You think you'd know how L looked in his first Death Note panel, or Light, or Ryuk.
If you're anything like me - self-proclaimed obsessive in my attention to detail, coupled with a great memory, thus believing I knew it all - then you'd be wrong.
I even guessed Mello's introduction incorrectly. Got the scene, just not the shot. Mine was the next one on.
For us prospective Death Note know-it-alls, Japanese blogger Kyoko Kikuchi has painstakingly trawled through the manga and sifted out all those first appearances for every main Death Note character.
It's actually more fascinating than it initially sounds. I thought it would be a thing of passing interest, but I'm struck by how many times we meet individuals without ever seeing their face. Takeshi Obata has his readership creep up on characters, like stalkers or shinigami.
Ryuk, Misa, Mello and Near are all introduced to their soon-to-be fan-base with their backs to the 'camera' peering into the panel. L is turned towards us, but the top of his head is missing. Too tall for his own scene. Our perspective comes from above and focuses upon his groin area, albeit strategically shielded from view by the droop off his hand resting on his knee.
A microphone bisects our view of Soichiro's desk. A pen apes its short straight line and direction on that of his son. What is that black rectangle in front of Light Yagami? Is it a pencil case with a white pattern upon it? Its contours and colour is mimicked in the white name-plate identifying his father and colleague as representatives of Japan. Complete with their nation's flag - seen without hues as fundamentally a white square with a black sun.
Practically Ying Yang - black with white for Light; white with black for Soirchiro.
See what I mean? Much more to look into, while inspecting the first Death Note manga panels for major characters, than might be supposed. Perhaps hidden bits of sub-plot in where Tsugumi Ohba directed, or Takeshi Obata just draw, correlations between certain individuals.
As Neil Gaiman wrote in Sandman (and I'm fond of repeating to readers of my fan fiction) - Always trust the story, never the storyteller. There's always more to see in the subtleties and the little things, the links and what's left out.
And today I learned that artists are just as bad.
Discover more first sightings in the manga of Death Note personae in Kyoko Kikuchi's Death Note blog. Then keep on reading, because also found and ready for the analysing are the panels wherein we see each character's face for the first time. Plus, if they survived the time jump, then Kyoko also digs out the picture introducing us to that individual's older self in the second arc.
We could be here for hours.
However, the collection did miss out Matt's first Death Note manga appearance, in chapter 83, page 10. Let me make good that omission. And oh! Look! Just like Mello, Near, L, Ryuk and Misa, he's looking away with his face concealed. Interesting.