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Death Note  (Japanese: デスノート, Hepburn: Desu Nōto) is a Japanese anime television series based on the Weekly Shōnen Jump manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata.

The series was directed by Tetsurō Araki and animated by Madhouse.

Premise

Death Note follows Light Yagami, a teen genius who stumbles across a mysterious otherworldly notebook: the "Death Note", which belonged to the Shinigami Ryuk, and grants the user the supernatural ability to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages.

Characters

Main

  • Light Yagami – The main protagonist of the series. After discovering the Death Note, he decides to use it to rid the world of criminals. His killings are eventually labelled by people of Japan as the work of "Kira."
  • L Lawliet – The world's greatest detective and the main antagonist of the series. He takes on the task of tracking down and arresting Kira. L suspects that Light is Kira almost from the beginning, but cannot confirm his suspicions (although they are right).
  • Ryuk – A bored Shinigami that drops a Death Note, a notebook that allows the one in its possession to kill anyone simply by knowing their name and face, into the human world in order to have fun. It is picked up by Light Yagami, a young genius who uses it in an attempt to create and rule a world "cleansed of evil" as "God"
  • Misa Amane – A popular Japanese idol, who is known for her Gothic-style of dress, hyperactive personality and devotion to Light, falling in love with him after he kills her parents' murderer.
  • Near – The young detective who succeeds L by default. He is the head of an organization created to catch Kira, the SPK (Special Provision for Kira). A placid character with a sharp tongue, he has white hair and wears pale clothes.
  • Teru Mikami –  A criminal prosecutor, fanatical supporter of Kira, and the fourth Kira. When Light needs a new Kira proxy to hide his identity, Mikami is selected as the new Kira by Light, purely based on his intuition.

Production

Development

Tetsurō Araki, the director, said that he wished to convey aspects that "made the series interesting" instead of simply "focusing on morals or the concept of justice". Toshiki Inoue, the series organizer, agreed with Araki and added that, in anime adaptations, there is a lot of importance in highlighting the aspects that are "interesting in the original". He concluded that Light's presence was "the most compelling" aspect; therefore the adaptation chronicles Light's "thoughts and actions as much as possible". Inoue noted that to best incorporate the manga's plot into the anime, he "tweak[ed] the chronology a bit" and incorporated flashbacks that appear after the openings of the episodes; he said this revealed the desired tensions. Araki said that, because in an anime the viewer cannot "turn back pages" in the manner that a manga reader can, the anime staff ensured that the show clarified details. Inoue added that the staff did not want to get involved with every single detail, so the staff selected elements to emphasize. Due to the complexity of the original manga, he described the process as "definitely delicate and a great challenge". Inoue admitted that he placed more instructions and notes in the script than usual. Araki added that because of the importance of otherwise trivial details, this commentary became crucial to the development of the series.

Araki said that when he discovered the Death Note anime project, he "literally begged" to join the production team; when he joined he insisted that Inoue should write the scripts. Inoue added that, because he enjoyed reading the manga, he wished to use his effort.

Release

All thirty-seven episodes of Death Note, alongside fellow anime hit title Hunter × Hunter as well as the first five episodes of the 'Crunchyroll Original' Tower of God, were added on on the platform on June 19, 2020 within the service's first year of total service. The series was streamed in both an English dubbed and English subtitled format.

Reception

Critical

Tom S. Pepirium of IGN said that Death Note's "heavy serialized nature" is what "makes the show so engaging and discussion-worthy." Pepirium, saying that translating Death Note is "no small task," said that Stephen Hedley created a dub with "nothing clunky." Pepirium added that Karl Willems, director of the dub, assembled a "stunning voice cast of professionals" with a "solid tone minus some of the cheesy yelling and screaming of other dubs." Play magazine named Death Note as the best anime of 2007 in their "2007 Anime Year in Review" feature.

Trivia

  • The series was later condensed into two films: Death Note Relight 1: Visions of a God, which covered the first part of the story, and Death Note Relight 2: L's Successors, which covered the second part.
  • On June 16, 2020, a Twitter user pointed out a comical mishap in which episodes of the then-released Death Note had been confused with the episodes of Steven Universe Future (the series was not released on HBO Max, at the time).
    • The human-ran editors over at HBO Max promptly and swiftly fixed the error, once it was brought to their attention.

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