Anime Lounge #18: Death Note Ep. 6 – 12

Series: Death Note

Episodes: 6 to 12

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incredibly gifted mentally. He’s looking for things to do outside of hacking the national police database and is preparing to go to law school for a career in criminal justice. One day, while in school, he happens to notice a strange book appear outside. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to follow the person who finds it. Light’s discovery and subsequent dealings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of justice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watching?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got everything you could want: Suspense, drama, several murder mysteries, a plot that makes you question life choices and characters to root for.

Breakout character: Misa Amane. Say what you will about the second Kira, but she is the breakout star here. She immediately makes an impact on Light, good or bad, and she joins the story permanently at a crucial time.

Best episode: “Overcast,” Episode 7. Light finally succeeds in convincing the watcher that he has always had less than noble ideals as he commits a shocking murder. Not only is the person he murders shocking, but also the way that he kills the person using the Death Note shocking: He causes them to commit suicide with his written command. This was the point at which you ceased to sympathize with Light in any way, but it now makes an interesting mystery even deeper because it’s now a race to see just how long Light will get away with his crimes as Kira.

Where it’s going?: The heat ramps up on Light as Kira, as he will have to juggle discovering there’s another Kira, L’s continued investigation and his life otherwise.

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 9

Death Note wrapping up in its usual suspense-filled way

Brandon-2012-cutoutScholarly. Resourceful. If I had to describe Light Yagami, I would use these words to characterize him as well as to say that I could see him becoming a future minister of justice for Japan. However, since Mr. Yagami (aka Kira) has possession of the Death Note, I could only think of two words to describe him: tyrant and murderer. In the ninth volume of “Death Note,” Light’s actions fit my latter descriptions of him as his actions continue to have devastating reactions on the United States and Japan.
At the end of Volume 8, Light’s plan to use U.S. Special Forces to attack Mello’s hideout failed greatly because of the involvement of the shinigami Sidoh, the use of the ransom Death Note and use of the Shinigami Eyes by one of Mello’s henchmen. As a result, the Special Forces members along with current U.S. president David Hoope were killed. Reeling from Mello’s brilliant attack, Light devises an attack plan using Misa’s Death Note and having Soichiro make a deal with Ryuk for the Shinigami Eyes. Light’s plan worked successfully in eliminating Mello’s henchmen in addition to recovering the Death Note and finding out Mello’s true identity, but Soichiro was killed by one of Mello’s men, who faked his own death.
During these events, the SPK discovers that they are being disbanded amid a declarationDeath Note Vol. 9 cover of surrender to Kira by acting U.S. President George Sairas. This forces Light to go through a combined barrage of attacks by  Near and Mello in order to disrupt and expose Kira within the Japanese task force. During this three-way battle, Light’s, Mello’s and Near’s tactics result in  decisive wins for each man. In the final chapter, Light ultimately comes out on top by using Demegawa and Sakura TV to reach Kira supporters and rally them to siege the SPK headquarters while taunting Near to escape while he is able.
Like all of the other Death Note volumes I’ve read, Volume 9 still keeps the intriguing mix of supernatural horror and mystery. However, this volume had me thinking that Ohba-san and Obata-san wrote and drew this volume while watching a marathon of the show “24.” While reading, I noticed that while Light has his keen ability to take on many challenges, he also knows that he has Near and Mello standing in his way. I also like how Ohba-san and Obata-san set up Mello and Near as cooperative rivals. Mello tells Near that he is not a tool to capture Kira and threatens to shoot him, but they exchange clues regarding the Death Note when Near gives Mello the only picture available of him. As the Death Note saga begins to close, Light is so close to his dream, yet so far with Near and Mello on his heels.
Credit again goes to Viz Media as they continue to do an excellent job of translation and adaptation, this time assigning the tasks to Tesuichiro Miyaki. Miyaki continues the challenging-yet-successful task of presenting Death Note to the English audience.
I’m getting close to the end of reviewing the Death Note manga series. With only three volumes left, I’m kind of torn between rooting for Light’s noble cause to eradicate evil and L’s heirs continuing his legacy of genius. However, after all that Light has done to criminals and non-criminals alike, I can only take one side: Team Ryuzaki.

Brandon Beatty is editor at large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Anime Lounge #14: Death Note Ep. 1-6

Death Note-animeAnime-LoungeSeries: Death Note

Episodes: 1 to 6

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incredibly gifted mentally. He’s looking for things to do outside of hacking the national police database and is preparing to go to law school for a career in criminal justice. One day, while in school, he happens to notice a strange book appear outside. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to follow the person who finds it. Light’s discovery and subsequent dealings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of justice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watching?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got everything you could want: Suspense, drama, several murder mysteries, a plot that makes you question life choices and characters to root for.

Breakout character: There are four: Light, Misa, Ryuk and L. Each of the four is central to the story and yet, all manage to steal the show in their own way.

Funniest episode: Episode 1, “Rebirth.” The opening episode finds Light interacting with Ryuk once he obtains the Death Note, which is hilarious for several reasons. Light doesn’t seem to be that enthralled with a death god near him and he immediately uses his powers of deduction and reasoning to come to several conclusions about the Death Note and its usage. Their interaction is always fun and serves to set up the way the rest of the series flows ultimately.

