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Death Note Review

by: Sheex
July 12, 2007

story 9/10

Death Note screenshot

Ordinarily, I make a point to avoid series plagued by fanboyism, as they generally suffer from pitiful characterization, flimsy storylines, and sub-par aesthetics.  Yet, Death Note carried some strange allure and managed to pique my interest, so I decided to give it a shot.  I would not be disappointed.  It's one of those gems that graces the anime world only every so often and certainly deserves a considerable amount of respect.

At its core, Death Note is an anime that captivates you with a story fashioned around logic, wit, trust, and betrayal.  Filled with deep characters and weaved with intensity, it grips you from start to finish with amazing vice.  It traces the story of Yagami Light, a young college student who has become disillusioned with the pervasiveness of crime and corruption spread throughout the world.  Purely by accident, he stumbles upon a book called a Death Note, which allows its author to kill any person of his or her choosing by merely writing their name inside, given that they know the person's name and face.  Though at first skeptical, Light decides to use its powers to cleanse the world of evil, and thus begins his quest for justice.

What immediately follows, however, is a conglomerate struggle of ethics and morality.  Death Note presents a surprisingly detailed scenario in which the definition of absolute justice is blurred and the true nature of morality is put into question.  Unlike other pseudo-intellectual anime that attempt to provide naïve approaches to such tough subjects, though, it does not step lightly around any of its subject matter.  The script writers do a fantastic job at presenting the storyline in dramatic fashion without drowning out its substance in philosophy.  There are a number of such elements that the series touches upon, but each and every one is seamlessly streamlined into the anime.

Due to the nature of Death Note's story, however, it's incredibly difficult to present an accurate, detailed reflection of the plot without giving important details away.  The drama is presented in a very cumulative fashion, with each individual episode building upon the intricacies and complexities of the last.  For a series built so strongly around logic, this is definitely a strength rather than a weakness.  You'll find yourself gripped from the first minute until the last, carried on by numerous twists and turns that keep the story both fresh and intriguing with each installment.

animation 10/10

Death Note takes the liberty of incorporating some of the best shading effects to date. Grasping emotions and moods with unrivaled precision, detail pervades every inch of every scene. One of Death Note's greatest assets is its ability to immerse the viewer into the anime itself, and the animation here definitely plays a major role in making that happen. Camera angles are taken to accentuate facial expressions, shadows fashion character designs, and the scenery defines moods. Death Note's aesthetics reflect the essence of the storyline itself, and are awash with metaphorical splendor that can be appreciated on a number of different levels.

sound 8/10

Oddly enough, two of Death Note's lowest points are the average quality opening and ending themes. Though they certainly capture the mood of the series well enough, they aren't too impressive as individual tracks. Aside from these songs, however, the vast majority of the insert music is above par; save for a very few select pieces, it's surprisingly well orchestrated. The voice acting is where Death Note's sound score really shines, though, especially with Light -- I felt his actor captured his personality and expressions with pinpoint accuracy. By in large, this same standard of quality assumes itself in all but one character, so be prepared for a treat in this category.

characters 9/10

Again, commenting on the characters is hard because Death Note continually builds upon itself the story progresses. Though I didn't particularly care for some of the development of a few side characters, every person to appear throughout the series has a distinct purpose. The number of extraneous characters is kept to a virtual minimum, and those who serve little purpose only appear for as long as they are needed; you certainly won't find a plethora of useless fluff here.  The writers went through the series with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that each fills his or her respective role with the utmost of precision, making sure only to assimilate those who are necessary for the dramatic elements of the plot.

overall 9/10

To conclude, I'm incredibly impressed with Death Note.  While, like any other anime, it does have its flaws, as a whole they are relatively minor.  There are a few ups on downs throughout the course of the thirty-seven episodes, but the vast majority of time is spent very wisely.  To its fortune, the series is constructed in such a way that it has a nearly universal sense of appeal, and as such should not be passed up.  Most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so make sure to check it out if you have not done so already.

Anime Info

Have you ever felt like the world would be a better place if certain people weren’t around? Such grim daydreams might occur when watching the dismal daily news, but on one fateful day, Light Yagami finds that these daydreams can become reality. By pure happenstance, he comes across a black notebook entitled "Death Note", whose text within states that whoever's name is written on its pages will die. With the aid of the death god Ryuk, Light takes it upon himself to rid the world of its corruption, ushering in a new era of purity one death at a time. But as Ryuk foretells, Light's actions will not go unchallenged...


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About the Author

Sheex's avatar

Sheex

Though I'm a big fan of slice of life and romance, I'll watch just about anything that catches my interest. My opinions tend to be pretty level-headed, but I have been known to be controversial from time to time! Feel free to lay into me if you so desire, as I always appreciate feedback - positive or negative. I hope you enjoy reading!

More Reviews

comments

DeDaan avatar DeDaan
Sep 2, 2010

my favorited, i really loved Death Note SO much... Still if you indeed need to rated Death Note, you are 100% right, ''Season 1'' was perfect but ''Season 2"wasnt. So a really nice review

11bowman avatar 11bowman
Jul 24, 2010

I agree with this review. Loved it when I first watched it. the storyline kept on flowing and the ending is still one of the better ones.

Sheex avatar Sheex
Jun 27, 2010

@Brainblow:

They are, but reviews are opinion pieces so take that as you will. Do note that Sothis watched Death Note several years after it's first run, while I watched it weekly as it came out. Given the huge amount of spoiler potential and the fact that she runs an anime site, I don't think it's really surprising that she had a much lower opinion of the show. Also, the latter half is most certainly worth critique - the only reason I thought it as good as I did was that I was still pretty fervently watching the show every week at the time. Death Note is interesting in that way: it was probably only a 9.0 as it was coming out weekly. After that, the dispersion of information and the inability to mandate that 1 week wait period just sort of ruins its lasting appeal.

BrainBlow avatar BrainBlow
Jun 27, 2010

I must say... the official reviews from this site on this anime seem to be conflicting...

Though I must say I agree more with this one.

Sakurajulia avatar Sakurajulia
Jun 22, 2010

Great anime..in my top 10!!

I agree with Maxx too!

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