37 episodes at 23 minutes each.
Released back in 2006, Death Note is an incredible animated supernatural thriller. Armed with a slick art style and animation, this 37 episode story unfolds with many twists and turns whilst sustaining impressively rounded characters. There’s a reason this is regarded as one of the best anime series out there.
The story, with its many twists and turns, begins with Light Yagami, a cynical student at school who happens upon a mysterious book called Death Note. Claiming to kill anyone whose name is written in the book within 40 seconds, Light decides to take it upon himself to cleanse Japan of crime by killing every criminal in the country.
Accompanied by a Shinigami (A supernatural entity from a shadow realm) named Ryuk, Light decides to craft a new world for himself, free from crime. As the death count continues to grow and Light begins to lose his humanity to the book, an eccentric private detective called L stands up and opposes Light’s murderous rampage.
What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Light (now under the alias of Kira) and L slowly begin to figure out who the other is whilst maintaining their own identities in secret.
It’s a great formula for the most part and as the episodes progress, Death Note subverts expectations with a few well-worked plot twists that turn the entire narrative upside down.
After so much plot development, one particular episode called “Renewal” wisely acts as a recap, showing everything that’s transpired up to that moment, before plunging into the final breathtaking act of this epic anime.
Every episode feels significant too, and despite the predominantly dark, moody tone hanging over most of the series, Death Note manages to alleviate this suffocating tension with some well-worked bursts of humour to act as some welcome levity. It’s not overpowering either and manages to prevent the show slipping into melodramatic waters.
The characters are ultimately what make this such an endearing series though. Light Yagami is such an interesting choice for the focal character. His cynical thoughts are constantly projected over stretches of the series.
Although his motives become increasingly erratic and antagonistic the longer the series wears on, there’s still an element of understanding for his cause. Juxtaposing that, L begins as an alienating figure when we’re first introduced to him but quickly becomes an endearing player the longer the series wears on.
The supporting cast are equally as appealing too and with a series relying so heavily on the concept of death, there’s a fair amount of major and minor players wrapped up in the Death Note that meet their demise. This maturely written series certainly tackles some very intriguing concepts around death and morality, interweaving nicely to the main plot line of the series while never standing in the way of the main story being told.
Death Note is an epic watch, clocking in at 37 episodes, but the excellent characterization and well-worked plot makes the ride an extremely memorable one. The animation and art style are consistent throughout, keeping you engrossed right the way through to its satisfying conclusion. Mark this one in your book; Death Note is a must-watch.