A Guide to the Anime World: Death Note
1 - Beginning with the Best
The word anime — pronounced “ah-knee-may” — is an abbreviation of the word animation. In Japan, the word refers to all forms of animation. However, outside of Japan, it has become the catch-all term for animation from Japan.
Death Note was released on October 3, 2006 and continued to air till June 26, 2007, ending with a total of 37 episodes.
This is one of the few anime that is not too long, not too shabby but a work of art and if you are looking to begin the dive into the anime world, this anime has got your back.
Why should you watch it?
The title being already captivating enough is enough to get your skin tingling. The story follows a prodigious teenager: Light Yagami, a high school student who stumbles across a mysterious otherworldly notebook: the “Death Note”, which belonged to the Shinigami (otherwise known as Death God) Ryuk, and grants its user the power to kill anyone whose name and face he knows. The series centers around Light’s (who after quite a lot of murders ins now notoriously known as Kira) subsequent attempts to use the Death Note to change the world into a utopian society without crime and the subsequent efforts of a special task force led by L, a reclusive international criminal profiler, to apprehend him and end his reign of terror.
This series presents the viewer questions such as “What would I do if I had that power?” The way it is develops brings yet more questions and defies our morals. The anime might seem like something out of a fantasy tale but it goes on to show such dark sides of humans that we fear to comprehend.
The simple yet secret ingredient that’s so mesmerizing about this story is that it keeps you on full alert. You never know what is going to happen next. Let me explain that to you in a wee bit more detail.
What’s so Special about it?
First, it makes you questions Lights ethics and morality. “Is it right to be the judge and executor simultaneously?” “Don’t the circumstances of each crime matter as well and if it is right to judge without knowing all the facts?” “Can we change the criminals for the better?” “Is a world where people don’t commit crimes because they’re simply afraid actually, desirable? Isn’t what Light aims to achieve theoretically similar to a dictatorship?” These are just some of the questions that go through one’s mind as they watch this show.
Second, it keeps you guessing what might happen next. The future is so unclear that you can barely join all the dots and predict what might happen next. Trying to follow Light’s and L’s line of thought is both challenging and entertaining. Their move will not only surprise you but you’ll keep trying to guess what they’re going to do next; this show will keep you on the edge of your seat through its entirety.
Third, it changes the way you perceive the world and the people in it. With each kill and each action Light takes, one can’t help but wonder: “It may be wrong but what would I do if I were in his place?” People change but it is the situations that make them change, remember that.
The only problem, if there could be one, with the story would be the second half: for Near isn’t nearly as intelligent as L, and Light seems to make rather pointless decisions unlike before when he retained control of the situation. The fact that the resolution didn’t steam from Light’s mistakes but from someone else’s and was pure luck on Near’s part was both a savory twist but also a rather underwhelming bite as well, for neither of them was the central piece that ended the puzzle.
Characters, Art, Sound, Development
Talking generally, the character designs are both unique and somewhat similar to reality. The backgrounds are detailed enough and the animation is really good. The action seems are a little exaggerated, yes, but nevertheless pretty good.
But where the art really shines is in the hues chosen for the anime. The dark and dull tones compliment and greatly fit the anime.
Moving on to the sound. First, let’s talk about the openings and endings. The 1st opening and the 1st ending are both by the band “Nightmare” and the 2nd ones are both by “Maximum the Hormone”. (Some people may be find the heavy metal sound of the last opening and respective ending quite unpleasant.)
Moreover, the opera-like songs that pass in the episodes add to the overall effect of the scenes and were, with the somewhat religious tunes, the best choice to set the mood and get the atmosphere going.
On a side note, there was no one with fantasy-like characteristics. They all seemed like real people with real problems. No unneeded and exaggerated tragedies but no totally sweet lives either, quite realistic as all lives are bitter sweet.
Character Development: Light
The character development is pretty much nonexistent for most of the cast, but it doesn’t need to be there, one prime example being Light Yagami, the main character. Starting of as a genius, calm and collected high school student with a strong sense of morals and justice, he undergoes a slow but drastic change of character. The more he uses the Death Note, the more he slips into a dark abyss and forgets about his morals because he finds it is what is should be done, to continue his work. Due to this, he ends up as an arrogant person with no consideration for the people who surround him. He starts trying to create a new and better world for people to live in but ends up obsessed with the power the Death Note gives him, aiming to be the “God of the New World”.
It was also a delightful turn of events when Light loses his memories about the Death Note. He turns back to his old self: refuses to use people as tools (what he had been doing for quite a while as Kira) and he even goes as far as to think that Kira is wrong and wants to arrest him. At that point in the anime, we all knew Kira’s actions were going too far so it was a delicacy and to see that Light thought so as well. The only problem lays in the fact that Light WAS Kira. This led to so many other questions being born: What if the notebook was real, what if I had picked it up? Wouldn’t I do the same and end up like that?
Character Development: L
Moving on to L. He may seem like a plain character, but beware for he is not. As established since the beginning, L is an extremely ambitious genius who tries his best to capture Kira risking himself a bit more in each attempt, not even caring once for his life. L, at first, seems cold and distant but as the anime progresses we are given a deeper insight into his character as we come face to face with an “L” we couldn’t have comprehended; an L who didn’t want Light to be Kira: because he had never met anyone so similar to him in his ways of thinking and he actually saw Light as a friend than an enemy, even though he was almost sure that Light was, in fact, Kira.
Character Development: Side Characters
The support characters are surprisingly interesting, despite not being all that well developed (I’m talking about the task force). At first, we had next to no clue of who they were and how they were as people and theire development is not much noticeable but before you even know it, you realize you already know how they feel about Kira and what their line of thoughts are. The truth is, we are subtly introduced to their problems and internal struggles so it all comes to us quite naturally.
TLDR; Death Note defies your morals and enables deep discussions with yourself and others. It truly is a great show. Totally recommended!
My rating: 9/10