It has been called one of the masterpieces of anime and now Viz Media is bringing it to you on Blu-Ray for the first time ever in a standard and Omega Edition! Let’s take a look at the Blu-Ray edition of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note!
One day, a shinigami named Ryuk is fed up with the boredom he and all of the other shinigami have incurred and he decides to have a little bit of fun. The shinigami use a notebook called the Death Note in order to take the lives of those they judge. In order to do this, they must visualize the face of the person they want to kill and write their name in the notebook along with the cause of death within six minutes and forty seconds after writing the name… otherwise they will simply die of a heart attack. Ryuk drops his death note into the world where a student named Light Yagami finds it. He reads the rules and thinks it’s just some practical joke until he uses it to save someone from being attacked by a couple of street punks. Once Light realizes the power of the death note is real, he decides to bring his own brand of justice to the world.
Light gains the nickname of Kira after being dubbed that on the internet by people who agree with what Light is doing. Of course, this draws attention to the authorities who no longer begin to rule these deaths as a coincidence and they hire a master detective simply known as L. L and Light (Kira) then partake in one of the most amazing games of mental chess I have ever witnessed as they make move after move in order to bring about their own version of justice into the world.
The cast of characters is vast, but small at the same time. While there are many support characters, some of them get development while others just seem to be there as props to help the story along, but unlike a lot of today’s anime where they are obvious props, these supporting characters actually feel relatable despite their lack of development. It’s a part of what makes Death Note so good!
Light is both a protagonist and an antagonist. In the protagonist sense, he is carrying out his own style of justice by punishing criminals that he feels should have received harsher punishment then they did. Sometimes he picks out criminals who are in the middle of committing crimes in order to save the innocent. He is also an antagonist because while Light’s heart is in the right place, his ideals and methods are not and it is the power of the Death Note that leads him down this dark path.
L is a master detective and a certified genius who has won many cases throughout the world which were believed to be unsolvable. He is brought in to investigate Kira and because as such a game of human chess is played with each move being crucial into unraveling the mystery. L’s personality is very laid back, yet analytical. You question everything he says because you don’t know if he’s prodding for information or if he’s just making small talk. Everything L does has a purpose and it’s what makes him an amazing character. When they claim he is one of the world’s greatest detectives, they really mean it.
He is the shinigami who dropped his Death Note into the world for Light to find. He doesn’t just simply drop it and observe from afar… instead he accompanies Light and witnesses everything first-hand. Ryuk believes that humans truly are interesting and it’s for this reason alone that he tags along with Light. Ryuk doesn’t really offer much in the way of influence over Light, but his presence and his comments make him a perfect support character that still holds meaning and plays an intricate part in the story without really doing much. Something like that is hard to pull off to kudos to the creators for being able to do so!
Misa is one of Kira’s biggest supporters and becomes the second Kira. Light needs to put a stop to her, but decides it might be better to use her more than anything. Misa and Light then team up to try and misdirect L’s investigation. Misa is one of those REALLY annoying female characters. One of which you just want to strangle for being so annoying. I didn’t enjoy her personality at all, but I understand why they added her. If not, then the whole L vs Light battle could have gotten stale. She was the new dynamic they needed to keep that rivalry fresh. So she served her purpose, but jeez.. I wish she had a better personality.
She is the shinigami that gave Misa her Death Note. She has a different personality than Ryuk, but it’s for certain reasons. She plays a pretty integral part in the show despite being a background support character.
L’s highest assistant. The best way I can describe Watari is that if L was Batman, then Watari would be Alfred in every sense. Watari not only aids L in his investigation, but he also runs the nerve center of L’s compound. He manages all of the data and even plays butler by serving L his daily fill of sweets. Watari is a loyal and amazing companion for L and an all around great character!
Near is a child prodigy who takes over L’s investigation of the Kira case in the second half of the series. He has many similarities to L in his deduction and even his mannerisms and is also an orphan from Watari’s Whammy House.
He is the other orphan from Watari’s Whammy House and the second of L’s protege. Mello also has an affinity for sweets and is often seen eating chocolate bars. Mello doesn’t like working with Near and decides to intervene with the investigation, throwing a pretty big monkey wrench into everything. Mello’s personality is very erratic. He seems short-tempered and quick to react without considering the consequences.
Art, Animation, and Sound
This was the standout anime from 2007 and the art style used here is very well done. It captures a city landscape perfectly and the backgrounds are superb. The characters themselves are VERY well done and very distinctive. No characters blend into the background and even the supporting characters are all instantly recognizable either from their attire or their personalities. The shinigami are also well-designed as they are made to look like monsters rather than grim reapers, but they, too, possess human qualities which make them relatable.
The Blu-Ray edition, honestly, doesn’t look THAT much better, but if you’re using a DVD player with upscaling, it will look just a bit crisper, but then again, it’s pretty hard to make animation that wasn’t originally produced for HD look like it’s HD. Technology can only do so much.
The soundtrack is rather forgettable except for that one song that plays whenever Light begins going nuts writing name after name into the Death Note. A lot of people poked fun at that track because many felt that it was too overdramatic for something as simple as scribbling a name onto a piece of paper with a pen.
This is also a rare chance for me to talk about the English dub because this is the only way I will actually watch this show! I have tried watching it in Japanese, but the English, to me, is actually far better! I love the jobs that Alessandro Juliani and Brad Swaile did for L and Light respectively. They really brought those characters to life! I know the English dub gets a lot of flak for the whole potato chip line (which can now be fully experienced in 1080p), but people really need to stop weighing an entire 37 episode anime on just that one line.
Blu-Ray Main & Special Features
The main features of the Blu-Ray collection include all 37 episodes across 5 discs, 1080p resolution in 16:9 Video format as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Portuguese. You can switch between English and Japanese audio as well.
The special features, which are found on disc five, are kind of generic and run-of-the-mill. They contain an interview with the Japanese voice actors and director, an art gallery from during production, the final episode of the series with commentary, and interviews with English voice actors.
The extra content itself, while lackluster in variety, still lasts for around three additional hours. It’s mainly made of up the Japanese interviews that didn’t hide the fact that they were conducted before the original DVD version was even released. It would have been nice to have some more recent material, perhaps getting reflections from the English cast, including the official soundtrack, including a code for some exclusive desktop wallpapers for phone/pc/tablet, etc. Something different than just outdated material.
For those who are looking for a little more with the Blu-Ray release, Viz Media also has an Omega Edition available which includes a 6th disc with the Death Note movies on them along with a physical art book and comes in a metallic tin casing.
This is an iconic anime for the ages… plain and simple. Ohba-san and Obata-san have taken a simple premise and turned it into an absolute masterpiece. Many would argue that the series suffered in the second half with the introduction of Near, but I don’t think it really suffered too much. There had to be a conclusion and that was the path they chose. In fact, Ohba and Obata acknowledged the criticism by taking a shot at themselves in their other series, Bakuman.
If you’re into drama, mystery, detective work, case solving, mind games, manipulation, and using humans as chess pieces then this anime should be at the top of your list. If you’re not into that and just want to see a really good anime, then this anime should still be at the top of your list. if you’re new to anime and want to set your expectations high then this anime should, once again, be at the top of your list! If you hate anime all together and there’s no chance of you ever watching it, then this anime should be at the top of your list! No matter what your excuse it, now that it’s out on Blu-Ray, you have no excuse to not pick this up! This should be in your anime collection!
I think you get the point. Obvious score is obvious:
Overall Score: 10/10
**This item was provided for review.
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Until next time,
Death Note Blu-Ray Edition
A true masterpiece of the anime world that combines suspense and drama into one of the best mind games the world has seen!
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