Death Note Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 12+
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 200
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Death Note

Death Note Vol. #2

By Dani Moure     September 11, 2008
Release Date: July 28, 2008

Death Note Vol. #2
© Manga Entertainment UK

The battle of wits between L and Light heats up, as one tries to keep Kira’s identity and the other struggles to unmask him. As if they didn’t have enough to deal with, a second Kira then enters the fray...

What They Say
Episodes 9 - 16!

A new Kira arrives!

Genius detective L goes undercover as a university student in order to get closer to the enigmatic Light Yagami. The murders continue, but with a difference - there appears to be a second Kira at work! Light agrees to help L in luring out the copycat, and by doing so hoping to divert suspicion from himself. But Light is surprised to discover that this new Kira has an ability even he lacks...

 The Review!
I listened to the English language track primarily for my main review, and noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical problems. Since the show is so dialogue heavy, most of the output comes from the centre channel. The same can be said of the Japanese track from the areas I spot-checked. The English dub is excellent and very well produced. The veteran Brad Swaile does a brilliant job on Light’s rather schizophrenic character, and Alessandro Juliani (of Battlestar Galactica fame) is great as L. In general all the characters in this first volume were well cast and none sounded out of place.

Death Note aired from October 2006 to June 2007 in Japan, and as such looks really good. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, the show looks great. I noticed no artifacting or any other problems while watching; in fact this was one of the best looking anime DVDs I’ve seen upscaled so far. The colour palette for the show is really fitting, and brings the manga to life exactly how you’d expect.

Subtitles are in a yellow font which is easily readable, and I didn’t notice any obvious spelling errors this time out. These appear to be the same subtitles that appear on the US DVDs from Viz Media, and this set is also the first I believe that Manga has produced that contain a separate signs-only subtitle track.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

The menus look really good. Both discs feature some moving imagery in the background with the show’s logo and the selections down the left hand side. Disc 1 is in a green hue, with an image of Ryuk on the right, while Disc 2 features Misa on the right and is in purple. Some dramatic music from the soundtrack plays over the main menu. Sub-menus are all static but the same colour and style as the main menus. Access times are fast, and overall the style fits nicely with the tone of the show.

A few good extras are on these discs. First are two very interesting Behind the Scenes features across both discs, each running about 10 minutes. The first has an in-depth interview with Brian Drummond (Ryuk), and the second features Shannon Chan-Kent (Misa). Both actors discuss their history in the business, how they came to be in Death Note and the characters themselves.

Additionally, there are two interesting voice actor commentaries, one on Episode 11 and the other on 14, both of which are worth a listen even if they don’t go into too much detail about the show. To round things out, we get a couple of production art galleries. There’s definitely some good depth to the extras here again.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Well it’s all happening now, isn’t it? The first volume of Death Note featured a bumper eight episodes, as does this one, and we got a considerable amount of plot with lots of twists and turns as a result. This second outing has more of the same, and introduces some even more outrageous events that will have you on the edge of your seat as you wait for everything to unfold.

With the Kira investigation task force, headed by L, now well established and watching over some of the key suspects in the case, L takes it upon himself to try and force Light to give away if he is really Kira, by meeting him face to face at school. They continue their posturing against one another; L trying to get Light show his true colours by telling him he suspects he is Kira, and Light trying to “prove” he isn’t by acting normal. When Light’s father has a heart attack, Light decides to agree to L’s proposal to work with the task force to find Kira.

Everything is thrown up in the air with the arrival of another Kira on the scene. This one is far more erratic, sending extravagant messages to TV stations in an attempt to meet the real Kira, and killing without any real purpose other than to reach her goal. The girl, Misa, is just like Light, in that she possesses a Death Note of her own and has a shinigami called Rem following her around everywhere. The key difference is that she has the “shinigami eyes” – she has sacrificed half her life span to be able to see people’s names just by looking at them.

This difference is key when Light gets to know her, as he identifies her as someone he can use in his game with L, to eventually get rid of him and continue to bring the world to justice. Naturally, trying to rein a teenage girl into his plans and getting her to follow his every word isn’t as easy as it may seem, and L is never going to be an easy target to outwit.

Events in this volume of Death Note do tend to get a bit ridiculous on occasion, but the show never goes too over the top and always succeeds in one key area – it’s never less than completely engaging. Watching Light and L continue to try to outmanoeuvre each other is still as much fun as it was in the first volume, and with the two of them going at it face to face it just gets even better as things progress. Both constantly think they’ve got the upper hand, Light with an air of arrogance and L with more of an air of caution, but every time they do the other always counters with something bigger and better.

In that sense, you kind of know how the series is going to go, because whenever one of them seems down and out you know they’ll come back with something. Having said that, some events do come as a bit of a surprise, such as Light deciding to turn himself in during the final episode on this disc, in case he might be Kira without knowing. It’s a huge gamble on his part, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next volume, even more so given the situation with Misa.

Misa’s introduction is something that could have completely killed the series, but thankfully the creators played it right and she provides the dramatic impact she needed to. Her appearance really adds another dimension to the show as it provides an external source that forces both L and Lights’ hands in different ways. Rather than just having each other to contend with, they both now have someone else on the scene, and she is completely unpredictable. He fascination with Light and the story behind it is perhaps a little unoriginal and contrived, but it doesn’t really matter because her personality more than makes up for it.

Watching Misa make Light completely uncomfortable at first, forcing herself on him at every opportunity is hilarious as it takes him completely out of his comfort zone. It becomes even better when he decides to user her for his own purposes, as she doesn’t always do what he asks or react how he expects. Her eventual incarceration ends up somewhat disturbing, and I’m really interested to find out exactly what will come of her and how important she might be later in the series given her situation. As if she wasn’t a good enough new character, Rem, her shinigami, also adds an interesting complexion to things as he is completely different to Ryuk, and his feelings for Misa have an important impact on her fate.

In terms of production, these are eight more great looking episodes. The series has very high production values (not surprising considering how popular the manga was), with some great animation from Madhouse and very authentic character designs. I have to continue to give credit to Manga for their presentation of the series as well. Death Note is exactly the kind of series that lends itself to being seen in large chunks, so these mini-collections are a great way to enjoy the series.

In Summary:
Death Note continues to standout by making its main character even more of a villain, and by adding all the more interesting plot twists and turns. Light and L continue to take part in their own battle of minds, but Misa’s introduction throws everything out the window, and some of the results are genuinely surprising. With the show being this good, and getting a great release from Manga as well, I highly recommend this show.

Japanese Language (2.0), English Language (2.0), English Subtitles, Behind the Scenes with English Voice Actors, Audio Commentary for Episodes 11 and 14, Production Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Samsung LE40M86 1080p HDTV, Philips DVP 5980 region free DVD player upscaling to 1080p via HDMI, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.


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