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A Wonderful Trip Through Morality Land
I really enjoyed the manga. Read through the whole thing just to see what would happen, and boy, did shit happen.

It's so interesting to see just how the main character pulls of his stunts, how he plans and such. Then he does a character flip...and I almost didn't even notice how much he had changed (even though there was a time skip...) It's as if somewhere along the ride, you went from rooting for him to hating his guts. I like that. And the end...so fitting! But, some of it was weird. It's as if...some of the characters were just there for the sake of being there. As if they were a liability.

Plus, some of those twists in the plot! Goddamn, I thought I'd have a heart attack myself. (har har har...) A good read. I can't say much on the anime, but from what I've seen it's still solid but somehow more...weird in my eyes.
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Okay (anime)
Death Note (in specific, the anime) is okay. It's nothing special. I watched it because of its oft-touted Gray and Gray Morality - I'm a stinker for ambiguity - but it failed to deliver. Light isn't morally ambiguous - perhaps a little at the start, but he takes a pirouette off the slippery slope very early on. The only well-developed characters are the various police, most of whom are pretty solid (if primarily centered on single traits). L is alright, but his Manchildishness comes off as poorly written. It just doesn't live up its plot. To sum it up:

Pros: -Good length, with little filler -Beautiful animation -Intriguing concept -The police are really solid characters.

Cons: -Doesn't live up to its promise -L's Manchild traits aren't justified by his background and come off as poorly written and childish. -Misa, the closest thing to a female protagonist, is pathetic, easily manipulated, and useless - and what happened to her parents doesn't justify her character. I don't know whether to call the show mysogynistic or not, but it certainly comes across as sexist in some regards. -Light's degeneration happens far too fast. -Characters are often one-dimensional.

Score: 7/10 - average, C- stuff.
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My thoughts: Death Note ( Spoilers)
Ok before we start let me just get this out of the way: this series is awesome from the characters to the gothic art style to the story if you havent seen it do so now. Now that the praise for the series is out of the way my thoughts. Now this anime is one of the poster children for anime in general and i was hasetent to get into it due to the hype surrounding it and some of the promo art not appealing to me at all. But, somewhat reluctently, i watched the first episod late one night at the suggestion of a friend. Needless to say i marathoned half the series in one night. Everything from the story to the opening and endings just drew me in so much. But...then the second season started... And i had no problim with it. Kira finally acheaved his goal and defeated L and now i thought the main character could do anything like he really was starting to become a god...or a demon. The second season, to me atleast showed how far a main character cam fall from grace and thats why i really liked the second season. All in all Death Note is one of those series' that i think everyone shouldnat least try, you may not like it but give it a try at least.
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Oh, goodness... I think I'm in love.
(I've only watched the first eight episodes; I'll watch more later.)

Recently, in a debate over my review of Soul Eater, I was told that Death Note was only good because of the action and plotting. So, I figured I'd get my thoughts together on the whole thing, so I can figure out why I like it beyond that.

The negatives:
  • There's a vein of subtle misogyny throughout the show; of about two dozen characters we've met, there have only been four women with speaking parts, and they were all only women because the plot required them to be.
  • The dialogue can be a bit stiff and awkward at times.
  • The plots occasionally hinge on characters being gullible or not realizing the obvious.

The positives:
  • The animation is probably the best I've ever seen in an anime. The character designs are amazingly detailed, their movements are so life-like, the scenery is so evocative... god, it's just so amazing. Probably the best artwork I've ever seen on TV.
  • There's a mood of constant suspense throughout the show, making the entire thing a real experience to watch.
  • The overarching plot is genuinely unpredictable - I really do have no idea who's going to win.
  • Light is characterized with an impressive, almost unequaled subtlety and nuance - his character is established quickly, but we constantly see new and interesting shades of him.
  • Grey And Gray Morality is in full effect, which makes everything more unpredictable.
  • The translation is pretty good - not the best I've ever seen, but it's not bad at all.

