Disclaimer: Death Note - The Visualizing God completely spoils the series, so if you have yet to see it do not watch this movie!
Without a doubt, Death Note was one of the few anime series that truly captivated me. The intensity, the drama, with which it teems is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and despite not ending the way I would have liked (I'm not bitter anymore, I swear!), it still ended quite poignantly. The events afterward, however, especially regarding Light's fate, are left rather blithe with detail, and that's where The Visualizing God comes into play. Despite being largely a recap of the Light vs. L saga of Death Note, it does throw in a few extra scenes that further develop their tenuous "relationship" with one another. Most importantly, though, it fills in the gaps the series leaves following the closure of the saga, and provides for an "Oh, so that is how it ended!" feeling. You'll probably notice I'm being purposefully vague here out of respect for my readers who have yet to see the series, but those who have seen it should know what I'm talking about.
Unlike most recap movies that tend to defile the splendor of their original storylines (Rahxephon and Escaflowne are two examples off the top of my head), The Visualizing God stays true to its source material to the tee, and completely forgoes any sort of perversion just for the sake of new viewing content. Unfortunately, out of necessity for time, its pacing does little to really capture much of the characters, and tends to jump from important scene to important scene without providing much lead-in to the scenes. Even so, for those who have seen the series it manages to be quite coherent, even if it requires pausing briefly a few times to recall certain details. If anything, think of the movie as Death Note Fast Forward, since it's pretty much like watching a movie played at three times speed.
Since The Visualizing God takes a majority of its animation directly from Death Note, I really can't fault any points here - it's truly epic. The new scenes are equally as gorgeous and riddled with flawless cinematography as their predecessors, so there are no obvious rifts between new and old. Again, as with the series, the visuals carry the emotional weight needed for a suspense-thriller such as this to truly gravitate its audience toward it - as even with the time constraints you can still feel the angst teeming from your screen. It probably doesn't hurt, either, that its use of color and lighting provide for an absolutely beautiful visual setting irrespective of its actual content; this stuff is eye candy at its finest.
Again, as with the animation, just about everything is recycled (and thus top-notch in quality.) Ryuk does narrate events quite often, though, and his seiyuu does a fabulous job, especially with his ending lines. This definitely helps at refreshing a dull memory, so I've certainly no complaints.
Character development, unfortunately, was rather stale - little more is tacked on to provide additional depth other than the alternative ending sequence. Most of the movie is simply a compilation of Light's and L's tensest moments, and thus precious little time is spent actually fleshing them out. Given that the movie expects the viewer to have already seen Death Note, however, this isn't all that bad, as it removes the fluff and gives the viewer a second dose of the best portions of the drama. Having been some nine odd months or so since I finished the series, though, it was an entertaining highlight of the characters in their finest moments and surfaced a lot of good memories regarding them.
If anything noteworthy, the last few minutes do an excellent job at providing some final closure to the epic, as though Death Note concluded quite resolutely, it just seemed to trail off into a blank at the end. Above all, Light's character is wrapped up perfectly, and for those who happened to be rooting for him, it's certainly a satisfying end.
Yeah, it's chock full of all that Death Note splendor, but The Visualizing God simply lacks sufficient new content for me to warrant it as superb as the series. Aside from the last five minutes of the movie, everything is taken directly from the series, and I was honestly hoping the "alternate ending" it promised would have been given a little more time. Even so, given that the movie picks and chooses the best moments of the series and compacts them all into an enjoyable two hours of airtime, I can't really complain too much. If you have yet to see Death Note stay the hell away from this and go watch it first, but otherwise give this movie a go a few months after you finish the series - you really can't go wrong in doing so.
There are no spoilers included in this review.
This movie is a summary of the first 25 episodes (out of 37) of the original Death Note anime. In the original Death Note series you see things mainly through Light Yagami, in this movie it said that it would be seen through a different character, Ryuk. This is false. It is basically the first 25 episodes of the original series bunched together into two hours. There was also parts in this movie that were drastically changed from the original series. This made no sense to me and wasn't needed, they could have kept it the same as the original series so I'm not sure why these parts were changed (it honestly made things confusing). Since it was only two hours there was also a lot of information that was left out so you only got some main points of the story. I believe that this movie could have been done much better if it was really seen through the eyes of Ryuk like the movie description claims it was. I would have liked to seen only what Ryuk saw and what he thought as the story progressed (more so than the original series showed). The main reason I watched this movie was because I love Death Note and, even though this movie could have been better, I will watch the second rewrite as well even though I now have low expectations because of this movie. So, if you really love Death Note I would reccomend this movie so you can at least say that you saw the movie. To those that have not seen the original Death Note series or have not read the Death Note manga, I highly suggest that you do so before watching this movie. It is not required that you do as this movie does a fairly good job at recreating the series minus the few big bumps that were changed from the original series; but watching or reading the original series will show you what really happened and would give you a much better understanding of the story. I think that the only reason I was able to follow this movie as well as I did was because I had seen the original series and had read the manga so I knew what parts that the movie left out, and what parts were changed or added.
