We’ve all had dark, sinful thoughts about ridding the earth of all it’s profanity and wickedness. We shy away from verbalizing thoughts like these as we worry about the consequences of voicing out loud our opinions on the current justice system. But Light Yagami no longer inhibits himself with thoughts such as these. He seeks to confront these failures within the judicial system once he comes into contact with a notebook from a supernatural realm – The Death Note. Little did he know that reading the instructions within the notebook would turn his life around.
The book had the power to kill the person whose name was inscribed within its pages. Signing his name in blood, Light Yagami becomes the owner of the Death Note and begins his journey as ‘Kira’- a KILLER, killing all the criminals of the world in order to create a utopian society without evil. Light then befriends a Shinigami (a Japanese death god) named Ryuk (former owner of the Death Note) who accompanies him on his killing expeditions for entertainment.
Watching the show gives you, the audience, a little taste of the Japanese religion, culture and folklore. The Death Note anime show is based on the manga, a Japanese graphic novel of the same name. You are introduced to the way the Japanese tell stories and their beliefs systems. The Shinigami originates from the Buddhist religion that believes in Mrtyu-mara, a demon of death that is assumed to hang onto a soul until the individual takes their own life. This is referred to as the Shinigami. Ryuk hangs around Light in wait to see his eventual fall.
The series has a way of getting its hooks in you very quickly and before you know it, you’ve just binge-watched over ten episodes in a single sitting. As the audience, you tend to ignore the auto-play, allowing the next episode to start in the eagerness to find what happens in the next episode. Its popularity is most definitely because of this cat and mouse chase between an anti-villain and a “hero”. If you are a fan of things that keep you on the edge, Death Note is bound to have you entertained. There’s a constant battle between Light Yagami and the head detective in investigation of the Kira Killings – L. Each side seems to be two steps ahead of the other. Other times they’re still so close catching the other.
Apart from the obvious entertainment provided, the series opens up a larger discussion in the mind of the viewer. You are often contemplating who’s side you are rooting for- the vigilante that rids the world of killers and rapists or L, the detective willing to do anything to stop Kira’s revolting against the existing justice system. For the most part, you regrettably want Kira to succeed to killing all the murders, rapists and cons of the world. When Light Yagami’s journey begins to go overboard with his plan, you can no longer see black and white, having no choice but to accept the characters grey areas.
What the show does through its plot line is make you question the idea of vigilantism. Is it right for an individual to take justice into their own hands? How does one ensure justice when the system in place is failing? These are questions that viewers frequently pondering about but are still incapable of coming up with a concrete answer. But the more pressing mystery is – What would you do with a Death Note?