Death Note

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Genre: Anime

Current status: Completed

Type: Cartoon

First non-music review! Which is not saying much because I’ve only reviewed two albums xD I’m gonna take a crack at a TV show… bare with me, it might be a rough-around-the-edges review (I’m not going to individually review all 37 episodes and waste everyone’s time xD so it won’t be as complete as my others.) First of all, this show is something that I definitely would say to use discretion on. I am not going to go into the full content summary: IMDB has already given it a pretty solid content review, which you can access here:

IMDB CONTENT RATING

That synopsis is pretty accurate, although the content rating bolds “All of the women were clothed” in referencing a scene where a character was looking at magazines that were supposed by be inappropriate, and while this is mostly true, they were BARELY clothed. So their modesty is exaggerated by the site.

THE PLOTLINE

The Death Note

This is the Death Note. The Death Note is the item the entire show is focused around, and it sets up the entire 37 episode story-arch. The Death Note falls into the hands of Light Yagami, a young high school student who sees this as a way to make the world a better place: by killing all of the criminals on the planet. What does it do? Well, all the holder has to do is write down the name of the person in the book, and in forty seconds that person will die of a heart attack. The Death Note can also be used to specify the time, place, and circumstances behind the death. There are many rules to the notebook that are described throughout the series, particularly at the beginning, when Light is first utilizing it. The plotline takes off as a detective catches Light’s trail and starts to close in on him, and it becomes a game of chess between the two that is engaging and exciting, and that builds momentum throughout the show.

THE CAST

Light

Light Yagami, the main character of the show, is a young senior in high school/college freshman during the show. He is the character the plotline is centered around. An interesting part of this show is that Light, while he seems to be the protagonist and is undoubtedly the main character, he is also the villain of the show. He obtains the notebook by complete accident, but he thinks that it could not have fallen into better hands. He desires to use it to clean the world of crime and violence, and make it a celan place. And, in the end, it is his plan to become the “God of the New World.”

RyukkThe next character is Ryuk, which, while he does not necessarily have a huge part to play in the series, is the reason the series begins. He drops the Death Note into the human world for one reason: he was bored. He is with Light throughout the show, and only people who touch a page of the Death Note can see him. While his appearance may make him look like an intimidating character, he is actually where most of the comic relief of the show originates, as his only intention in the show is to have fun watching the interesting developments centered around the Death Note. He is a “Shinigami,” or a “god of death,” which is one of the only spiritual parts of the show, besides his declaration that someone who uses the Death Note “cannot go to Heaven or Hell”.

L

“L” is the next main character on the list, introduced in the second episode and instantly making the viewer desire to watch the rest of the show, for some, in one sitting. He comes onto the scene with a brilliant and cunning attitude that leaves the viewers and the characters stunned, particularly Light. In the first episodes, we do not see his face, and know him only as a L in an old capital letter font, or part of a face shrouded in darkness. But when we do meet him in person, he provides a new, fresh character to a show that was already fantastic, increasing the engaging plotline and continuing to build momentum. The character is a fun, enjoyable character with a darkness to him that makes him all the more interesting. Alessandro Juliani, his dubbed voice actor, brings to life his quips and quirky personality that make the character so enjoyable. He goes by a code name (L), which gives him protection against the Death Note and allows him to conduct his investigation and show his face more safely, which is why the fan base knows him as L instead of giving him a proper name, although he does don aliases throughout the show. He is the favorite character of many viewers, this author included, and he also ranks as one of the most popular characters in the Anime world.

misa-misaMisa Amane is a blonde female who is introduced later in the show, and plays the unfortunate role of “dumb blonde” to the T, a complete embodiment of the concept in visual form. She is the most sexualized of the characters, often wearing skimpy clothing and sporting some dialogue that has innuendo or outright sexual implications. This dynamic in her character reduces its quality throughout the show, ruining what could otherwise have been a very engaging part of the cast. Her motive is driven by her unrelenting dedication and love for Light Yagami, giving her very little depth of character and a very shallow portrayal in the story. She does have her moments, but they are overshadowed by minimal character development, especially near the end of the show, where she is reduced to a whiny extra with very little personality and even less clothing, making her a sexual item alone instead of an engaging character. In my opinion, this character was one of the pitfalls of the show, one that could have been executed much better.

