Anime/Manga review: Death Note

Status: watched first 10 anime episodes – switched to manga (completed series)
Death Note

Rating star4.gif

Light Yagami is a brilliant and bored Japanese high school student. Ryuk is a simple-minded and bored Japanese Shinigami (death god). One day, Ryuk drops his Death Note – he uses it to kill people – into the human world to see what’ll happen. Light picks it up and at first doesn’t believe the instructions on the inside cover: write someone’s name and 40 seconds later, they will die. But out of curiosity Light tries it. And it works.

Then comes a major turning point in the story: Light’s choice. He could destroy the book as the evil thing it is or he could use it for his own advancement. He does neither. Instead, Light decides he is going to use the Death Note like the rain that will wash all the scum off the streets – he’ll kill off all the murderers, turn the world into a paradise for the righteous, and become that world’s god.

But Light’s actions soon interest the police, led by master investigator “L”, a slightly odd and eccentric teenager himself. The story then follows the chess game that develops between L and Light Yagami as they try to find and destroy each other.


Death Note is one of the most hyped series of the last few years, so after hearing so much praise, I decided to check it out. Being the stingy bastard I am, instead of buying the manga, I went with the free fansubs of the anime. I was hooked immediately. At first, the show seemed to be a social commentary, but then it morphed into an intense thriller. Then it stopped altogether: the series was licensed in the US and so the fansubbers stopped putting out episodes. By this point, however, I needed my fix, so I shelled out the cash for the manga.

A book is always better than its movie adaptation and that’s no different when it comes to manga and anime. Don’t get me wrong, the anime was spectacular, with great animation, pacing and voice acting. But the life you bring to a page with your own imagination cannot be surpassed. Plus, I was really impressed with the visual style of the manga: the highly detailed and sharp animation, and the pacing that sometimes made me forget I was reading static pages of black ink.

I used chess as a metaphor for Death Note and I’m going to take that a bit further. My only criticism – and why I didn’t give it a full 5 out of 5 – is that reading Death Note is kind of like watching two chess masters do battle without understanding all the rules of the game. You can appreciate their brilliance but you don’t always understand why they are doing what they are doing, even when they explain it to you.

However, putting aside the rather complicated strategies Light and his would-be captors employ, the story is gripping and original. The ending is thoroughly satisfying, although somewhat convoluted and hinting at more to come. And the characters are fully brought to life – hell, you even feel for Light, before coming to hate every fiber of his being. Highly recommended.


14 comments so far

  1. Anime Manga Series on

    I love this anime so much…I watch the entire anime and also the movie which was based in the anime…What more can I say??? awesome…Light is definitely evil, L is absolutely genius and the people is nothing but a toy…

  2. mo0ody on

    well iam still watching the anime series till now i got’till 16 episodes so i can’t judje it

    but i disagree with u about light beeing evil tha’s all

  3. Ciara on

    Light was trying to make the world a better place, but if you call him evil: if u got a death note would you stay completely sane? I’m on episode 22 now

  4. Da Monkey on

    This is one of the best series I have seen. And the movie was awasome too. L is the greatest, Kira is insane and a fool. Misa is lovely! Riuk is funny and I think the same: Having a Death Note, can turn you crazy.

  5. Masky on

    Light is not evil, IN THE BEGINNING.
    He gets out of control under pressure and kills whoever gets on his way.
    This becomes clearer near the end i beleive.
    I am now at ep 29 and I now consider Light totally evil (and cant wait for him to get caught…)

  6. fantasy-lover-forever on

    love this series and the movies. Light becomes “insane” at the end and him starting to kill the bad guys at the start … not sure. in one way hes really bad and the other his really good. i agree with you guys you coundn’t use a “DEATH NOTE” without going insane. ummm….dont go there 😦
    “L” on the other hand is fantastic. the police clearly dont like him through. he gives them they answers on Kiba but but sometime kills one person to get a clue, as for his past you dont get much of it. what the hell happened to him that made him hunch over and “black bags” under the eyes ? it would be great to find out

    • jay on

      first of all Light is called “Kira” witch is the Japanese word for killer, L hunches over and eats candy and desserts cause thats his thing…..he has bags under his eyes cause he doesnt sleep..he never has time 😛

  7. vuek on

    LOL this movie start to be intesting after L died

  8. Arujiwa on

    Let’s get this straight

    Kira; kills to show killing is wrong. Hypocrite.

    L is evil too. Okay, he’s right about Kira being evil; because Kira kills to show killing is wrong, but wanting to execute a killer for killing killers? What a fucking hypocrite. He totally lost all his moral appeal to me because of that.

    And Rem, honestly, humans are vile creatures? Yeah coming from a race of parasitic life forms that kill sentient beings to extend their life which has no other purpose than gambling in a boring ass desert and giving people heart attacks that’s real convincing.

    • jay on

      L is not evil..he’s just misunderstood…rem said herself in the anime that she doesnt like humans…but however she fell in love with Amane….the shingami are cowards. Ryuk said it himself.They kill to extend there life. Ryuk is evil..he wasnt content with killing people..he wanted more..killing got boring..sooo he dropped his death note (for the second time if you listen closely) to satify his boredom. If you look at it Rem is like the only shinigami that isnt evil at heart..she killed to save Amane..and Light…he wasnt evil to start off with..he had good intentions and intended to forefill his dream…un fortunately he got suspected and had to kill the inoccent to cover his tracks…but then to make himself feel better about those kind of killings he said to him self “no man is without sin..they must have done something to deserve this…im sure the people will see it this way” unfortunately this made him think that killing the inoccent was ok..this made him more evil to the eyes of L,Near and mello…this is y he is now considered evil..but not in his mind. Near even brought this to Lights attention in the final episode in saying that Light is just a crazed serial killer, nothing more

  9. Jiekobu on

    I watched all the episodes and I believe that Light is not evil..he is just misunderstood, but when you go around killing people like they’re nothing It’s hard to believe you’re sane..and as for “L”..he’s just smart, really smart. Rem, I don’t like this character…I don’t know why…but I love Ryuuk! he’s so awesome..not to mention tricky..Great anime.

  10. hannah on

    I love all of the pics u have on here:). Iwatch deathnote all the time! it is one of my favs. misa is my fav carictor. she is so cool she on fire!!!!

  11. R0B!N on

    Oooooh, death note was great!
    i loved L, but now…. 😦

  12. R0B!N on

    i did watched all the episodes, and i rate it 5, the ending was terrible, I wanna see L again 😉 it was just great, maby i never see such a great anime like this again.
    loved it!

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