Author Topic: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)  (Read 4747 times)

Dr. Ensatsu-ken

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Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« on: January 24, 2011, 11:38:00 PM »
I re-read the anime last year, and now I'm re-watching the anime, this time with the intention of watching the English dub the full way through. The series still fails to not entertain the hell out of me. I also thought that I'd bring up that most of the criticisms for this series are crap based on the fact that most of its criticism comes from stupid reasoning that doesn't even apply to this show.

First there are the people who call Death Note overly pretentious in that its trying to give off some deep messages about conflicting morality and utterly fails at it with its shallow and simply designed premise and story-line. Those people are idiots but are also half-right: it is very simplistic, but for me that's all for the better. The thing is, its NOT trying to be deep. Light and L are purposely written as 1-dimensional archetypes, and the story remains intense and interesting PURELY based on its cat-and-mouse type structure in the 1st arc, and the whole theme of arrogance and downfall in the 2nd arc. The author is CLEARLY aware of that, and has even referenced to and pointed out that fact at quite a few points in the run of Bakuman. The series knows what it is and doesn't attempt to be anything more or less, and for that it works out as a fast-paced thriller (and that's just what it is, a thriller). I like it because its still to this day one of the most entertaining manga/anime series for me. I don't care all that much about how deep or artistic a series is in comparison to just how much enjoyment I get out of it.

There is another group of people who hate the series solely on the 2nd arc. Now I can understand hating the 2nd arc. Fair enough. But there are people who go overboard and say that it also kills everything the first arc did right (which I wholeheartedly disagree with) and that the ending is stupid because Light should not have lost and they can't take the fact that he died so miserably (despite the fact that it was clearly foreshadowed since chapter 1 in that Ryuk actually SAID it would happen, just apparently no other person ever noticed this except for me).

As for me, though, people wouldn't like to hear it, but the truth is that a lot of people judge the 2nd arc unfairly. They compare it to the 1st arc and are upset because its not more of the same of that. Personally, while I would have rather the series ended with just 1 arc, I do think that the 1st arc needed to end before it dragged out, and thankfully it lasted the perfect length without feeling too long or short. Now, the author felt the need to continue the story for some proper closure, and for what its worth, while it could never be as good as the 1st arc was, it was certainly as good as it could probably get after that. The problem is that Near and Mello were weak new characters, but to me that didn't hold much relevance since the story was no longer about the cat and mouse mind games between detectives. Really, to me, it was about Light's downfall due to his arrogance and ever-growing ego, and I liked that the Task Force members actually got much bigger and more significant roles in the story, especially Aizawa. To me the 2nd arc was still highly interesting (and not just moderately entertaining, either) in 2 ways: one way was in how much more manipulative Light had become and how we got to see him bend more and more characters to his will, which leads to the other thing that made this arc interesting in that Light's risk of relying on others also slowly started to cause his luck to spiral downwards, in addition to his own arrogance.

Also, even for people who didn't enjoy the 2nd arc, I don't think that anyone in their right mind could deny that the ending for the series was perfect, as in its the only sort of ending for it which I could imagine. Aside from being foreshadowed since the very beginning of the series, it also tied everything together perfectly, IMO, and it really gave the series a sense of closure. In all honesty, I couldn't have imagined a better ending, in that it had everything going for it: It was intense, well-written, and wasn't dragged out or overplayed. The anime also added a bit of a nice emotional touch to it.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on this series. Admittedly it was my very first manga ever, but honestly after having re-read it several times, I can safely say that I don't personally overrate this series based on nostalgia, but I genuinely love it for what it is. I know its not NGE or something thought-provoking like a lot of other popular manga/anime, but really it excels in terms of entertainment value moreso than most other manga/anime that I have seen, and personally that counts a lot more than just being deep or thought-provoking does for me, personally.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 11:41:45 PM by Ensatsu-ken »

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2011, 11:51:55 PM »
I've never understood the depth criticism of Death Note. It's a noir, noir isn't about depth. It's about the mystery, the thrills, and the characters.

If you want to say there's a theme, it's that humans shouldn't try to play God. It's not deep or anything, but it's certainly there. Both as Light is given the power over life and death and is unable to become omnipotent, and how he essentially got away and still screwed himself over because he was deluded into thinking he was above everyone else. The ending (at least in the manga, since the anime ends with Light) implies that Light had it wrong. Kira in the end meant nothing, and the world still moves on. You can't change human nature and make the world a perfect place, all you can do is try your best to do the right thing and hope you can make the world just that bit better.

