Death Note Review
A shining example of anime, or rotten to the core?
Let’s face it, most people with even the slightest interest in anime will have heard of Death Note. When a typical high school student called Light Yagami sees a notebook fall from the sky, his interest is piqued, and when he investigates, he realises that whoever’s name is written in the notebook (called the Death Note) will die. What follows is 37 episodes covering Light’s (not-so) slow descent into madness as he decides to use the Death Note in the name of justice.
Of course, if criminals start dying by the truckload then someone is going to notice, and that’s where L comes in. The world’s best detective, L enlists the help of the Japanese Police Force to help him catch the person who’s killing off criminals. This starts off the greatest game of cat-and-mouse ever played, as both Light and L constantly try to outwit the other and survive.
|How can you be unhappy when you have cake?|
Whilst the story may sound relatively simple, the sheer execution of how Light and L keep outmanoeuvring each other is written so well that it’s hard not to get addicted. In fact, both characters are so well-written that sometimes it’s difficult to know who to root for. The tactics used by both sides make perfect logical sense, and they’re always explained well enough so that the audience know exactly what’s going on.
|"Draw me like one of your French girls."|
In terms of the characters, Death Note again hits all the right spots. Aside from Light and L, every other main character gets a decent amount of screentime and development, so you won’t be stuck wishing to see more of your favourite character. The best example of character development is easily Light, who goes from being a normal student one minute, to jumping off the slippery slope into madness the next. However, it’s never done in such a way that makes his change in character seem forced. His opinions and morals are presented in such a way that his actions seem totally believable.
|Just look how happy he is!|
Sadly, Death Note has a huge flaw, one that simply cannot be ignored or avoided. And that is the last third of the story. Without giving too much away, the cat-and-mouse game changes to Light simply reacting to the moves his opponents make, and as such we never really see him pull off any brilliant strategies. A few new cast members are introduced, but none of them are anywhere near as good as the original core cast, and seeing some characters get pushed to the side so that the new ones can have some screentime is really quite annoying.
|No-one in this show writes normally.|
The music in Death Note is mostly forgettable, except for L’s theme. It suits the character so well, and it’s played pretty much every time L gets one up on Light. In fact, the leitmotif is played so often that it’s practically become synonymous with the show. The first opening theme is another gem, as it and the opening animation fit the series perfectly. On the other hand, the second opening isn’t nearly as good. Granted, it does fit the change in tone as the series gets darker and more intense, but the song and the psychedelic animation just don’t do it for me.
|It may be the eyes, but I don't think he's the most stable of individuals.|
One good thing about the anime is that the ending is different from the manga. It isn’t a huge difference, but the last two minutes of the anime are so much better than the last few pages of the manga. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s much more meaningful and symbolic than the original ending.
Overall, Death Note is a very good anime. To be honest, were it not for the last third of the show, it would be incredibly difficult to find any faults with it at all. In fact, along with Cowboy Bebop and Baccano, I’d even go so far as to say that it should definitely be on the list of shows to watch before you die.
Good Things: Well-written story.
The cat-and-mouse game between Light and L.
Very good ending.
Bad Things: The last third of the story.
|Anime thriller done (almost) perfectly.|
Got any ideas for an anime I should review? Post your suggestion in the comments below!
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at firstname.lastname@example.org. The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. He is now the proud owner of a replica sword from Bleach.