I am a little over halfway through Death Note and have enjoyed every second of it. It’s not often an anime lives up to all the praise it receives and I don’t know many anime touted as highly (and as often) as Death Note, but I was hooked and invested from the very first second of the very first episode and have yet to be disappointed, something I’m rarely able to say; though, I’m a little disappointed in myself for waiting so long to finally watch it.
If you don’t know what Death Note is, it’s about a young man, Light Yagami—I hate that his name is Light in the same way I hate that Baby’s name is Baby in Dirty Dancing—who sees a mysterious notebook fall from the sky one day during class, eventually picking it up once class is over, not knowing what it is or where it came from; this mysterious notebook is called a Death Note and it is much more than just a notebook. A Death Note is a notebook that, if someone writes a person’s name in it while picturing their face, that person will die of a heart attack 6 minutes and 40 seconds have passed; though, it is possible to change the way a person dies if such details are also written (and physically possible). Death Notes are traditionally used by shinigamis—gods of death—to kill humans before their time is up in order to extend their own lives, essentially making shinigamis immortal; however, humans can use Death Notes if they happen to come into possession of one—cue Light.
Instead of being freaked out by the power of this Death Note, Light sees it as a means to rid the world of every bad human, while elevating himself to god status at the same time. After testing the power on a man who’s holding a handful of people hostage proves successful, Light proceeds to kill off many criminals in a short period of time, eventually meeting Ryuk, the shinigami who was the original owner of the Death Note Light is using. After Ryuk explains a few things, Light continues down his path towards darkness…or light, depending on where you stand when it comes to delivering such “justice” with something as powerful as a Death Note. And that’s just the first episode.
Okay. I’m going to leave the story there because the story and the characters that inhabit it and push it forward is why Death Note is such an amazing series. Death Note could easily go astray by fetishizing the violence that is very much a part of its story, or overcomplicating itself with millions of threads that do nothing but tangle with one another, creating a confusing, jumbled mess, but that doesn’t happen because the writing is so smart and well thought out that I never question why something happens or how we get from point A to point B; even when I don’t see something coming at all, it makes perfect sense once I pause and think about it. It’s not easy creating a story that constantly keeps the viewer on their toes, but Death Note has done just that so far and, now that the story has taken a sharp turn, I’m even more interested in seeing how it all plays out. Death Note is why I watch anime, it’s why I love anime, and I’m really hoping it continues to be as great as it has been because if it is, well, I’ll have a new anime to throw into my list of all-time favorites.
But before I go, I thought I’d quickly cover a few other aspects of the show: 1) Both OPs are great, but the second OP, which I just saw for the first time, is crazy and ridiculous and nuts and I can’t help but absolutely love it. (The second ED is pretty damn great too.) 2) I’ve been watching the dub and it’s one of the best dubs I’ve seen, with, much to my surprise, not a single annoying performance…yet. 3) The art fits the tone well and I especially love the look of Ryuk (and his fellow shinigamis, who show up every now and again). 4) If you’re like me and somehow haven’t gotten around to watching Death Note all this time…change that, immediately.