The Japanese series Death Note premiered as a TV series in 2006 and soon became the most popular anime series in the world. Death Note first started as a manga series in 2003 but the concept was such a hit that the makers decided to take it to television.
What is Death Note about?
Created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note is the story of a genius teenager Light Yagami who comes in contact with a notebook called Death Note. Upon discovering it, Light realises that he can simply write anyone’s name in the notebook and that person will die. Light starts using this power as he plans to rid the world of all evil but problems start arising when he turns into a megalomaniac.
The show includes many aspects of Japanese mythology. The supernatural creatures known as ‘shinigami’ are a pivotal part of the show. They are the carriers of the Death Note and can only be seen by the owner of the notebook.
As Light continues to murder hundreds of criminals just by writing their names, police investigation intensifies. L, the master detective, then enters the scene. From here on, the story turns into L vs Light as L suspects Light to be the one who is killing everyone but has no way of proving it.
What works for Death Note?
Death Note is a crisp 37 episode anime series where the plot progresses at a brisk pace. Every episode has an approximate duration of 22 minutes but there is a plot twist to look forward to every few minutes. Since the protagonist-turned-antagonist of the show is a teenager and not a hardened criminal, the show allows him his time to find the way to commit the perfect murder but the over-arching theme of good vs evil plays an important role here.
For the audience who are not aware of Japanese mythology and culture, Death Note has a few characters that might seem weird but the show does a fabulous job of introducing these characters. Shinigamis of different personalities, the back story of Death Note, the rules that come with the notebook are all explained in crystal clear terms in the organic storytelling.
What does not work for Death Note?
Death Note had a great start but unfortunately, the show lost its momentum after the death of one of the key characters. After the 25th episode, the show suffered quite a lot since one of its two lead characters died and the balance that the anime had maintained with its good vs evil storyline went for a toss.
Soon after the 25th episode, many new characters were introduced but none of them could fill up the void that was left behind. With multiple villains erupting, the show’s central focus was lost. Despite the very disappointing episodes towards the latter half, the show managed to give a strong finish.
The follow-up movies
The anime series was a runaway hit and led to the making of video games and other merchandise based on the series. Japanese live-action films based on the series – Death Note, Death Note 2: The Last Name, L: Change the World, Death Note: Light Up the New World were released after the fandom of Death Note kept increasing. A Japanese web series titled Death Note: New Generation was also released. A live-action television series was also created in Japan.
In 2017, Netflix released an American live-action adaptation of Death Note but the film did not receive good reviews. A sequel is currently in the making.
Death Note is arguably one of the most popular anime series in the world. In case you haven’t watched any anime yet, this is the perfect introduction to the genre.
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Death Note is streaming on Netflix.