Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Death Note, in hindsight

My experience with Death Note (the 37-episode anime, to remove confusion), hasn't been a regular one. Namely, I was so wary of the hype that I've only watched the first episode (my usual policy is to watch 3 episodes before deciding on whether to continue or not) before deciding that the premise was good, but the story was going in a direction I didn't care about, that it's going to end bad, and that the anime, overall, wasn't worth my time.
As it turns out, I was only right on two counts.
After seeing three or four episodes on TV (the series is currently being aired here on at least two channels), I was totally drawn in. So, eventually, I've pretty much watched it all in one sitting (during the last 2 days). It was... overwhelming. Good. Amazing! And totally worth it.
So, what had changed from my initial assessment? Nothing really. But my thinking was based on a hidden assumption, which wasn't right at all.
Death Note is not about story. Or characters, for that matter. Or action. No, this series is built upon one thing, and one thing only: SUSPENSE.

It's rather obvious in hindsight, and it would probably be obvious during the initial watch, too, if the experience wasn't so heart-pounding.
The whole series is wonderfully focused - the art style, the music, the way information is revealed, EVERYTHING works together towards one goal: creating the ultimate thrilling experience. To simply say that it succeeds would be an understatement. I don't think there's even one episode without a moment that made me hold my breath. Or laugh outloud. Or just pause the movie and take a walk to calm down. Even where the outcome seems largely predictable, the anime does an amazing job in fooling you into thinking that things might actually unfold in a different way (especially if you're willing to go along with it ;). And sometimes, they actually do. Overall, it was quite an incredible experience.
Yes, there are some plot holes. There are things that are left unexplained. But none of these are so glaring as to be upsetting, and the series moves forward at a fairly fast pace, giving you little time to take issue with these matters.
The biggest letdown, actually, is that it DID end bad. Sorry. Regardless of the individual characters' fate and whichever side you wanted to win, you're likely to be disappointed. Whether by design or by accident, the ending seemed rushed, was somewhat different from the usual tone of the series, and offered little closure. And from what I could discern from reading about the manga, it's pretty much the exact same thing, so no hope from that direction. Then again, as I said: story, characters... maybe (un)important, maybe not, but definitely not the focus here.

So, after all, I totally recommend it (well... maybe not if you hate thrillers). It's a series that manages to keep a very high level of quality and fun factor throughout each and every episode, so if I was to review this, I'd rate it 10/10 without a second thought.
(Ok, you caught me. I DID intend to write an actual review, but it just didn't come together. Maybe later.)
As for my thoughts on the characters and plot development, they will have to wait for another post, as I'm keeping this one spoiler-free. So, see you there after you watch the series :)

-Chiller, looking on the ground in hope of finding a black notebook


Blogger Chiller said...

Um, I feel like I'm stating the obvious, but if you've watched the series, I'd appreciate a comment :)

9:39 PM  

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