In the Shinigami world, there sits a Shinigami named Ryuk watching all the other Shinigami lay around. At the same time, in the human world, Yagami Light is sitting in a class of students who aren’t paying attention to the teacher. As he’s walking home reading, all around him are news reports about crimes and murders. Light feels that everyday is the same repetition, and both he and Ryuk feel that their world is rotting. In class again the next day, Light notices a black book fall from the sky outside the school. He goes to check it out and finds a notebook labeled “DEATH NOTE.” Inside is a list of instructions about how to use this Death Note and the very first bullet says that “The human whose name is written in this note shall die.” At first, Light thinks the notebook is trivial and puts it back down on the ground, but then he decides to take it after all. When he gets home, Light reads the rest of that page, which includes the following rules:
–The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
–This Note will not take effect unless the writer has the person’s face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.
–If the cause of death is written within 40 seconds of writing the person’s name, it will happen.
–If the cause of death is not specified, the person will simply die of a heart attack.
–After writing the cause of death, details of the death should be written in the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
Light recognizes that this means you can make a person die in comfort or in pain, but he still thinks that this is a practical joke of some sort and finds it all absurd. Despite this, Light gets off his bed and prepares to write a name into the Death Note. The thought suddenly occurs to him that if this does indeed work, it might make him a murderer. Playing on the TV nearby is a live news feed of a killer currently holding young children hostage. The broadcast displays the face and name of the murderer, so Light transcribes that name into the Death Note. With the 40 seconds and heart attack rules in mind, Light waits out the period of time, but sees that nothing happens. Just as he’s about to dismiss all this and turn off the TV, the program suddenly shows the children being released and the police storming the building. He is startled when news breaks that the criminal has died and even more surprised when word comes out that the criminal had suddenly collapsed. Light thinks that it must be a coincidence, but his thoughts get interrupted by his mother reminding him that he has to go to cram school.
Light wants to confirm with another test, and he reasons through possible targets. He can’t kill a really important person because there’s the possibility that the news could be kept secret for a while. And it’d be better if he doesn’t go after someone close to him. Still, Light starts to think that this world would be better off without some of the people here. It is outside a store where he’s browsing a magazine that Light finds his target: a thug and his friends trying to rape a woman. The thug had said his name earlier when he introduced himself to the girl, so Light writes down all the kanji variations of the name that he can think of, along with “accidental death.” Outside, the thug chases after the girl on his motorcycle as she runs away, but gets hit by a dump truck going full speed in the middle of the road. From this, Light realizes that the Death Note is genuine. Meanwhile, in the Shinigami world, Ryuk prepares to set out for the human world, explaining to his fellow Shinigami that he’s lost his Death Note. One of them remembers that Ryuk actually has two Death Notes, one of which he got from the Shinigami King. In any case, Ryuk approaches the portal, sprouts his wings, and dives in. He finds it raining when he arrives in the human world.
When Light returns home, his mother is waiting for the report of his placing on the nationwide practice exam. It seems that Light was ranked first again. She asks if he wants anything, but Light doesn’t because he knows that what he wants is already in his hands. By now, Light has actually filled two pages with names, and he laughs to himself as he reads over them. But this glee is interrupted when a scary figure appears behind him, causing Light to fall out of his chair in surprise. Ryuk identifies himself as the Shinigami who lost the Death Note, and he can tell that Light already knows that the Death Note isn’t a normal notebook. After Light gathers himself together and gets back up, he explains that he’s not surprised. In fact, he claims to have been waiting for Ryuk. Light explains that he no longer doubts the Shinigami’s Note and he shows Ryuk all the names he’s written in it. Ryuk has heard of stories in the past of the Death Note appearing in the human world, but this is the first time he’s seen someone do so much in five days.
