Posted by psgels on 27 June 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews, Death Note

Death Note: Yagami Light finds himself a notebook, dropped by a Shinigami: the Death Note. If you write down the name of a person in this Death Note, he’ll die, no matter what. With this new Death Note, Light begins to create a perfect world, killing off all criminals. Then, a detective who goes by the name of “L” gets assigned to catch him.

Let me first state that Death Note is unique amongst shounen-anime. There are nearly no fights, and nearly the entire anime consists out of people planning and plotting to outsmart each other. Through the course of the anime, Light makes optimal use of the Death Note, and he comes up with a number of really smart and careful plans.

Because of this, the main good points of Death Note, especially in the beginning, are its surprises. Some plot twists are ingeniously incorporated in the storyline, and they make sure for maximum shock-value. This makes sure for a number of really intense episodes, even with the lack of fighting or other forms of physical action.

The graphics and music only contribute to this. The art that is used in Death Note is unique, and incredibly detailed. The animators made some really creative “action”-scenes, which you won’t be seeing in any other anime, and they really makes sure that these scenes are as creepy as they can get. The music consists out of a number of very addictive choir-songs, which fit the mood perfectly.

Still, despite the awesome climaxes, this series didn’t make it in the 90/100-range for a reason, as it’s got quite a few humps and bumps along the way. The most obvious one is the middle part of the series. Death Note has an excellent beginning, and an awesome ending, but the Yotsuba-arc in the middle was so bad that it made me almost lose my faith in the series. The climaxes stop being interesting, and the creators turn the series in some kind of joke of itself. Luckily, the anime picks up again with episode 24, and delivers an awesome climax, but the thorn remains. The beginning is also filled with a couple of nasty coincidences, for example Light’s father being the police-officer who is in charge of catching Light.

There are also a number of rather annoying characters in this anime. I’m referring to the ones that mainly exist for comic relief like Misa and Matsuda. They usually have no purpose at all, and they whine too much to really become interesting. The characters that are introduced later in the series also need a lot of episodes to get enough development to stop getting annoying. There are also quite an amount of people that lack a bit of background. To give one example, we learn just as much about Aizawa’s (a minor character) background as L’s (a major character) background, and believe me, that isn’t much. There’s also a time-leap somewhere in the middle of the series that just lacks proper development as well, with the result that it makes no sense in lots of areas.

Still, despite this, there are a lot of good characters with enough background to become interesting. Light himself is a fascinating person, and it’s interesting to see how he develops and eventually declines. Some temporary and side-characters also turned out really touching, and L, despite his lack of background is well developed and turns into a really enjoyable character.

Overall, it’s not the best anime out there, but it’s definitely worth a watch. It has awesome climaxes, but the fairly low rating comes from the fact that it just has too many areas that could have been improved.

32 Responses

  1. Karry says:

    “Let me first state that Death Note is unique amongst shounen-anime.”

    Maybe because it is not a shounen in the first place ?

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Shounen-jump = shounen for me. :P

  3. dontaskshadow says:

    oh psgels, I would hold off or take back on everything you’ve said, even your 84 rating.

    Reason: simple.

  4. psgels psgels says:

    Whoa, I didn’t see that one coming. Now that I’ve posted it anyway, I’ll keep this review up for now, and I’ll update it accordingly when I’ve seen that special.

  5. Victor says:

    It was a great anime. The only bump for me was the middle part. Hope I enjoy the animes you rate higher than 85 as much as I enjoyed this one. What is a shounen-anime?

  6. Kite says:

    Maybe they will even show the place Light went to after his death! That’d be awesome! xD

  7. psgels psgels says:

    Victor: A shounen-anime is an anime that is aimed at boys. It’s usually centred around the “confrontation” between different parties. Most of the time, these “confrontations” are overblown fights (Naruto, Bleach, etc), in Death Note, they are plans.

  8. Luna says:

    I LVOE YOU!!! KIRA !!

