“Because I was bored.”
It has been over two years since I watched Death Note, and so my review will only be limited to my own sense of what the show aimed to do, albeit without the substantiative plot details.
Death Note is the anime I recommend most often to friends who aren’t as familiar with anime, because I think it exemplifies a core value proposition of the animation medium. It has a fantastical premise – shinigamis (Grim Reaper) control the life and death of humans on earth. They can see the remaining lifetime of every human like an expiration date, and they have the right to exercise a “Death Note” which can end a human’s life. One day, one of the shinigamis, Ryuk, dropped a Death Note to earth out of boredom. It was picked up by one of Japan’s top high school students, Light Yagami, who was also no stranger to boredom. Thus, he begins his quest to create a new world where he alone is the God that delivers judgement to all criminals and wrongdoers. While the premise resembles more of a fantastical novel, the plot’s progression is entirely logical, void of any major plot holes. The entire ICPC (International Criminal Police Organization) including Japan’s own police, headed by Light’s father, work to capture this mass massacre “criminal” whom they denoted Kira.
As you can guess from this premise, the story is driven by themes of gray morality, interpersonal relationships, and good vs. evil. It features one of anime’s most beloved detectives, L, who ultimately befriends Light. He alone has the intelligence to best Kira, but will that be enough against Light’s machiavellian plan? Was Light a symbol of light, or darkness?