Anime Review: Death Note Complete Series
Director: Tetsuro Araki
Studio: Viz Media
Episode Count: 37
Runtime: 900 minutes
Availability: ON DVD and Blu-Ray
Steaming on Hulu, TubiTV and Netflix in English and Japanese
Death Note is a very popular Japanese anime about a high school genius named Light Yagami discovering a mysterious notebook called the Death Note after it is dropped by a bored Shinigami, or god of death, from the Shinigami Realm into the human world. If a person writes down another person’s name in the notebook they will die. Light initially thinks it’s a prank but when he tries it out and it does work, he decides to become the god of a new world and punish evil people. This doesn’t sit well with the Japanese police and they call upon the world’s best detective only known as L to discover and capture the figure the world calls “Kira” or “Killer”.
A Detective Story With a Supernatural Twist:
Death Note is very popular among anime fans because it’s well written, it has an intriguing storyline and the mind games are a lot of fun and very entertaining to watch. It’s a detective story with a supernatural twist, and you don’t see a whole lot of animes or live action shows like it.
Interesting Concepts of Good and Evil:
The concepts of good and evil in the show are also very fascinating to look at, although some people might not like the fact that Light Yagami is a villain protagonist, he’s still an interesting character to watch, and L is very interesting and quirky too.
Death Note English Dub Trailer:
Characters are Shallow and Mostly Unlikable:
Unfortunately, if you like characters with depth you’re not going to get that here. While the characters are psychologically complex, they have the emotions of little kids, but they make up for it with their genius intellects.
Light Yagami is a character I found to be very unlikable, and I love anti-heroes. I didn’t like him because he didn’t care about anyone but himself, if he cared about his family and friends, he would have been a character I could root for, his god complex annoyed me.
L is my favorite character, I found him to be quirky and neat, he was the guy I rooted for during the anime, and he’s one of the few characters who had some depth to him.
Misa Amane is known for her crazy fangirl view of light and that’s all we associate her with. The other characters like Takada and Mikami, Mello and Near are interesting, but Misa is the character we remember the most.
Ryuuk is interesting because he’s just along for the ride and he just takes it all in.
Wil ou Watch Death Note?
Japanese (Hulu, Netflix, TubiTV)
English (Netflix, Hulu) (Reviewed)
English and Japanese Dub:
The English dub is also very well done, and Brad Swaile sounds very good as Light Yagami, but he tries a little too hard at the beginning, but he soon makes it sound natural and he’s a very good actor. Alessandro Juliani is perfect as L, he’s a genius, he’s quirky and he’s likable. It’s fun to just watch him try to sort out the clues and try to find the identity of Kira. Brian Drummond does an excellent job as Ryuk. Shannon Chan-Kent is good as Misa Amane, but her voice might get on people’s nerves a little bit, but she’s good.
The Japanese track is no slouch either, so either way, you'll enjoy the anime, I just prefer the dub to take in the visuals without having to look down at the bottom of the screen to read subtitles.
The Japanese track is also excellent and I have watched a third the anime in Japanese and it’s worth a listen, as well. If you enjoy listening to the Japanese audio, you’ll enjoy Death Note in Japanese.
The animation is very well done and Madhouse Studio, which made the same Trigun brings this story to life with vibrant colors and very nice animation. This anime looks fantastic. They make the lighting so atmospheric and set the mood for the anime perfectly.
This anime is very dialogue heavy so it doesn't move around too much, but when they need to anime action scenes, they do that very well, and it looks terrific.
They also make very good use of the lighting for dramatic effect in the anime.
Death Note Opening 1:
The musical score is also very well done and has a lot of trumpets and violins and ominous Latin chanting. It’s a very nice score and the opening and ending themes are pretty good, but if you dislike screaming music, you might not like the second opening and ending song.
Death Note Opening 2:
Death Note Ending 1:
Death Note Ending 2:
Shallow Characters and They Changed the Ending:
A major flaw of the series is that the characters only have surface depth and they’re not particularly deep. The story is overdramatic at times and over the top, that may turn off some viewers.
The one flaw that stands out most in the anime compared to the manga is that they changed the ending of the story, the same event occurs in the manga, but in the anime, it’s meant to make a character more sympathetic, and the character was never meant to be seen as a tragic character the anime turned him into.
This anime is recommended for ages 14 and up because of language, violence, a little nudity and the subject matter of the story. Some kids have been known for taking “death notes” with them to school, so parents might want to see this before their kids do to decide if they’re mature enough to handle it.
This anime is recommended for longtime fans that are looking for an anime to watch and if you’re a newcomer to anime, this is definitely a good title to pick up. It’s well written, the dialogue is entertaining, the mind games will keep you guessing and it’s well worth watching at least once through in either language. It’s a very fun thrill ride with clever twists and turns, and it’s very entertaining.
What Doesn't Work:
Great mystery story
Characters lack depth
They changed the ending from the manga and they didn't need to
Overall Grade: A-:
Death Note could be perfect if they didn't change the ending, despite some dislikes I have of the main character Light Yagami, the anime is so well done and everything is nearly flawless, until the ending. I can understand why the fans don’t’ like the anime ending, especially if you have read the manga ending, which is much better than the anime’s ending. I would recommend anime fans watch it and remember, teenagers, the Death Note isn’t real, so don’t take it to school; you’ll cause an unneeded uproar. It’s a brilliant story that suffers from shallow characters and an ending that didn’t need to be changed but it was. It’s well worth your time and money to watch and buy. It’s also an anime you can introduce to new people wanting to see what anime is.
Just because I don't like the main character on a personal level doesn't prevent me from recommending Death Note to other people, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery thriller.
Netflix is making a live action movie, I'll be reviewing that when it comes out!
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