Overall, this is a fantastic anime, probably my favorite I've ever seen. Actually, drop the 'anime' part: this is the best TV show I've ever seen, regardless of the genre. It's suspenseful, it's amazingly animated, it's got a great protagonist... there is nothing at all not to like. WATCH IT!!!
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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.
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Starts off a masterpiece, has like a dozen mediocre episode, then finishes strong
A teenager finds a death note lying around. Is it for real? If so, how will it be used to change the world?

Death Note is a deep series mainly because it lets the viewer decide who's right; is it a battle of good vs. evil? Crazy vs. good? Crazy vs. crazy? Evil vs. evil? Are you on L's side or Light's side? Or perhaps you'll take a third option?

Either way, this show will be a great ride. The plot is so amazingly well-written, that when an action scene occurs most audience members will go "Hey! Enough with this action! Get back to the dialogue!"

Admittably, the last 1/3 of the show is very weak in comparison to the masterpiece known as episodes 1-26, but the ending is good enough to make you want to watch it over and over again. The last 1/3 is also possibly the part of the show where the most character development occurs (With Light's morals decaying to the point he even considers killing off lazy people and Mello getting over his pride to work with a certain enemy of his, for example). Yet it's still a lot worse than the rest of the series. Perhaps this is because it lacks L?

Oh well. Even without the best character it still manages to hook you it; watching 1 episode at a time is impossible, so good thing it only has 36 episodes instead of 360.

What impresses me about Death Note most is how the author managed to keep all the character's thoughts and knowledge consistent; there are never any bizaare inconsistincies like L suddenly knowing that Light hid a TV inside a bag of chips; the author manages to keep track of which facts the characters know and/or don't know. I imagine the guy who wrote it is also the kind of guy who lets his brain relax by solving Rubix cubes without taking off the stickers and rearranging them.

The manga for the most part is better (For example, there's one instance where Near figures out the identity of a certain character. In the manga, he lays out his thought process, but in the anime it seems more like he took a lucky guess.) so it'd probably be best if you read it.

Overall, I'd like to give Death Note a 10/10, after all it is one of my top 5 favorite shows, but thanks to the last 1/3 of the show screwing everything up, I can't give it more than an... well actually the ending is pretty powerful. No matter which side you're on, it'll make you feel for the loser. I'll give it a 9.5/10.
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Read the Manga for Maximum Enjoyment
I started watching the Death Note anime in 2008 and made it about 2/3 of the way in before giving up for a few weeks. In that span of time, I ended up buying the manga and reading it through from start to finish. Eventually, I did finish the anime too but, on the whole, found it inferior to the manga. Just to note, the music and image quality are superb, but the decision to cram about half of the manga into the space of about 12 episodes really hurt the coherence of the story and left it far less enjoyable than simply reading it and seeing the logic laid out with much greater clarity. In particular, I felt that the characters were more thoroughly fleshed out which made "replacement syndrome" less of a concern. Also, it should be noted that one of the huge advantages of the manga is that it only very rarely goes over-the-top and is thus less likely to be susceptible to ridicule. The ending is also, in my opinion, handled much better in the manga than the anime, although I actually liked the character in question a good deal. It seemed far more fitting and honest in terms of the rather dour perspective that Death Note has on humanity.

In terms of the actual series, it heavily plot-driven. The characters are not necessarily the focus so much as their conflicts with each other are. Certainly, each character has an ideology, but for the most part, this isn't a story about characters progressing as human beings or learning lessons. Primarily, it is a cat-and-mouse game with the world itself as both the battleground and the stakes. Because of this, it's a highly exciting, edge-of-your seat experience that hooks you with the need to find out just how the characters will escape their latest predicament.

This is not to say, however, that Death Note is without its flaws. One of the biggest, unfortunately, is that it can come across as sexist. There are quite a few "geniuses" within the show and not one of them is female. Female characters often seem to exist as accessories to the males — they are defined solely by their relationship to them. There is also the fact that plot elements tend to come up for convenience's sake more than once and the leaps of logic some characters make will strain credulity.