I'm not going to argue that it's deep, because it's not, but that's the point. Noir tends to have simple messages, and Death Note's was clear and concise.
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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2011, 12:05:09 AM »
I've never understood the depth criticism of Death Note. It's a noir, noir isn't about depth. It's about the mystery, the thrills, and the characters.

If you want to say there's a theme, it's that humans shouldn't try to play God. It's not deep or anything, but it's certainly there. Both as Light is given the power over life and death and is unable to become omnipotent, and how he essentially got away and still screwed himself over because he was deluded into thinking he was above everyone else. The ending (at least in the manga, since the anime ends with Light) implies that Light had it wrong. Kira in the end meant nothing, and the world still moves on. You can't change human nature and make the world a perfect place, all you can do is try your best to do the right thing and hope you can make the world just that bit better.

I'm not going to argue that it's deep, because it's not, but that's the point. Noir tends to have simple messages, and Death Note's was clear and concise.

This is a brilliant post, truly. This is exactly what I have always thought, but you managed to actually put it down into better words than I ever did, so good job on that. ;)

Yeah, basically Death Note (to me) was always just a series with a very simple idea. I think a lot of its entertainment and flair comes from its combination of this simple idea (which you perfectly mentioned) combined with a more complex overlay of plot-devices.

Let me just say since I didn't really clearly elaborate this in my last post, but I do love a good, deep story-line with complex, multi-layered characters and a lot of artistic value and symbolism to it, when its done right. That said, I also enjoy a story that is completely shallow in comparison, but purposely so in favor of trying to excel with an entertaining premise and characters, just as much. To me, Death Note is definitely the latter. Light and L are certainly not 3-dimensional characters nor are either really very moral (though Light is clearly portrayed as evil whereas L is the good guy who relies on somewhat dirty methods to catch Kira), but they are highly interesting characters based on their chemistry between one another. This is a series that thrives off of its presentation of simple story mechanics, and while its certainly not paper-thin shallow, it is purposely written at the level of a simple-shonen story in terms of its level of depth (which of course means that its not a deep story).

As Desensitized perfectly describes it, its noir. The characters don't really develop all that much except for the key Task Force members, but the main characters do excellently serve as great archetypes, which is what one might expect from a noir. As Desensitized perfectly explained, if anyone were to look into any messages that this story had, its the simple "humans can't play god" story that a lot of other noir and other deeper stories in general have addressed for centuries. In the case of Death Note, it excels at being a good series because its interesting. Lets not forget that the very first chapter started out with Ryuk and Light admitting that they started doing what they did out of wanting to kill boredom. To me, the series certainly excelled at not letting me get bored by introducing interesting plot-lines and characters. ;)
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 09:17:15 PM by Ensatsu-ken »

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2011, 06:02:36 PM »
Here's something I never get among both people who praise and criticize Death Note: Why does everyone try to evaluate Light's character as an anti-hero? He's clearly and without question portrayed as a villain. The author even stated in an interview that he's clearly evil with his own deluded God-complex. It pisses me off the most when people try to compare him to Lelouche and use Lelouche's slower development into corruption as to why he's a better written character. Now, normally I would agree with that, but Lelouche's development's execution is clearly overlooked by many people because its honestly a product of an amateurish level of writing, and at any rate, he shouldn't be compared to Light because they are 2 completely different type of characters. Light is a pure villain, plain and simple. He was intentionally written to have no remorse for his actions or sympathy for any of his victims, and he's made all the more cold-hearted by how easily he manipulates and uses people like Misa and Takada who are obviously in love with him, which he just completely uses to his advantage (once again, this is because when it comes down to it, he really doesn't give a shit about other people, but just has a demented Psyche reassuring himself that he is doing what he's doing for the greater good). People clearly forget that it was made abundantly clear at the beginning of the series that the real reason for why Light started doing what he did was out of sheer boredom (he really only gave himself a false sense of justice to what he was doing after his first couple of killings).

Honestly, if any character in Death Note could be labeled as an anti-hero, it would be L, because if you think about it, he's the guy who's doing the "right" thing, but not for the sake of doing the right thing, but only because it interests him. He clearly doesn't care too much about other people, and is easily willing to use and risk other people's lives only to further his investigation, yet he's still technically the good guy of this series by default, so really he's more fitting of the role of an anti-hero, since he isn't really a good guy but in the case of this series is still kind of doing the right thing in the wrong way.

I only bring this up because I feel like it leads to another unfair criticism of Death Note. People say that Light is a badly-written character because the author tries to make him an anti-hero but he gets corrupted ridiculously quick and is a completely selfish character. This would be a fine and fair criticism if the author actually intended him to be this type of character, but he's clearly just supposed to be "just a psychopathic serial killer who confuses himself with a God" as Near puts it, and in that regard the author did a brilliant job of writing for his character in that intended way.