With all of this said, I still loved all of the characters. None of their personalities or any aspects of the characters were changed; they were all the same as the original series. The sound on the other hand, wasn't that great. It could have been balanced just a bit better. There were a few scenes that got rather loud. The animation was the same as the original series though it was a bit shaky in spots.
I'll keep this short and simple. If you've seen Death Note already, you should know what to expect. This is essentially the first 2/3 of the series. You should read the other reviews and the Death Note reviews if you don't know a lot about Death Note. I rated this more highly than Death Note because the first 2/3 are all that Death Note should have been. It's a highly entertaining anime series, but after this point things get rather dull.
I do have a couple of gripes though. I watched this in 720p, but it was very obvious that it had been upscaled and looked no better than the original Death Note. Obviously they had to trim parts from the original to keep it in within a suitable film length. This is good in a sense, but I feel a few key scenes were also removed in the process.
I'll finally add that I'm not as impressed with the soundtrack. This is mostly because they replaced one of my favourite tracks from the series called "Hatred"—which really fit its part in the series—with an inappropriate vocal track. I have no idea why.
In conclusion, this is a short review just to point out some differences. I recommend this if you're going to introduce some friends to Death Note and you want something that can be watched together in one sitting. Don't show them the sequel. Death Note should have ended here. ;)
The plot of this compared to the series is a steaming pile of shit. I understand since it's a movie a lot of stuff had to be removed and that it's rewritten compounds my distaste.
If the plot of the movie were to be replaced with the series, it would have been a true travisty.
Infact, I was so bored while watching this rewrite, I fell asleep 40 minutes in and had to find where I dozed off and finish watching, which I still regret.
I didn't even bother watching part 2, I really don't care for this alternative plot at all.
Could have been SO MUCH BETTER. It's a disgrace to the original series, in my opinion.
Well before reading this review, you should understand that this is a recap of the first 25 episodes of Death Note and little else. If you don't know what Death Note is or have never seen it, 1) What is wrong with you? 2) Don't watch this recap and 3) Go watch Death Note.
Story: I'm not entirely sure how to grade this as it is (apart from two minutes at the start of the recap and the final two minutes) solely composed of material from the anime. Death Note has arguably the greatest story of any anime every written, so the story here is obviously of the highest quality. That said, the writers are compressing 10 hours of story into just over 2 hours, so there are going to necessarily be some cases where things are left out or shrunk. I do commend them for being able to capture much of the atmosphere of the original series despite this condensing.
The opening and closing two minutes are rather interesting as they give a very brief look into the world of the Shinigami, an area that I found fascinating in the anime even though it was never actually explored.
Another plus for the story here is that, as this only covers the first 25 episodes (through the big event essentially), Near and Mello have no role in it. Unlike Sheex I am still bitter about how this series ended. After watching this recap, I've started wondering if this series would have been even more universally loved if it had ended after the big event.
As for the "new material" that Sheex mentions in his review, maybe I missed something or my memory is a bit foggy on what was in the original series, but I didn't see anything new apart from the opening and closing two minutes.
Animation: Again, this is all ripped directly from the series and the series had amazing artistic style. The astounding use of light and facial expressions as well as the captivating animation style is all here. Granted, the animation won't blow you away as it's now four years old, but it's still a pleasure to watch.
Sound: The audio is all from the original series, and they even used the same music. The voice acting is still superb, but I was never a huge fan of the music (mostly heavy rock) that they used for the series. That's just personal preference, though.
Character: Again I must commend the creators of this recap for doing their best to maintain character development despite cutting 4/5 of their content. Light and L are still the most amazing antagonists you'll ever see, though there is a noticeable lack of depth here for obvious reasons.
In particular, I noticed that a lot of L's idiosyncrasies are barely given passing reference, most of the supporting investigation members are ignored, and Misa really gets the shaft. The emphasis here was obviously on keeping as much of the magic between L and Light as possible, and I can hardly fault the creators for that.
Overall: This is well worth the watch for the nostalgia value alone as Death Note is one of the top 5 or 10 anime series of all time. Anytime 10 hours of material are compressed into 2 hours, there is going to be a lot left out, so it's tough to complain about the clear lack of character depth and story complexity. I will criticize the writers for titling this "Rewrite" when it's nothing more than a "recap". If I see "rewrite," I expect to see a few changes; 4 minutes of new material in 130 minutes of content doesn't deserve that title. If you don't have the time to re-watch all of Death Note and it's been a while since you've seen it, you'll enjoy this recap.