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Death Note, Vol. 9
VIZ // Unrated // February 24, 2009
List Price: $24.92 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
One of the more interesting and thought-provoking anime shows to come along in a while wraps up with Death Note Vol. 9. It is the final showdown between Light and N and the future of world lies in the balance. It's a little sad that the show has come to an end, but it ended at just the right time. The show was still intriguing up to the last, though the cat-and-mouse games were getting a little tiring at the end.
Light Yagami is a brilliant high school student who discovers a Death Note, a notebook that allows him to kill people by simply writing their name down while picturing their face. He uses this god-like power to transform the world and rid the earth of all criminals. Soon the police take notice of this killer dubbed Kira by the public and bring in the master detective known only as "L".
L and Light play an intricate game of cat and mouse. Both are brilliant and both deeply believe in their cause. Ultimately however, Light manages to have L killed and it looks like there will be no one standing between him and his perfect society.
In this second season, which takes place five years after the first, two new prodigies pop up to hunt Kira: Near and Mello. These two were raised in the same facility as L, but they have very different methods and are in a competition to see who can bring Kira to justice first.
The world Kira has created is definitely low in crime, but it's a place ruled by fear instead of the utopia Light imagined. As this last volume opens, Near knows that the end game has started and goes to Japan to conform the new "L", Light, who he firmly believes is Kira. He forms a intricate and convoluted plan involving following people that are known to have contact with Kira. After a while Near gathers enough evidence to discover who has the Death Notebooks and lays his final trap.
Meanwhile a member of the Japanese police taskforce who are still, unofficially, hunting Kira discovers that Light is lying about something. His suspicions raised, he too starts to think that Light is really Kira.
When Near informs Light that he's in
I really enjoyed this series, and though it ended pretty mush as I expected it to, it was a fun ride till the end. Having said that, the series ended none too soon. The constant maneuvers and counter maneuvers between Light, Mello, and Near were getting a bit tiresome an just a tad repetitive. The first half was more engrossing, and this season played out like more of the same. More of the same excellent series, but it had a déjà vu feel to it.
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 the final episode with Karl Willems (ADR Director), Brian Drummond (Ryuk) and Brad Swaile (Light). There's also a production art gallery and a clean opening and closing.
This was a fun series and if you've stuck with it up to this point you've just gotta buy this final volume to see how things wrap up. This well thought out series stays strong to the end and doesn't falter just as it gets to the finish line like some series. Highly Recommended.