The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Death Note

Title: Death Note.
Genre: Suspense/Thriller.
Format: 12 Volumes.
Mangaka: Takeshi Obata & Tsugumi Ooba.

Synopsis: In this world the Shinigami’s control how people die by using a notebook they call Death Note. But one of this notebooks falls into the hands of Yagami Light, the son all parents wish for; top of the nation student, responsible and brilliant. Upon discovering the powers of the Death Note, Light decides to put it in use to eliminate all the evil people from the face of the Earth. But such a deliberate act raised the attention of the world famous Detective L, who starts an investigation to discover and stop Light once and for all.

The Highlights
Characters: Dark and intelligent in a constant struggle.
Art: Dark and dirty, a two edge sword.
Plot: Had it all and didn’t know how to keep it.
Ending: What the… Sigh

Death Note can be divided in two different arcs that, more or less, split the manga in half, and for the purpose of this review it is important to make this distinction. The first half is clearly the best because it is the one with the most excitement and twists that don’t get far-fetched or extremely complicated and the characters are a lot more likable during this half. I don’t want to say that the characters in the second half are bad or pathetic, because they are not, they are just more difficult to swallow than the cast of the first half.

The art goes through a similar process but in this case for the better. As the plot moves forward it starts getting heavier and darker, Light begins to become more twisted and sharper and the art does so too along with the plot. The first half was composed in a vast majority by very well lit rooms and the scenes had, most of the time, a white background and as the plot started to get complicated the backgrounds got darker and darker, by the later half the backgrounds were much more complex and with a really tense atmosphere due to the inking. This is a great way to create the appropriate ambient and feeling for the constantly changing story and world in Death Note. But regrettably the character design and attention to detail aren’t something that one could talk about with enthusiasm, they just don’t go above the OK mark. Maybe you can throw an exception for the Shinigamis, but then again, they start to appear less and less as the story goes on.

Everything is going great during the first half, but then the dialog starts getting tiresome and the chain of events more twisted. New characters come forth and add a lot of vitality to the manga, a vitality that started to vanish by the end of the first half and marking the beginning of the second half. Only to throw more dialog and a lot more complicated series of events. You have to pay extra attention during this later half and a lot of people might not like it, I got thrown a few curve balls myself while reading some parts, almost forcing me to read it again so I don’t feel left out. All of this is bearable and even understandable, but what I couldn’t understand and bare to witness was the end.

It is easy to spot when everything is about to end and there are only two possible scenarios. And I can’t believe they chose the most common and simple of them all and to top it, they not only picked that scenario, but they also made it anticlimactic. All in all Death Note is a good read with the constant battle of wits between Light and his enemies, as long as you are careful and attentive, but be warned that its ending might get more than a few mad.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Dtortot

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