It’s time to review my first anime. While Studio Ghibli’s films claim the success of getting me into anime, Death Note was my first real experience (because I’m not counting Superbook from when I was a kid XD.) Death Note was an amazing viewing experience to say the least! So much to say, so much to go over, yet few words feel adequate to capture why this show is so good!
detective | psychological thriller | supernatural | shonen
2006-2007 | 37 Episodes | TV14
Ryuk, a shinigami (god of death), decides to cure his boredom by purposefully dropping his Death Note– a book in which you write someone’s name to inflict death –on to Earth. The black book is found by the central character Light Yagami, a genius in highschool who’s quite bored himself. Light, a young man who despises the wickedness of the world, has a twisted revelation that by using the Death Note to kill off the world’s criminals, he could make it a better place and become Earth’s new “god”.
However, L, the greatest living detective, and the Japanese police, among whom is Light’s own father, soon begin their search for the killer of criminals. The mind games, the idea of justice, and the supernatural mixed with detective fiction, creates one of the most addicting TV experiences one can ever have.
Death Note hooked me by the end of the first episode: it managed to implant the most important thought in my head: “what happens next?” The second episode built on the first, and in the end, I watched the entirety of Death Note in about three days flat. It still is literrally one of the most intense marathons I’ve ever experienced! The first 25 episodes are nearly flawless and I have few complaints about the show in general!
Light is an amazing lead character because he’s both hero and villain, slowly going from one to the other. It’s easy to understand where he’s coming from, at least in the beginning. The character’s transformation throughout the show is fantastic and one of my favorites. I have to admit that I root for Light quite often, even though I don’t like what he’s doing. He’s smart, and I like to cheer for smart people; he also starts off as a regular, if brilliant, high school student, making him more relateable.
L, the world’s best detective, is also a fantastic character. L has brilliant mind and is full of fun quirks that make it difficult to ignore him when he’s on-screen. His messy exterior and love for sweets make for some fun contrasts to his serious job! In the anime fandom, he has an army of fangirls, and while I like his character a lot (I love most detectives as a rule of thumb), I can’t say I got as smitten as others (maybe because I was on the side of the guy who had the funny shinigami following him.)
L and Light’s thrilling mind battles claim several of my favorite moments in anime to date, and together they are easily the best part about the show.
The animation, although it looks older (being almost ten years old!) it still holds up very well today! I viewed this with the English dub and just about everyone was solid! The only voice job I could complain about would be Near’s voice, as it didn’t seem to fit the character–I have no complaints with anyone else. While the show’s second half is noticeably weaker, it manages wrap everything up and end with a fantastic bang! I still remember that ending!
The music is engrossing and fitting and the plot’s pacing is just about perfect, specifically during the first half. The supernatural elements are very intriguing and realized very well–it’s actually one of the best parts about Death Note! Death Note even manages to keep a great sense of humor, giving the entire story balance. The story has a great cast of characters too, and all are interesting to watch! I have just about zero complaints about the show’s technicalities when all is said and done!
As you probably noted above, I really love Ryuk, so I gotta talk about him here! Although I like Light and L (and Misa, when she comes along,) my favorite character is the shinigam; he’s an all time favorite! Ryuk is so foreboding and scary-looking, but he’s a great source of humor. I loved how detached he was from the havoc that was caused by his book. He tagged along behind Light marveling at the lengths he would go with his new found power, enjoying the adventure even as the police got closer. He even got Light to feed him apples! In many ways, Ryuk is the perfect comic relief, never detracting from the story or its dark vibe.
I love his line, “Humans are so…interesting!”
One of the themes of Death Note was justice and how both Light Yagami and L saw themselves as justice. I liked seeing this comparison made; one of them thought they were executing justice by murdering criminals, and the other one had devoted his every breath to investigating the world’s greatest crimes. The show did a nice job showing how something like justice can be perceived completely differently depending on the individual, and where those ‘perceived ideas’ can take us, if we follow them. Like, wow–this anime was great!
Many of you reading this have probably seen Death Note already, which speaks to the fact that it’s an anime classic. For those of you who’ve not seen it, this has been a great entry way for many people interested in anime because of its addictive story line. If you’re already interested in the detective/crime/thriller genres, this would be a great anime to watch! It’s still one of my favorites!
If you’ve seen Death Note already, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Who are your favorite characters? Was it your first anime too?
Star Value: 4.5/5 | Re-Watchability: High | Definition: A Classic