Anime Review: “Death Note” – The Death of Mediocrity

Written by Alex Bowman June 11, 2013

Throughout the years I have developed a certain taste for televised programming; a show needs to grab my attention with a unique premise that takes me along on a journey filled with plenty of interesting characters and engaging twists. While the average television audience thrives in the cesspool of sitcoms and reality T.V. the world of anime can provide excellent deviations from the norm with plenty of opportunities for viewers to experience new ways to look at the world through different lenses. “Death Note” is a rare show that has earned the right to be considered one of the best programs in the world of anime with a brilliantly written story, an engaging premise and a deliciously evil twist on the concept of justice.

New World

The story of “Death Note” centers around a high school boy named Light Yagami who discovers a note book called the Death Note that has fallen into the human world thanks to the shifty actions of a shinigami (demon) called Ryuk. Light soon discovers how the Death Note works and decides to use the Death Note to rid the world of evil and become a God of justice. Soon the Tokyo police are on a manhunt for Light and are forced to team up with the world’s best detective, L. Lawliet, who becomes a challenging obstacle for Light to overcome.

Execution

This anime is one of the best thriller/horror shows I have ever watched; the supernatural elements of the show have the ability to stay grounded in the realm of believability thanks to the show maintaining a steady police procedural concept. The writing is top notch for this show and one of its major selling points. The series spans a couple of years yet the continuity is so sharp that you will rarely find plot holes or slips in tone.

Every single character that is introduced in “Death Note” serves a purpose to the overall story and is not wasted on miniscule filler moments. Light and L make the perfect combatants and their interactions with each other are portrayed like a chess game; both characters do or say something while planning for the next several steps they must take. They are both geniuses with very opposing views on the concept of morality and justice. Their back-and-forth banter usually contains an entire episode yet it will keep you firmly glued to the edge of your seat.

On a side note, if you do decide to watch this show, make no mistake on who you are supposed to be emulating. Just like “Breaking Bad” this show focuses around a villain with a twisted sense of how the world should work and a delusional belief that what they are doing is the right thing. Light may seem intelligent and suave but he is a monster and the modus operandi of his character defines the overall tone of the series which will both anger and entice you.

Vigilance

Another good selling point for this series is the animation. Most anime has good artwork but ‘Death Note” has the best in what animation has to offer. If you do decide to watch this show then, trust me when I say, that you will never see a pen stroke animated as brilliantly or bombastically as it is in “Death Note.” The music is also a perfect fit for this show; one episode could begin with a heavy metal slam-jam but then slowly transition into a flighty orchestral track that will leave you stunned as you realize that the musical choices for this show fit the tones perfectly.

This show also leans very heavily on the philosophical side of the scale; each episode forces you as the viewer to question the actions and decisions of the characters in the story based on their beliefs and ethics which makes “Death Note” all the more interactive and engaging. Keep a glass of water next to you because you will be screaming in rage, surprise and disbelief at almost everything that happens in an episode.

Justice

“Death Note” is an incredible anime both visually and intellectually. Beautiful animation and engaging philosophical tropes blend very well with a well-crafted story that provides jaw-dropping twists and engaging arcs which will leave you begging for more during the end credits. If you have any respect for intelligent and unique television than “Death Note” is the perfect show for you. Do not miss out because you will definitely deprive yourself of an anime that is a beacon of hope in the world of television.

My Rating: 9/10

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