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.