  9. gagan_goku says:

    Kira rocks
    I loved the episodes in the middle too . L is the cutest.
    And misa is nice too . dont call her unimportant. she might be a comic relief (she is funny)

  10. Eonir says:

    Ugh…. I think they screwed up almost everything after L’s death. A huge missile hidden under a fake desert? And Google Earth noticed nothing during the construction?

    Near knowing everything, Mello being a top figure in the Mafia? Ridiculous. So many things were ridiculous, I can’t count them all.

    Light, as a genius with such a powerful tool could easily destroy every opponent. Controlling anyone’s actions gives you more control than you think. First episodes were wonderful. You mentioned that Light is the only shounen character that declines instead of growing. Well, I have nothing against that. But only when it’s not screwed up. Near was the character that was artificially powered up. Like Songoku throwing his opponents into the heart of the sun. But on a different kind of level.

    I think it was not Light’s mental power that was weakening – it was the scriptwriter’s/mangaka’s.

    1/3 of the series was worthless. It could as well end when it was supposed to.

  11. Venus Vega Is... says:

    although i agree some of the latter
    plot twists were… inane,
    the spirit in which Death Note
    carries itself && the intellectual
    game of cat && mouse played
    between L && Light is something
    so stimulating. Alot of the anime
    is intense && the dialogue extremely
    you at least gave Baccano! a 93…
    i’m sure Dath Note warrants at least
    a 90 for being such an intelligent,
    intense, && extremely well drawn anime.
    your blog tho

  12. psgels psgels says:

    Venus: Death Note had indeed some great moments, but at the same time there were enough lesser points, which explains the relatively low rating. Baccano didn’t have any of these in my view, hence the high rating.

  13. sara says:

    yep I agree with annoying ones though I guess matsuda was worth it at at the end since he shot light, that was awesome. I think you described how I feel about it so well and I don’t people who drop this show at 17 ,27 etc… and the 2nd half is just like ughhh

    Oh and I HATE shonen anime but I liked this one a lot since it didn’t shonen-y on me, ~~~

  14. Kira Supporter says:

    Death Note…BEST Anime,Story,Movie,Idea…Everything!
    The Smartest! And The Greatest!
    And I was with Kira all the way! And STILL!


  15. Serenade says:

    Personally, I think your rating of Death Note is way too low.

    This really is a fundamentally unique anime. Like you’ve said, it’s amazing how it breaks away from fighting/battle tradition (which is the very core of shounen anime), yet maintains an insurmountably compelling, suspenseful, and exciting plot.

    Of course, there are flaws as well. One example may be a lack of background-probing for the central characters, like L. However, I also see this as a point of uniqueness. Instead of relying on the sob stories of each character’s past in order to develop their personalities, the show simply develops them through their thoughts/actions while moving the plot along. Considering the actual storyline of Death Note (a Kira-quest for world domination), the backstories of the characters are irrelevant. Also, with the display of so many different characters — Misa (model/bimbo), L (nobody/genius), Light (perfect student/crazy mastermind) — I think that one of the minor themes of the anime is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from; it’s about what you can accomplish with what you’ve got, here and now.

    Also: minor characters. One thing I like about Death Note is its ability to twist minor characters into major players. Naomi Misora, who started out as just “that FBI guy’s fiancee” turned out to be a real threat-potential to Light. Likewise, although Matsuda was introduced as a moron (it pains me to say this; I think Matsuda’s an adorable idiot), in the end, /he/ is the task force member that takes down Kira. Because, hey, I didn’t see Near whip out a gun and empty some lead into Yagami Junior. (Though I’d love to see that. xD) Oh, and Ryuk. I believe that Ryuk was kept low-profile throughout most of the second half so that his sudden role at the end would come as more of a shock; we all pretty much dismissed his ramblings near the beginning of the series, so it’s a surprise when Ryuk comes back for the kill. All in all, even the minor (perhaps annoying) characters have their time in the limelight, which keeps them forever important to the show.

