Synopsis

A shinigami, as a god of death, can kill any person—provided they see their victim’s face and write their victim’s name in a notebook called a Death Note. One day, Ryuk, bored by the shinigami lifestyle and interested in seeing how a human would use a Death Note, drops one into the human realm.

High school student and prodigy Light Yagami stumbles upon the Death Note and—since he deplores the state of the world—tests the deadly notebook by writing a criminal’s name in it. When the criminal dies immediately following his experiment with the Death Note, Light is greatly surprised and quickly recognizes how devastating the power that has fallen into his hands could be.

With this divine capability, Light decides to extinguish all criminals in order to build a new world where crime does not exist and people worship him as a god. Police, however, quickly discover that a serial killer is targeting criminals and, consequently, try to apprehend the culprit. To do this, the Japanese investigators count on the assistance of the best detective in the world: a young and eccentric man known only by the name of L.

Source: MyAnimeList

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Death Note Review

Death Note is definitely one of the better series to have ever made it in the Japanese animation industry. With its compelling and brain-bending story, you would never get bored. Death Note focuses on mind-games with a touch of supernatural, but it isn’t overpowered to bore you to death.

Despite having such a strong and deadly power, the notebook of death – the Death Note – has limitations set upon itself to provide a unique sense of use to the one who wields it. Death Note follows the story of Yagami Light, the young man who has obtained the Death Note, and how he became one of the Japanese animation industry’s most influential, most loved, and – most importantly – the most hated character of all-time. Yagami Light is considered an antivillain (the reverse of antihero), his ambition of clearing the world of evil using the Death Note is proof of this. According to him, killing criminals and hopeless thugs is the right thing to do and is the first step in creating an ideal world free of evil – thus he was named “Kira.” This is Yagami Light’s justice.

In opposition to Light’s sense of justice and antivillain status, we now have our “bad guy,” L, a genius yet eccentric detective who despises Kira’s method of randomly killing criminals. He believes that Kira’s way of punishing criminals is inhumane and is not the right thing to do. He swore that he would capture Kira and end his serial killings.

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L vs. Kira | A Phantasmagoria of Flesh-Devouring Butterflies

L and Kira are alike. L also said so himself. They both think the same, act the same, and solve problems in a nearly the same way. There are only 2 things that sets them apart: (1) appearance and (2) sense of justice. Kira is your typical “Straight A” student who grew up in a well-mannered family while L seems like he lives on the backstreets of nowhere. The culture in which they grew in is different: Kira lived in slightly peaceful town, free of troubles and doubts, while L lived in an orphanage not really knowing his parents and why he wound up there. This is probably why their sense of justice differs from one another.

Kira believes that by killing criminals – of all sorts – will bring peace upon the world. While I do agree with this kind of thinking, I also believe that these criminals have their own reasons why they’ve become one. I used to believe all this time that Kira should have targeted the government and changed things from within – kill corrupt politicians who steal money from people’s taxes – and become the one to reign Japan, and later on – the world. Most people become criminals not simply because they want to become one, it’s because of poverty and the stale state of not earning enough for anything – a sickness of society. There’s nothing wrong with Kira’s justice, I believe he was just too blind to see what lies beyond the reasons of the people he had killed.

However, every educated and “good” people would probably side with L’s justice. Killing is not the answer to peace. “You can’t talk peace and have a gun,” right? Or in this case, “You can’t talk peace and have a Death Note.” L believes that Kira’s method of punishing criminals is wrong. He also relates Kira’s method to that of a serial killer’s – which is undeniably a fact because of how our modern society defines murder. Despite L’s enmity towards Kira’s method, they were both able to deceive and befriend each other. They actually like each other a lot.

Putting these things together, how does the world define justice? Rather, what is justice? We’ve heard about this scenario a thousand times: a man convicted of murder was thrown into jail subject to lifetime imprisonment. The truth of the matter is, he was just framed. The court doesn’t do anything about it because the case is closed. The man dies inside his cell – forever weeping, regretting that he had to live in our world – while the true perpetuators of the crime goes unnoticed still committing senseless crimes every day. Justice was served – only in the wrong hands.

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Amane Misa and Yagami Light | Codependency vs. Love

Amane Misa is your typical cute Japanese pop idol who does modeling, singing, dancing, and acting – the only difference between Amane Misa and with this highly popular character type is that, she kills people. Amane Misa is your Second Kira. She obtained the Death Note of a Shinigami who saved her when she was being assaulted on her way back home. Unfortunately, the Shinigami died – leaving his notebook behind. Rightfully, the notebook became Amane Misa’s personal belonging. With the help of Rem, the Shinigami who watched his colleague die in return of saving Amane Misa’s life, she was able to spot Kira in Aoyama. When the two finally met in person, their tandem proved to be dangerous.

Misa is highly attached to Light – you can almost say that it has already surpassed obsession. However, Light feelings towards Misa is only that of a tool. Misa accepts the challenge of making Light eventually fall in love with her. As creepy as it may sound, she’s dead serious about it.

The relationship between Light and Misa plays an integral role in the story and it’s mainly because of their subtle agreement on codependency. Light needs Misa’s shinigami eyes to find and erase those who blocks his path while Misa needs Light’s existence and acceptance to live. With both of them getting what they need from each other, they definitely had the potential to create a new world.

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The “Final 10” Conundrum

I do believe that Death Note should have ended on the 26th episode. The first 26 episodes of the series proved to be a really consistent and definitely a masterpiece. The mind battle between L and Kira during the first arc is really consistent and mind-blowing. Many fans say that the Death of L was the most satisfying and the most saddening scene of the century – I agree with these fans. L’s death was satisfying enough to those who loved Kira, moving enough for those who believed that clearing the world of evil through unorthodox methods is right, and saddening to those who wanted to witness the new world Kira has created through an OVA (or whatever).

Unfortunately enough, the series continued for another 10 episodes that featured L’s successors, Mello and Near. Mello and Near aren’t comparable to L. Mello lacked the wit that L had and the heart that L had. What he had that beat L at solving Kira’s case is Light’s dumbed down version. During this arc, it is apparent that Light’s intelligence dropped a ton! It isn’t like Light at all! He may have dropped his guard after L’s death – like many people say – but I disagree! The writer could have dumbed down Light due to L’s popularity and death. I was truly disappointed.

The only thing that got me in the second arc is Yagami Soichiro, Light’s father. He agreed to use the Death Note and trade the Shinigami’s Eyes in an attempt to go all-in and defeat Mello, who kidnapped Yagami Sayu only to be returned in exchange for the Death Note. Unfortunately, he met his end when he decided to turn Mello in instead of killing him. He probably did the right thing, but why hesitate when you’ve already traded your soul to the devil? Make the most out of it! Darn it!

The final 10 episodes could have been better if Light remained the way he is during the first arc. He could have defeated Near in the most entertaining and absolute way possible. Were they only concerned about ratings? I do not want to know.

Final Words

Death Note is an entertaining show but not for the light-hearted. There are many sensitive scenes and philosophies that would tickle your mind and make you question the way you live. Death Note tickles the subconscious and it’s really satisfying if you go along with it. There were plot holes that weren’t really covered up and needs explaining, but don’t let this get to you as that doesn’t matter! What matters is that this show would make you love the subculture even more and you will definitely, without a doubt, become more addicted than before.

Give this series a try, you will not regret its awesomeness!