Watch it! Rent it, buy it, download it, watch the dub current airing on Cartoon Network Saturdays @ midnight – JUST WATCH IT! I can’t stress this enough, Death Note is one of the most unique and compelling stories I’ve ever seen. First off, the protagonist, Light Yagami, is as bad as they get. He’s an egotistical highschool student with illusions of grandeur, so when he finds a strange black notebook that claims to have the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it, naturally he gives it shot.
But once the notebook is used a human can neither go to Heaven nor Hell and that human will be forever ever followed by Shinigami (Death God). Heaven schmevan, Light intends to become the new God of justice.
At first only criminals need fear the vengeful hand of the vigilante the media dubs Kira (Japanese for killer) but soon Kira/Light begins striking down any that oppose him. Foremost in that list is the enigmatic detective known only as L, who gives a televised denouncement of Kira only to be stricken with a heart attack moments later. Yet just as Kira begins to celebrate his absolute control, a disguised voice interrupts, explaining the man Kira killed was a stand in.
In order for the Death Note to work it needs only a face and a name with that Kira can not only control when someone dies but how. And so begins the battle of wits between Kira and L. Oh, and Kira has one slight advantage – he’s the lead investigator’s son! Talk about drama.
If you like mysteries, the supernatural or moralistic examination; if you like shows where anyone can one can die and just about everyone does; or if you like to strong protagonists & antagonists – Death Note’s for you. It’ll keep you guessing and the characters who are clear archetypes, Kira the prim and proper class president and L the unkempt loner will definitely give you someone to hate and someone to root for. Hint you should be rooting for L. Truly L owns both the anime and movies with his eccentric behavior namely never wearing shoes, crouching on seats, and constantly eating sweets. By the end the one thing you are left wanting is more L. Well fear not, there’s an L movie prequel due out Feb. 2008.
On the other hand Kira’s the kinda guy you love to hate, always scheming, using people, and confident to a fault, which is probably the reason for the addition midway through the series of yet another Death Note owner, Misa. Although completely devoted to Kira/Light and just as willing to kill, Misa is fueled by emotion and her actions threaten to expose Light. And if that’s wasn’t enough drama for you, Misa’s Death God swears to kill Light if he hurts her.
Definitely watch the anime first but do not skip the movie! Like all movie adaptations, the story is condensed but there’s a lot of new stuff as it alters many of the deaths, their circumstances, and thus the story. Normally this is never turns out well but not so here.
For instance in the anime (spoiler alert)
L is not not in the last half of the series, three guesses why and the first two don’t count, and is replaced by two younger even more eccentric detectives. Whereas in the movie, L not only sticks around until the end but delivers a real fanservice victory, which should have L-lovers cheering.
One of the biggest changes in the movie is that of the relationships between Light, his father, and L. While the anime stresses an implicit trust and confidence of Mr. Yagami in his son, going so far as to detain himself alongside his son during Light’s temporary incarceration, but in the movie Light’s father offers no such signs of faith in his son. Instead Light’s father ransacks his son’s bedroom in a search for evidence that he is Kira. Even more stunning, is the change in relationship between Light and L, in which L confesses he is an orphan and tells Light that he is his first friend, is non existent in the movie. To the movie’s credit they didn’t simply take away L’s feelings rather they transferred his affections to Mr. Yagami, having L looking up to him as the father he never had. Finally, while anime Light only contemplates killing loved ones for his own ends, movie Light actually follows through. And that’s why the movie is required viewing it’s not just a condensed version of the anime, it’s like a ‘what if’ alternate world.
A final warning, Death Note deals with some deep shit and should only be viewed by the sane. There was a recent a case in Belgium where a murder victim was discovered with a Death Note (ANN) and even kids being suspended over writing classmates’ names in their own homemade Death Note (ANN).
But if you simply can’t get enough Death Note and aren’t concerned with the further alienation you can actually buy a Death Note notebook replica here GkWorld.com (no relation to L7World.com). There’s even a free online version here. Just don’t forget what they say in the anime, “a human who uses the Death Note can neither go to Heaven nor Hell.”