Overall, though, Death Note is an excellent series that manages to grab and hold the readers' interest all the way through. Recommended.
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If Christopher Nolan made an anime, this would be it
At first glance, Death Note seems like an anime that is meant to delve into issues of morality and philosophy, much like the Nolan Batman trilogy seems to delve into contemporary social issues. But like those Batman films, the issues are incidental, not intentional. As a result, we see these issues without having them preached to us, a trait which adds to the genius of both Death Note and Nolan's work by letting the audience draw their own conculsions much of the time. Another important similarity Death Note shares with the recent Batman movies is how it sets itself apart from the rest of its genre by being in a realstic world with certain fantastic elements. The character models and animation is set apart from the rest of the anime medium as a result. The plot, a visceral battle of wits between two geniuses, does seem like something Nolan could have come up with, minus the supernatural element.

The only other work I can think of that does a better job of creating and maintaining tension is the tv series 24 when it was at its best. Death Note is that good. The story, the lead characters, much of the supporting cast, the animation (which in the most dramatic moments surpasses the vast majority of the best action animes), and the sheer thrill of watching L and Light concoct and execute plans to outwit each other is top notch.

The show is not perfect, of course. The character of Misa, after an incredible introduction, becomes very annoying very quickly and while she serves the plot well, less of her would have been welcome.

In addition, while I have no problem with the death of a major character two thirds of the way through the series, as he had already lost and knew it, the remaining 10 or so episodes are not quite up to the same level. I like Near, even as a follow-up to one of the best characters in anime history, and he has some amazing moments of deduction, but it seems like the only reason the plot gets resolved is because of luck, not because the 'good guys' were smart enough, and that is disapointing. I never felt like things were going too well for any one character until those episodes. There are also plot holes that pop up from time to time in the final third, though they don't subtract too much.

All in all, Death Note is one the most engaging and well thought out animes ever. A true gem of the medium.
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One of the best series ever
Sick and tired of moe moe blob manga and anime? Want a manga/anime that actually has an amazing plot and story? Look no further. This is seriously one of the best series out there, and despite the fact that its been over for a few years the fandom (which isnt even that bad) is still going strong. If you haven't seen this series go watch it OR read it, you wont regret it.

Issues:

1. The Live action movies are horrible.

2. The light novels aren't well written, but the characters in them are amazing so you will suffer through the horrible writing just for the sake of amazing characters.

3. The anime leaves out a lot of the reasoning in the second arc making everything seem like an ass-pull. The manga however does explain things fully.

4. The loudest people in the fandom are slash yaoi shippers. So be warned if your going to hunt for fanfiction or fanart.

5. The series is pretty short. It leaves you wanting more.

Good things:

1. The story is amazing. It'll suck you in and you won't even care, expect to watch the series multiple times because you will want to.

2. Amazing characters. The entire series has very gray v. gray morality and so you will find yourself sympathizing and enjoying almost EVERY CHARACTER. There are very few characters that will actually annoy you and ever those ones are subjective.

3. The fandom. Despite the high amount of yaoi slash that goes on there are still a ton of amazing people in this fandom.

4. The series is pretty short short. It ends before it gets annoyingly long, plus it means less for you to buy.

5. The dub isn't bad at all (only Mello's voice was really meh) and you can find it almost anywhere online.

6. The soundtrack is also amazing. The music is beautiful and has everything from creepy Latin chanting to ear-worm beats.

7. The animation in the anime is simply stunning. The pictures in the manga too, the artists really out did themselves.

Overall: Watch it. I have yet to meet a person who has disliked this series.
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Action, not in-depth emotional discussion, is the name of the game.
Death Note is the story of Light and L, and their battle for the world.

It, in my opinion, wasn't written to dive into the fathoms of morality, the clash of good and evil; the authors repeatedly stated that they left all of these debates up to the reader, and there is little, if any, moralizing.

