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A shounen franchise of enormous popularity, Death Note started with Tsugumi Ohba's manga, illustrated by the popular artist Takeshi Obata. The series is essentially an extended police chase thriller, but with added twists, including the existence of Shinigami (death gods) who can control the death of humans.
When a disaffected high school student named Light Yagami finds a notebook that will allow him to kill anyone, any time, using only their name and face, he decides to rid the world of its criminals. His purging results in an enormous Interpol campaign to find him, and he struggles against a number of police and detectives while the world weighs justice and the greater good. Ohba's manga ran from 2003 to 2006 in Japan, finishing up at 12 volume of story with an additional volume of bonus information. A novel side story titled Death Note: Another Note was written by Nisio Ishin (often speculated to be a pen name of Tsugumi Ohba), and a 37-episode anime adaptation aired in 2006. Three live-action movies have also been released: two based on the primary Death Note canon (but which changed the ending, as the manga had not been completed at the time of the films' 2006 release), and one that features an L side-story. Three video games have also been released in Japan, but none in the U.S. Death Note was an instant hit when it began running in Weekly Shounen Jump in 2003, and has continued to be popular internationally. It is a controversial series, however, due to the primary character being essentially a serial murderer. In China, the series has been banned and siezed from bookstores, while in Belgium notes saying "Watashi wa Kira desu" ("I am Kira," "Kira" being another name "killer" used in the series) were found near a dead body. Various schools throughout the United States have dealt with students who created their own "Death Note" lists, with reactions varying from a disciplinary hearing to suspension to outright expulsion for the lists' writers.