The anime based on the Death Note manga finally appears. I haven’t read the manga series, so I’ve only got a passing familiarity with he story. So I was looking forward to the anime (and the movie if it ever gets released Stateside … released not remade by Hollywood). The show opens with the world of the Shinigami (gods of some sort). We some Shinigami sleeping or gambling. Finally the camera lands on Ryuk who’s off, brooding by himself. Next we see straight A student, Light Yagami(?) in class. We follow Light walking through crowds while news reports are played about murders. In a split screen between Light and Ryuk, they think to themselves that day after day nothing changes. They pretty much think that their worlds are rotten.
Then we see Light in his class (presumably the next day) and while he’s staring out the window he sees a book fall onto the school yard. After class he goes and picks it up and sees that the book is a blank notebook with the title “Death Note” on it. At first he thinks its a joke but takes it home anyways.While at home, he finds instructions on how to use the notebook. They are:
- The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
- This note will not take effect unless the writer has the subject’s face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.
- If the cause of death is written within 40 seconds of writing the subject’s name, it will happen.
- If the cause of death is not specified, the subject will simply die of a heart attack.
- After writing the cause of death, the details of the death should be written in the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
Still believing it to be a joke, he almost writes down a name, but pauses, wondering if he’ll become a murderer if he writes someone’s name in it. He still thinks its a joke. To test if the book is true, he writes the name of a hostage taker that he hears on a news program on his tv. 40 seconds later, the hostages come running out and its reported that the hostage taker is dead of unknown reasons. Even though he’s shocked, he thinks its a coincidence. His mother reminds him that its time for cram school so he packs the notebook up. It at this point that he gets the idea to only write down the names of criminals.
On his way home from cram school, he sees some motorcycle gang members raping a woman. He over hears the name of the leader and hides in a convenience store where he writes down the leader’s name and how he’s going to die. The woman breaks free and runs away. the leader follows after her on his motorcycle only to be hit by a truck. Which is what Light wrote in the notebook. Finally, he’s convinced that the notebook is real and that he has the power of death over someone.
We then see Light coming home and going to his room where he flips through the notebook, laughing at all of the names he’s written. He’s surprised by Ryuk who claims that Light is enjoying using the book. Even though he’s surprised by Ryuk, he’s not scared by the visit since he knows the book is supernatural. Ryuk explains that once a Death Note falls to the Human world it belongs in the Human world. Ryuk also explains that since Light found the book, its his to keep or to give to another human, but if he gives it to another human, he has to erase Light’s memory concerning the book.
Light wonder’s about the price he has to pay for using the book. Ryuk tells him that the only price he’ll pay is that he won’t go to Heaven or Hell. Ruyk tells Light that he’s the only one who can see Ryuk because of a bond between Ryuk and Light through the Death Note. We also see that Ryuk discovers a love for apples that were left by Light’s mother. While Ryuk is eating the apples, Light asks him why he dropped the Death Note. Ryuk answers that he just dropped it somewhere and didn’t single out Light. He dropped it because he was bored. Which is the same answer that Light gives as to why he used it.
While I was looking forward to this show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was a good episode and I hope the rest of the season is just as good. I’m pleasantly surprised that I liked it a lot. While I know that I was going to be impressed with Kanon, I didn’t know that I’d be impressed with Death Note. The artwork is good, the moral implications and how the show handles its great. Because of his boredom and disgust about the crime in the world, he used the Death Note. We see Light go through the process of justifying his use of Death Note, just like a politician. Because he’s targeting criminals and those people he thinks of as rotten in an attempt to build a better tomorrow, a better world with only people that he considers good. Hell, let’s call it a utopia.
I think there’s a flaw in Light’s plan to build a world filled with people according to his standards of good. Nature abhors a vacuum, so where Light kills off a criminal another will appear. And so on and so on, until the criminal might not be an actual criminal, but won’t measure up to Light’s definition of “good”. And if a Death Note user doesn’t go to Heaven or Hell, where do they go? Do they become a Shinigami? Or something worse? I hope the producers of Death Note maintain the moral aspect using a Death Note, even if its going after criminals. If they do, then this will be a great, cerebral show to keep watching. I’m looking forward to the next few episodes.