The final arc of the series gets its condensed form here with Near and Light going head to head..
What They Say
Light and L have battled to the bitter end over the Death Note - but what does the story look like from Ryuk's point of view? Go back to where it all began and watch the epic battle from a new perspective - through the eyes of the one who started it all!
Four years have passed since Light claimed his victory at L's grave. Light has joined the National Police Agency and taken on the identity of the "new L." Kira's judgments of the citizens of the world have intensified, and many nations have come to accept Kira, either from fear or adulation.
Near, L's successor, must ponder the question of how L was defeated if he is to succeed where his famed predecessor failed. At the headquarters of the anti-Kira organization the SPK, he proclaims that the new L is none other than Kira and calls upon the Japanese task force to declare war on Light.
Death Note is a solid presentation from Viz Media that contains a surprisingly good pair of stereo mixes encoded at 256 kbps. Some shows tend to be a bit flat in their presentation or center channel specific but this stereo mix on both sides does quite a good job with its material. A lot of it is dialogue based alongside some music used to heighten the moment and it's all very well placed with an excellent sense of depth when required. The original mix really handles all of this well by providing some excellent atmosphere and presenting the show in a way that gives it more impact. We skimmed the English language version and listened to the entire Japanese language track throughout which we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this special is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Death Note is largely made up of the same animation as the TV series so this release looks generally the same. Death Note is done with a rather distinct visual style that will keep it from looking all shiny and new, something that works to its advantage in terms of story. The series is shot somewhat soft and with a filtered look that gives it some additional grain. Many of the scenes really feel like film and that gives it some wonderful depth and realism. Colors are generally quite good looking and without oversaturation but the softness keeps it from looking pristine, which is part of the intent. The main issues that crop up with it are partially source based as there are several scenes in which banding is visible in the backgrounds. This causes some additional noise there which in some cases turns into minor but visible blocking.
This release doesn’t use the same design as the TV series which I think is a mistake since it’s easy recognizable marketing that’s being missed. The front cover is again a really good piece as it uses some of the best characters laid out in a great manner. Ryuzaki is in the background obscured while in front of him we have the triumvirate of Light, Mello and Near with creepy looks to their faces. The back cover is a bit more familiar with its font usage and the overall layout as it has a collage of shots in the background with the shots from the show in the foreground. All the main characters are here in their familiar form which is really nice. The summary does run through the basics of the story well enough and provides enough to get you intrigued. I continue to dislike the scattershot method Viz uses for their technical information, such as trying to find the runtime for example or the languages provided within. It’s simply not usable for a quick look. I like the look of the release overall, but Viz still has the same problems with their designs years into the format.
The menu design for this release reminds me of why I usually really dislike the menus that Viz Media creates. With a lengthy intro piece before it gets to the main menu, it comes across as overly long and somewhat clunky because of it. The intent is to set a mood but it just irritates me instead. The main menu is fairly decent itself as it has the image of the warehouse from the final scenes of the series which gives it a rather disturbing feeling with the lighting used. The menu navigation itself is identical to the TV series release so it’s familiar and easy to use. Submenus load quickly but the discs don’t read our players’ language presets and default to English with no subtitles.
Unlike the first volume, there are no extras included here outside of trailers for various Death Note and other Viz Media properties.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first recap special, the second arrived to showcase what happened during the final third of the Death Note series when Light faces off against the successors to L's name and position. The first recap special was alright, condensed heavily considering the amount of material that needed to be covered, but it provided a good tease if you wanted to get all the details and find out what's really going on in the series. Part of this comes from my view that the first arc of the series, before they went to the corporate angle, was the best that the show had to offer.
This arc focuses primarily on the revived cat and mouse game between Light and Near from the Wammy House that Ryuzaki was from. Near and Mello are certainly Ryuzaki's successors, but they have quite different approaches and Mello is kept out of the picture for the most part. What really interested me was that while I liked this arc fairly well after the corporate arc, the movie version of it comes across a lot tighter and better paced than it was during the actual TV run. The general ideas are still here, but the secondary characters get far less screen time and a lot less distractions as well.
With Light now firmly in control of the small group that's hunting Kira,and with his being Kira, he's feeling very confident about himself and what he can accomplish in creating his new world order. His plans start to get more complicated when Near starts communicating with him in his search for Kira as it serves to distract him from his larger goals. In order to keep himself protected, he starts using another man who views Kira as a god in order to perform the murders in the Death Note itself while also engaging in a relationship with the public face of the Kira movement. Light has always used pawns to one extent or another, but he takes it up a notch in complication here with how he handles everything. In fact, he really does make it too complicated.
Much like the first arc, it all comes down to these very strong yet very different personalities going after each other. If Near takes down Light, he ends the scourge of Kira which is his main job. If Light manages to win against Near, his last real obstacle to making the world as he wants it is gone. And much like at first, I do find it conflicting as to whether Light should succeed or not. In the six years that this story runs, it clearly shows that he's an unbalanced person, but what is caused by his desire for the end goals has a huge impact on the world. When crime rates drop by seventy percent and wars in general stop because of fear of death from nowhere, there is something to be said for it. But the cost is where it counts, from the freedoms people enjoy to the way that some will abuse the system and inform on those that they simply don't like.
Recap specials are never favorites of mine because so much of the nuance is lost in them, as well as entire characters sometimes. Surprisingly, this recap plays out a lot better than the TV episodes they're culled from as it was a segment that could use some streamlining and a bit less of the cat and mouse and all the little bits. I can easily imagine that upon viewing the series again someday, I'd rewatch this arc in this form instead of the actual episodes so I can get the basic enjoyment out of it. Especially as the bulk of the last episode is used here to bring closure to it all. Of the two recaps, this one is definitely the better one but they both suffer from the same issues overall, which makes them difficult for your hardcore fans to get into unless they have to have every bit of new animation that's out there, even the brief parts that are used here to kick off the special.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.