Thursday, February 14, 2008

Death Note vol. 1 DVD Impression

Death Note vol. 1 on DVD from Viz Media offers up an anime unlike any other where viewers will question the actions of Light Yagami and wonder just what they would do with a Death Note of their very own. When a bored Shinigami (god of death) named Ryuk gets bored he decides to drop his Death Note on Earth to see what happens. Super genius student Light Yagami finds the Death Note with its English instructions and begins to write criminals names in it, and just like that they die. There are rules, many, many rules for using the Death Note and anyone who touches it can see the Shinigami who owns the note. Light decides to use the Death Note, experiments with its uses, how to manipulate deaths and even befriends, to a degree, Ryuk. Seems like a good idea so far, killing criminals, but the law, specifically a detective named L, does not see it that way, they see it as murder. This touches off a battle of wits between Light and L as they both maneuver and position themselves to one-up the other all while remaining hidden.

The art style remains faithful to the manga it’s based on which is a good thing, but it’s the story that suffers a little. This is to be expected as there is just more space in manga to flesh out the story and characters. In the manga we learn more about Light, his background, education, family and we see a progression from when he first gets the Death Note to killing an FBI agent (many actually) to facing off with L. In the anime the story moves much faster leaving viewers with an impression of Light being a little twisted right from the start, and it really does not give justice to Light’s brilliance, or the shrewdness of L. The moral choices are what will catch many viewers attention as you’ll wonder what you’d do with a Death Note and fear what others would do. In a time when high school and college kids are faced with shootings on campus, the thought of a Death Note would truly put fear into everyone. Light actually faces this situation with a bully in the anime, but takes the moral high road. Not everyone will see it this way, but for every anime fan who realizes they are watching an excellent anime there are other nut jobs who will blame this anime for something bad somewhere. Not to get off on a rant if you’re a fan of the manga you owe it to yourself to pick up the anime. It may be a little lighter on story elements, but it delivers a compelling story with excellent animation for a TV series that will have you filling in the gabs from the manga, or not, and wondering who’s name you would write down first (Bin Laden for me folks).

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