Rewatching One of My All-Time Favorite TV Shows: Death Note (2006-2007)

2nd Viewing 

Disclaimer: I don’t watch a lot of anime. In fact, Death Note is the only anime TV show that I’ve seen in its entirety and I do absolutely adore Studio Ghibli movies. Maybe I’m closed-minded, who knows? At least these brilliant Japanese properties work for me! 

Why This Show is Utter Genius: 

So, if you don’t know already, Death Note is a 2006-2007 animated television show based on Tsugumi Ohba’s manga that goes by the same title. Its story centers around this high school student named Light Yagami who finds this notebook that can essentially murder people if you write their names in it. Light decides that this could be an opportunity for him to exterminate all criminals off of the face of the planet in order to make a new, more harmonious world. However, the task doesn’t become as easy as he had predicted it to be when a detective named L begins to investigate the crimes that he is committing. Ultimately, L begins slightly suspecting Light who happens to be the son of the chief of the NPA, and eventually, it causes Light to begin working with L and the police who are ironically trying to catch this unknown mass murderer (who is Light). 

Death Note in hindsight is this insight into the two brainiest, similar in tactic but opposite in ideologies men (Light and L) going head to head in an egotistical game of cat and mouse. Every episode is a dexterous puzzle of twists and turns that genuinely are almost impossible to predict given the incredible, flat-out knack writing and plot. Nobody in this show ever feels safe, so it’s intensely gripping, and that’s probably one of the main reasons why it’s so hard to abandon the show. It’s a page-turner that’s almost impossible to turn off; it, no joke, almost caused me to pull an “all-nighter” when I first began watching it again. Witnessing these two enemies work so close together is very uncommon to the typical sort of rivalry tale. The best example I can give you is if you’ve seen the show Dexter, which is similar in the sense that that show is about a serial killing villain that also happens to only kill bad people, yet he works with the police department (like Light does). Except, Death Note is a little more off-guard and intelligent when it comes to showing you how the main villain gets out of certain situations and how he is able to not get caught despite him working so closely to the investigation team. Plus, Death Note has a great arch-nemesis for the villain that is legitimately equal in brainpower which makes the competition in this series feel epically real. 

Witnessing Light start off as this comprehensible anti-villain and slowly progress into this cancerous, manipulative demon is vastly intuitive. Even if you believe in the old “the world would be a better place without murderers” ideals, you’ll most likely still end up detesting Light as he grows closer and closer to pure wickedness. One of the most worthwhile elements of the show is this philosophical battle that its themes cause you to have. The series makes it very difficult to choose sides, and that’s why it’s such a mental conflict to personally deal with—which makes for a much more special experience. Also, L, a socially awkward genius who despite being one of the most brainy of the human race, still faces the complications and discomforts of having real-life relationships. There’s this underlying theme that occurs within this character that has to do with the drawbacks of wanting justice and reason over friendships as he begins to grow fonder of Light. I also idolize how both L and Light seem to feel neutral and admirable of one another. Even though they are enemies, they understand each other because there are not a lot of aspiring and intellectual people out there like them. 

So yeah, most of Death Note is ultimately this unpredictable spree of witty storytelling that’s almost hand-crafted to sheer perfection just to make you feel like a complete idiot. 

Some Flaws:

I’m not a fan when it comes to some of the characterizations of the female individuals in Death Note. A lot of the times they are really hokey and submissive, and I wish more women characters in Death Note felt more genuine and sharp like Naomi Misora—who was a fantastic minor character in the show. I mean, not all female characters (as well as male characters) have to be smart, but they should at least feel plausible. Specifically, I had issues with Misa Amane who is far and beyond not only the worst character in the show but the worst assert of this entire series. Her character is obnoxious, overemphasized, and unnecessarily humiliating. She has no dignity for herself and it’s quite bothersome. 

And yes, after episode 25, the show does begin to noticeably die down in quality. In fact, the only thing keeping this show away from being a tour de force is its somewhat disappointing final third. As much as I’d love to give this show an “A,” the unavoidable acknowledgment of its unfortunate decline clearly brings the shows rating down. Death Note, conclusively, can be described as an elongated masterpiece wrapped up with an undetachable decent finale. There are just way too many new characters that are inserted into the third part of Death Note’s progression as well as way to many critical moments that feel rushed. We had 25 episodes to develop our two main characters Light and L, but afterwards, the show begins to introduce so many major characters that have never been mentioned previously in the show, and it‘s an obtuse objective. Furthermore, there are specifically two characters in this chunk of the show that feel like almost exact rip-offs of L and Light—an unnecessary and pointless jab to demean two characters that were so special because of their distinct traits. But honestly, despite my concerns about the last third of Death Note, I still really liked it, it just wasn’t anywhere near the quality of the first two thirds. 

Conclusion:

Death Note is a must-watch, and I don’t say that about a lot of TV shows because a lot of series can take a ton of time to binge and sometimes not be collectively that great. Death Note, on the other hand, is quite short for an anime program considering its only one season and around 24 minutes per episode. It’s a quick watch, and it has the mountain-reaching quality that is worth your time. If you’re like me, who was someone who started off being repelled by anime, or simply someone who doesn’t like a lot of the zaniness of Japanese animation, Death Note might be that one series that you can manage. It’s pretty tame in its animation department. 

Death Note Math:

  1. Shinsei = A-
  2. Confrontation = A
  3. Dealings = A
  4. Pursuit = A
  5. Tactics = A
  6. Unraveling = A
  7. Overcast = A+
  8. Glare = A
  9. Encounter = A
  10. Doubt = A
  11. Assault = A
  12. Love = A
  13. Confession = A- 
  14. Friend = A-
  15. Wager = A
  16. Decision = A
  17. Execution = B+ 
  18. Ally = B
  19. Matsuda = B-
  20. Makeshift = A- 
  21. Performance = B 
  22. Guidance = B+ 
  23. Frenzy = A
  24. Revival = A 
  25. Silence = A+
  26. Renewal = B-
  27. Abduction = C+ 
  28. Impatience = A-
  29. Father = A-
  30. Justice = A-
  31. Transfer = B+ 
  32. Selection = B-
  33. Scorn = C+
  34. Vigilance = B-
  35. Malice = B+
  36. 1.28 = A-
  37. New World = B+

Final Verdict: A-

But essentially, Part I of Death Note (episodes 1-12) is an “A” Part II (episodes 13-25) is an “A-” and Part III (episodes 26-37) is a “B” 

Bonus! Top 5 Death Note Characters: 

  1. L
  2. Light Yagami
  3. Ryuk
  4. Rem
  5. Touta Matsuda

Top 5 Worst Death Note Characters:

  1. Misa Amane
  2. Sidoh
  3. Kyosuke Higuchi
  4. Matt (LOL!)
  5. Near

“Death Note” is now available to stream on Netflix.

 

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