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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 4, 2007
"Death Note" the anime is finally arriving on American shores and it's about time. The manga is hugely popular in both Asia and the USA and has even been banned in China due to it's perceived bad influence on students. There have also been two live-action films. So how does this story translate to the small screen? Having not read the comic, I saw this show with fresh eyes and it practically ruled my life until I finished it. This is one of the most intriguing, complex, and unique television shows of any genre and you will be missing out if you choose to pass it by.

The story focuses on a boy, Light Yagami, who comes across a notebook at school one day. He takes it home and reads it's contents, finding instructions for using this "Death Note" (as it's labeled). Any human whose name is written in it, dies. Naturally, one would assume that this was a joke, so he tries it out on a criminal holding hostages live on television. It works, all right. A normal child would probably burn it, or at least hide it away and never use it again, but Light is an exceptional boy, one with an (almost) unrivalled intellect and a severe hatred of crime; not to mention a megalomaniacal streak a mile across. So he decides to use his new found power to rid the world of criminals and establish a new world order with him playing God and delivering justice as he sees fit. Shortly after finding the Note, Light meets it's owner, a shinigami (death god) named Ryuk who is one of the most psychotic-looking anime/manga creations ever; like the Joker had a baby with a feathered demon or something. So why would a shinigami like Ryuk want to leave a Death Note in the human world? Why, because he was bored and that's just how Ryuk rolls. He's a disturbingly likeable character with an addiction to apples -which symbolize original sin, of course, and serve as kind of a symbol for the series- and an antagonistic nature that has him constantly cackling in the background as the events of the series play out. He also gives Light somebody to talk too in his solitude, lest the series get too bogged down with voice-overs.

Soon, people take notice of the deaths and the hunt for Light is on. He is dubbed "Kira", a Japanese corruption of "killer", and a special investigation team is formed, headed by a reclusive genius detective that goes by the name "L". L's intellect matches Light's and the chess-like move-and-countermove game between them is mind-boggling to watch and forms the base of the series. As a character, L is a true original: a pale-faced boy with deep black owlish eyes, a series of of unsettlingly bizarre habits and mannerisms, and an insatiable sweet tooth. He is the closest thing "Death Note" has to a true hero (discounting the side characters such as Light's father, who risk their lives by aiding in L's investigation) since the protagonist is a cold-blooded killer who soon begins hunting and killing those sent to investigate Kira. The result of all this is a wild ride that will leave your head spinning at times and make you appreciate just how good writing can get for a television series.

Once you start this show, you will not be able to stop as the plot constantly thickens, more characters are introduced and killed off, earth-shattering developments and brilliant schemes play out before your stunned eyes, and the story just keep adding more and more layers until you feel immersed in this world of constant struggle for the future of the earth. All this from one notebook. It was a cool concept to start with, but the unbelievable writing is what makes this anime must-see material. Welcome to your new obsession.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2008
This is one anime that is rediculously good. Death Note has an incredible power that only anime has held tightly. The power to take an insane concept and actually make it make sense. Vandread is one I can think of right off the bat. Let me explain, The Death Note is a notebook caried by creatures caled Shinigami. The shinigami are said not to be either good or evil. The impossible or the seemingly impossible is the death note's poweres and how to make a story out of this. Light Yagami finds the Death Note one day lying on the ground.

Light is at the top of his class, the son of a great detective, and is going to be going to college soon. When he touches the Death Note he see's the previous owner, the shinigami named Ryuk . This shinigami is not so soft on the eyes but despite this Light gets used to Ryuk very quickly. Light finds that the Death Note can be used to kill people. If you write the name of the person with his/her face in mind, the person will die. If the cause of death is unspecified then the person will die of a heart attack.

Light comes to the conclusion to use this newfound power to eliminate evil people in the world. He goes after people in prison, people suspected of criminal acts that he believes are guilty, and though he does not blieve in killing the innocent he will kill whoever tries to get in his way. Somehow by a crazy hunch, the police figure that someone is doing this. They do not believe that all these criminals are dieing from heart attacks just by chance. Honestly the police would never have a chance at even getting a thoght of who was doing this. Then a new character is introduced. His name is simply L, L is an amazing detective and seems to be just as smart if not smarter than Light and he gives him some competition. This guy will definitely remind you of Monk.

I believe that Death Note was very well written. For one, the entire plot sound crazy and impossible but they make it cool and real with the adition of good characters. L gives the show exactly what it needs and so does the shinigami Ryuk. Just when you think you know,you have no idea and the carpet is pulled from under you. Light is a great main character and the battle to come from him and L will make this series exciting. The animation is incredible and fits perfectly. Great color and light and a great usage of darkness to give a gloomy feel to it. The voice actors are hot and the soundtrack adds an edge. This is a must see and a future classic, so don't miss it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2007
Death Note is truly the best adult anime, period. I say adult, because the story line is mature and complex. I do not think children under the age of 13 will get any of what is going on. The action is limited, but the dialog and writing is truly a piece of work. You wont find sex scenes or excessive violence, but if you enjoy a unique, well written story that forces you to watch episode after episode to see what happens next, then Death Note will not disappoint.

