The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Death Note

Title: Death Note
Genre: Drama
Company: Madhouse/NTV/Shueisha/VAP
Format: 37 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2006 – 27 Jun 2007

Synopsis: Jaded by the unchanging world of violence and corruption, high school student Yagami Light views society with a hidden veil of cynicism. Being unable to do anything to alter humanity, he ultimately concedes to the status quo. That is until he receives a mysterious object called the Death Note. With this notebook, he is able to kill anyone he desires given that he knows the person’s name and face. Now, Light has decided to purify the world of criminals and evildoers and thus become the God of the new world.

Relatively solid with a few inconsistencies.
Characters: Few are likeable, most are ignorable.
Seiyuu: Impressive.
Story: An engaging cat and mouse thriller.
Presentation: Bombastically insane.

“Change in fortune does not change a person but rather, unmasks them” or perhaps it’s “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This anime puts to question just how its protagonist became what he becomes, but whatever the trite phrase may be, the end result is clear: he is a crazy, psychopathic mass murderer. If you are wondering what I’m babbling about, say hello to Death Note, one of the best deductive cat and mouse anime ever created.

The lack of punching, kicking and gun slinging action may put off some, but it certainly is a welcome change of pace for the more jaded viewers. Speculation and preemptive reasoning may seem boring, but the well written script and the intricate character relationships are sure to keep viewers on edge. The occasional injunction of humor and relatively solid animation both serve as a plus.

What makes this series really special is probably its presentation. Death Note has one of the most ridiculously awesome presentations of any show out there. After the deductive reasoning becomes a plan, and the plan become action, an epic music score sweeps in followed by grandiose choreography and epic hand gestures that make something as simple as eating a potato chip feel epic. Furthermore, as the story enters the second phase, the anime becomes less about convoluted theories and baseless reasoning and more about door kicking and gun flaring action. Those who complained that the second part of the original manga was too slow should have little to whine about with Madhouse Studios’ curt, to-the-point execution.

The series is not without its faults, and there are several glaring ones that need to be mentioned. First and foremost, Death Note suffers from a lack of likeable characters. I only cared for two characters throughout the entire anime. Much of the show’s drama is purely derived from circumstances rather than the visceral emotions that follow. This puts an unnecessary cap on the dramatic level that the show can reach. Secondly, the show teeters towards absurdity in regards to the overly analytic conjectures. Too many of the speculations feel like they were pulled from thin air.

Despite lacking good human drama, the show still has a riveting, edge-of-your-seat situational drama. Yes, the show has several questionable points of logic, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a show about a battle of minds as good as this one. Bravo Madhouse Studios. They’ve done it again.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed By: Shadowmage

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