Review and conclusions on the series:
this was originally written for other forums i'm a member of. please bear with me:
if you aren't familiar with the series, it started out as a manga (japanese graphic novel) then got adapted into two movies and is now an anime based pretty closely on the manga.
here are a few pages: (note that you must read in the asian style, ie from right-to-left, even with the speech bubbles inside panels)
< six sample pages in thumbnail format that this forum doesn't let me display >
death note is written by tsugumi ohba and illustrated by takeshi obata.
* SPOILERS * SPOILERS * SPOILERS *
well i finally finished the manga up last night so i'm curious what other people think. i'll start.
this was an exceptional graphic novel- beautifully illustrated, carefully plotted and an absolute page-turner generously told over 108 chapters. the theme was also fairly profound- "if you found a tool allowing you to kill whoever you wished, what would you do with it?" followed by the philosophical question- "if you used the tool to destroy evil people to make the earth a better place would this be a good idea or not?"
another word about the art- altho the basic japanimation style was used for the illustrations, the artist took pains to avoid all the usual stereotypes and clichés of that genre. this was a welcome change, and it prolly didn't hurt that the art is terrific regardless of the style.
of course there are always gripes and the two things that i found most disappointing are 1) the convergence of thinking between yagami and the "L" group and 2) the grand finale ending.
as for the convergence thing- it seemed that as soon as one side had an idea that the other would very quickly have the same idea. yet even so, neither side was able to gain enough advantage over the other to score a victory. instead both sides tended to labor on, locked in twin-step while the tension was maintained. well, this is a tried-and-true method often seen in hollywood films... but even the most brilliant minds tend to diverge in their ideas and hypotheses. part of what made the great detectives in literature so endearing is that they showed their human side and made humorous errors amid their brilliance.
as for the ending- don't get me wrong, it was very good and very interesting but i had some problems with the logistics and with the lack of surprises. i saw this approximate ending coming about 40 issues before around the time that "near" proved that he operated on a somewhat more advanced plateau than yagami did.
even so, i thought they both made a number of mistakes in the finale. near should have better anticipated that yagami had some notebook paper on him and would try to write names in an emergency. as it was he almost died when all but one letter of his name was written. and yagami should have realised how vulnerable mikami was- he could have easily been grabbed before writing the names if near's objective was to simply take away his notebook (regardless if it was real or fake). also, yagami should have thought ahead better in terms of his contingency plans- for example in having the kira worshippers descend on the building sometime after the beginning of the meeting. if he had found a way to get that message out ahead of time then he would have been triumphed no matter what if near beat him or not. as it was he put all his eggs in one basket in terms of mikami.
one other mild objection as the person who sits on his ass and expects to be entertained- mello died a little too easily and really should have figured in the endgame a little stronger.
still and all, the series was remarkable and i'll be revisiting it again for sure. i'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in more serious and interesting graphic novels.
* SPOILER *
the manga stops to be cool as soon as L dies..
L didn't so much die as turn into two L's... sort of like the "sorcerer's apprentice" with the brooms.