I was one of those people who thought that Death Note was a very over-rated anime. There was so much hype around it and even people who had never watched anime enjoyed it.
(If you want a short synopsis without spoilers check out this page. )
Now, I think I know why that is the case. You see, Death Note sends you on a thinking spree and sets your brain working on your perception of justice.
Light Yagami is a high-schooler who takes up the mantle of cleansing the world from evil. He uses the Death Note, a notebook from the world of Shinigamis (reapers) and writes down the name of criminals in order to kill them.
L or Ryuzaki is a well-renowned detective. Along with his trusted assistant Watari, he works alongside a special forces team to work out the identity of Kira or the killer who has been butchering the criminals.
In the first few episodes, it felt like Yagami was doing the right thing. After all, we secretly yearn for justice when we see all the evil happening around us but when Ryuzaki stages someone to impersonate him and warn Kira through a broadcast, Yagami kills him with no hesitation since he saw L as a hindrance to his plan.
Although the guy dies (he was already on death row), the broadcast helps Ryuzaki narrow down the location of Kira. Initially, he lets the impersonator say that the broadcast is a global one and when the guy drops dead, he reveals that it was a local broadcast and warns Kira to watch out. In this writer’s opinion, it was a simple but brilliant plan.
Now, this is where the story gets interesting and an inner sense of conflict envelops you. Did Light do the right thing by simply eliminating the person for the greater good or was his sense of justice messed up because he killed someone who was just trying to do his job?
Throughout the series, Yagami uses the notebook to carry out his plan right under Ryuzaki’s nose while he vehemently denies any allegations towards him. To add to the confusion, a second Kira appears out of nowhere. After a few killings, one can clearly see that the other Kira is nowhere as smart as the first and it appears as though they’re trying to contact the original Kira.
When the unwanted killings have stopped, he assumes that the second killer has met with the first and immediately apprehends Amane Misa, a model and Light’s current girlfriend since she’s the new addition to his life.
Although his speculations are right and he keeps her in confinement, Light arranges for Misa’s Shinigami, Rem to convince Misa to give up the ownership of her notebook. She does the same while Light goes into confinement voluntarily. During this time, Light also relinquishes his ownership over the Death Note.
Later, when Ryuzaki is convinced that Light and Misa aren’t the killers, Light and Ryuzaki work together to find out who has the Death Note. When the duo apprehend the current holder of the Death Note, Light touches the notebook and remembers everything upon touching it. He kills the current Kira with a piece of paper from the Death Note that he previously hid in his watch.
After this episode, Light Yagami completely outshines Ryuzaki with his strategy and even gets him killed after making L suspect Amane Misa. He uses the fact that the Shinigami Rem is in love with her and makes him write his name on the Death Note in order to kill him.
However, L’s successors, Mellow (M) and Near (N) are back after a few years in order to re-open the Kira case. After a long battle of wits and deliberately killing his father, Light is finally caught by Near who manages to prove that Yagami is the killer. He finally dies when Ryuk writes his name on the Death Note after being shot by Aizawa.
This anime is basically an intellectual feast for anyone who loves taking a ride down the valley of debates and deep thinking. Although in the beginning, Light was all about justice, towards the end, him winning the battle became more important than justice itself.
My verdict is that the anime is worth the hype and you should definitely watch it if you want to tickle your brain cells. If the whole remembering and forgetting thing confused you, you might want to check out how the Death Note works.