    …But, okay, I agree that the Yotsuba arc was a letdown. xD

    However. I still maintain that Death Note is one of the most suspenseful and compelling anime I’ve ever seen. Rating-wise, I think it deserves a place in the 90’s, at least. There /are/ flaws, but the sheer wow-ness of the anime and its periodic revivals of suspense outweigh the flaws undoubtedly.

  16. Serenade says:

    Whoo… gigantic post. xD

  17. JJ says:

    Well….there are other suspensful anime that utilize their storylines much better than Death Note.

    Man when I got to the Yotsuba storyline, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing….was that in the manga?

    And plus, the show loses steam after Misa shows up.

    84/100 is right….I would give it an 80/100.

  18. Sun says:

    This is the only anime i watched without skipping any frames (normally i use 1.5x) and i’ve watched alot of animes too.
    Here’s a partical list of them
    – Karin
    – Shakugan no SHana
    – Zero no Tsukaima
    – Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru
    – Clannad
    – Kanon
    – Naruto
    – Bleach
    – Higurashi no Naku koro ni (ok~ i didn’t sky any in this one as well)
    – Inukami
    – Spice and wolf
    – Kogepan
    – La Corda d’Oro
    – Nagasarete Airantou
    – Kaze no Stigma
    – Elemental Gelade
    – Hatenkou Yuugi
    – Vampire Knight
    – Prism Ark
    – Da Capo
    – Hayate the Combat Bulter
    – Elfen Lied
    – Lucky Star
    – Sola
    – HellSing
    – Full Metal Alchemist
    – ef ~ a tale of memories ~
    – Darker than Black (this one seems similar to death note to me for some reason)
    – The melancholy of of Haruhi Suzumiya
    Also a hell lot more of manga
    (yes i do have a lot of free time)

  19. Sun says:

    Sorry in the last post ( Higurashi no Naku koro ni (ok~ i didn’t sky any in this one as well)) it is meant to be Skip not sky

  20. leslie says:

    I’ve just started to watch this series so I guess I am still missing some critic review, however, I do enjoy the plot and the character is amazing, plus the animation is very well done. In my view the anime has a very unique way of showing us whats happening out there…different reality or not, monster or not, i guess Light only wants to make it right lol
    Yes I know I am insane lol
    Anyways still haven’t gotten to the dreadful middle part that u refer to as being boring, but I will keep u posted with my opinion…
    Meanwhile I wish for no spoilers!!

  21. Bebop56210 says:

    Ok so I just now finished watching this series, and to be honest I didn’t even like it, nor did I want to watch it at all, but I got curious and I’m glad I did… I like most of the story, but I was hoping L didn’t die, but owell, hell he died even sooner than I thought… as for Light… I hate him… lol I hate those smug characters like that and I thought he was going to win at the end, thank god he didn’t I would’ve went nuts… still would’ve liked L to beat him but hey what can I do… I also like how he breaks down at the end and can’t think of a way out… so he turns into that ignorant child like L said KIRA was… so all in all I was happy with the ending…

  22. DuhMightyBeanz says:

    I find Death Note’s beginning to be extremely awesome…If not one of the best any anime creator could make.

    Someway later,my interest started fading away.It was rather odd in the sense that the series was beginning to repeat itself in the very essence of the beginning,Light VS L.Of course,L lost(duh)but somehow,Light just lost his brilliance in the later episodes.Bugging a place where he would hold his interrogation with only sound and no video?That’s way too obvious for any average person to figure out SOMETHING must have been done within the time frame.

    I would probably have rated it about 70ish.

  23. Jack says:

    So, I watched the first episode of Death Note. I know it’s not fair to judge a series based on the first episode, which is why I want to ask here before I decide whether to drop the series or not.