Where it’s going?: Light is in control for the first few episodes. He’s still learning the ropes with the Death Note and understanding how it works, and what kind of justice he can enact: Righteous or malicious. How Light continues to succeed in staying hidden and not getting caught is the name of the game going forward. It’s worth it to watch to see just how Light stays ahead of the game and avoids suspicion from the most talented investigator in the world, L.

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 8

L continues to inspire justice in Death Note Volume 8

Brandon-2012-cutoutFour years after his death, the world’s greatest detective L continues to challenge Light Yagami in the most intense  game of cat and mouse via his successors. Will L and company triumph or will Light have the last laugh? The answer to these questions awaits in Death Note Volume 8: Target.
Written by Tsugumi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obata and published by Viz Media, Death Note Volume 8 lives up to its subtitle. At the end of Vol. 7, we left Light (Kira/the second L) — the newest member of the NPA’s intelligence bureau — unchallenged in making his idea of a crime-free world come to fruition. However, he was unprepared for a two-pronged attack from Mello and Near, L’s true successors. Mello joins with an organized crime group to kidnap Light’s sister, Sayu, while Near gains the support of the president of the United States to form the SPK (Special Provision for Kira). Both parties’ main objective is to capture Kira and the Death Note.
For a brief period, Light and Near cooperate to rescue Sayu while Light’s father, Soichiro, leaves for Los Angeles to deliver their Death Note to Mello’s henchmen. Although Sayu was safely recovered, the notebook fell into the hands of Mello, allowing him and the gang’s boss, Rod Ross, to eliminate individuals who sold various illegal goods without Ross’ permission as well as three senior members of the SPK.
As the psychological warfare continues, U.S. President David Hoope gets thrown into the fray via Mello, whoDeath Note Vol. 8 cover states that his group would give the U.S. Kira’s notebook in exchange for funding, weapons and shared use of the SPK’s satellites. Facing a potential global crisis, President Hoope briefly complies with Mello’s requests but also notifies Light. Light promised to protect the president but also requests use of special forces soldiers to combat Mello and his group. Unfortunately, Mello was able to use the shinigami Sidoh to eliminate the soldiers at the same time President Hoope was eliminated, possibly by Kira (aka Light).
Volume 8 continues the tried-and-true formula that made Death Note a smash success: A great storyline that combines action and mystery with elements of supernatural horror. I still can’t keep my jaw from dropping to the floor when I read about Light and his plans to keep him steps ahead of the task force, Mello and Near while acting as L and Kira. As Death Note continues, you will form a view of Light Yagami: On one side, you admire Light’s intelligence and his just goal to make the world a better place, while on the other side you despise him and root for his downfall.
The art by Obata-san is flat-out awesome, from character design to the locations in America. You will have to give Mello and Near credit; they’ve made some game-changing moves of their own such as Near letting Light take the lead while he still has authority over U.S. law enforcement, while Mello uses the mafia and resources to force the U.S. president to give him money and other support to slow down Kira and Near to stay on top. Viz media, again, did an excellent job of adapting and translating, this time entrusting both tasks to Tetsuichiro Miyaki.
Volume 8 continues the nonstop battle of good vs. evil with the victor claiming the  weapon to END all weapons. While reading, I felt like I got a front-row seat to a three-way battle of devious minds that are determined to be triumphant. Who will prevail?

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached via email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 7

Death Note Vol. 7 digs deeper with shocking results

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome to Otaku Corner, the spot of The Strip where we bring you the finest manga and anime. I’m continuing my review of the series “Death Note,” the mystery/supernatural manga of geniuses Light Yagami and L, the legendary detective. When Light finds the death note dropped in the human world by a shingami named Ryuk, he uses it to kill off criminals, hoping to create a crime-free world. When criminals worldwide begin to drop dead, L (Ryuzaki) is called in to find the murder known as “Kira” (Light).

Written by Tsugumi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obuta and published by VIZ Media, Death Note Volume 7 continues where the previous volume ended with Light, Ryuzaki and the rest of the task force finally capturing Kyosuke Higuchi, the latest Kira. Upon recovering the death note, Light regains his memories as the original Kira allowing him to continue his main goal: killing L.

Using a hidden piece of the death note placed in his watch, Light — without anyone watching — kills Higuchi, thus focusing his attention to L. In the next set of pages, Light shows how far he is willing to use not only his “girlfriend” Misa Amane and her shinigami Rem, but also to have Ryuk write two fake rules about using the death note. Sensing that there are two fake rules, Ryuzaki attempts to have another country test the fake rules, but he and Watari are killed by Rem, who is also killed because of her actions that allowed Misa to live longer. Before his death, L erases all of the investigative data on the task force computers, but Light is able to recover the information, allowing him to kill Ryuzaki’s associates Aiber and Wedy as well as the remaining members of the Yosuba group who were involved in the Kira killings. Light, during this time, plays the roles of Kira and L while joining the NPA’s Intelligence section, securing his position as murderer and law officer.

