Anime Monday - Death Note

Death Note is a series I never thought I would get into. Back when it came out I was only somewhat of an anime fan, and I was pretty picky about what I would or wouldn't watch. My favorites mainly consisted of mecha series like Gundam, Shonen like Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and Naruto, and once in awhile slice of life series like Clannad (which is one of my all time favorites). I wasn't too into the crazy violent stuff out there, and it took me awhile to work up to watching things like Ghost in the Shell. That being said, things did eventually change.

When I was 16 years old, going on 17, I was searching Crunchyroll for something new to watch (I'll admit this was before today's Crunchyroll) when I came across this series called Code Geass. The picture showed some weird giant animal thing fighting with some girl, and I thought it was crazy enough to give it a chance. Well it turns out this was a special "comedy" school festival episode, and that had nothing to do with the rest of the series. Instead what I got was an insane mecha series filled with tactical thinking, drama, and a main character with the power to command anyone to do anything. I loved it. I was hooked on that show, and only stopped binge watching it because me and my family went on vacation. When I got back however, it was summer break, I had turned 17, and all I had to do for the rest of the summer was watch CG and work part time at my family's new bakery.

Jump ahead to the next school year, and Code Geass was now continuing it's new episodes of season 2 in Japan, and season 1 was well on it's way on Adult Swim. I continued watching it in both places (Crunchyroll and Adult Swim), but before I knew it it was over. Yep, the series finished and I was left wanting more. That's when I started hearing more about this so called Death Note series, and how fans of Code Geass enjoyed it as well. While that alone was enough to make me want to watch it -- the problem was I just couldn't get myself to. Everything about the series freaked me out (including the opening and ending songs I'd hear on Adult Swim while waiting for Code Geass to come on), and I had friends who would talk about the series constantly who pretty much turned me off. It was a dark and depressing series, and it just wasn't for me. Or so I thought.

Eventually I would come around and give Death Note a chance, but it wouldn't be until I was actually done with college and finally working a full time job. That was June of 2014, roughly 6 years after I finished Code Geass. I still regret waiting that long...

The Story of the Death Note:

The series begins giving us a look at a world very unlike our own. In this place "Gods of Death" rule, and each has the appearance of a horrifying monster. These creatures are right out of Japanese legend, and serve as the beings that have control over death -- sometimes guiding lost souls, while other times they'll lead people to their demise. One such Shinigami named Ryuk has become bored with his everyday life, and decides to change things up. He allows his "Death Note" to fall to Earth, and awaits to make a deal with whatever mortal gets his or her hands on it.

Light Yagami is a high school student on the verge of entering the real world. He's a very intelligent young man, and seems to always be ten steps ahead of everyone else. Other than this, he's a normal high school student, and with his dad being a police you'd never suspect he'd ever be anything other than an upstanding citizen. He has a bright future ahead of him... Or rather, he had one. You see, Light is the one who will eventually stumble upon the Death Note, and when that happens his entire life will be changed forever.

When Light first encounters the Death Note he doesn't know what to think of it. The notebook claims that it will be bound to him the moment he tries to use it, and that whoever has their name written in the book will die. The person who writes the name only needs to visualize the person as the name is being written, with a cause of death and time of death being entered after. Of course Light doesn't believe any of this and decides to try it out on some low life thug, and much to his surprise it actually works! This is when Light has to face the facts that he had just killed someone, and that this horrible book is in fact the real deal. This scares his.

Although Light is terrified of the book, he soon starts to consider how it could actually be used. There are a lot of horrible people in the world that continue to live on as they kill countless others, and there are many who are simply beyond the law and cannot be stopped. By using such a book Light could put an end to them, and no one would ever be able to figure out who did it. It's death by supernatural means, with no connections to him what so ever. So Light pulls out a list of names, and begins writing. One by one these people die, and before too long the world takes notice. Eventually rumors of the legendary killer "Kira" start to spread, and Light starts to enjoy every second of it. Even when Ryuk himself appears before Light, it doesn't sway him from continuing to use his new found power. He comes face to face with a demon, yet is willing to continue on his path of creating a new "perfect" world. Although the harsh reality is, what he is doing is nothing more than murder. Light is no hero, he's just as much of a monster as Ryuk. And he has to be stopped.

L vs Light:

In light of all the crazy murders, a special detective only named "L" is brought onto the case. He goes on live TV to announce who he is to the world and even gives his full name. Seeing this huge mistake on his part, Light decides to take advantage and kill "L" while he has the chance. So he looks at his image on TV, writes down his name in the Death Note, and puts an end to his would be rival. Except in reality he's failed. Moments after "L's" death on live TV, the real L appears. It turns out it was a setup. The "L" seen was nothing more than a criminal scheduled for execution, and was being used as a test. This "L" never had any information about himself leaked prior to his death, and because of that it confirms the real L's suspicions. However Kira is killing his victims is not normal, and that a name seems to be required. Because of this L will not reveal his true name to the world, and he promises that he will bring Kira down. Seeing this Light does become a bit worried, but he knows that L will never be able to trace these events back to him. Of course L isn't considered an ace detective for nothing.

After L is put on the Kira case, things become crazy for both him and Light. L is seemingly ready for every move Light makes, which in return causes Light to use a lot more drastic measures. Rather than only killing criminals, Light is forced to take out anyone who gets in his way, or who might cause problems for him in the future. L of course uses such killings to his advantage to learn more about this "Kira," and that in return comes back to haunt Light. Because of the series of events,  L is able to figure out that the killer must be Japanese, and that the killer must have some kind of connection to the police force. Because of this he begins investigating every possible person on the police force, and that is eventually leads him to learn about the Yagami family. He finds Light to be suspicious, and begins his investigation into him; however proving that he is in fact Kira isn't that simple. Light continues to be multiple steps ahead of L as he attempts to protect himself, but L in return is constantly there to counter Light's actions just as he had been up until now from the shadows. Light continues to experiment with the Death Note to find new ways to use it, and he also forms a partnership with the God of Death who dropped it to begin with. Even so if they cannot figure out what L's real name is, there's nothing they can do to completely stop him. So their battle of wits continues on, with L using every resource at his disposal to prove who Kira is, while Light uses his intelligence to evade discovery. Neither will give up until the other is stopped.

Should You Watch It:

If you're into mysteries and stories that focus more on battles of the mind than actual fighting, then yes. Death Note is a must watch. Both Light and L are great characters, and it's really interesting to see Light transform from the high school boy he once was, and into the killer he is now. The series also doesn't just stop at the battle between L and Light, as both characters also have to tackle other issues as well. There's the fact that the Death Note exists, and that Light actually isn't the only one out there who can use such power. The series continues to change over time, and there are some really good mysteries to uncover -- it's not all about Light trying to from his new world, and that was shockingly refreshing. However sadly the final chapters of the story are a mixed bag. Many people feel there's a point where the story peaks and then goes down hill after, so just be aware of that going in. It's not that the story becomes bad or anything, it's just that it's ending isn't as good as the rest. Unless you're talking about the actual ending -- now that is perfect.
Previous Post Next Post