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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


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


sumfight avatar sumfight
Sep 28, 2009

I really do love this anime, in fact, it's what got me back into anime :)

UnderDog999 avatar UnderDog999
Sep 28, 2009

Also you missed a little bit the point. This anime is realy good for two reason the scenario is constently moving and, more importantly, light and L do not lets ther emotion cloud ther judement and use proper logic to deal whit all the situation. They are both and think of thing that why will make them succed and does not offert to many risk in it. This is why it good not because it approches on betrayle, trush or any of that bull shit.

Sorry if am negative but this is the only anime that i truly think is so close to perfection. All the other attract you true violence, nudity, comedy or the sadness in the world. But this attract you because it so intellectual.

UnderDog999 avatar UnderDog999
Sep 28, 2009

I totaly disagree whit the sound part the beginning song is one of the best oppenning i have ever heared at least in my top 10 and so is the ending. And both have the proper interpretation ( the emotion in the singer that sing the song match perfectly the anime). And if all that wasnt inuff the lyric are inspiering and make you more excited to watch it or to continue the series by just watch the next episode ( depending on the oppenning or ending).

Also i dont think you gave it inuff credit his deduction skills are perfect unlike code geass witch is total rubbish and he doesnt think thing true. I personnaly would give it a 10/10 and class it as the greatest anime of time.

default avatar 0ssu
Sep 11, 2009

I haven't seen an anime out there that could leave Death Note in the shadows yet. The best!

fuzzywapiti avatar fuzzywapiti
Aug 26, 2009

the review was really good and excatly how i felt..

most genres like death note suck but this anime keeps you hooked from the start to finish...

my favorite anime hands down...

I recommend it to all.

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