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DVD Review

DVD cover

Death Note
Volume 3


Starring (voice): Kappei Yamaguchi, Mamoru Miyano, Ai Satou and Akeno Watanabe
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 13 October 2008

What would you do if you found a book entitled Death Note, which purportedly kills anyone whose name you write in it? Would you use it? Light Yagami finds such an object and overcome with curiosity writes the name of a criminal in it, who promptly dies. When he tries it out on some street thugs they die too. But the book does not belong to him having been dropped by Ryuk, a rogue Shinigami god of death, who returns for it. However, not everyone agrees that arbitrarily killing criminals is anything but murder and the authorities turn towards the world’s greatest living detective, ‘L’, who plans to hunt down Light, now going under the pseudonym of Kira...

This has been a particularly good month for anime fans with the release of the first volume of the Hellsing OVA and Revolutionary Girl Utena. If, like me, you’ve been waiting for volume three of Death Note, then wait no more.

At this juncture it has become too difficult to try and explain the intricate psychological battle that has been developing throughout Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of this really excellent series. The story has more in common with the structure of a novel than an ongoing anime show. Having introduced us to the characters of Light and L, our two main protagonists, the show slips a gear and for these middle episodes opens up the story, whilst at the same time radically altering some of the relationships between the characters. When we last left Light and Misa they had been confined in cells, for fifty days, to try and prove that Light was using the Death Note to kill. The chief of police had also been so confined but at his own request.

This two-disc set contains episodes seventeen to twenty-four and now that Light cannot remember being Kira, he reverts to his more innocent personality and we get a chance to see how he was before being corrupted by the possession of his Death Note. With the killings continuing - even though Light and Misa have been locked up as potential Kiras - and with his supposed innocence proven, Light joins with L to find the third Kira with the finger firmly pointing at an executive at the Yotsuba Corporation.

So here the show jumps ship from the psychological warfare of the preceding episode to present a much more conventional thriller, although the audience is expected to believe that just because he is the Chief of Police’s son, Light would be accepted on a homicide investigation. Let just say that L likes to keep his friends close and his enemies even closer. Light is portrayed as a young man, disillusioned with injustice in society but with a moral core, he even refuses to take advantage of Misa’s obvious affection for him. Considering how she is portrayed in the show, this shows a magnitude of morality not usually noticeable in males his age.

You might think that having only English and Japanese 2.0 would hurt the show, but this is a show about psychological duels and moral choices so a stonking DTS track would add little to the show. The discs come with a reasonable amount of extras. Disc one carries a full length commentary for episode seventeen - Execution - with Karl Willems, the voice director, and Chris Britton, who plays the chief of police. Chris pops up again alongside Vincent Tong (Matsuda) and Trevour Devall (Aizawa) in the English Voice Actor Interview and Recording Session (10 min, 59 sec). The impression given by these actors is that they actually want to get under the skin of their characters and understand motivation. Who knew they took it so seriously? Rounding off disc one is ten pieces of production art and the DVD credits.

Extras on disc two are similar in that you get another set of production art, an audio commentary for episode twenty-three - Frenzy - four trailers for other shows and another episode with the voice actors (8 min, 18 sec), though this time it is Colleen Wheeler, who plays Rem, the god of death who is helping Misa and Andrew Kavadas as Higuchi. And lest I forget both discs have the DVD credits, though I’m not sure you can really count these as an extra.

Although I have stated this before I feel justified in saying it again, Death Note is a rare show in anime terms with an intelligent and gripping script, great animation and a serious concern for its characterisations. Little wonder that it spawned three live action films and a novel. It is certainly on par for quality with the original manga. This should be an essential buy for any serious anime fans.


Charles Packer

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