I came across Death Note while looking for old episodes of Ren & Stimpy on Hulu. I must’ve been in a goofy mood, wanting to satiate some sort of twisted and demented sense of humor at the time. When I came across the images of the anime, I thought it looked interesting enough. It had been awhile since I really committed to watching an anime series all the way through. Anyone who loves anime like me knows that all anime is not created equal. As an art form, its arguably one of the most diverse fields out there with wide ranging optical displays and crazy storylines. Most are probably crazy in a bad way or maybe just too culturally different for appreciation on one level or another. Then there are some that simply blow away anything we could ever hope to get on our screens this side of the Pacific. The Death Note anime series is certainly the latter.
I won’t spoil the series with too deep of a synopsis. Basically, it involves an investigative teenage prodigy ‘L’, and a morally duplicitous teenager Light Yagami, on a collision course of epic proportions. The series deals with good vs evil in a very unique way. Light’s demonic ‘sidekick’ and his tool of the anime’s namesake offer some humorous and dark situations. The first half of the series manages to build up a level of suspense and dread as you wonder just how people are going to figure things out and stay alive. It’s not a heavy action anime piece, but a cerebral approach asking us what exactly is the right and wrong way to deal with criminality?
American filmmakers are tackling a live action adaptation on Netflix from what I gather. They’ll probably score well with the horror and suspense part of the story. I wonder if they’ll be able to include the complicated narrative of ambiguous morality within the anime. I found myself entranced while watching Death Note, hungrily devouring episode after episode. It gets pretty damn intense. The only way I can compare the feeling or experience is to what I get out of watching a good season of Homeland or 24 back in the day. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out this gem.