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Which Version You Prefer Depends On Where You Start
This troper was introduced to Death Note by the live-action movies. Which she continues to consider as two of the best movies she has ever seen, with the complex interplay of the character's motivations, behaviour, schemes and counter-schemes, portrayed by excellent acting and script-writing. Very believable, with plans that were clever without being overly complicated, and amusing by turns.

So when informed of the existence of the manga, I tried to read it.

Key word being 'tried'.

It was too long-winded and grew too complicated, with contingency plans that would probably never work outside of fiction, and for a viewer/reader who had only seen the Adaptation Distillation that elegantly kept the whole conflict between Light and L, the idea that L died and got replaced by two(!) successors was jarring. The main characters as portrayed in the manga were distinctly unsympathetic, all clearly out to satisfy their own egos with 'justice' as a convenient excuse/byproduct.

Movie!Light kept you guessing through the first movie, having you believe he really was just a Well Intentioned Extremist - until the reveal about the true circumstances of Shiori's death. Movie!L seemed outwardly to be the same kind of high-functioning sociopath that Light was, but hints in his behaviour and dialogue leave you to draw your own conclusions about it. L's final scene was definitely simultaneously heartwarming and a tearjerker.

I didn't even bother with the anime.

I hear a lot of good things about both the manga and anime, though, and so I came to this conclusion: far from being different presentations of the same story, movie and manga use the same basic premise to tell very different stories.

You almost certainly will like one or the other. It's somewhat unlikely that you'll like both.
I for one have read the manga, seen the anime and all three movies, and like all the adaptations of the story, maybe because I'm just that much of a fan of Death Note. But I must agree, I think I liked the movie ending better, even if it doesn't really explain how L knew what Light was planning to do so he could act accordingly. I concur with most of what you say.

Also, if you haven't seen the anime, it's like the manga condensed into 37 episodes. They leave some bits out, which can be a mercy, but at the same time it can leave you scratching your head at times, thinking, "How'd they get to that conclusion?"
comment #18202 whiteladydragon00 14th Feb 13
L is a blatant God Mode Sue in the movies, which is one of the reasons why I prefer anime and manga to the movies.
comment #18204 kay4today 14th Feb 13
@kay4today L? A God Mode Sue? How so?
comment #18356 whiteladydragon00 1st Mar 13
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