I had never watched any anime before I watched Death Note, but was convinced to watch it during its original run (2006-2007) when websites and forums I used to visit were constantly discussing it.
What drew me to watching Death Note was hearing about its storyline/concept. Based upon a manga of the same name, Japanese high school student Yagami Light finds a notebook. The front cover of this book claims whoever’s name is written inside will die in 40 seconds of a heart attack, unless another cause and date is specified. To prevent people with the same name dying, the user must visualise the person’s face as they write their name into the notebook.
Light is originally dismissive of the notebook and believes it to be somebody’s practical joke. Later, whilst watching the news and hearing of a criminal keeping a kindergarten and its staff hostage. Remembering the notebook, he tries it out, not expecting anything to happen. Incredibly, the notebook works, and the criminal suffers a heart attack, allowing the hostages to escape. Still in disbelief of the notebook’s power, he later witnesses a young girl being sexually harassed in the street. By writing down the man’s name and watching his death, Light confirms the Death Note is a real phenomena. Light begins to question the morals behind taking the lives of other humans (see video below), but comes to the conclusion there are many people in the world who do not deserve to live. Light’s envisions becoming the “God of a New World” through judging and punishing those who have committed serious crimes.
As the plot develops, many criminals begin die mysteriously of heart attacks. When the police are unable to solve the case, a secretive world famous detective only known as “L” hears of this and becomes part of the investigation. L becomes Light’s biggest enemy, although he cannot kill him as he does not know his real name. This starts a battle of wits between the two, as both are unable to work out the true motives of the other. There are many cliffhangers and situations which seem impossible for Light to get himself out of, which leave you guessing until the next episode.
The storyline is incredibly gripping. I have since watched this show seven times now, and each time certain scenes have affected me more and more, despite already knowing what will happen. The final scenes leave you slightly moved, knowing that you have again finished what I would consider to be one of the best shows ever made. As the credits roll, you are left to reflect on how Light changed, the things he has done to avoid being caught, and what eventually becomes of him.
Overall Rating: 10/10