Death Note Vol 4
Viz Media // Unrated // $24.98 // April 29, 2008
Review by John Sinnott | posted April 25, 2008
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
The Series:

The plot gets more complex and interesting in the fourth volume of Death Note.  Not only is Light suspected of being Kira, but a second Kira has popped up and made contact with Light.  With L hot on his tail, Light has to come up with a fool-proof plan to clear himself without losing his powers.  But is that possible?

Series Background:

Light Yagami is a brilliant high school student.  He's at the top of his class, and on the practice college entrance exams he routinely places first in the nation.  One afternoon while staring out the window, he sees a notebook fall from the sky.  After class he picks it up and finds some odd instructions on the inside front cover, instructions that tell him how to kill people by simply writing their name down while picturing their face.

A few days after getting the Death Note, Light is in his room when a shinigami, (a Japanese demon,) named Ryuk appears.  Ryuk was the previous owner of the Death Note and dropped it in the human world on purpose because he was bored.  He wanted to see what would happen and is quite surprised by the results:  Light has filled up pages and pages with names.  The young man has decided that he'll craft the perfect world, one without crime.  To do that all he needs to do is let people come to the realization that all criminals will end up dying.  After all, who would rob a gas station if they knew they'd end up dead in a day or two.

With criminals in prison all over the world dropping dead of heart attacks everyday it's not long before the governing bodies, and the public who dub the mysterious killer "Kira", start to take notice.  Obviously outside of their league, the multi-national taskforce that's investigating these crimes agree to let the mysterious figure "L" take over the investigation.  L communicates only through a laptop computer, and no one knows his real name or what he looks like.  With a razor sharp intellect, L soon starts to track Light down.  With one genius pitted against the other, which ever one discovers the other identity first wins and the stakes are incredibly high.

This volume:

This volume builds upon the last with some interesting developments.  With L realizing that there's a second Kira, Light has to admit that he thinks there's a second one too.  What surprises Light is when this second person with a Death Note shows up at his door in the form of a very attractive young girl:  Misa.  She's been a huge fan of Kira's since he killed the man who murdered her parents, and now all she wants to do is help him in any way she can.  When Misa sees that the real Kira is tall and handsome Light, she decides that she want to be his girl friend.

Light doesn't like this at all.  First of all Misa isn't nearly as smart as he is and is much more likely to get caught.  If anyone else learns of the existence of death notebooks L will be that much closer to catching Light too.  The problem is that Misa is just as powerful as Light, actually even more so.  She's made the 'eyes' deal with her Shinigami and in exchange for half of her remaining life she has the power to see everyone's true name and the time that they are scheduled to die.

To make matters worse, Misa's Shinigami is in love with her and promises Light that if anything happens to the young girl, his name will be written in a death notebook.  After some careful thought, Light decides that he can use Misa.  After all just one glance at L and she'll know his real name.  If that fails, Light has convinced Misa's Shinigami to go and kill L.  It seems as if Light will come out on top, but L isn't going to lose so easily and he has some creative tricks up his sleeve.

While I enjoy watching anime that are derived from manga originally appearing in the Japanese comic "Shonen Jump" (Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, Naruto) I'll be the first to admit that they have a lot in common and can get a bit repetitive.  That's not the case with this show.  Unlike those others that I mentioned, there are no fights, just a battle of wits between L and Light.

Misa's character is a welcome addition to the show too.  Not only does she shake up the dynamic between Light and L quite a bit, but the hero worship she feels towards Light brings up some interesting possibilities.  Her bubbly and cute personality is in stark contrast to the murders she commits too, and that makes her all the more enthralling.

The DVD:


Audio:

This disc comes with both the original Japanese audio track as well as an English dub, both in stereo.  I alternated language tracks with every episode and found them both equally good.  The English voice actors do a good job and don't ham it up as sometimes happens.  Given the nature of the show, mainly dialog based without any big action sequences, the mix is adequate.  There's some use made of the front sound stage, but not a lot.  The voices are mostly anchored on the screen, but that's not really a problem.  A solid sounding show.  One thing I did notice is that there isn't an option for translations of the signs only.  This was a pain when watching the dubbed version since there are notes and such that move the plot forward that are never read aloud.

Video:

The 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced image looks very good.  A lot of the story takes place in Light's dark room, and the image is intentionally a little soft, but this only serves to enhance the mood of the story.  The colors in the daylight scenes are bright and solid, and the wide range of grey tones are well defined.  There isn't much in the way of aliasing or banding, making this a very nice looking show.

Extras:

This disc has another behind-the-scenes featurette with one of the English voice actors.  This time it's with the actress who plays Misa and the series director who talk about the role and the show in general.  It wasn't that exciting, but worth watching.

Then there's also a commentary on the fourteenth episode with the English director and English writer.  This was okay, but that's about it.  There's also a production art gallery.

Final Thoughts:

With the addition of Misa to the cast, this show becomes even more fun.  It's a fun show and one that has some interesting plot dynamics.  When I asked my two sons who they hoped would win in the end, they both said Light, although he's clearly the bad guy.  Its things like that, making an evil serial killer the sympathetic character, which make this such a stand-out show.  Highly Recommended.
 



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