My brother Connor and I recently finished watching the anime Death Note, and though I'm not one who would throw all of his money and time at anime as the perfect medium for entertainment as some do, I have to admit that this is one of the best stories I've ever had the privilege of enjoying. Granted, it's not for everyone--it deals with some dark themes and intense situations that some people just don't enjoy in the stories they consume. But I had an absolute blast being immersed in the world of Death Note, and that means I have to write a review on it.
By no means a new story, Death Note was adapted as an anime between 2006 and 2007, with the original Japanese and an English dubbed version. We watched the English version, and though some anime purists insist that the only way to enjoy the art form is to watch the original Japanese version with English subtitles, if I'm going to sit down to watch a show, I'd rather not have to read a book at the same time.
For those of you who don't know what in the world this show is about: Basically, a Japanese high school student is at the top of his class, brilliant in every way, but bored out of his mind. He finds a magical notebook that can be used to kill anyone just by writing down their name and thinking of their face. And he basically decides to kill every criminal and become the perfect embodiment of justice.
If that description intrigues you, go, watch the show. You won't regret it.
I loved the voice acting in this show. The English actors were absolutely fantastic, and the show did a great job of making each character iconic and memorable not only by their voices, but through their mannerisms, dialogue, and facial expressions. By the end of the show, you feel as if you know these characters and what they're thinking. You can predict what they'll do, and when they do it, you either feel a thrill of exultation at having called it or you're depressed because they did something that you wished they wouldn't have done, but that was inevitable.
I obviously don't want to go into spoilers here, but the ending, I thought, was a perfect example of Orson Scott Card's MICE Quotient: The beginning of the show set up your expectations for what the ending should look like, and the end perfectly fulfilled those expectations. If you take a look at the beginning of the show closely, you can see exactly how it ends. But the rest of the show, the middle portions, do such a good job of convincing you that the ending might be different from what you thought that when you actually get to the last scene, you know how it's probably going to end, but in the back of your mind you're also thinking "I have no idea how this is going to end" and that's why it works so well as a story.
Surprising yet inevitable.
My favorite character is probably L, but I have to say I was disturbed by how well the writers of the show made me sympathize with our main character, Light Yagami, despite the horrible things he was doing. By the end of the show, I wanted him to win and become the god of a new world, despite my knowing that he was evil.
That, in my opinion, is the sign of a good story.
My second favorite character (maybe tied with Light) is Ryuk, the god of death that gives Light the notebook in the first place. He's hilarious in every way. Oh, for those of you who'd like to know--the characters in the picture above are, from left to right, L, Ryuk, and Light Yagami (otherwise known as Kira).
I could probably continue talking about this show for many more hundreds of words yet, but doing so would risk more spoilers, so I will close with this final statement: This show is great at making me love the characters despite all of the reasons that I shouldn't, be that lack of screen time or lack of any redeeming qualities.
This is a good, dark story--a psychological thriller about mind games. Move and countermove.