Unknown to Light, however, L’s proteges have begun to avenge their fallen mentor. One of them, Near, gathered enough

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

evidence to convince the U.S. government to set up a Kira investigation unit known as SPK. The other, known as Mello, joins up with a major mafia organization to acquire the death note and to also become No. 1 over Near. While Light is enjoying his long-awaited victory, Mello has taken the NPA director hostage and when the director is killed, Mello orders his henchmen to kidnap Light’s sister Saiyu. When Saiyu goes missing, Light deals with two new adversaries who are determined to destroy Kira at any cost.

Death Note continues to be a smash hit, thanks to its perfect mix of mystery, horror and supernatural elements. I guarantee that you will be in complete awe as you witness Light’s complete transformation from a young man who hates evil to a murderer who will kill anyone in his way to create his perfect world. L, while not entirely evil, did himself justice despite his willingness to test the death note among other questionable tactics to solve the case, leaving a legacy for his heirs to fight one of the greatest evils ever known. Viz Media also gets credit as well, as Alexis Kirsch performed excellently with handling translation and adaptation writing duties.

Death Note Volume 7 left me feeling sad and happy about its continuation. Although I’m pleased that the story will continue with new plot twists and nonstop action, I’m saddened that a great main character has fallen at such an early point in the series. Yet, I am confident that he will be avenged thanks to the efforts of his proteges. Keep reading Otaku Corner for more reviews of Death Note as its second act begins. RIP Ryuzaki and Watari. You WILL be avenged.

 

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #12: Death Note Vol. 5

Death Note heats up in Vol. 5

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Hello readers, and welcome back to “Otaku Corner,” the section of GI that covers quality anime and manga series for those who deserve the best in Japanese animation. Thus, with this great expectation, our motto is “For the otaku, by the otaku!” (patent pending). I’m continuing our coverage of the worldwide smash manga series Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata and English adapted by Viz Media LLC.

Before I get into the review, I want to give those who have not yet read the manga a quick summary of the story plot: Death Note is the story of Light Yagami, a top student with immeasurable prospects who suffers from an extreme case of boredom. That changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook of death dropped by a shinigami (Japanese god of death) named Ryuk. Any human’s name written in said notebook dies, and after a few uses on known and would be criminals, Light vows to use the Death Note to rid humanity of evil. However, Light’s work does not go unnoticed by law enforcement authorities who, in turn, send world-renowned detective L to stop Light aka Kira.

In volume five of Death Note, Light and L (aka Ryuzaki) are playing masterful-yet-blistering mind games via TV, hidden cameras, police officers and even on a college campus! These actions ultimately led Light and his cohort (yet disposable girlfriend) Misa Amane to be confined by Ryuzaki in separate locations. After weeks in confinement, Light was able to dispose of the Death Note and his memories of using it. As a result, Ryuzaki forces Light’s father, Soichiro who is head of the Kira Task Force to perform a final test of Light’s and Misa’s innocence, which resulted in Soichiro performing a mock execution that not only clear Light and Misa, but also continued the partnership of Light and Ryuzaki. Later on Ryuzaki and company established a new base of operations ( largely bankrolled by Ryuzaki), that with new resources leads the task force to find that Kira has returned; only, this time he’s using his powers to the benefit of the Yosuba Group, an multinational business group.

However, this victorious gain is not without setbacks as Aizawa leaves to return to the NPA because of a disagreement with Ryuzaki, and Matsuda’s near death forces the task force to form a new plan. Fortunately, clear heads prevail, and at the end, readers are introduced to the Kira Eight, a group of men who work for Yosuba who are  dedicated to destroying anyone (including their own members) who would stand in their way to obtain absolute power. This is seen at the very end when one of their members is “sacked,” meaning that poor individual is another victim of Kira.

Fans of Death Note will not be disappointed in the new arc as it forces the main characters to again join forces against Kira in a new persona: Greed. As I continued reading, I realized that these eight men are after power and are determined to use Kira to achieve these goals, instead of simply joining forces to use their combined talents to be a success. Obata-san has again performed the skillful combination of plot and philosophy, this time adding in a mix of corporate corruption. The usual supporting cast of Ryuk and Rem (Misa’s shinigami) make their appearances but do not endanger the new plot, coming in only when absolutely needed. Obata-san’s drawings continue to succeed in keeping the plot fresh, especially when presenting the Kira Eight where one of the men truly has the appearance of a demon. I have, so far, in reading this series, not been disappointed as every new volume has without fail brought the elements of ethics and mystery without being silly. I also would be wrong in not giving Viz Media their lion’s share of the credit, thanks in part to the great translation and adaptation of Alexis Kirsch and the Shonen Jump graphic novel team. This again proves that Viz was the right choice in unleashing Death Note upon the U.S.

Will the Kira Eight prevail? How long will Ryuzaki and Light continue their “alliance?” Will the Death Note claim more lives? And, will Misa succeed in wrapping Light around her little finger? The answers to these burning questions and more are coming in the future of Otaku Corner.

Brandon Beatty is editor at large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com