Buy it, love it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Because so many others have praised this so highly and so well I will not add a great deal here. The brilliance of the show lies not in its premise, but in what it does with that after initially established. A brilliant high school student named Light Yogami finds the Death Note, a notebook that can literally kill a person once you have entered their name in it. Light proceeds to make the world a better place by entering the names of as many criminals as possible (though one wonders why he focuses so ardently on those who commit violent crime, when some political leaders cause far more destruction than even the worst -- it would have been interesting to see Light enter the names of Taliban leaders or the president of the US). Worldwide authorities quickly surmise that the rash of deaths of inmates in prisons (especially in Japan) due to heart attacks (the default method of death unless further specifications are made) is the work of person or persons unknown and they recruit the world's foremost investigator, known merely as L (voiced in the English language version by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA's Allesandro Juliani aka Gaeta aka Butter Fingers). The ensuing chess match between Light, who is megalomaniacally determined to remake the world according to his personal moral standards, and L, who is determined to stop anyone striving to make themselves the world's grand executioner, provides most of the focus for this first disc in the series. The two are constantly represented as each other's opposite, though interestingly both are seeking justice and a better world, though by different and incompatible means.

What sets DEATH NOTE above other animated series is the brilliance of the writing and its patience in exploring ideas. This is a show of ideas and not of action. In fact, in many episodes virtually nothing "happens." Even on a visual level there are long stretches where there is little or no actual animation, but instead a "camera" panning over a still painting. But the show is never, ever boring or less than fascinating. The most fascinating moments in the show consist of the patient, methodical working out of ideas, often in conversations between Light and Ryuk, the death god from the Shinigami realm (who looks like a cross between a very small dragon and the Joker from Batman). If the ideas permeating the show were not so fascinating, the show would indeed be dull. As it stands, this is one of the most original, fascinating shows on TV.

I have a couple of minor quibbles with the show. The FBI features prominently in the series. Of course, the FBI has no jurisdiction outside the United States and would not be employed on missions in Japan. And as I mentioned above, I think many social and political leaders do far more harm than violent criminals. From my own perspective Jim Dobson or Karl Rove have done far more damage to the world than any bank robber. But perhaps they realized that ridding the world of social and political leaders would have been too controversial. It would also have been politically divisive, since one person might find George Bush to be a source of great evil while another sees him as a beacon of light. Criminals are another matter entirely. My other complaint is with the price of the discs. The series as a whole is now up to 28 episodes. At this pace a show with about the same amount of total minutes as a full season of the American TV comedy THE OFFICE will cost four times as much (after Amazon discount). Hopefully when the series is complete and all "volumes" have been released they will repackage it in a more affordable form.

But these are minor quibbles beside the brilliance of the series. I strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys intelligent, brilliant television. If you have never watched anime before, this would be a superb place to start. TV, let alone anime, doesn't get much better than this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2007
At last the Japanese studios are getting a clue. Hey, we here in region 1 *also* like to get the figures, stickers, etc. with the DVDs of our favorite shows. They have been offered with the Japanese versions forever. I'm gonna get this. Hooray!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2007
This is one of the most original series I have ever seen. The story is awesome and keeps you guessing constantly. I highly recommend this show for anyone even if you're not a fan of anime. Also, acording to The VIZ website, there will be only four episodes for the first and subsequent volumes so beware. It is still a decent price though.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2007
A must see for all anime fans. A good psychological thriller/ cat and mouse game between two masterminds. Each episode gets you more and more addicted to the show. The characters are more dimensional than any other series or movie that I have seen. Once I started watching, I could not pull myself away- it's just that addictive.

Both the animation and music are pretty average - not the best I've ever seen, but by far not the worst either. It's the story that really drives this series. I won't summarize it for you, Amazon does a pretty good job of that. And besides, anymore would just give away too much. If you need a preview, Adult Swim on Cartoon Network has started airing the series and even has full episodes on their website. It's dubbed, but atleast it will give you enough of a taste to see if you like it or not.

It's for a more mature crowd (I'd say 15+). The theme is death, but there's no especially gory scenes. There are many twists and turns that will keep you guessing till the end. The series is.. "how you say..'juicy'".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2008
Unlike anime heavy weights such as; Bleach, Naruto, Inuyasha, and Full Metal Alchemist, Death Note brought something new to the table. Instead of big swords, too much hair gel, and busty women, Death Note has a entirely never done before story; which makes it so appealing. It has almost a Gothic feel to it that's addicting like chocolate.... (don't mind the bad comparison....!)