    First, I want to say this. I really really hate the sentiment that “the world is rotting.” I really hate it. Not only do I completely disagree with the sentiment, but I can’t stand people that feel the same way. I similarly hate the sentiment that “there are people that this world would be better off without.” The reason is that these sentiments come from people who believe they are the sole aribitrator of justice; that justice and morality are black and white. It expresses a shallow worldview that I cannot abide by. For example, I dislike the movie Boondock Saints on three levels: one because it’s a Tarantino wannabe movie that fails so epically it’s hard to see how the two are related, two because it’s completely uninteresting, and three because of the “kill the scum” sentiment espoused by the film.

    Now, given my opinion on the subject matter (whether you agree or not), should I continue watching the series, or should I move on to a different series? I’m pretty busy, so I don’t want to waste time on a series that so far seems like I will not enjoy.

  24. psgels psgels says:

    The interesting thing is that your opinion quite matches the opinion of the antagonist during the first half of the series. Death Note isn’t a series that claims to be right, but rather thought-provoking.

    If you had plenty of time, then I’d suggest it. But if you are a busy person, then I do admit that there are a lot of series that deserve to be watched first.

  25. cristine837 says:

    Show makes me relieved all the time so i use to watch Death Note when i have a time after my college work has done.It gave me so much relaxation and also made me happy.

  26. Me says:

    Death Note was much too long. The premise is relatively weak, but the characters were interesting. When he lost his memory, it became stale.

  27. Mario-Kun says:

    Hiiiiii …… The end I would like to me is this living ligth dominate the world because it is the master. What becomes of ligth shinigami is totally inconsistent and impossible, so if you were human memories erased, if not, do not explain much laziness and impartiality of the other shinigami,
    The end of this anime very good but not worth what was the anime, by the end according to my opinion should stay alive L q and was one of the most important characters of the anime, but to give the fine that was given leave us with a bit of mystery and questions about what happened really to L. .. finally one of the best animes though a bit short ….


  28. Topaz says:

    Just sayin, if you like the anime, read the manga. It is sooooo much better it will blow your mind! [SPOILER: THIS IS ALL MIKAMI'S FAULT!!!!]

  29. Dink says:

    Loved this anime, really made me think. Great detail was payed to the plot and although it may well have been a little too fluffed out i think that some of that fluff was necessary to give the view an idea of the intelligence behind Kira and L such as the part at the beggining where he rigs up this complex sequecnce to destroy the deathnote in his drawer should anyone go searching for it. Not essential but extra bits like that certainly gave the overall anime a bit more depth. Also the live action versions are awesome and stuck quite well to the anime guide lines

  30. Pharellla says:

    Death note is the only anime i have seen that you dont have to wait till episode 8 for it to get good! You get hooked from the start which hasnt happened with any other anime for me ,,even Code Geass,,so id say 84 is a very low rating and yes L shouldnt have died so soon,,and it got slow for a bit but you cant deny those intriguing moments of suspense and even the build up of the final episodes were intriguing! DeathNote is really like no other,,has it flaws but is definitely an a plus!!!

  31. Andy says:

    Hey could you recommend me an Anime similar to Death Note (or Code:Geass)? I am aware that both of these have some problems in their storytelling especially in their 2nd seasons but from the general premise and style I really enjoyed both of these shows.