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2011, 06:07:26 PM »
I think the only heroes in Death Note are the cops that work with L. They are the only ones with clear and noble intentions in the story. Light is the villain (I don't even know why this debatable, he kills people for his own selfish reasons) and L is an anti-hero doing the right thing for questionable reasons.

Again, another aspect of Death Note that's overblown more than it should be.
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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 06:20:52 PM »
A lot of aspects of Death Note are overblown, just because people like overanalyze things. Especially anime. Especially anime like Death Note.

Light and Lelouch have little in common because we're not supposed to sympathize with Light, or even like him all that much. That was present from the moment he appeared, when he was bitching about how bored he was. He's a jerk, to put it lightly, and that's how he should be interpreted as.
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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 06:57:12 PM »
Exactly, the author pretty clearly wrote him as an unlikable douche-bag intentionally. Lelouche is completely different as a character because the audience is supposed to sympathize with him, but Light was written so that nobody would sympathize with him at all.

And Desensitized is right, I also felt that the only clear "good guys" in the story were the Task Force members. In chapter 109 (well, its not especially chapter 109, but it takes place after the epilogue of the story and was released as a bonus chapter), Near even recounts L admitting (in a flashback) that he doesn't stand for justice, but just takes on cases that personally perk his interest. He doesn't really care all that much about the people who get hurt in the process.

And yeah, as Avaitor said, people over analyze just about everything when it comes to anime like this. In some cases, you can analyze the hell out of some series, such as NGE, but Death Note is clearly not written to be a deep and highly-layered series like NGE or anything else on its level of depth. I just find it dumb when both fans and haters alike try to look at Death Note as more than what it really is: an extremely entertaining thriller, nothing more, and nothing less.

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2011, 03:53:35 PM »
With all the main characters (people like Light, Ryuk, L, Misa, Near, Mello...), when comparing their sub voices to their dub voices, which voices do you guys prefer for each of them?

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2011, 06:46:31 PM »
Having actually watched both the sub and dub in fill, and without any real pre-conceived bias (as opposed to someone who watched all of one and only a few episodes of the other), here's how I personally feel about the voicesl.

Light- Dub (I like his sub voice a lot, as well, but Brad Swaile actually makes Light sound casual when he is putting on his fake "nice guy" act in front of everyone, whereas his Japanese VA makes it so freaking obvious that he's, well....just acting)

L- About equal but for different reasons (the sub is better at portraying L's montone, cold, and serious detective voice, whereas his English voice gives him a ton of sarcasm which also makes for a really fun voice to listen to)

Ryuk- Sub (nothing against Brian Drummond, but I just love Ryuk sounding like a Trickster in Japanese, which is how I always imagined him sounding back when I was reading the manga before Death Note was animated)

Misa- Both are annoying as hell, really, but I guess that's the point with her character....

Near- Dub

Mello- Sub (Nozomu Sasaki = voice actor of Yusuke from YYH and Tetsuo from Akira)

Other supporting/minor characters- About equal, I suppose

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2011, 07:07:12 PM »
Having actually watched both the sub and dub in fill, and without any real pre-conceived bias (as opposed to someone who watched all of one and only a few episodes of the other), here's how I personally feel about the voicesl.

Light- Dub (I like his sub voice a lot, as well, but Brad Swaile actually makes Light sound casual when he is putting on his fake "nice guy" act in front of everyone, whereas his Japanese VA makes it so freaking obvious that he's, well....just acting)

L- About equal but for different reasons (the sub is better at portraying L's montone, cold, and serious detective voice, whereas his English voice gives him a ton of sarcasm which also makes for a really fun voice to listen to)

Ryuk- Sub (nothing against Brian Drummond, but I just love Ryuk sounding like a Trickster in Japanese, which is how I always imagined him sounding back when I was reading the manga before Death Note was animated)

Misa- Both are annoying as hell, really, but I guess that's the point with her character....

Near- Dub

Mello- Sub (Nozomu Sasaki = voice actor of Yusuke from YYH and Tetsuo from Akira)

Other supporting/minor characters- About equal, I suppose

About the same. But I think I'd go dub for Ryuk and sub for Near.

I might also lean toward the dub with L. I understand and appreciate what their intent was, but the completely monotone voice doesn't work for me as much.

