Death Note Vol. #6 (also w/Limited Edition) (of 9) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Yotsuba arc comes to a close and the series shifts gears once again as Light regains his true sense of purpose.

What They Say
The Yotsuba Group enlists an investigator to uncover L's identity, while Misa, who's been hired as their spokesperson, does some investigating of her own. When she discovers the identity of the owner of the Death Note, it's a race between the killer and the task force--who will catch up to the other first? Time is of the essence, especially when the new Kira makes the trade for the Shinigami Eyes!

The Review!
Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a touch more flair and color, this release comes across as stronger than the previous volume with Rem. Ryuk has a certain kind of creepy look to him that transcends things and here he looks positively evil, which is almost amusing considering the way he gets with apples. 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. The interior is really nicely done with a dark and evil looking illustration of Light and Ryuk together.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
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 another of the English voice actors to talk about their role and how much fun the show is. 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)
Considering the overall length of the series, both the anime and the manga, this particular arc with the Yotsuba corporation is one that I felt was the weakest but had some of the best moments at the end. Everyone has a different opinion of course on where the show was weak, but for me it was in that Light had become someone else for awhile as did Misa and the loss of those characters in the form I had grown to love and enjoy was pretty strong. That said, the way it works does feel somewhat overly convoluted but it brings about some truly beautiful scenes once it comes to a conclusion.

The Yotsuba storyline certainly has its interesting points in that you see how someone without much real intelligence or creativity – or a sense of justice or evil – would utilize the death note. That it all comes down to money and greed and how that plays out provides for some entertainment. That Higuchi surrounds himself with seven others in order to hide himself properly and then slowly ends up revealing himself because of his ambition and lack of proper planning is certainly amusing to watch. But Higuchi is in the end not a terribly interesting character because it’s such a base motivation without any flair. Watching Light go through the same motions but with a lot more creativity and guessing exactly how he’d be caught is an exercise in some great mental gymnastics. Higuchi’s antics don’t have you breaking a sweat in the slightest.

Where the Yotsuba storyline does work is in that it allows Misa to show off a bit of her talents and abilities as well as really reinforcing the underlying idea that she is in this for Light. Though she’s convinced that she wasn’t the Second Kira for awhile after all that had happened, the more she digs into things to help out Light, the more she realizes that she probably was. When things start to get dicey for her and her antics, Rem is there to save the day and she ends up reminding Misa who she really is. That sets Light’s plan into motion pretty easily and that in itself is what makes the Yotsuba storyline as enjoyable as it is. It takes everything that’s come before and puts Light in a place where he’s just about managed to put all of Ryuzaki’s fears to rest about him and he’s done it by something as simple as adding rules to the death note itself.

Of course, that also means that the death note itself has been revealed to the group. But that’s something that Light has taken into consideration and with his particularly wicked grins you know that he’s got something nasty planned. His attempts at getting one over on Ryuzaki have been going on for awhile and the way they’ve sparred with each other has been fantastic to watch, but the sense that things are reaching a critical point are becoming all the more apparent. The situation as it stands, especially now with Light back in the saddle, cannot go on as it has been. With Misa at his side once more and his understanding of the death note even greater now that it’s been utilized in new ways, his creativity and imagination set a scary precedent for the kind of future that he envisions.

Yet at the same time, it’s one that is wildly different than what Higuchi had done with the death note. When the differences between the two are actually explored when it comes to the kinds of criminals killed, Light really does come across as much more benevolent and thoughtful. Though there is plenty to argue about in regards to the actual killing of criminals and what’s involved in that, Light wasn’t one to kill indiscriminately for the most part. That he put thought into it is what set him apart, though that’s the kind of thing that is the basis for much larger arguments. Whose views and thoughts are the ones to be the basis for such executions? This is where Death Note really should be starting proper conversations among its target audience as it challenges them to think beyond the “it’s cool to kill people like this” mentality. It may not be college level thesis discussion material, but it is still rare that you get an anime series that really touches on these issues on any level.

In Summary:
Death Note continues to engage in fun ways but none more so than towards the end when the situation turns on a dime. The series is one that played the cat and mouse game for awhile and Light went and made it incredibly convoluted with his plans to get one up on Ryuzaki. That it may actually work is a lot of fun and his return to his old form is a very welcome moment, one that has been sorely lacking since his memory disappeared on him. That Misa is nicely reinforced along the way and Ryuk and Rem have some solid moments only makes it all the more enjoyable. Death Note is simply a fascinating show to watch since you’re really rooting for the bad guys and enjoy the chase for what it is. The chase took some less than thrilling turns in the last storyline but the payoff is simply wonderful, which is what a good chunk of this volume is. Here’s to the third arc of the storyline which is about to get underway.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Productoin Artwork, Behind the Scenes, Audio Commentary

Review Equipment
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: 13+
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 24.98/39.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Death Note