Death Note Vol. #5 (also w/Deluxe Edition) (of 9) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, June 24, 2008
What They Say
After fifty days of confinement, the killings continue, and Light and Misa are released, only to face the ride of their lives with a seemingly crazed Soichiro. Then Light rejoins L in the investigation and notices a strange connection between the recent Kira murders and a business outfit called the Yotsuba Group.
Misa agrees to pose as the Yotsuba Group's spokesperson, with the eager Matsuda playing her manager. But Matsuda may be getting himself in too deep when he decides to do a little snooping at the Yotsuba Group's Tokyo headquarters!
This Deluxe edition includes a limited edition collector's figurine of Misa.
Contains episodes 17-20:
Doing his best to prove the Light is Kira, Ryuzaki sets the stage for high drama before the corporate side of the series comes into view.
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 2006 and 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Viz doesn't get too many widescreen shows so I was curious to see how well this would come out. 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.
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a touch more flair and color, this release is one of the weaker ones if only because Rem is such a mildly used character overall and doesn't provide much of a draw. She's certainly creepy looking here though and it has a certain appeal from that angle, but with the character hardly in these episodes t feels a bit off. The logo is done with a bit of red foil which gives it a bit more pop and contrasts well with the dark nature of the artwork overall. The back cover is well done as it utilizes some of the basic iconography of the series with it being laid out using the Death Note instructions. The summary is contained here as is the episode numbers and titles along with basic features listings. The bottom portion has some production credits and a very minor technical grid that contains more logos than anything else. The reverse side of the cover, which can be found underneath the opaque keepcase, has numerous small shots from the show in full color. The included insert features a listing of each episode number and title along with some of the basic rules in both English and Japanese. It opens up to a two panel spread of Aiber and Wedy in their cool poses.
In addition to the disc only release, there is a disc+limited edition figure release. This is really nice and a rarity for a single volume release from Viz Media. The limited edition figure is identical to the one that came with the Japanese release as it features Misa in great detail. The figure is done with her in a rather fun goth-loli outfit that's all black as she's got her hands partially up in the air. While I would have liked a bit more detail to it and maybe a bit more color, it's a very attractive figure and looks great alongside the others. The figure is of good size and the packaging is very secure and stable. The box is done in a theme that fits the show and it has one side that's devoted to talking about the show itself since the back of the keepcase isn't visible with it as they're shrink wrapped together. This package is the only place where it mentions that it's a nine volume series.
The menu design for the series is appropriately done but it's extremely annoying as there is a fifty-two second lead-up animation piece with scenes from these episodes that cannot be skipped. I tend to go into shows not knowing much and I absolutely hate ones that show off a lot of the show I'm about to watch just before I even get to the menu. Making it impossible to skip through just makes it all the worse. The main menu itself is decent as it features the series name through the center design while ornate etchings frame the entire thing. Navigation selections are kept to the corners and brief bits of animation "strike" within it as lightning hits. The music and sounds are appropriately creepy and atmospheric which sets the mood perfectly. Navigation is quick and easy but unfortunately the disc did not read our players' language presets. It defaulted to English with no subtitles but it can be changed easily on the fly.
The extras favor the English side a bit more once again this time which isn't a surprise since it's easier sometimes to produce new extras, especially for a big production like this series. The first extra is video piece that brings in the English voice actor for Light's father where he gets to talk up his role and what a pleasure it was to deal with such a layered character. A series of production art pieces is included as well as an audio commentary for episode by the English language director and the ADR writer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Death Note moves up through the halfway mark with this volume and starts to make a few more changes to its approach. The storyline has taken an unusual twist or two along the way where we now have both Light and Misa without their memories of their time as Kira's while being subjected to the interrogations by Ryuzaki. At the same time, Rem is working as instructed and takes the show through a bit of corporate corruption in order to keep the death toll on the rise which is done to throw Ryuzaki off the proper trail.
In a way, Death Note can be difficult to get through as it plays its game of move and counter move between Ryuzaki and Light. Even more so now that Light is without his memories but is still playing the game without realizing it. With Light's deductive capabilities, he's able to figure out everything that Ryuzaki is doing for the most part and that only has Ryuzaki doubting and double checking himself constantly. Every time he comes up with a new way to test Light, he realizes that Light could likely see through it and figure out a way to get past it. Its keeps him from truly clearing him and he's becoming somewhat obsessive about providing that he is Kira even as the evidence starts to support other ideas. With the possibility of those being Kira simply being controlled, more doubt enters into Ryuzaki's mind and that has him reaching further for ideas and methods.
The methods do go a bit over the top in a way but at the same time they feel predictable as Ryuzaki can't let things go on as they are. With the series barely at the halfway mark, even with the way it's gone, you know that Light can't be revealed just yet. Getting away with it, honestly enough since neither he nor Misa remember being Kira, is fun to watch though, especially as Light's father takes a very active role in trying to get past this stumbling block with Ryuzaki. The results of all of it still has Ryuzaki not trusting Light since he's on that obsessive level now and he actually goes so far as to chain himself to Light which makes things difficult for Misa since she wants her quality alone time with Light. It's interesting that even though she's lost a lot of her memories, her feelings for Light are just as strong as before and her reasons for loving him even if he were Kira are still worn on her sleeve.
Where Death Note takes an unusual turn is in how the killings are still going on, an area that left me less than enthused in the manga version as well. With the notebook handed off to someone else for the duration, it's ended up in the hands of corporatists within the Yotsuba Group who are using it to eliminate their competitors so they can boost their business. They do try to keep it from being painfully obvious what they're doing so they kill off criminals as well, but the differences in what's going on is still something that catches the eye of the investigative team and they begin to work through what's going on there so they can try and capture Kira.
Of course, "stupid" Matsuda gets things done in a way that nobody else can. He's been one of the more amusing characters to watch, at least when Ryuzaki and Light aren't fighting like grade schoolers, as he wants to make a difference but finds himself being relegated to menial tasks more often than not. His position as a manager for Misa is fun to watch as well since it's more of the same and Misa doesn't really need him, but it allows him to get into places he wouldn't otherwise and even provides a bit of a safety net for him when he stupidly tries to get into the Yotsuba building by himself. He's not a goofy guy or outright bad, but he has that mildly stupid grin that gives him that kind of appearance. Particularly when Ryuzaki seems to almost mock him regularly in his very backhanded and casual way. Matsuda's role is a bit stronger in these episodes and it works in the shows favor to bring a bit more levity to events as it deals with one of the weaker turns in the Yotsuba group.
Death Note runs through some familiar material at the start but it manages to move past it as it now has to deal with the weaker storyline that it needed to set up for the next phase. The characters have become quite familiar now and the way they act and interact with each other is priceless. While we don't have any "potato chip of drama" moments here, we get similar in how Ryuzaki deals with his cake eating or the awkward dates he ends up on with Misa and Light. The lighter elements help to bring a bit more life to the show and to help balance out against how dramatic it was getting in the first episode here and after the events of the previous ones. All in all, the show is still quite a lot of fun and it's got us looking forward to the next volume just as eagerly as we looked forward to this one.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Behind the SCenes,Production Art,Commentary Track
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.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Death Note