Anime Review: Death Note

The world isn’t always a rosy place to live in. It can beat you down, drag you into the mud, and leave you feeling shattered. Dangers can lurk in any corner and stepping outside your house each day can be a risk in and of itself. But what if you stumbled upon the power to eliminate any wicked or despicable person (murderers, rapists, and the corrupt) from this earth by simply writing their name in a notebook and dictating the nature of their death as an accident or suicide? It’s a situation high school student Light Yagami encounters in the anime Death Note.

Death Note, based on the manga by Tsugumi Ohba, follows main protagonist Light Yagami as he wields the power of the Death Note by writing the names of every single criminal he finds by watching the nightly news. The notebook’s original owner Ryuk, a shinigami with a love for apples, partners with Light to watch and help Light achieve his goal to rid the world of all that is evil until only the kind and honest remain. With the Death Note in Light’s possession, he has big plans to deem himself “God of the new world,” that is if a mysterious detective who goes by the name “L” doesn’t stand in his way.

Light Yagami
Light Yagami

At 37 episodes, Death Note is an adrenaline ride of an anime to watch from start to finish. I’d compare the series to watching a chess match between two people––Light and L are constantly battling each other wit for wit, each move measured and calculated as they try to outsmart and outmaneuver each other. Being mental equals in every way, it’s a nail biting experience to see who gains the upper hand in each episode. Throw in the threat of death hovering over L like a lion ready to strike at its prey, the stakes just get higher as the series progresses.

The anime is filled with plenty of twists and turns you often don’t see coming. Light being a brilliant but apathetic guy, he always has to be one step ahead of everyone who would try to stop him from ridding the earth of people he deems to be a cancer to society and a threat to the utopian world he envisions. Light takes pretty bold risks, which somehow always play out exactly as he wants it to. However, L also doesn’t shy away from making risky moves himself, even if it means exposing who he really is to Light or “Kira,” the nickname the police and public give to the elusive person who has the power to kill criminals or anyone interfering in accomplishing his endgame.

L
L

The strength of the show is the interaction between Light and L. As intellectual equals, their brains tend to function beyond the usual mental capacities most regular people couldn’t begin to comprehend. Their deductive reasoning and their ability to somehow successfully pinpoint the measure of success or failure of each possible plan or scenario can almost be too perfect. Admittedly, suspension of disbelief is required when watching the anime. I often found myself finding it nearly impossible to believe Light or L are that good at knowing how something would play out as they have constructed it in their heads. I can believe someone can be extremely intelligent, but not THAT much. It starts venturing into superhuman abilities kind of territory. It also got increasingly annoying when Light seems so good at evading his captors that it almost felt like Light will remain undefeated. It takes the final episode to get to the point where Light finally gets the justice he deserves, but the buildup to get there kind of made me impatient. Still, Light’s fall was sweet to witness when his days finally became outnumbered.

What I especially like about the anime is exploring the themes behind what we may define as good or bad, right from wrong. Light is convinced his intention is good, wanting to have a world where there are no bad people in it––a perfect world. However, his good intention no longer seems so good when the power to determine someone’s death devolves into a selfish and arrogant play to become God and killing criminals eventually stretches into killing innocents who will oppose or threaten his position. It’s also expressed by both L and Light’s chief of police father Soichiro Yagami that despite the despicable acts a criminal has done, taking a life and having the power to play God is wrong no matter what the intention is. As the series does well to show and will always ring true is power corrupts. Light’s lust for power and control will make him far too dangerous to allow him to run freely in the world.

deathnote_promo

Death Note is an enjoyable psychological thriller type of anime which will make you think about the themes and messages the series explores. It’s smart, dark, and an unforgettable anime watching experience.

Reviewer Rating: 9/10

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5 thoughts on “Anime Review: Death Note

  1. This is one that I so want to read and watch, but the knowledge that Light Yagami is going to die prevents me from reading the manga and watching the anime. I just wish the story had gone the way of redemption. I could have used that book to defeat ISIS/

    1. I see your point, but I sort of liked that the story went in a direction where Light is an irredeemable character. There was one point in the anime where it seemed like he could have been, but then he went back to his old ways. Besides, if it went the redemption route it would have made all that mental back and forth between Light and L pretty meaningless. I also liked the touch of irony that his name is “Light” and he’s anything but a bringer of light to the world. He has a messed up and distorted way of going about it, which is largely selfish and egotistical.

      1. Simpleleek, Ihave a new blogsite devoted to animes, mangas, and video games. You need to go to my other blogsite… the link is there. Apparently, my followers are the same for both, but to get a new post from there, you need to comment, and check the box ” Get notification of new post via email. ”

        Anyway, you’re right. With so many deaths , it’s just right that he gets his just desserts. People are innocent until proven guilty. He can’t be the judge and executioner at the same time.

  2. I really enjoyed Death Note (and its on Netflix if you want to watch it). The only part that bugged me was toward the middle to the end when (I dont want to spoil), L changes, and at that point I began to lose interest. So good though.

    1. I watched Death Note on Hulu, hence the review! Overall, the show is good but there were some parts that felt a little dragged out or got a little too ridiculous for me to completely overlook. I don’t know how it was in the original manga, but I’m sure things are better fleshed out there than it is in the anime.

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