Leave a Reply


Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:46 AM)
    @Kaiser: so far it’s good. I’ve been hearing the buzz but I wished someone had nodged me to watch it sooner.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:42 AM)
    You’ve reminded me Bam that I’d been meaning to pick up ash vs the evil dead sometime.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:39 AM)
    @Kaiser: the remake was still pretty entertaining, but it lost the silly comedy edge the series was known for. I still think that the 2nd film had the most unique and prominent voice of its own, and all of that is present in the new series’ pilot. If anything Raimi cranked it up a couples of notches here and there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:35 AM)
    There was a mean spirited feel to the remake I found pretty appealling.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:27 AM)
    @Kaiser: the original Evil Dead was playing the horror genre straight, but it had a strata of slap-stick that was partially unintended. With Evil Dead 2 he doubled down on the strange horror/comedy dynamic and it became fantastic. Army of Darkness was very entertaining, but it strayed very far from the series’ roots. The remake was only produced by Raimi, while he got back on the writer/director chair for the pilot of the new series, and proved that he still got it sharp as ever.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:19 AM)
    Then again I believe Raimi was fairly involved with the remake.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:18 AM)
    The remake as far as remakes go should have been worse but it worked much better than I would have thought and I say this as someone who hates reboots/remakes.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:16 AM)
    @Bam: I’ve only partially seen the first evil dead but I don’t think its aged well, the second one I’ve seen and its hugely entertaining later on but its army of darkness that was the most enjoyable of the three for me.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 03:47 AM)
    Wow Ash Vs the Evil Dead 01 was a blast; I really should’ve gotten into this sooner. I was smiling thru most of it, either because it was funny or slap-stick gory, or because it was a blast to see that Sam Raimi still got it. I guess the only time that Evil Dead works is when he’s involved. Seeing Bruce Campbell again with the chainsaw was a treat which I didn’t know I needed in my life.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 10:31 PM)
    I’m trying not to get my hopes up however, given that it wouldn’t be surprising if he gave us another filler chapter like he did with that pointless flashback.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Subete ga F ni Naru – 08

At this point the theory of Magata being pregnant before she was locked down on the Island is looking very likely as during Souhei’s revelation of the answer to everything, we get a brief glimpse of a pregnant woman. But lord only knows what the Ostriches are supposed to symbolize. What I really wonder is […]

One Punch Man – 08

I wish I knew just what that girl at the beginning was parodying as she’s clearly been overdrawn in a completely different style. My closest guess would be the poster girls of creature features in the 60s and 70s as she wouldn’t look out of place if pasted into a movie poster. I don’t think […]

Young BlackJack – 08

While I find the level of risk in this two part arc to be inconsequential, I must admit that I like how it all turned out. For this is the first time in this series that Blackjack failed. While he was able to discern the cause of Johnny’s lack of pain, he was unable to […]

Subete ga F ni Naru – 07

Oh those poor seiyūs that had to act in today’s episode. I can only imagine the horror when a Japanese speaking seiyū is told they need to have an entire conversation in English in a fairly dialogue heavy show. Japanese and English happen to be two of the hardest languages to learn so if they […]

One Punch Man – 07

This episode mainly focused on a giant Meteor about to annihilate the city and the introduction if S class heroes, Metal Knight and Bang. Bang makes it a point to say how the top class heroes are hardly very heroic with most not showing up at all to stop a city’s total destruction. Even one […]

Young BlackJack – 07

Racism is always a thorny topic to deal with. Regardless of intent there are just so many ways of messing it up, be it by using strawmen or one dimensional caricatures. It’s a topic that requires a delicate hand to prevent pushing it to its extreme all to make an obvious point of Racism being […]

Subete ga F ni Naru – 06

I can’t say I enjoyed this episode of Subete too much, mainly because there was less investigating and more character building. That wouldn’t be a problem if the character building wasn’t so focused on our main leads. The leads are fine, what we need is to expand on the other characters present on the island […]

One Punch Man – 06

It is interesting that the challenges that Saitama faces that get him worried that truly the most mundane and ordinary. Saitama can punch a monster into oblivion but when it comes to essays or going to sales he’s powerless. Here we have him about to be kicked out of the hero association if he doesn’t […]

Young BlackJack – 06

There are times when Blackjacks over the top nature can be entertaining presentation wise and others when it can remove any sense of surprise. While I do like the things Blackjack explores, it is very clear cut on how it shows it. In this episode the man that Blackjack and the army Medic have been […]

Latest Reviews

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]


Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]


Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]


Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]


Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]