Death Note Vol. #3 (also w/Deluxe Edition) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.95/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Death Note

Death Note Vol. #3 (also w/Deluxe Edition)

By Chris Beveridge     February 27, 2008
Release Date: February 26, 2008


Death Note Vol. #3 (also w/Deluxe Edition)
© Viz Media


What They Say
For genius detective L, Light's behavior is too perfect to be true, and to get closer to him, he enrolls at the same university and even invites Light into the investigation. The murders continue, but with a new twist - there appears to be a second Kira at work! L has Light post as the original Kira in order to lure out the copycat, and Light agrees, hoping to divert suspicion from himself. But he's surprised to discover that this new Kira has an ability even Light himself lacks...

Contains episodes 9-12:
Encounter
Doubt
Assault
Love

The Review!
Ryuzaki moves up his attempts to figure out whether Light is the real deal or not by going to college with him.

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 volume is given over to Ryuk who looks positively creepy here as he has a partially eaten apple in his hand. 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 very nicely 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 Light and Ryuzaki.

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 Ryuzaki/L in great detail. Ryuzaki is done in his standard deep thinking position where he's got his knees up and his thumb to his lip with that wide eyed stare. 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.

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 continue to play both sides of the fence as it deals with the original creative staff and the English language adaptation. The first extra is video piece that brings in the English voice actor for Ryuk and the series director to talk about the performance and what they do to get it like they want. A series of production art pieces is included as well as an audio commentary for episode eleven 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 episode twelve here and is barely a third of the way through the story it wants to tell. Just like when reading the manga, you have to wonder where they’re going to go from here and how they can keep up the tension. One way is to introduce some new characters and change up the setting a bit but that can always introduce some instabilities. The other is to really drive home the personality of your main character. When that character is Light, well, it’s pretty easy to showcase his twisted nature in the most amusing of ways.

The first half of this volume is one that really does its best to push forward the two main characters of the show by placing them together at long last. There has been a great game of cat and mouse between Light and Ryuzaki but it’s been one where there are certainly mysteries between the two of them as they’ve never truly met face to face. The hunt for each other has been quite engaging for the relatively short time it’s gone on but there are only so many ways to deal with it before it starts pushing the boundaries in the wrong way. Ryuzaki still considers Light a strong potential out of the pool of suspects they have and he’s determined to try and get to the bottom of it so he can either accuse him or clear him.

Understanding Light has been an important part of all of this and through all the surveillance that’s gone on Ryuzaki has gotten a much better idea of Light’s deductive skills. Ryuzaki is somewhat conflicted in his hopes when it comes to Light since both possibilities offer him a lot to work with. If Ligt is Kira, then they’ll be able to close the case early. But if he’s not Kira then he’ll be able to bring in someone who is quite gifted and needed for the search. With the intensity of the situation, seeing Ryuzaki try a new approach after removing all the surveillance equipment isn’t a surprise. It is a surprise to see him go through the college entrance exams with Light in his usual manner and then to get into the same college as him. Light is thrown off completely by this since Ryuzaki pretty much tells him who he is and tries to draw Light out that way. The game that the two are playing is intently serious but it’s also highly engaging with the back and forth and the drawn out moments.

The time that this happens is one that’s quite fascinating for another reason as well. While Light has been coming up with creative ways to dole out his justice while making sure he’s not caught, everything gets thrown into a tailspin when another Kira shows up and claims to be the real thing. The methodologies are a bit different and it lacks the kind of refinement and finesse that Light has brought to the game, but it’s quite apparent that someone else out there really does have a Death Note and is trying to get Light’s attention with it. Unlike Light who is quite focused on his own sense of justice with criminals, this new one is far more intent on just getting in touch with Light and has no problems in killing innocents to do so. Even worse for Light is that this Second Kira is practically giving away his carefully worded secrets in a very blunt manner. Secrets that for the first time completely take Ryuzaki by surprise and stuns him badly.

Death Note at this point introduces one of my favorite characters in the series which says a lot considering how much I enjoy the cast in general. The introduction of Misa brings a whole new element to the show and at times almost gives it a high school romance angle which feels strange to have considering what the characters are all talking about in their heads. The world is in disarray because of all the deaths that have been going on but here are these two kids who have control over it all and one of them is doing it out of a weird sense of love. Misa’s nature, as well as how she comes into Light’s life, had me smiling from the first moment she appeared on screen. Madhouse has once again done an outstanding job in translating the manga to anime anime.

In Summary:
Watching Death Note come to life is just as much fun as the first episode was. Watching it with people who haven’t read the manga has been just as enjoyable since seeing their virgin reactions to the show reminds me so much of how I felt. While I’ve forgotten more of the manga than I remember, the moments continue to flood back as specific actions occur. This volume is one that starts to really introduce some dramatic new changes that serve to enhance it in my view. The Second Kira character brings in a lot of new potential while the changing relationship between Light and Ryuzaki is equally engaging. Add in all the secondary characters and the Shinigami themselves along with a flashback to some dramatic potato chip eating and you have another killer volume.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes: English Voice Actor Interviews and Recording Sessions, Production Art, Director's 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.

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