Death Note (Complete Series)

Shonen Jump gets a fairly bad rap among anime fans. I can understand this, despite my love of Naruto (see my prior post for more info) and my recent enjoyment of Bleach. Death Note, however, doesn’t feel like a Shonen Jump anime, despite all other facts to the contrary.

Death Note is like a 39 episode chess match, except the one side is doing all the killing and the other side is trying to prevent said killings. There is very little action to be found, just calculated moves and distant killings. Whilst this sounds boring, it really isn’t.

One the one side is Light Yagami, bored and idealistic. He finds a Death Note, a blank notebook that will kill anyone whose name appears in it (within certain rules and limitations, none of which are really crucial to this review to go into any kind of depth about). Despite trying to only kill dastardly criminals, people notice and the notorious L (pictured above) goes on the case. They are both about the same age, both absolutely brilliant, and (oh, by the way) Light’s father is one of the head policemen on the case. Fireworks are guaranteed. Unexpected twists abound! Who shall win?

One of the great, intriguing aspects to Death Note is how it blurs the line between the concept of protagonist and antagonist. Light as a protagonist is too evil and it is hard to truly root for. On the other hand, the anime still portrays him as the lead character. Even though L is good and given practically equal screen time, the mysteries surrounding him are stronger than those that surround Light. L is all of the things a protagonist should be, yet it is hard to truly root for him as well. The tension of constant flip-flopping between who is right and who is wrong drives the series and makes it much stronger than if it stuck with one of the characters, clearly made them the protagonist, and allowed the same events to unfold. That would be boring.

Yet the series is flawed. It is great, fist-clenching, and exhilarating. And very flawed. Very few people in the world are as smart as Light and L are supposed to be, and the ones that are are not writing manga and anime. So anytime someone writes a character that is smarter than they are, there will be a certain amount of bullshitting involved. People who pick up on the BS factor will find themselves conflicted as to whether they can like a show that puts up the occasional illogical facade.

It is still refreshing to see a darker anime like become more of a mainstream phenomenon (or as mainstream as a non-Pokemon/Dragonball Z anime can get). At 39 episodes Death Note isn’t a huge commitment for a Shonen Jump offering (to contrast, I’m on episode 53 of Bleach and I don’t think I’m even a quarter of the way through…) so I would definitely recommend giving it a shot.

Title: Death Note
US Distributor: Viz
Number of Episodes: 39
Availability: Singles are still coming out, and the first box is forthcoming
Links: ANN Encyclopedia
Rating: 85

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4 Responses to “Death Note (Complete Series)”

  1. vineetgupta Says:

    Great review! I’m a first timer here, nice to meet you!

    I’ve finished Death Note and it is definitely one of the best TV series I’ve ever watched – and easily the best anime I’ve seen. And yeah, there’s a lot of BS but there’s also a lot one can learn from said anime… And I mean really _learn_. The thinking in layers between two protagonists of close intelligence is the first thing that comes to mind, but there’s a lot more. Brilliant piece of work.

  2. Joe Says:

    Good series, incredibly suspenseful, astoundingly great soundtrack. Occasional comedic turns really put it over the top and make the darker episdoes seem even more harrowing.

  3. Danney Says:

    death note es great
    yeah take care xDD
    doit

  4. Danney Says:

    but..
    jajaja
    see you xd

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