This week’s “Smallville” review will come, but only after I watch the non-HD version tonight, since the HD broadcast I actually did record was an hour of baseball instead.

Cast and Crew Information

Note that this was viewed with English language dubbing. I generally prefer subtitles, but I’ve been thinking about that for reviews. I’ve decided to review it in the default playback format in the source material. If it defaults to subtitles, I’ll review that, but if it defaults to dubbing, that’s what I review.

Full cast and crew information for the series can be found here. This review covers the first four episodes.

Availability Information

Available on DVD. Volumes 2 and 3 are available, though not reviewed here. Volume 4 will be available on Tuesday, and Volume 5 in June.

Premise

A young man is bored with life when he finds a book called a “Death Note.” Following the explicit instructions inside, he learns that he has the power to dictate the time and manner of death for others to a very high degree of control. He decides to use this power to make the world a better place, but there are individuals who are less excited about the sudden volume of murders among the criminal element.

High Point

The public introduction of L. The rivalry between these two takes a philosophical mental exercise and promotes it to a tension driven race between two individuals without making one outcome to their contest clearly more desirable than the other.

Low Point

The predictable connection to the police department.

The Review

This is original in concept and execution. If it weren’t adapted from the manga, it would get a perfect score. I give it 5 out of 6.

The animation is well done, with some impressive effects layered into the traditional work. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is compellingly written. One moment wasn’t a surprise as it was intended to be, but that didn’t make it any less interesting. I give it 5 out of 6.

The voice acting was well done, particularly for a dub. The typical odd pacing and intonation you see attempting to conform to existing lip movements are very subtle and infrequent. The choice of actors and dialogue was well done, indeed. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production was also well done, with very effective lighting and camera work. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was generally very good. The first episode dragged a bit, but the introduction of an adversary in the second episode made an immediate and dramatic correction in this area. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a strong opening chapter to what will likely become a 9 or 10 volume set when released on DVD. (There are four episodes per collection here, and my research indicates a total of 37 episodes and a movie when it’s all said and done.) It’s well worth checking out. There were a couple of minor quibbles, and it did have a slow start, but it easily overcomes those issues. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Death Note, Vol. 1 receives 36 out of 42.