Death Note has taken the world by storm with its supernatural crime story of a note-book which kills. When someone mentions manga or anime this series always crops up for discussion and it seems very few people have anything bad to say about the series. It spawned novels, merchandise, an anime, live action films and video games with an American movie adaptation in the works. Death Note: R is a special feature which condenses the first half of Death Note into a two-hour special. What does this offer for fans?
Death Note R is meant to be a retelling of the story through Death God Ryuk’s eyes, yet it seems the DVD description and the suggestive opening of the guy telling the story is a lie. This is basically a two-hour clip show taking all the scenes up to the series half way point and presenting them as the anime series did. New footage is few and far between and mainly there to try to make sense of scenes they’ve skimmed over or ignored and the dialogue is nearly all the same, Ryuk is certainly not telling anything here. The idea of the first half story being told in a few hours is a good one but so much information is skipped some scenes don’t really make sense or at least the careful details the story uses have vanished and you just have to accept the scene with your knowledge from the source material. But knowing the source material makes this a pointless purchase as the anime series does the job so much better even if you don’t have the time to dip into so many episodes. It doesn’t add anything new and the new scenes replace better scenes; the idea that they pinpointed main character Light as a suspect due to police records being used is completely ignored and the character development feels flat as the show just jumps from scene to scene. A new watcher would no doubt be lost during this, especially as rules of the death note aren’t fully explained all the time.
Even if is a lazy cash cow, the scenes still manage to engross me completely. It still creates all the emotions, tensions the series did thanks to the excellent art, atmosphere, voice work (I watched it Japanese with subs) and music and the source story is so strong full of clever touches. The idea of a mind game police chase between ass murdered Light and top detective L is still a great one and the rules and explanations really draw you into it and make later scenes really click as everything pieces together. Sure the series can be faulted due to most of the plans working because of sheer plot convenience with so many ways they could have gone wrong if person A wasn’t there at that time or that person didn’t decide to think that specific thing at that key time, but it can be forgiven due to the drama and sheer enjoyment created by this story.
Death Note Relight is only worthwhile if you have knowledge of the series and want to see the first half of the story in a short space of time. People who have never seen the series may find it a little loose and confusing while those who don’t desire to have the show condensed with weaker scenes to splice the story together should just stick to the TV show or the manga series. Still the final new scene on the Relight edition is chilling…