Light is ready for whatever Ryuk is going to do to him, which he thinks will entail taking his soul. But Ryuk surprises Light by saying that he’s not going to do anything. It seems that when the Note reaches the ground of the human world, it becomes part of the human world. In other words, the Death Note now belongs to Light. Ryuk says that Light can give it away to someone else, but then he’d have to erase Light’s memories of the Death Note. When Light tries to confirm that there’s really no price to pay for using the Death Note, Ryuk suggests that the only one is the suffering and fear of being the human using it. He also mentions that when Light dies, he will write Light’s name in Ryuk’s own Death Note, but a user of the Death Note won’t be going to Heaven or Hell when he dies. Light’s mother suddenly knocks on the door, and when Light opens the door, she can’t see Ryuk at all. Ryuk explains that since Light is using a Note that used to belong to him, Light can see and hear him. The Death Note is the bond that connects the human Light with the Shinigami Ryuk.
As Ryuk starts gobbling down apples that were sitting on Light’s desk, Light asks why the shinigami chose him. Ryuk actually didn’t choose Light – he only dropped the Note, and Light picked it up by chance. That’s why Ryuk had written the “How to use it” explanation in the most popular English language. As for why Ryuk dropped it, it’s simply because he was bored. The current Shinigami world only has Shinigami napping or gambling, and they laugh at you for working hard if you write some names into the Death Note. Since writing Shinigami names into the Note doesn’t cause them to die, and since writing human names into the Note while in the Shinigami world isn’t amusing, Ryuk thought it would be more fun to come to the human world. It is at this point that Ryuk notices that Light hasn’t written a cause of death for any of the people save for one who got hit by the dump truck. Light thinks that the best part of the Death Note is that no cause of death means a death by heart attack. He’s been writing in names of criminals so as to gradually lower the level of bad guys. People will realize that bad people are being erased by someone, and the world will know of his existence. They will know that there is someone doing justice with his judgments.
Light admits that the reason he’s all this is the same as Ryuk’s: because he’s bored. He also reveals that at first he didn’t believe it, but that Note has the magical power to make anyone want to try it once. Back then, after he had gotten the thug killed by the dump truck, Light had stumbled home in the rain thinking about how he had killed two people. He had reached the conclusion that the world is rotten and it’s ok for the rotten to die. Light had gone from thinking that someone had to do it to thinking that only he could use the Death Note and change the world. That’s the motivation that caused him to kill countless criminals in the pages that he filled. He has a plan to cleanse this world by killing the criminals with heart attacks while killing troublesome people with disease. Light intends to create world of serious and kind people, and he thinks that he’ll become the god of this new world. Ryuk realizes that humans are amusing, just as he thought.
ED: 「アルミナ」 (Alumina) by ナイトメア (Nightmare)
Watch the ED! Mirror 1 Mirror 2 (11.9MB, XviD)
Well I wasn’t familiar with Nightmare before I heard them here, and their music isn’t bad. Still, I’ve never been a huge fan of visual kei bands. The opening and ending animation are quite good though, with lots of gray, putting focus on the red vs. blue between Light and L. Those carries carry over to the ED too, and I thought both were rather impressive.
Well the much anticipated premiere of DEATH NOTE didn’t disappoint. You can tell immediately that there’s a certain style to the series that makes it dark, but not in the violent sense. Light’s eyes seemed positively red sometimes, and it made him so much creepier than I remember him being in the manga. And Ryuk’s face alone is enough to scare little children. But seriously, the atmosphere is rather dark and there’s some great background music. I also thought Miyano Mamoru did a fantastic job voicing Light, which is a role quite different from his Tamaki voice in Ouran.
Thematically, this first episode of this series takes an interesting look at one person’s quest to cleanse the world and the notebook that makes it all possible. I personally think that Light’s ambitions are a little cuckoo, especially when he’s talking about being the god of this new world. But what I find more intriguing are the numerous rules of the Death Note past the five that Ryuk originally wrote, and how they play into the story as they are revealed little by little. You can find them all listed on Wikipedia, though I do warn that there are spoilers there.
Given that this delivered what I was hoping for, I’m almost positive I’ll continue to follow DEATH NOTE. I’m looking forward to seeing next week’s introduction of L.