Death Note revolves around Seventeen year old Light Yagami; a genius, tennis star, and heartthrob. One fateful day, Light happens to pick up a black notebook off of the ground bearing the words; Death Note. Upon further inspection, Light learns that if you write a person's name in the Death Note while thinking of their face, you can kill them. Now Light, an aspiring Police/Detective officer puts away the Death Note and doesn't even think about it. Until he happens to witness a young girl being attacked by grimy men. He quickly writes the guys name, and sure enough he dies. Light is shocked, how could something like this really be true? It is true however, as Light gets an unexpected greeting by the owner of the Death Note, Ryuk, who happens to be a Shinigami. (Think something like a Grim Reaper.) Ryuk tells Light he can kill anyone, provided he follows the rules. So here history is made, as Light decides to kill of all criminals and 'evil.' He will become the God of the new world. Light dons the name 'Kira' (derived from Killer) and starts off killing criminals.

But all is not well in Light's world. The Police have noticed all of the mysterious deaths, and have now vowed to get this Kira; including the world's best detective, known simply as; L.
Will Light carry out his goal for complete dominance over the world? Or will the world's best detective, L, stop him? Your going to have to either A) Watch the Anime or B) Read the Manga.

Characterization has never been better in a Anime or Manga then it has been in Death Note. Light Yagami is characterized as an arrogant, greedy, devilishly intelligent young man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. You'll love to hate Light, and find later in the series how evil and maddening his character is.

L, the world's best detective, remains enigmatic for much of the first part of the series. But once his grand entrance is staged, you'll see truly grand character development.

Animation is certainly gorgeous, with a Gothic element that's hard to resist. You'll have a hard time not to drool over Light or even L later on. (Who doesn't love the fact they both don't wear hair gel....!) There's something about the stunning visuals that'll suck you right in, and certainly draw you into the world of Death Note.

Voice Acting is top notch, which is rare for an Anime. Usually you get one or two people whom or really bad, or even sometimes a completely terrible cast all together! (Think One Piece) However, Death Note is quite different indeed. Brad Swaile lends his voice for Light Yagami, and does it perfectly. His voice will send chills up your spine, in a great way. Alessandro Julliani (whom plays Felix Gaeta on Battlestar Galactica) is perfect as L. There's no way to describe how good he is. Even supporting characters voices are top notch, which truly shows that this show was made with much effort involved. The Music is really nice two, sweeping Gothic vocals in intense moments, and often complete and utter silence at shocking moments. There are four opening and closing theme songs in the entire run of the show, which are really nice to listen too.

So go ahead, try something new. There certainly aren't any; Big Swords, Hair Gel, Busty Women, or over the top Gore, but that makes Death Note even the more satisfying. It's new and fresh, and something that's never been done before. I'm glad I watched Death Note, (and I almost didn't!) and now I'm completely obsessed.

Didn't Parents always used to say, trying something new is good for you?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2007
Superb psychological thriller.
Brilliant but insane college student Light Yagami begins a deadly game of cat and mouse with a mysterious detective when the 'Death Note'-a powerful instrument of destruction from the Gods-falls into the wrong hands. Light decides to create a 'Perfect World' where he alone decides who lives and dies, and as the criminals of the world begin dropping dead a quirky but renowned detective known only as 'L' begins to close in on the killer...and a stunning battle of wits ensues. Gorgeous animation curtesy of Studio Madhouse (X/1999, Gunslinger Girl), incredibly beautiful music, edge-of-your-seat action, and some surprisingly emotive moments Death Note is instantly a modern classic.
A quick note on the english dub-from what I've seen so far (2 epsiodes) it is SUPERB-L's VA is the furthest cry from his japanese counterpart yet manages to make the role entirely his own in a sophisticated, smooth, performance with just a hint of british accent. Brian Drummond's Ryuk sounds so brilliantly creepy-just like the original-that when they cackle evilly you can barely hear any difference. Probably of most importance, while Brad Swaille sounds vocally like Mamoru Miyano's english speaking twin, he just cannot hit the right note of emotion and tenderness that was in Miyano's Light Yagami. For me, listening to that beautifully gentle yet cold voice while watching Light's descent into madness was inescapebly one of the most effective things about Death Note, and his performance especially in the final epsiode sounded so emotionally realistic and harrowing it brought me to tears. Amazing stuff, and because of this I will always favour the sub-though I may flick over to listen to L once in a while :3 Give both language tracks a try since this is a series blessed with above-par actors in both.
Easily the most amazing anime I've seen in years, it will have its hooks in you from the first episode until the perfect finale. Don't miss it this november.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I got this after watching a few episodes on t.v. it was truly a very interesting series and story concept. The one thing I feel for myself that is a little irritating is that unlike most Anime series this show doesn't give you a true bad guy to really hate. Some would say the character Light is bad but I disagree yes he is a megalomaniac but in his view he isn't trying to just rule the world he wants to make it a better
world without the crime and hatred he sees in the current world order. Just as there isn't a true villain I really didn't see to much of a true hero either except maybe the detective character L and one or two others but most of the other characters either side with Light(Kira to the public)or just doing what the political bodies of Japan and the United States want them to do. So All I say about this is if you like a good
drama/supernatural anime with a good storyline get this dvd but if you like the kind of series that have a discernible villain or hero this series would probably be not for you
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Death Note: Set 1
Death Note: Set 1 by Mamoru Miyano (DVD - 2009)

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Death Note: Box Set 2 by Various (DVD - 2013)

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