Death Note Vol. #9 (also w/limited edition) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.98/39.9
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Death Note

Death Note Vol. #9 (also w/limited edition)

Is this the final page of the notebook?

By Chris Beveridge     September 01, 2009
Release Date: February 24, 2009


Death Note Vol. #9
© Viz Media

Puzzles within plans within mysteries as Light and Near bring their battle to a conclusion.

What They Say
Near gains another ally when Aizawa of the task force discovers Light's treachery. Light's own disciples are hard at work doing his bidding, though the ideal world Light is striving to create looks more and more like one ruled by fear alone... All the players converge in a single warehouse, where Near and Light play their final hands. The end is nigh... but whose?

Contains episodes 33-37:
Scorn
Vigilance
Malice
1.28
New World

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 installment is really nicely done as it’s given over to Kiyomi and Mikigami with a decidedly dark look about them, both from their designs and the coloring in general. 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 Near and Mello with a yellow/orange background.

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 thirty-seven by the English language director and the ADR writer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final five episodes, Death Note draws to a conclusion that does its best to provide a satisfactory ending for a series that’s very difficult to do so with. There’s been a great game of cat and mouse through much of it, though it wasn’t always completely clear at times who was the cat and who was the mouse. The tables were often turned, and then turned again a few times for good measure, to keep the viewer off balance as to how any situation would play out. Sadly, a lot of the energy in the series dissipated in the second arc and had difficult regaining itself in the third arc with an L-light clone called Near.

The battle of wills between Near and Light in these episodes has been good, but they went too far in trying to give us an equally quirky opponent for Light to face off against. Near’s more childlike design is done to showcase a bit of how Ryuzaki acted as an older character in comparison, so that we have something of a flip because Near acts older than he looks. But they also play up the quirky factor as you have Near playing out all his scenarios with toys such as Lego’s or little finger puppets for all of those involved in the massive Notebook situation. It’s an amusing way to watch him figure out how the tangents are connected and play out, but it also feels a little forced at times as well. The simplicity to Ryuzaki’s approach, where he had that childlike look in his eyes and mannerisms that were combined with his brilliance, made it work. For Near, it’s good, but falls short.

The match between the two in these final episodes is fairly complex as each tries to outguess the other while dealing with a wide range of people inbetween. Light is doing his best to manipulate those at his disposal, Kiyomi and Mikigami, so he can draw out Near and eliminate not only him but everyone involved on both sides with the investigation into Kira. If he can do that, then he’ll have fully won and can move on to truly establishing his new world. Near has his own guesses about what’s going on, and still believes there’s a great chance that Light is Kira, and he plays against those same people that Light is using and both know it. How it ends up really comes down to whether Light can keep a straight face at the most critical of moments, whether he can maintain his cool and composure instead of lording his intelligence and winning ability over all others.

When it comes down to it, the ending to the series was for me a disappointment. I’ll be quite honest and say that I wanted to see Light win, I wanted to see what his world would be like and an exploration, even briefly, of what it would be like to live in it. There isn’t so much of a surprise here, but a revelation about how much time has passed since the start of all of this. It’s obviously been moving along gradually, but to learn that this final arc takes place in 2013, six years after the Notebook was first found, was surprising as I didn’t think it had moved that far forward. What Light does reveal is intriguing though, in that wars have ended and nations while not at peace aren’t actively attacking each other. Crime down 70%? He certainly provides reasons why he should be doing what he’s doing and why there is a significant following in the media and general population for him. To see him become a public figure with his New World would be where I want to see the series go.

In Summary:
For all the faults of the show throughout its thirty seven episode run, I have to say I really liked Death Note. It’s a series that prevents a disturbed young man as its central focus who is gifted and sees the world differently. Through pure chance, he’s able to put the world on a very different path, a path that many want but few would really make the choice to create the way he does, and that makes him fascinating to study. His descent into madness as the power consumes him is incredibly engaging as it plays out across his encounters with his adversaries, but some of the plots felt like they were overly complicated and difficult to really put into action. Beyond this though, watching the exchanges, the verbal sparring and the incredible potato chip eating sequence, Death Note is a series that will stand the test of time for me in how it’s unlike most other shows. It challenges some, it offends others, it intrigues quite a few. With great designs, solid animation and a real sense of atmosphere and craftsmanship, Death Note is one of those rare shows that crosses over into the mainstream as an example of how engaging anime can be while still appealing to the core fandoms.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, English Voice Actor Interviews & Recording Sessions, 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.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
animefanjared 9/1/2009 1:52:03 PM

I agree that this is a hard series to wrap up.  The only thing I wish was that it had more of an epilogue.  Since the series does go through pains to establish how much the Death Note really has altered the world, it would have been nice to spend more time showing what things were like once the main plot wrapped up.  Overall, though, I found the drama of the ending to be incredible engaging, and one of the best things about the second half of the series.

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