Reviewby Casey Brienza, Aug 27th 2008
The new Kira is at last revealed—and it is Higuchi! Privy to his private machinations and fearing for Misa's life, the Shinigami Rem reveals herself to Misa, reminds her that she was once the Second Kira, and fingers Higuchi. But how does Misa prove that the information she has received is correct? Against the wishes of the Task Force, she seduces Higuchi and convinces him to stop killing for a few days. Sure enough, the deaths stop, and now L and crew have their suspect! All they need now is to figure out how Kira kills and then apprehend Higuchi—with the help of Matsuda and Sakura TV. Unfortunately, Higuchi puts up the fight of his life, and it will take everything the Task Force has got to run him to ground. Nevertheless, it's all going according to Light's sinister plan…
Death Note's least exciting story arc finally draws to its dramatic close in VIZ Media's sixth DVD release, which contains episodes twenty-one through twenty-four. The lineup begins with Misa Amane front and center, proving once and for all that she is more than a cute face and high-pitched voice where propelling the plot forward is concerned. During a meeting with the Yotsuba Group that turns into an interrogation, the Shinigami Rem reveals herself to Misa—and identifies the new Kira. The ambitious, animalistic Higuchi is the one, and Misa, knowledge of Second Kira past with Light, seduces Higuchi by pretending to be the Second Kira and promising to marry him if only he proves that he actually is the real Kira.
He complies, and all that is left is for the Task Force to verify his assertion by catching him in the act. To this end, they stage a show on the sensationalistic Sakura TV where Matsuda appears, in the guise of Taro Matsui, claiming to know who Kira is. The team recruits the rest of the Yotsuba cabal to ensure that Higuchi sees it. As anticipated, Higuchi is quickly on the move, desperate to kill Matsuda before his secret is revealed on national television. Unfortunately for him, the hunter soon becomes the hunted, and a high-speed highway chase ends in a checkmate. Higuchi reveals the secret of the death note. Everyone on the Task Force touches then touches it in order to see Rem.
Everyone—including Light. Just as he planned way back in episode sixteen! Touching the notebook restores his memory, and while holding the notebook, he kills Higuchi with the scrap of paper hidden in his wristwatch. This restores ownership of the notebook to him, so even after he lets go of it, he retains his memories as Kira. Then, under Light's instruction, Misa acquires the second notebook and regains her Shinigami Eyes. Light had left her a note telling her to kill the man they now know to be L, but Misa doesn't remember his true name. She will have to see him again. The final episode on the disc ends with Misa—the Second Kira—entering the Task Force headquarters.
The high point of the anime continues to be its distinctive aesthetic. Though the quality of the animation per se is about average for a TV series, Madhouse (Ninja Scroll; X) does the gothic fantasy/horror look better than pretty much anybody, and they were the perfect studio to bring Death Note to the screen. Character designs are invariably pitch-perfect, and the palette is gloomy yet decadently saturated. The second of the anime's two opening sequences is both frantic and deliciously disturbing—it sustains multiple viewings in a way that much of the show proper does not.
Both the Japanese and English language voice casts are convincing as always, but because they are very different viewers will probably find that they prefer one over the other. The latter does not seem to have been chosen specifically to copy the former's execution. In these episodes, viewers will notice immediately that the English-language voice for the Shinigami Rem is definitely a woman, whereas in the original Japanese dub, Rem's voice sounds more masculine. Revelation regarding Rem's gender is actually a plot point, and the English dub rather spoils the surprise. The two most important the extras on this DVD are again a behind the scenes documentary and a commentary track for episode twenty-three, featuring the American cast. These are likely to be of dubious value to most. (Other DVD bonuses include production art, clean opening and ending clips, and trailers.) The dark, angry sound of the soundtrack is likewise appropriate, though the head-banging, punk sound of the opening and ending themes is an acquired taste. Occasional orchestral strains audible in the background of certain sequences add to the gothic tenor of the storyline.
Anyway, this quartet of episodes is substantially better than the four that preceded them, and it's nice to finally have the forgettable Yotsuba Group conspirators out of the way. Since the DVD ends on a convenient cliffhanger that will, arguably, culminate in one of the most shocking plot twists of the series thus far, faithful viewers will certainly not want to stop here.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B
Animation : B+
Art : A
Music : C+
+ A big payoff for those wondering how Kira was going to make his comeback and one of the best cliffhangers of the series.
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