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2011, 07:15:30 PM »
Also Ensatsu-ken, I was reading the opening post. Can you explain this part? :)

As for me, though, people wouldn't like to hear it, but the truth is that a lot of people judge the 2nd arc unfairly. They compare it to the 1st arc and are upset because its not more of the same of that. Personally, while I would have rather the series ended with just 1 arc, I do think that the 1st arc needed to end before it dragged out, and thankfully it lasted the perfect length without feeling too long or short. Now, the author felt the need to continue the story for some proper closure, and for what its worth, while it could never be as good as the 1st arc was, it was certainly as good as it could probably get after that.

You mention that you would of rather them end the series with one arc. But how could they have done that? I feel like the Near & Mello arc was needed.

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2011, 07:33:33 PM »
Montone L in Japanese isn't boring at all, though, and his VA is actually very talented to keep him interesting for such long monologues. Its a type of montone that sounds fitting for the character rather than tedious to listen to (also, a fun fact is that its the same seiyuu that does the voice for Usopp in One Piece, and if you know anything about that character you'd realize what an odd contrast in vocal range those character have compared to one another). Also, his English voice tries to keep a montone too, but since that would have ended up sounding too boring in English the the English VA director cleverly had him add in more sarcasm to keep him sounding witty. That's why I like both voices.

You mention that you would of rather them end the series with one arc. But how could they have done that? I feel like the Near & Mello arc was needed.

Yeah, I feel that after they killed off L the series could only naturally go downhill a little from there. I still say that the 2nd arc is as good as it could be without L opposing Light, but at the same time, the fact that the author couldn't come up with a character that could top L made it impossible for the 2nd arc to be as enjoyable as the first arc. The author seems to have realized this himself and even has Light comment on it (in how he's disappointed with Near's inferiority to L, since he actually saw L as a true rival). Simply put, no other character in the series on their own felt like a worthy foil to Light, nor could they even come close to having the same impact that L did by himself. While I don't hate Near or Mello like most other people do, neither of them really ever managed to impress me at all, and they simply just felt passable as detectives that could bring down Kira with what was quite honestly a lot of luck (which I can say looking back on the series, now). Personally, my ideal ending would have been L defeating Light, but the author decides to let Light win against L, so I can understand why a 2nd arc was needed to have Light experience his downfall, but at the same time if he had met his downfall at the hands of L it would have been a much more satisfying ending to me.

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2011, 08:11:42 PM »
Montone L in Japanese isn't boring at all, though, and his VA is actually very talented to keep him interesting for such long monologues. Its a type of montone that sounds fitting for the character rather than tedious to listen to (also, a fun fact is that its the same seiyuu that does the voice for Usopp in One Piece, and if you know anything about that character you'd realize what an odd contrast in vocal range those character have compared to one another). Also, his English voice tries to keep a montone too, but since that would have ended up sounding too boring in English the the English VA director cleverly had him add in more sarcasm to keep him sounding witty. That's why I like both voices.

My mistake. I didn't mean to say "boring". You're right that he does it well. I just prefer the dub's sarcasm over the sub's well done monotone. ;)

Yeah, I feel that after they killed off L the series could only naturally go downhill a little from there. I still say that the 2nd arc is as good as it could be without L opposing Light, but at the same time, the fact that the author couldn't come up with a character that could top L made it impossible for the 2nd arc to be as enjoyable as the first arc. The author seems to have realized this himself and even has Light comment on it (in how he's disappointed with Near's inferiority to L, since he actually saw L as a true rival). Simply put, no other character in the series on their own felt like a worthy foil to Light, nor could they even come close to having the same impact that L did by himself. While I don't hate Near or Mello like most other people do, neither of them really ever managed to impress me at all, and they simply just felt passable as detectives that could bring down Kira with what was quite honestly a lot of luck (which I can say looking back on the series, now). Personally, my ideal ending would have been L defeating Light, but the author decides to let Light win against L, so I can understand why a 2nd arc was needed to have Light experience his downfall, but at the same time if he had met his downfall at the hands of L it would have been a much more satisfying ending to me.

I have to say, I think the live action film series had a great ending, even though the quality of the films themselves was arguable. If you remember, in the end, L wrote his own name down to prologue his life, faked his death, defeated Light, and died peacefully. I just found it to be a brilliant change and, had the series been one arc, I think that would have been good.

But as things are, I like that they made the second arc. I feel like Light was the only center character, and it was basically about his degeneration. He ruined himself moreso then Near and Mello did.

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2011, 08:13:18 PM »
I was always waiting for someone to call L "Mr. Gaeta" in the English dub... :whuh:

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Re: Death Note (spoilers-a-plenty!)
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2011, 08:55:20 PM »
I was always waiting for someone to call L "Mr. Gaeta" in the English dub... :whuh:

I guess the dub director never watched BSG before. ;)