It wasn't written to explore madness, isolation, genius, moral obligation, or justice; although these form key parts of the characters' personalities and motivations, and one can pick up a good deal of subtext, Death Note just doesn't discuss them.

It wasn't written to explore the intricacies of, say, a codependent's gravitation towards a narcissist; the focus of the story just isn't there, and Light's and Misa's relationship gets but a passing glance.

The audience never sees, for example, Soichiro and Sachiko discussing Light's guilt or innocence. We never see something like Misa witnessing her parents' murders, and the subsequent living nightmare that must have factored heavily into her madness. We never see L face an inner struggle with what is normal and what is not, or what friendship might mean. Clues to deeper issues are woven into the story, but it is left to the reader's imagination to consider them, and a casual reader can easily miss them.

That isn't to say that Death Note isn't an intricate story. It simply leaves large areas of possible commentary blank.

Death Note is here to tell the story of warring factions. The characters, for all of their complications, are more widely sketched than might otherwise be found - the villains, the heroes, the normal guys. The focus of the story isn't really on how they got to those roles.

The focus is on the action.

And there is plenty of action. Tightly plotted, with a labyrinth of twists and turns, Death Note takes the audience through attack and counterattack and counter-counterattack, elaborate planning, decisive execution, and plenty of shocks. Some of it is deliciously over-the-top, dramatic, and stylish. Some of it is poignantly subdued, lingering and sad. The story does mingle themes of good and evil, power and helplessness, victory and defeat, and the message I took away from it was that nothing is ever black and white (besides, you know, "beware of falling notebooks"). It just doesn't discuss these themes at length.

Enjoy it for what it is, then :)
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Shonen at its smartest
Even at first glance, it's easy to tell that Death Note is a shonen manga of a different color. It runs, not on explosive battle scenes or mind blowing powerups, but on the suspense and drama of human ingenuity in fast-paced, life or death situations. The premise is simple: villain protagonist Light Yagami gains the power to kill anyone whose name and face he knows, and he uses this power to pursue his goal of scaring the world into behaving just as he wants it to... by killing every single wrongdoer he can get the name and face of. However, the greatest detective in the world (known only as L) is hot on his trail. The story hits its stride as the two of them enter a battle of wits of truly epic proportions, each desperately trying to out-gambit the other as L attempts to track down the murderer and Light tries to keep his identity as the murderer a secret, while still killing as many criminals as he can.

It is unquestionably the plot which is at the front and center of this story. It's brilliant and exhaustively thought-out, down to the last detail. Tsugumi Obha is clearly a storyteller who doesn't believe in cutting corners. The characters, though good, are largely static, so don't expect any great emotional depth from them. In fact, the only character who really gets much development is Light. Although his goal is to create a world where evil does not exist, his morals become shakier and more arbitrary until by the end, his primary goal is just to kill anyone who defies him.

As for the show's technicalities, there's not much to complain about. The animation is excellent and the dub is perfect (which is particularly fortunate for this series, since 99% of the time you're listening to someone talk).

Unfortunately, like any other anime, Death Note has flaws, but none of them are crippling. They extend to occasional research failures and moments when you'll feel like yelling at Light or L to "(insert sensible action here)!!!"

Ultimately, Death Note is fresh, unique and gripping, with a feel unlike any other shonen series. Like anything popular, it has haters who insist that it's a piece of overrated garbage and fans who claim that it has the depth and philosophy of Ergo Proxy or Ghost In The Shell, when it's really none of those things. It's a fun, well-written shonen manga/anime, which it should seen as... but most of all, enjoyed as.
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Death Note...
This is not a show about characterisation or philosophy. Don't expect to see many life lessons being learned or instances of people changing for the better, or any deep exploration of the meaning of good and evil and so on. But what it does do - good dialogue, a solid plot and plans within plans - it does very well. This would be a good series for a smart and not particularly hormonal teenage boy - one who both believes in the power of awesome music and excellent voice-acting to make mundane actions epic and isn't too squeamish to be put off by... well, gratuitous death and epic handwriting and its best.
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