Studio/Creators: Madhouse/Tsugumi Ohba (writer) & Takeshi Obata (artist)
Distributor: Viz, streams on Hulu
Suggested Age: 13+
No of Episodes: 38
My Rating: 10/10
Summary: Light Yagami is a highly intelligent and easily bored high school student. One day, a shinigami (Japanese for death spirit) named Ryuk deliberately drops his death note (a notebook for writing the names of the dead) into the realm of the living. Light discovers it and learns that if he writes a person’s name in it, that person will die. He also discovers that if he includes how the person dies, he or she will die in that fashion (if no method is specified, the person simply dies of a heart attack). Seeing the power before him, he decides he will use the notebook to rid the world of criminals. His efforts draw the attention of the enigmatic detective L, who quickly turns thing into a battle of wits to bring Light, who has adopted the alias of Kira, to justice.
Review: One of the criticisms of Christianity is that all too often, the evil in this world goes unpunished. How can one believe that a God of love exists if evil is allowed to thrive? Wouldn’t a real God stop this? This is the mindset Light has. He believes that he will become the new god. What he fails to realize is that even the darkest evil can actually bring about some good that would not have occurred had the evil not occurred first. This is why I would not want God’s job.
L is a great foil for Light. He is so driven by justice, there is no line he won’t cross. He and light quickly turn the story into a chess game, and it’s fascinating to watch their plots unfold.
Ryuk is also great. What’s cool is that he is a “true neutral”. He doesn’t care which side wins, because people die either way. All he cares about is the fun in watching what happens.
I love how fast-paced the story is. There’s almost no filler and every moment is intense. It’s also neat that every thing is explained at the onset, and not in a way that insults the viewer. The writers really thought of every possible angle.
The animation has a great Gothic feel and sets the atmosphere well.
This anime really makes you think. If you had the power to kill someone just by writing a name, would you do it? Do all evil people deserve to die without allowing for repentance? And who deserves this right? That’s why this series earns my highest possible recommendation.
Sub/Dub: Both are excellent.
Music/Score: Like the animation, the score is Gothic and filled with ominous chants. The first opening theme is good. While I do like the animation for the second theme, the music does nothing for me. I have nothing against “screamo” (heavy metal with screaming vocalists), but I like it better when it’s somewhat comprehensible in English.
Violence: (7/10) Quite a few of the deaths are gruesomely depicted.
Nudity: (3/10) Late in the story, we meet a girl named Misa who tends to dress in lolita-style clothes.
Sexuality: (2/10) Just Misa’s attire.
Religion: (6/10) Kira sees himself as a new god, and is actually worshiped. However, it is very clear he should not be admired.
Related Media: This is based on the manga. There is a novel, three live-action movies (I’ve only seen the first two) and a video game.