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DVD Review

DVD cover

Death Note
Volume 2


Starring (voice): Kappei Yamaguchi, Mamoru Miyano, Ai Satou and Akeno Watanabe
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 28 July 2008

What would you do if you found a book entitled Death Note, which purportedly kills anyone whose name you write in it? Would you use it? Light Yagami finds such an object and overcome with curiosity writes the name of a criminal in it, who promptly dies. When he tries it out on some street thugs they die too. But the book does not belong to him having been dropped by Ryuk, a rogue Shinigami god of death, who returns for it. However, not everyone agrees that arbitrarily killing criminals is anything but murder and the authorities turn towards the world’s greatest living detective, ‘L’, who plans to hunt down Light, now going under the pseudonym of Kira...

Death Note (2006) is based on the highly successful twelve-volume manga by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata. The manga sold in excess of twenty-one million copies. The manga not only spawned this anime, but also three live action films. and the first novel, published by Viz: Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, was released in July 2008. The anime is another from the Madhouse production company, directed by Tetsuro Araki. The whole series ran to thirty-seven episodes, with this second volume containing episodes nine to sixteen.

The story really is something else, as deep and rich as any good suspense novel, so to do the convoluted twists which exist is quite difficult in the restrictions of a short review as L and Light engage in a battle of skill and wits. Therefore I’ll deal with disc one and two in their entirety. Disc one contains the episodes Encounter, Doubt, Assault and Love.

At the end of Volume 1 L continued to be suspicious of light, even though the bugging of his room revealed nothing L still feels there is a chance of his guilt. To further his investigation he enrols in Light's school under the name of Hideki Ryuuga, though he makes it obvious to Light just who he really is. The tennis match which follows is a riveting piece of writing as the game reflects the intellectual battle which exists between L and Light reflecting the rhythm and illustrating the back and forth nature of the conflict - and I don’t even like tennis. The story takes an unexpected turn when another Kira emerges, who apparently has the same ability to kill people. It emerges that she is Misa Amane, whose parents killer had been dispatched by Light and who has been given another Death Note by the Shinigami; Rem. She has also gone further by trading half her life for a pair of Shinigami eyes, which allows her to see the names and life span of people, including Light. Whilst this might seem like a break for Light, moving the focus off him, this will depend on how careful and smart the second Kira is.

Disc two contains the episodes Confession, Friend, Wager and Decision.

Light discovers that whilst there is no real rule between Shinigami, about revealing the identity of their human counterparts, it would break an unwritten social rule. So Light needs to find the other Kira. His hunt leads him to Note Blue Club, which turns out to be a fruitless dead end, without realising that Misa had been disguised and now knows Light's identity, which she uses to meet him. Although he is sceptical about her, her subservience convinces him that he can use her to kill off the Task Force hunting him and L as well. But things do not go Light's way, Misa threatens to kill any other girls he dates and when he threatens to kill her, unless she obeys, her Shinigami promises that it will be the last thing he does. That does not stop Light from hatching a plot to get rid of L, but when things go wrong the Task Force captures Misa, as the second Kira. With things getting seriously out of hand Light hands himself in asking to be confined on the excuse that he may be killing in his sleep. He disposes of Misa’s Death Note so she no longer remembers being Kira and, after several days of confinement, gives his own up. Although L still believes them to be Kira, neither one has any memory of the Death Notes - leaving L with a lot of suspicions but now no evidence.

For once there are some pretty good extras. First up you get an Audio Commentary for Episode 11 with Voice Director Karl Willems and ADR Writer Stephen Hedley. This is less illuminating than you would think as the guys spend most of the time just reiterating the action on the screen - a bit pointless really. The second extra on disc one is an interview with Brian Drummond (10 min, 11 sec) who does the English dub for Ryuk, with contributions from Karl Willems. An interesting piece if you want to know how actors get to do the dub process. This mini feature also films the recording session. Lastly you get a bunch of production art and the DVD credits.

Disc two continues the extras with an Audio Commentary for Episode 14, this time with Associate Producer Jiro Okada and Voice Actress Shannon Chan-Kent who provides the voice for Misa Amane. This is less descriptive than the first but just as rambling, in its own way. There is another Voice Actor Interview, this time with Chan-Kent. This lacks depth but remains an agreeable addition. Last up are trailers for the Death Note film and for Bleach.  

Although the only audio options are English 2.0, Japanese 2.0 and Japanese 2.0 with subtitles, the show lacks the type of action sequence that might justify a 5.1 mix. The show is a battle of wits, so the clear stereo track does a good job. The anamorphic 1.79:1 print is about as good as it gets.


Charles Packer

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