As if heroes and villains were so straight forward, if only the world was black and white. Anyone who reads comic books will know that a hero’s path is never a simple one. When I first watched Death Note, I always thought of Light as the villain of the story. Light is our narrator in to the crime ridden world in Death Note. In traditional storytelling, it is often the hero who narrates the story, but here much to my surprise, it’s the villain who tells the story.
Death Note is one of those anime’s where you can’t sit on the fence, you have to pick a side. Some see Light as a hero, other’s as a villain, it all really depends on your point of view. I’ve seen a lot of anime but Death Note is one of those anime’s that kept me at the very edge of my seat. Never have I loved and hated the villain of a story so much. Every time L got closer, I kept wishing Light didn’t get caught, and every time Light killed I wished justice would prevail. This is the only anime that I have ever seen that has made me switch sides so many times. That is the power of Death Note.
I’m currently reading the manga and it’s nearly impossible to put down. The artwork reminds me of film noir. When Light meets Ryuk, I was surprised to see so many names were already written in the notebook, I remember being shocked. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I wanted to believe that he’s just a good kid really. A part of me didn’t really want to accept Light for what he really was – a serial killer.
Many people gave up on Death Note after L’s death, but for me, already addicted, I had to continue. Light ends up believing his own ideology, that he is a god of this new world, claiming he is doing what others are afraid to do. But if you go back to the beginning you realise all this started due to boredom. Ryuk, the Shinigami in an endless existence. Light the straight laced high school student bored out of his mind.
The most tantalizing question that Death Note left me with was: what happens next? Thinking back on it, Light had created a world with no war, and not even any government has ever done that. So what would a world without Light look like? I imagine crime would once again rise, society would resume and the world that Near would find himself in wouldn’t be that much different from our own. Somewhere along the way, many months after I watched the ending, I somehow came to the conclusion that perhaps Light really was the hero of the story after all. Was it wrong to want to create a better world?
For Light to really change the world, he couldn’t play by society’s rules, in essence, Light had to become the bad guy if he was to do any good. Was there any humanity in Light? It’s hard to tell. Just as he could dupe the other characters, he also worked his spell on me. When I saw the ending, I just knew that I was watching something special. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see another anime this compelling again, but Death Note is an example of what a good anime can really do.