Death Note: Moral and Immoral Killings
By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor
If one day out of the blue you had the power to control the life and death of every human being, what would you do? This sounds like the premise of a supernatural crime drama and technically it is, but it’s also an animation and live action film series hailing from our friends over in Japan. Death Note aired in 2006 and quickly made its way over to the US. Even if anime isn’t your thing, this is a must see for lovers of thriller and psychological drama. My mother, who is not a fan of animation, could not wait for each week’s installment back when it aired on Adult Swim (now it’s available for free on Hulu and Netflix).
Death Note’s main protagonist is Light Yagami, a promising student with an interest in law enforcement and a strong sense of justice. Son of the chief of police, he becomes disillusioned as he learns more and more that some violent criminals are able to get away. One day he picks up a notebook that allows him to kill any person whose name is written inside of it. This prompts him to start killing criminals whom he feels the law had not passed proper judgment on, viewing himself as a pure force of justice. He is known as “Kira,” by the media and the police.
Opposing him is L, the world’s most intelligent detective who feels that Kira’s killings make him no better than a criminal because no one should have the power of a God. This is where things become interesting. Death Note pits two highly intelligent forces together in a game of cat and mouse where both believe he is acting out true justice. Now this sounds like a standard crime drama, but there’s a catch. The notebook belongs to a Shinigami, Japanese for god of death, which is what gives the book its otherworldly power. And there are multiple Shinigami which stirs things up even more.
Ryuk is the Shinigami who dropped the book that Light found because he is bored and wants to have some amusement. Another Shinigami in the series is Rem, who gives a notebook to a girl named Misa Amane who admires and follows in Kira’s footsteps, thus becoming the second Kira. Despite first impressions she herself proves to be an intelligent character who is willing to put it all on the line to carry out Kira’s sense of justice.
Can I say much more about it without spoiling the other twists and turns, unfortunately no. The series moves rather quickly and by the tenth episode shit hits the fan. It is a must see if you are a fan of NCIS, Dexter, Breaking Bad, or Supernatural. And if the animation part is just something you can’t get behind, there are 3 live action films which have a different ending from the series but that’s what happens when your source material is 37 episodes long. The manga is also available for download on kindle, so go check it out.