Viz Media // 2006 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // February 27th, 2008
The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
In this third volume, Death Note not only maintains the high standards of its earlier installments, but also establishes itself as one of the finest anime ever.
When a death note, belonging to a shinigami death god, falls into the hands of student Light Yagami, the young man finds himself in possession of a great power. Able to kill anyone just by writing their name into the book whilst picturing their face, Light sets out to rid the world of evil; however, the power begins to corrupt him and Light's morals are called into question.
When Detective L is brought in to capture the killer (known to the public as Kira), he finds himself at something of an impasse, after all, how do you catch a killer who apparently doesn't require contact with his victim?
Containing episodes 9 through 12, Death Note: Volume 3 breaks down like so:
* "Episode 9: Encounter": As the murders continue, L grows suspicious of Light's too-perfect behavior and decides to investigate him on his own. In order to get closer to Light, L enrolls at the same university and reveals himself to be L.
* "Episode 10: Doubt": L's suspicion of Light deepens, compelling him to invite Light into the investigation. But then a phone call alerts them that Soichiro Yagami has suffered a heart attack!
* "Episode 11: Assault": As predicted on the tapes sent to Sakura TV, news anchors and commentators who expressed doubt about Kira die one by one. On further investigation, L concludes that this Kira is not the original...there's a second Kira!
* "Episode 12: Love": With a second Kira now on the loose, L asks Light to join the task force and pose as the real Kira in order to catch the copycat. Light agrees, hoping to divert suspicion from himself. To his surprise, this new Kira has a special ability even Light lacks...
In my recent review of Tokyo Majin: Volume 1, I bemoaned the current state of anime, arguing too many titles were rehashing the same ideas over and over. I then went on to name a couple of more recent releases that have stood out from the crowd and been worth checking out, well we can add one more to the list, because Death Note: Volume 3 is pure class.
Having dealt with the FBI agents who had been brought in to work on the Kira case in the previous volume, Light begins Volume 3 with the upper hand over L, the detective who is driving the efforts to capture him. Forced to think outside the box, L reveals himself to Light and so begin the mind games that really drive this third volume.
Really, that is what Death Note is all about: the mind games played out between a killer and the detective out to catch him. The genius of Death Note is how the villain, Light, is the focus of the story. Light's initially well-meaning, though misguided, intentions to create a utopia by killing the "unworthy" are slowly twisting his outlook, and desperation has already forced his hand, resulting in his killing of those who would expose or capture him. It is to the show's credit that we want to see L capture Light, despite L playing second fiddle to Light in terms of the show's attention.
While the first two episodes are very much focused on Light's and L's relationship, episode eleven's revelation of a second Kira is a glorious twist that, for me at least, took the show from being very good to downright brilliant. First of all, this allows L to bring Light officially onboard the task force assigned with the Kira case. Having Light around is a clever move; now able to monitor Light almost constantly allows L to further investigate him with subtle questioning. At the same time, by revealing himself, along with his real name, he knows that Light dare not kill him, as he would instantly be exposed as the Kira. More importantly, in terms of ramping up the excitement and tension, is when the second Kira reveals abilities beyond those of Light, resulting in a surprisingly effective sequence where the new Kira demonstrates their powers on live TV.
All this results in Death Note: Volume 3 not only moving the plot forward, but also adding exciting new elements that mean Volume 4 cannot come soon enough. What we have here, people, is a show that is smartly written and full of originality with two intriguing central characters. It's exciting, unpredictable, and capable of being chilling one minute then surprisingly beautiful the next (check out the death god sacrifice). Fans of anime are no doubt already aware of the show's brilliance, but even for non-fans, I can fully recommend Death Note.
Sticking to the style of the original manga Death Note, with its mix of human and shinigami, is a treat to look at, with a clean, colorful 1.78:1 transfer.
A number of anime titles I've picked up recently have been completely devoid of extras, thankfully Viz Media have put together a decent package here. Along with a commentary for the eleventh episode, you'll find a series of artist renderings of the characters and best of all, a short but interesting, feature on the actors who provide the English dub. The limited-edition version also comes with a figurine of L.
Erm, the only negative I can find is that there's a two-month wait till Volume 4 is released.
Smartly written, exciting and able to keep the viewer hooked with minimal action, Death Note: Volume 3, is one of the strongest anime titles currently available.
Like I'm going to find this guilty. Death Note: Volume 3 is free to go. Roll on Volume 4!
Review content copyright © 2008 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Viz Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Behind the Scenes: English Voice Actor Interviews and Recording Sessions
* Production Art
* Audio Commentary
* Official Site