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Mr. Freeze Reviews Death Note

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Mr. Freeze Reviews Death Note Empty Mr. Freeze Reviews Death Note

Post by Mr. Freeze on Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:02 am

(So, the review that was slated for June 7th...didn't happen. Yeah. Ghirahim, Candyman and Trollestia know what I watched for that, and they also know that it was not a fun experience. So, instead of that review [which will be put up at some point], here's an entirely new one that I've written tonight.)

Mr. Freeze Reviews:

Death Note

While waiting for the next episode of Attack on Titan, I decided to peruse what else to watch in the meantime to satiate my craving of character death. As a result, I ended up turning to one of the biggest shows from the 2006-2007 seasons, Death Note. Normally something considered too "popular" for me to review, I realized it may have had the kick start I needed to return to the whole reviewing business.

The Concept in a Nutshell
Light Yagami is a student with fantastic grades and excellent deduction skills, always the top in his class. And yet he finds himself bored and tired of the disgusting world he lives in, desiring change. When a mysterious book appears outside his classroom window, he investigates and finds himself in possession of the mysterious "Death Note" which can be used to decide the fates of others. Overcome with the potential of such a device, Light begins to tread a slippery slope of egotism and madness as he sets out to make the disgusting world he lives in one of justice...

My score is broken up into 4 categories that add up to a potential score of 40. Letter grade is based on percentages akin to standard grading (i.e. 36 out of 40 is the lowest score for an A grade, 32 out of 40 for B, etc).

The Story
One of the biggest points that draws people to Death Note, for sure. The focus on the mental games between Light and the mysterious "L" prove to be the show's bread and butter for quite a bit of it, leaving the audience guessing as to what slight advantage the player falling behind will gain. The show can be ruthless at times, but smaller jokes and quirks exist to help balance the tone a bit.

That isn't to say that the ruthlessness doesn't occasionally end up cheesy. In fact, the show is very, very over-dramatic at any opportunity it gets. At times this can ruin the mood, but more often than not the cheesiness has its own charm that adds to the experience. One example is the tennis match that appears in the earlier/mid episodes which turns a single tennis match into a psychoanalytical battle of breaking down the opponent's motives and identities. Yes, you heard that last sentence right.

However, major events in the middle episodes leave plot decisions in later episodes (Episode 26 and onward) somewhat questionable and a new major character introduction literally 4 or 5 episodes away from the end of the show is...far from ideal storytelling. The final few episodes become somewhat difficult to digest as a result, the narrative feeling horribly disrupted as the plot threads become further unwoven. This leaves the last 12 episodes or so less satisfying until the final confrontations by Episode 36.

Central themes focus on the morality of whether someone has the right to judge another human and end their life. The act of playing God and the struggle between security and freedom lie within the conflict, leaving viewers to ponder their own stance on comfort and security versus freedom in a technologically advancing world.

Due to the central themes and the fun descent into insanity, the plot holds together with a solid 9/10 despite the cheesiness that is apparent throughout the drama.

The Visuals
The visuals are quite interesting this time around. The quirks of "L" next to the standard movements, facial expressions and composed appearances of other characters provides an interesting contrast visually. The animation itself is quite decent, and focuses on playing up simplistic actions. Some beautiful quotes ("I'll take a potato chip....and eat it!") come with equally over-the-top animation that further adds to the enjoyability of the images. The constant use of Light being defined by reds and "L" by blues serve as a color contrast throughout a large portion of the show.

The use of these little quirks give the show a very defined style. Much enjoyment can be had from intense animation that would normally be mundane actions in other shows. The visuals check out with a solid 9/10.

The Voice Acting
Subbed or dubbed will suit just fine. Some of the dramatic lines are delivered better by Light in the sub, but the insane levels of cheesiness from him in the dub are their own level of fun. "L" also feels more socially awkward in the dub (largely due to our knowledge of the English language and its structural inflections) than in the sub, and this serves as an advantage toward the dub. Both focus on the exact and analytical nature of the dialogue; you're not missing much regarding word choice either way.

Voice acting gets a strong 8/10, particularly for the love put into the dub this time.

The Soundtrack
The composers for Death Note's soundtrack are Yoshihisa Hirano and Hideki Taniuchi. While Taniuchi is relatively unknown, Hirano has done a few shows over the years. The score ranges from grunge rock to ambient audio, and actions regarding the Death Note are accentuated by powerful choral music with orchestral accompaniment. Highlights include the asymmetrical rhythm of "L's Theme", the actual self titled "Death Note Theme" and the (contextually) dissonant "Coda~Death Note" that serves as a final track to the series. The music itself tends to be just as dramatic as everything else, though as stated before this is not necessarily a bad thing.

All in all, it gets the job done and does it well. The soundtrack receives an 8/10 as a result.

Final Notes before the verdict: Female characters aren't handled amazingly well on this show, but part of it extends from the way that Light chooses to interact with them (i.e. like a manipulative bastard). Make of that what you will.

The Verdict
Death Note receives a 34/40, or a B in my book. While it runs on for a little longer than it maybe should have and tends to be a little dramatic, the themes tackled are deep issues of our century and the cheesy romp between Light and "L" is enjoyable whether you can take it seriously or not. If you have the time for it and can put up with overly analytical tennis matches, have a go at this one.
Mr. Freeze
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Post by Trollestia on Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:11 pm

I liked Death Note, but then L died and it got boring. What made it interesting to me was Light's and L's struggles against each other, and once L died and the series didn't wrap up, I got bored. It didn't help that the ending was spoiled for me.
Also, Light would have gotten away with the whole thing if he hadn't killed the detective. For somebody so brilliant, you'd have thought he would have realized that the detective would be pulled off of him after a few days of doing nothing suspicious, and other targets would have been found. This would have given Light more than enough time to learn about Shinigami Eyes, befriend what's-her-face, and then get her to tell him the name of L.
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Post by Mr. Freeze on Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:03 pm

Yeah, Light and L are what make the show interesting. Mello and Near just don't cut it and the last few episodes feel disjointed as a result. Nonetheless, I still think people should watch up to episode 25, since that portion of the show is great. Hence the recommendation to watch it.
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