Saturday, 20 December 2008

Of Death Note

Here we go. I'm getting ready for a massive rave about this show. I fucking loved Death Note. It is quite possibly one of the greatest stories to be told during the 21st Century. Up there with The Wire, Lost, No Country for Old Men and American Gods (it's a novel). Death Note is about as amazing as any form of media will ever be able to aspire to. It also proves that Japanese are some of the most creative people in the world (they've created some of my favourite media of all time with The Legend of Zelda, Ring Cycle and Battle Royale). Death Note is utterly, utterly superb. I really don't think that a more original or compelling story has been told this decade. Over 38 episodes we are told a near perfect story and it doesn't matter whether you pick up the original manga or watch the anime series. I watched the anime series but I'm going to pick up the manga just because the story told is oh so compelling.

Death Note might be anime, but it's fucking good anime. It's not Pokemon or Digimon. I would also say it's better than anime like Dragonball Z and Naruto. However my anime knowledge is limited. As a kid I watched a little, stuff on Toonami and CITV. Then I kind of lost it. Sure I'd watch the occasional episode of Yu-Gi-Oh or Shaman King. But I sort of lost all interest about 4 years ago. Then I got recommended to watch Naruto. It was a bit kiddy at first but then because I was watching the Japanese dub it was really really interesting (I've also learned a small amount of Japanese). So I found a sort of new love for anime. Since then I've watched stuff like Akira and some of Studio Ghibli's work but I'm still a noob when it comes to anime. So really I have no right to say "greatest piece of anime ever", at least until I've watched stuff like Fullmetal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion. However I know what I like and I freaking loved Death Note.

I decided to watch the English dub this time around (I've heard conflicting reports of which is better so I went English because with the Nartuo it was all negative, plus I'd be about 100 episodes behind where I am now). The voices I would say are really damn good. Yes as with all anime there is an annoying character (Misa) but really you can see why, I mean they need to have some degree of suck in everything don't you (Lost has Nikki and Paulo and The Wire has a weaker fifth season). The voices are all really good. Brad Swaile who plays Light Yagami is great and you'll also recognise him as the voice of Nightcrawler in X-Men Evolutions and Gohan in Dragonball Z. Alessandro Juliani is absoultely superb and you might recognise him as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica. Then there is Brian Drummond who voiced Vegata in Dragonball Z, in it he plays Ryuk and is absoultely perfect in the role.

Now onto the story. Death Note is about the story of Light Yagami who one day finds a notebook. If he is to write the name of any human being in this book whilst thinking of their face, they will die 40 seconds later of a heart-attack. He can also right down the circumstances of the death in the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds and they will die in that way. So with this power Light decides like a responsible to kill ever person he judges as a criminal in the world. It's a bit like Dexter but the series is entirely about the tracking of "KIRA" (the name that Light's alter-ego is given) insteady of on the actual personal relationships that Dexter has. In fact it feels like the second season of Dexter in a lot of ways apart from the supernatural element and the fact that the show has ended with a definitive ending.

The fun of the show however comes from a second character, L. Quite possibly one of the coolest characters ever concieved. He is up there with Desmond in Lost, Logan in Veronica Mars, Omar in the Wire and Dexter in Dexter. He is completely eccentric and yet it is just amazingly cool and riveting to watch this mind play behind to amazing strategists. Both thinking they are one step ahead and trying to kill the other. The series is constantly tense because you really have no clue where the hell it's going (in fact about 25 episodes in a major curveball is thrown which completely changes the show). The show is completely unpredicatable and whilst ever few episodes there might be a short lul, the show will a few episodes reveal exactly what was being planned during that time and you'll slap yourself in the head for not realising.

Finally there is the supernatural element. It is obvious that show about a notebook that kills people will have some sort of supernatural element, you'd be surprised how downplayed it is. The way the show is set out it makes it seem almost natural (although the way that people just go along with a notebook that kills people is a bit wierd). So we have the Shinigami or "Death Gods". These are the only real supernatural characters in the show but also serve as a sort of introduction into the rules of the death note (and trust me there are a lot). I'm not going to go into the rules because that is half the fun of the show, just watching them figure out to get the notebook to and what happens when they do.

Apparantly the Japanese are excellent at a thriller/horror genre. Thats what The Ring Cycle is and sort of what Battle Royale is (both highly recommended by the way). So if you want something truely gripping and interesting to watch then get off your arse and watch. It is quite possibly one of the most compelling stories ever. I don't care if you don't like anime this should be the sort of necessary watching that is put in place by the government. Overall a perfect 10/10.*

Fianlly a little clear up. So first off here is what sucks about Heroes at the moment (definately worth a listen)

New Lost promo is appropriately epic

Finally also awesome is the new Terminator: Salvation trailer. Damn it looks good (shame it doesn't tie in with the TV show).

* I know I give out 10s a lot but thats because at the moment I'm going through stuff I like. Sooner or latter I'm going to get to the shite.

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