John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Are You Watching Death Note Yet?

July 5th, 2009

What happens when you give a bored and over-achieving honor student the power to kill anonymously across vast distances?

If the answer involves Japanese heavy metal, high quality animation, and Gods of Death, you’ve got Death Note; an animated series from across the Pacific. It was recently dubbed to English and is currently distributed by my favorite late-night network, [adult swim].

A magical book literally falls to the earth and Light Yagami is the one to find it – the instructions printed on the book inform him that anyone whose name is written on its pages will be killed.

While skeptical at first, Light Yagami finds the temptation to punish the villain and save the victims is overwhelming.

Eventually seeing himself as an ideal arbiter of justice, Light begins his quest to rid the entire world of every single criminal and person he’s deemed evil or unfit to live in the utopia he dreams of.

[adult swim] is even generous enough to put significant chunks of the story online for sharing. Check out this video of Light realizing the scope of the power he’s acquired and how he initially justifies its use:

Philosophical questions, psychological drama, and even cliff-hanging detective-story themes run against a backdrop of religious and spiritual imagery. Light’s quest to create a perfect world is popular with some, but the pattern of his killings also attracts the attention of international law enforcement institutions who aren’t too thrilled with the concept of an independent and unaccountable angel of death.

As the magnitude of Light’s power grows, a mysterious and legendary detective known only as L makes it his personal mission to arrest Light and bring him to justice for all the deaths of criminals he’s been responsible for.

Hero or villain, savior or devil – you might not know who to root for through large parts of the story arc.

These clips come from the first episode or two – so don’t worry about this little introduction spoiling too much of the story. There are plenty of twists and turns and unexpected developments ahead!

Unfortunately the show is only airing at 3:30 am on Sunday mornings (Saturday night) but I understand that the DVDs are also available now. I’m personally waiting for the price to come down a bit or for a box set including all episodes to come out, but if you haven’t seen the series yet I’d recommend getting yourself a copy of it as soon as you can!

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