Death Note is an anime series based on the manga series of the same name written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The series follows a genius high school student named Light Yagami, who finds a supernatural book previously owned by a Shinigami(God Of Death) that allows the user to kill anyone by just writing their name on the notebook, while having an image of their face in mind.
The series centers around Light’s attempt to create a new world free of all crime by killing all criminals in the world, even at the cost of his soul, as he aims to be the “God of the new world”. To the world, he begins to be known as Kira, and seen as a symbol of justice. Light’s activities as Kira attract the attention of a genius and weirdly eccentric detective simply known as L. L and Kira interact in a battle of wits and a game of cat-and-mouse that question the very definition of ‘Justice’.
Now, I think it’s worth mentioning just how absolutely fast paced the story is, and it never misses a beat, not even for a second. It’s only until the end of an episode that I actually remembered to breath, and by that time, I was quickly starting the next episode. The show builds itself in tension-filled moments and intriguingly informative connections between what the characters are thinking and what they’re doing. They keep the viewer engaged, and the conflict is never dull, even in subtle character development segments. The show moves very smoothly and the two main characters, Light and L, each have a reason as to why they do what they do, and in my opinion, the story does not necessarily have a villain, which is rare in an anime. The story’s most compelling aspect is in the psychological effect it has on its viewer, as even their action scenes have a psychological and deeper structure than the car chases and gun shots conveyed on screen.
The story puts its characters in very tense situations that keep the viewer at the edge of their seats, and every episode feeds into the next, and contains information that is imperative to its main story arc.
The series is thematically dark in its conveyance of good and evil, and the corruption of absolute power. The protagonist, Light Yagami, goes through a dramatic moral transformation throughout the entire series. In the beginning, he is seemingly innocent and for the most part, reluctant to having the power to take a life. The more power he gains as Kira, the more like Kira he becomes, and the aptly named Light is taken over by his dark alter ego. The compromising conditions that the individual characters go through create an immensely grim atmosphere and makes entertaining, psychologically thrilling character interactions.
It is such an intense thrill-ride from the very first episode, and is an incredible story of a clash of ideologies extremely well-told from beat to beat, scene to scene, and from episode to episode. The tension in every scene between said battle of ideologies create cognitive dissonance in the mind of the viewer which completely immerses them in the story. It’s this dissonance, that keeps the series extremely well-paced, and us, hooked. The tension-filled beat-to-beat character interactions blend into an entire episode on a granular level, which maintains the viewer’s interest to the entire story. Its seamlessly dramatic tension-filled exposition cause extremely suspenseful moments that feed into the larger narrative.
To conclude this review, Death Note, as it stands, is my favourite anime series of all time. For me, it is one of the smartest anime ever made. It is definitely in my Top 5 most dearest and favourite anime I’ve ever watched. I watched the entire 37-episode series five times, and it is among the most important television shows in my life. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like intelligent storytelling, and dark, weird, witty, eccentric characters. To me, it is the most brilliant depiction of a game of cat-and-mouse in all of entertainment!
The Geek Writer