Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Death Note Review

This review contains spoilers

I was very conflicted about what score I should give this show but in the end I decided on a 9. I really liked this show, it's definitely one of the best shows I've seen recently, and I can see why many hold it in such high regard.

First of all, there are the visuals. On the surface, the show doesn't appear to look that impressive but I absolutely loved what they did with light and shadow in the show. They use lighting very effectively to add mood to scenes in ways that I have rarely seen any other anime do and it's genuinely quite impressive. Another thing that made it stand out is how a lot of the shots were framed. Again, it's something I feel anime seems to underutilize but Death Note really stood out in regards to cinematography. The actual animation itself isn't overly impressive but it works. The character designs were a bit of a mixed bag. The main cast seem to stand out and I like their designs (Misa in particular is incredibly cute) but the supporting cast is quite generic and bland. Again, it works, but it's nothing outstanding. 

The real reason why I loved Death Note was it's story but that's also why I was conflicted in my score. Episodes 1-26 have a superb story, a cat and mouse game between a serial killer and a detective, and it gets very tense quite often and is very enjoyable watching how Light schemes in order to avoid getting caught. Episode 26 has an ending that would have been fine with a bit of an extension but the issue is it just keeps going and the last third isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as what preceded it. It feels like it should have ended at 26 but then they found out it was popular and had to make more or something. It kind of felt like Psycho Pass 2 compared to Psycho Pass. It felt like more of the same but something was just missing. I would have been fine if Episode 26 ended with L's death followed by a flash forward 3 years to show the Kira obsessed world that was shown in the last 11 episodes and the US giving into Kira and stuff. That would have been fine. However they introduce a new main Villain (Well, Villain from the perspective of Light, I guess he's more of a hero) and he's the one that ends up catching Light. While it's a good ending, it looses all of it's impact due to L not being there. Sure, they try to justify it by saying that L is still haunting Light even after his death (or words to that effect) but it's just kind of contrived and it's really frustrating seeing the build up to L catching Light only for him to die and be replaced by a kid who catches Kira in 10 episodes. Not only is the pay off lessened because we haven't seen as much of Near but it makes L, who was touted as the Word's Greatest Detective, look incompetent in comparison. All that aside, I thought the last episode was well done and I liked the outcome. 

Another highlight of Death Note is it's characters. More specifically the characters of L and Light. While the the supporting cast is reasonably fleshed out, they can't compare to Light and L. Light in particular is such a great character because whilst he is the villain of the show, he is still the show's protagonist. When he is first introduced, he believe him to be the hero so even when he starts doing morally repugnant things, we're still rooting for him to win. Having the villain of the show be it's protagonist is very interesting to watch, and I've never seen it done before in an anime (Although it probably has) and I'm very open to suggestions of other anime that do the same thing. 

Lastly, I thought the music in the show was also really good. It's an eclectic mix of songs and they always nail the tone through a range of different styles.

Overall, whilst the last 10 or so episodes aren't up to snuff with the first 26, they're still not bad, and are not enough to bog down the experience as a whole. It is quite clear why it is seen as a modern classic.


Original Publish Date: 31/5/15

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