Critic's Log - Earthdate: March 17, 2013. Review #40: Death Note
*Robotic computer voice* To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die. Oh... *Ahem* Greetings... I am G... *sigh* Let's just get right into the review, shall we?
Light Yagami is an above average student with great prospects, who's bored out of his mind. One day he sees something fall from the sky and then he finds... The "Death Note", a notebook from the realm of the Shinigamis, with the power to kill people in any way he desires. With the Death Note in hand, Light decides to create his perfect world, without crime or criminals. However, when criminals start dropping dead one by one, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer, and a battle of wits, deception and logic ensues...
To be technical, this is a Studio Madhouse production and the animation is really damn gorgeous in this show. and there are some epic moments of animation in this show, so expect some really cool effects when you get to them. The designs, backgrounds, and certain effects are simply just dashing to looking at and Madhouse doesn't disappoint here.
The music by Hideki Taniuchi and Yoshihisa Hirano is also another highlight in Death Note. Every song in this show gives Death Note its epic-esque atmosphere and the soundtrack fits the mood greatly in Death Note. These two guys don't really have a lot of musical scores before and since and I hope to hear either of them do more anime scores in the future. The openings and closings are also nice. The first opening is a pretty good J-pop song and the first closing theme is also pretty good too, The second opening sure grabbed many people's attention with its heavy metal beat and heavy lyrics and it kicked ass. The second closing also kicks ass. With that said, the music does not disappoint.
When it comes to voice acting, The Japanese cast is really...really damn good, but it's not perfect. Mamoru Miyano really nailed this one as Light and he is one talented seiyu. Kappei Yamaguchi is also pretty good as L. Aya Hirano was...uh... a little too eccentric as Misa and the voice is a little slightly off. The standout extras include Keiji Fujiwara as Aizawa, Kimiko Saito as Rem, Maaya Sakamoto as Takada, Masaya Matsukaze as Mikami, Naoya Uchida as Soichiro Yagami, Noriko Hidaka as Near, Nozomu Sasaki as Mello, and Shidou Nakamura as Ryuk. On the English Dub side. Brad Swaile is terrific as Light Yagami (but I think Mamoru Miyano perfected the role) Alessandro Juliani is also terrific as L Lawleit and this is one of his rare anime roles in his career because he's more of a TV actor then being a voice actor. He outshines L's seiyu and he's the highlight of the dub. Shannon Chan-Kent is also terrific as Misa Amane and she also doesn't do much anime roles. She is also a great singer.
Speaking of singing, did you know she was the singing voice of one crazy eccentric party animal?
Yes! She's the singing voice of Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Besides that, the standout extras in the dub are Brian Drummond as Ryuk and he sounds like he had... SO MUCH FUN as Ryuk.Cathy Weseluck as Near, Chris Britton as Soichiro Yagami, Colleen Wheeler as Rem, Kirby Morrow as Mikami, Trevor Devall as Aizawa, and Vincent Tong as Matsuda. Death Note is an anime that's great in both versions. Karl Willems is also the one responsible for directing the dub and this guy is known for directing one famous dub such as InuYasha. This is by far one of his best ADR director roles to date and he did fantastic with the dub of Death Note.
The characters themselves are fine but there is some problems with character development. Light and L have great psychological development for sure but everyone else is a bit underdeveloped. Light on the other hand is quite the interesting case, even though he was bored before he picked up the Death Note. He does develop a God complex and becomes corrupted by the Death Note. That is an interesting part of Death Note. L is a bit odd but he's also an interesting character as well for someone who's a persistant little bugger when it comes to finding the suspect. Even though some characters are a bit underdeveloped, some are interesting and memorable.
I will say that Death Note was starting to turn out to be a total masterpiece until the story shifts into its second arc, that is when the show went from being a masterpiece into a show that is barely watchable. The first 25 episodes are terrific on their own and if the show were to have its own ending and end right after this arc, I would have marked this show as a Masterpiece, but this second arc exists and it is nowhere as terrific as the first arc. If there's anything that redeems this, it would have to be the last 3 or 4 episodes of the show. Those last 3 or 4 episodes are actually pretty good and I actually think the second arc is actually a decent second half of the show, it's just not on the same level as the first arc of Death Note. Toshiki Inoue did pretty good with the composition in writing and Tetsuro Araki's directing was pretty damn epic. The show could've been a Masterpiece if it was just as well thought of during the second half, but most of the show is very good and Death Note is proof of that.
Death Note is available by Viz Media, The manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated in fine detal by Takeshi Obata is also available by Viz Media. The Death Note Novel "Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases" is available by Viz Media. The Death Note "Rewrite" movies which are compilation movies of both arcs is also available by Viz Media. The Death Note video games never made it stateside. The Death Note Live-action film series is available by Viz Pictures and Warner Bros. An American live-action film was proposed years ago and it has never been green-lit to this day and I hope it never sees the light of day.
With all that said, Death Note is a work of art with its beautifully detailed epic animation, and an epic soundtrack. Some characters are underdeveloped and the show falls short with a second arc that doesn't live up to the first until the show is near its end. Death Note is still a show worth checking out for all the reasons I believe the show is good for and for other completely different reasons. If you haven't seen this anime yet, make sure to write this down on your notebook on your list of animes to watch.
I give Death Note a 8.6 out of 10. It is VERY GOOD!
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