perfectly round. This shows that she is calm during this argument, despite Nobara’s checks flushing red in anger.

Her mother’s “cold” personality is shown through her dialogue, facial expressions and speech bubble size. This also shows us a bit about the traditional norms of societal expectations in the traditional house. Nobara is clearly not ready to inherit it at this point. This scene relates to the overall plot because it is the first, or one of the first conflicts Nobara faces. Her mother’s different views about volleyball creates an obstacle for Nobara and she is forced to make a decision. The visual choice in this scene show a lot of contrasts between Nobara and her mother. The images, speech bubble design, facial expressions, dialogue and other aspects compliment one another. The panels in this scene escalate to panel 9, the plain black background. It effectively conveys a tense atmosphere and we as the readers sympathize with Nobara instead of her mother. These visual aspects do this for us. These aspects portray Nobara’s resistance against her mother and against tradition.