SPIRITUALITY

So how should we, as Christians, view this show’s contents? First of all, there is the existence of Shinigami, which are referred to as “gods of death”, who, while not immortal, are viewed as spiritual beings throughout the show. Also, while there is a mention of someone using the Death Note being unable to go to Heaven or Hell, there is also a frame that shows a rule from the Death Note in one episode that says that human beings go to “Mu,” which is a spiritual belief that there is nothing after death (the word literally means “nothingness”). And then there is the idea that Light desires to become the god of the “New World”. So there are definitely some warning signals for Christians throughout this show, including the question of whether a civilian killing criminals in an act of righteous judgement is an acceptable occurrence. The show does take a stance against it, but also leaves a few unanswered questions about Light’s morality lingering in the viewers’ heads. However, the show does have quite a few redeeming qualities: throughout the show justice is defended and moral stances by the protagonists generally agree with Christian morality, even though L’s methods sometimes skirt the edge of morality. The show also does raise some important questions about morality, particularly the death penalty and vigilantism, that Christians should wrestle with. And if you suspend your disbelief and allow the spiritual world of Death Note to exist within the show itself, not expanding into your own perspective on the world, the religious differences between the show and reality become obsolete, as they are just the writer’s fictional creations. Overall, I’d say the show’s redeeming qualities far outweigh the bad.

FINAL CONCLUSION

While the violence, sexual themes, and strained morality of the show do sometimes put a dampener on it, overall it is a thrilling psychological ride that takes you on a high stakes chess game played by two of the most brilliant characters in literature and written by brilliant authors who will dazzle you, surprise you, and play with your emotions. I definitely highly recommend this show, for Christians and non-Christians alike, if only for the high-quality way in which it is presented and the enjoyable and gripping conflicts that ride the show to its conclusion. I will warn the viewer that the show was extended past when the writers wanted to include it, and the turning point is very obvious. There is much debate about whether added on “part 2”, as it were, was a good or bad addition, and I will not influence your perception by giving you my own opinion. Overall, this show is definitely worth the watch, and quite possibly a buy. It has very high re-watch value, and I thoroughly enjoyed the series myself. By the way, if you start this show, you may want to give yourself a wide time cushion, because after episode 2, it’s hard to stop watching, as the show is one long connected story that is very addictive, as each episode builds the show’s momentum and most end on cliffhangers.

Age Rating: 17+

Quality Rating: 10/10

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4 thoughts on “Death Note

  1. Very interesting story and review. It would be helpful if you said it was an anime at the beginning of the review, because, until I looked a the site, I thought it was an actual TV show. Later in the review, just in passing, you mention anime in reference to L. Also, is this a show we can actually watch on TV or is it just a buy or computer version? Did you consider beginning your reviews with the name of the show, the channel or site, the appropriate age, the genre, and whether it was live or anime? That would help those of us who know little about anime to have a frame of reference while reading the excellent review.
    As for the spirituality of the show, from what you said, it sounds like no problem for Christians. Just because the authors wrote the characters to believe a certain religious perspective, is just that: the author’s thoughts. It can give rise to some interesting conversation among Christians, Christians and non-Christians, and non-Christians. Great review and I look forward to reading more.

    • I guess it would have been x) This show is technically anime, but it feels like a TV show, so I don’t think the distinction is hugely appropriate. And this show did air on television, but is hard to find nowadays because it was a little while ago. But I like that: I think next time I’ll put those details at the front instead of the back/mixed in. And I totally agree, I did not think the show’s different stance was offensive or something that should scare Christians away, but I also think it’s good to lay the religious stance of the show on the table, so that the viewer knows what he or she is getting into 🙂

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