Death Note Vol. #4 (also w/Deluxe Edition) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • 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
  • 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

Death Note Vol. #4 (also w/Deluxe Edition)

By Chris Beveridge     April 09, 2008
Release Date: April 29, 2008

Death Note Vol. #4 (also w/Deluxe Edition)
© Viz Media

What They Say
Light becomes the hunter when he's forced to track down Misa, the second Kira. When she finds him first, Light realizes he has a valuable asset on his hands and asks Misa to dispose of L. But Misa's focused on other matters--in addition to her Shinigami Eyes, she's got eyes for Light! Any chance at love is dashed, however, when Misa's cover is blown and she's ordered to relinquish the Death Note. With Misa and Light detained, the killings come to a halt, but then mysteriously resume...

The Review!
The dynamic of the show shifts with Misa finally meeting Light and the way in which her Shinigami deals with everything..

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 volume is given over to Misa in her gothloli outfit which looks far too sexual and enticing all things considered. The mixture of the darkness and the innocence just gives it a great feeling. 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.

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 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 Misa 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 fourteen by the English language director and the ADR writer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Death Note continues to be one of the more challenging shows to watch in that each episode practically begs that the next one must be watched immediately. When you get to the end of the volume, it's something where you begin to crave the next installment without even realizing it. This set of episodes gets is into the second third of the series and the changes are pretty quickly introduced as Misa takes on a strong role as the Second Kira with her relationship in regards to Light.

The introduction of a Second Kira alone in the previous volume provided for a neat twist as a second Shinigami has come down to the Earth known as Rem. His reasons for doing so are shown mildly at one point but it's more the overall implications that are fascinating to watch. Light finds himself in a real problem due to there really being a second one out there doing what he can do and doing it in ways that he cannot just yet. His plans have met with opposition from Ryuzaki but in a way he finds that to be the perfect challenge that he needs to keep himself on his toes. Misa and her wanting to meet Light has given Ryuzaki a chance to truly expose who the real Kira may be and that's just got Light plain mad. At the same time however, it does provide him with some new opportunities. Light is nothing if not calculating.

The way through which Misa attempts to meet Light is one that actually paints her as a bit smarter than she would appear due to the way she carries herself and her personality. She comes across as somewhat flighty and quick to shift from one thing to another, but there's a certain kind of calculation that she's working with that in the end sways Light more than he expected to. While her methods aren't foolproof or up to Light's exacting standards, she's able to get to Light in a way that both attracts attention and deflects it. Light's reactions to it is amusing since he can't believe that she's so brazen, but he's also impressed with the lengths she's gone to when he finds out about her and giving up half her life to get the eye so that she can help him properly.

Not surprisingly, Misa getting involved in all of this sets into motion a fair number of events. Light is watched a lot more closely since she enters his life formally and that puts a strain on his father and the relationship in general among those in Ryuzaki's circle. Events move quickly once she settles into Light's life and Ryuzaki doesn't waste any time in really trying to figure out if she really is who she is. What was pleasant to see, in a way, is that he'll go the distance when required to figure it out as there's a length series of interrogation scenes that are used for several characters. After having Light work with Ryuzaki and the others for a bit, slowly earning their trust, having him become a stronger suspect once again starts to damage the way they've all worked together.

What proved to be the most fun with these episodes is how it changes once Ryuk and Rem get together as the holders of their respective Death Notes show them to each other. It's a little grade school like in a way between Light and Misa, but the introduction of Rem in this manner infuses the show with some neat twists and turns in regards to the notebooks and how they can be used. This opens up a wealth of new possibilities as Light is trying to figure out how to throw off Ryuzaki since Misa has made things more difficult but it also gives him a lot more options with his long term goals of a brand new world. Rem also adds some fun to how the Shinigami operate and the way that they can be killed. Add in some of Ryuk's surprise over Rem's revelations and it's even more amusing.

In Summary:
Taking us through episodes sixteen, Death Note may push the boundaries a bit more with some of the twists and turns it wants us to follow it through, but it does it in such an engaging way that you're willing to turn a blind eye to it. The stories here manage to build upon what's come before without trivializing it or losing any steam along the way. There are still a number of dramatic moments that are more amusing than serious, especially when Light and Ryuzaki confront each other across the rooftops of the city. All in all, Death Note manages to move forward in ways that keeps me very engaged even though I've read the manga. Watching it with others who haven't read the book or seen it before, they're completely entranced by it and subsequent volumes cannot come out fast enough. Death Note is a rarity as it's a series where you're rooting for the bad guys as the lead characters. I can't help but to adore it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes,Production Art,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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