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Death Note, Vol. 7
Things take a surprising turn as new characters are introduced and some important people take their bow in the seventh volume of Death Note. This is one series that keeps viewers on their toes and this installment is no exception. The first big story arc concludes in an unexpected fashion (and much sooner than anyone was expecting) and the second story starts to unfold. A don't-miss volume of a great series.
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" takes 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.
When a second "Kira" appears and starts killing criminals, it seems that Light is in the clear. L quickly determines that there is a second killer. This one turns out to be a young attractive girl named Misa who's not too smart, but has fallen in love with Kira and even discovers that Light is the other person who possesses a Death Note.
As this disc opens Light is in possession of a Notebook once again, but so are the police. The investigation team has the second notebook where Light has added a false 'rule' on the cover. He hopes this new ordinance, that a new name has to be written in the book every thirteen days or the writer himself will die, will keep the police from investigating the Notebook's powers. The problem is with L. He's determined to check out the last rule and thinks he may have a way to do it.
While Light has Misa continue to kill criminals while he pretends to be assisting L in the investigation, he's also come up with a convoluted plan that may just end his competition with L once and for all.
That's only in the first episode. After a show that is mostly a recap episode the plot moves in a new and different direction that is fairly unexpected.
This is the most exciting and engrossing volume yet. Things come to a head with L quickly and rather unexpectedly, and that's great. This show keeps you guessing and just when you thing you know how events are going to work out, they pull the rug out from under you. The events all follow logically from what had gone on before, and Light's convoluted plans are amazingly tight and don't rely on luck nearly as much as most TV show schemes do.
One of the strong points of this series is the fact that Light is super-intelligent and that is demonstrated by his actions. A tightly scripted series, it follows the manga closely and Light's schemes are intricate by believable. He's a great anti-hero because viewers can't help but be impressed with his intellect and ability to out think everyone else in the series, but at the same time he's a mass murderer. Series creator Tsugumi Ohba straddles that fine line and manages to make a likeable killer.
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.
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.
This disc has another behind-the-scenes featurette with one of the English voice actors. Then there's also a commentary track to episode 25 with the English director and English writer. This was okay, but that's about it. There's also a production art gallery, a trailer to the live action film, and a clean opening and closing.
One of the best installments so far, and that's saying a lot. This intricate game of cat and mouse between two exceptionally bright people is entertaining and engrossing. Light's Machiavellian schemes are beautiful in both design and execution. An excellent series, this is a must-buy for anime fans. Highly Recommended.