TV Broadcast Info
Story = A+
Video = A-
Audio = B+
Yagami Light is an ace student with great prospects, who's bored out of his mind. One day he finds the "Death Note": a notebook from the realm of the Death Gods, with the power to kill people in any way he desires. With the Death Note in hand, Light decides to create his perfect world, without crime or criminals. However, when criminals start dropping dead one by one, the authorites send the legendary detective L to track down the killer, and a battle of wits, deception and logic ensues... (Source: ANN)
I can hardly see much point in writing a review for this show. Part of that is because Death Note has gotten so popular that I think most anime fans have made up their mind about it. The other reason is that I read the manga before the anime came out, and since the two versions follow almost the exact same storyline, any review I could muster up would essentially be a reiteration of my review of the manga with the added commentary that the anime has a darker gothic tone, is occasionally more melodramatic, and has high quality animation; but both versions are resounding successes.
So in lieu of being so redundant, I thought it might be fun to instead make a list of some of the most surprising story elements (to me anyway) from the manga (They would be mostly the same in the anime, but that at point they obviously weren't a surprise to me anymore), as well as a list of some of the unexpected (though not always better) alterations/additions in the anime. Warning: Spoilers abound here, so if you have not finished either version, you best stop reading now. Otherwise, here goes:
Stuff that surprised me in the manga
Ryuk's design: It's not the usual cloak and sickle reaper that you'd expect. Ryuk -- as well as all the other Shinigami -- each have original, weird, and demonic designs. And at the same time they have such snappy dialogue!
The number of the rules of the Death Note: One rule after another after another. Some seemed more necessary than others, but the level of detail that the author went to to cover every possible scenario was incredible.
Light hides the notebook: It's in the drawer, but no, it's under the drawer, and if you don't open it just so the whole house may burn down. What?? I think that's the point where I just started realizing that this would be something different.
L pinpoints Light's location: If that scene doesn't hook readers, I don't know what will.
L and Light working together: Handcuffs anyone?
Misa's appearance: What a moron! Lucky for Light she was willing to pretty much be his Death-Note-whore for most of the story.
Light imprisoned: I really thought that the story would end there. But no, that's just the quarter-way point.
Watari shoots Higuchi: That whole Yotsuba Group storyline had me worried until I saw Watari nail the guy pinpoint on the hand from a helicoptor with a sniper rifle. Yee Haw!
Light kills Rem, Watari, and L: PWND defined.
That contraption that Mello uses to get the Death Note: Most of Near/Mello story arc was less impressive than the part with L in terms of the characters, but was still just as good from a strategy standpoint. Most notable is that contraption that Mello used to get the Death Note from the police in exchange for Light's sister. Impressive.
Mello's death: It happened so suddenly and without fanfare that I wanted to shake the book and say, "Hey, wake up! You can't really be dead."
Final scene with Light and Ryuk: The look Ryuk gives Light... Bone-chilling.
Surprising changes in the anime
English voice actors: I caught a few episode in of the English version on Adult Swim. Not totally horrible, but not particularly good either. Of course on the plus side, it does give us that classic line: "I'll take a potato chip... and EAT IT!".
Ryuk's dark laugh: No more goofy "hyuk hyuk", but instead a dark ominous chuckle.
Motorcycle-guy gets creamed: It's the same scene as in the manga, but the way it was done in the anime still made me jump a little.
Light writing in the Death Note: Let's hear it for cool shaky-camera effects!
That scene between L and Light just before L dies: Borderline yaoi material.
Light's sudden mood change in the end: The melodrama in the anime worked against it in this scene. The same scene in the manga was a bit unnatural but more acceptable because it was more subtle. In the anime it just seems totally forced.
The final scene between Light and Ryuk: The manga's version worked for the manga, and the anime's version worked just as well for the anime -- but in a different way.
Well, that was a lot of fun. Maybe I should do that kind of thing more often.
Anyway, if you want more Death Note goodness, there are two live action movies (review coming soon) and prequel spin-off. Plus I heard a few of the TV episodes were rebroadcast with some extra scenes. The live action movies will hit US DVD soon. Not sure about the re-cut TV episodes though.