Review: Death Note Complete Series and OVA Collector’s Edition [Blu-ray]

Release Date
Studio / Publisher
Madhouse / Manga Entertainment
Language / Subtitles
English, Japanese / English
1-37 + 2 OVAs
Run Time
1081 Minutes

Death Note makes its way to Blu-ray for the first time in the UK via Manga Entertainment in this complete series and OVA Collector’s Edition. The release contains all 37 episodes of the series plus the two Relight OVAs in glorious high definition. What better way to celebrate this Christmas then by revisiting this fan favourite on Blu-ray?

“Light Yagami is a genius high school student who is about to learn about life through a book of death. When a bored shinigami, God of Death, named Ryuk drops a black notepad called a Death Note, Light receives power over life and death with the stroke of a pen. Determined to use this dark gift for the best, Light sets out to rid the world of evil… namely the people he believes to be evil.
Should anyone hold such power? The consequences of Light’s actions will set the world ablaze.”Manga Entertainment

Death Note is one of those fan favourite series that you just expect anime fans to have either read or watched. I don’t feel that there is any real need to explore the plot past what the official synopsis lays about above. Fans that haven’t jumped in by now – what a great place to get started with a new high definition release. I for one have not seen the anime previously; I’m a big fan of the manga having read it multiple times by this point. I’ve always felt that I should watch Death Note at some point but even given the love it seems to get I was still apprehensive. My reasons for that is through having seen a good number of anime adaptations prior that haven’t quite managed to do the original justice or just plain butchering its source material.

I had to put that apprehension aside for this review and I’m glad I did to be honest as the series as a whole does a really good job of adapting the series. Now it has been some time since I last read Death Note but the anime did match very closely to what I remembered and it was a very enjoyable viewing experience. It does seem a bit weird that the series is only 37 episodes as I feel the material is there to fill about 50 and there were some noticeable gaps compared to what I could remember. That said I’m glad the adaptation is longer than two-cours as that would not nearly be enough to adapt the story faithfully. Overall, could it have been better? Sure, but then again it could have been a whole lot worse so I’m thankful it’s as good as it is.

Visually I wouldn’t say there are many differences from the previous Manga Entertainment DVD release apart from the fact the series is now in high definition which of course brings with it sharper and more crisp imagery. Check out our friends at AnimeBlurayUK for a comparison of the two releases. As it’s an upscale there, of course, are some minor issues that come with that territory in the form of aliasing and ghosting but these are very isolated and not widespread. Other than that the upscale does a very good job of bringing the series right into this present era of impressive animation.

I decided on a whim to watch the English dub as my first experience with the series and I wasn’t disappointed. Brad Swaile’s characterisation of Light Yagami can get a little annoying in places but the real issue I had with the dub was with the character L. The rest of the cast felt natural as their respective characters but Alessandro Juliani felt very out of place. His work was not bad by any means but it really didn’t fit the kooky nature of L. His delivery was very well-spoken and straight-laced that he would have suited one of the other task force members better. This may not apply to others but that’s just my own personal preference. The soundtrack was fairly decent throughout the series and there were a number of good opening and ending themes but nothing that stand out for me.

The extras are were the major differences in this Blu-ray release are compared to the previous DVD release. The Blu-ray release contains only the two Relight OVAs as bonus features and nothing else while the previous DVD features a much larger list of extras including audio commentaries, interviews and much more. It’s a shame that those haven’t been included in this new release but if there was a choice between OVAs and the usual extras then I’d have to give it to the OVAs. Their inclusion makes this release a complete edition which should appeal a lot more to fans especially those planning to double-dip.

A fan favourite in Death Note returns to the UK for the first time on Blu-ray via Manga Entertainment. This Death Note Complete Series and OVA Collector’s Edition should serve only to please as a generation of fans gets to relive this series in high definition and a new generation can experience it for the first time. Having been a fan of the manga since is original run I had yet to watch the anime adaptation and I honestly say I was pleasantly surprised. Madhouse has put together a faithful and enjoyable experience and the upscale really brings the series in the current era.