Death Note’s animation isn’t excellent, but it’s usually good. From time to time there is a visually striking scene and the opening scene of this episode with the striking lighting is a great little piece of animation.
And just when the show seemed like it was going to be less about killing, Kira ends up killing a bunch of TV anchors who oppose him. It seems he’s going to try to usher in his new era by silencing all public opposition. But then something unexpected happens: Kira kills a cop without a name. What? He has the TV stations broadcast an ultimatum to the cops to cooperate and give up L or he’ll start killing high-ranking police personnel. Soichiro, Light’s Dad, storms the police station and stops the broadcast, setting the tone that they won’t work with Kira.
Then comes one of the best twists of the show so far (and that’s saying something), all of this is done by a poser. Kira finds it amusing that someone else might rat out L for him and L figures out quickly that this is the behavior of someone not quite as smart as Kira. The episode ends with us seeing this mystery person, a woman, and we discover that she has her own Death Note and Shinigami eyes. What a twist!
L puts Light on the case while still suspecting that Light could be Kira. Light ends up making the same deductions as L, and L decides that the best course of action is to let Light play the real Kira to this fake Kira. Once again, L is finding great ways to keep Light on the backfoot and in the perfect position that his whole illusion might fall apart. It’s a magnificent, elegant balancing act and so far the writing has made it teeter right on the edge of all falling apart, but Light hasn’t fallen yet.
The second Kira does spill the details about the Shinigami, and L flips out, not certain he can believe in such a thing. Light is worried, but suggests that it could be a code that only the Kiras would understand. L seems to buy it. If L doesn’t accept the supernatural, then how does he think Kira is killing people? So far the show has been enamored with L searching for the who, but not so much struggling with the how. Shouldn’t that issue be a large part as well?
We learn the fake Kira is Misa Amane (Aya Hirano), a model who is everything Light is not: a bubbly woman who is flippant about her powers and seems to operate more on a whim than any grand master scheme. Rem (Kimiko Saito), her Shinigami, tells her a fascinating story about how a Shinigami can die: ending the life of a human instead of simply taking off time. A Shinigami did this to save Misa.
The episode ends with both Misa and Kira at the diner, sitting at separate tables wondering who the other is. It does make me wonder about the geography of the show. So far, everyone is Japanese and located in the Tokyo area. Give how Light, L and Misa all have a sense of global reach in their power, it seems strange that all of them just happen to be from the same place and around the same age. Fictional conceit might dictate such a coincidence, but I wonder if the show will ever bother to address this.
The second Kira wants to meet at a ballgame, L and Light really wonder if this person is that dumb. Surely if they announced such a fact, the game would be canceled. However, there is a code amid the stupidity that Light discovers, but it hardly matters because we discover that Misa set up the whole thing as a way to get a drop on the real Kira by having him pass by a place she was waiting. She knows it’s him because oddly she can’t see the day he dies.
I wonder how much the show is going to have to bend and twist rules to continue to build and sustain conflict. Ryuk already told Light he could see the day he dies, so why can Misa with the eyes of a Shinigami not see the day Kira dies? It’s too convenient to suddenly have this information become unavailable because it leaves another question unanswered.
I’m not sure how I feel about Misa. She comes across as the stereotypical bubbly anime girl. Also, she’s pining way too hard for Kira/Light. She’s also the one character in the show so far who lets her emotions dictate her actions more than her intellect, and so of course she’s the first major female character, which is sexist.
However, she can be clever. When she introduces herself to Light this episode, he’s quick the scold her, but it’s clear she’s thought more out than he anticipated. But she also comes across as way too submissive and cooperative to Light. What does she get out of this?
She does say Light killed the person who killed her parents, but it hardly seems like the kind of thing that would garner such blind devotion. Perhaps she’s just not as selfish as everyone else, but her devotion to Light seems almost religious in nature in certain moments.The gist of it is that she agrees to help Light see L’s real name.
Also, not only is eating chips over the top in this show, hugging is as well. Epic signs of affection!
It’s not surprising that Light is already planning to kill Misa once he gets L’s name. Affection has no place in his new world order. Misa is more interested in having Light as a boyfriend than in their potential potency as two owners of Death Notes. In fact, she’s so obsessed with him, she claims she’ll kill him if she sees him with another girl. Oh great, one of those girls.
And then Light, being a great diplomat, threatens he’ll kill Misa if she won’t do what he wants, and then Rem, Misa’s Shinigami, threatens to kill Light if Misa dies. Sheesh, people. Certainly there has to be a solution that isn’t kill this person because they don’t do what you want. It does put Light in a bind where he has to keep Misa alive and since she’s such a public figure, it puts him at major risk.
This episode has a couple of really dumb turns. First, Light gets Misa to fabricate a video and it basically throws L off the trail because he says it’s clear both Kiras have met and he thinks Light can’t be Kira because of how dumb the video is. Really? One stupid misstep makes you reevaluate months of masterful plans? Also, Light says that if Rem really loves Misa and Misa really loves him, Rem will kill L for him because that will make him the happiest, and, by proxy, Misa happy as well. Rem agress. Really? That seems a dumb agreement for a Shinigami to make, even more so because Rem knows Light wants to kill Misa.
But even more problematic than that, L and Light become friends. This show has taken some dark turns, but now the show has become about friendship and romance? I don’t know if I can handle something this dark.
Misa is so needy that it become a bit annoying. She’s already talking about her and Light as lovers and Light figures the best way to shut her up is with a kiss. She basically is in a trance the rest of the day. I’m pretty sure this is not how women work in the real world.
And so while Misa has her head in the clouds, Light decides he’ll kill L tomorrow. But then the next day L says hey friend, I told everyone that if I die in the next few days you are Kira. Light starts freaking inside because in his mind he realizes he can’t kill L right now. Misa shows up and sees L. Light wants his name as soon as possible, calls Misa, but it turns out L swiped her phone and there’s this moment where L smugly seems to know. He announces that Misa has been arrested under suspicion of being the second Kira.
There’s a sequence where Light imagines himself falling off a tower, a moment where he monologues in his mind about how it is all coming to an end. But he finds he still has a bit of fight left. It’s an interesting visualization of his will and seems to be the same abstracted cityscape that we’ve seen in the opening credits.
The show once again wonders at when police methods might go too far in their quest for justice. Misa is bound and blinded by the police and it’s perhaps a bit too brutal and cold for such a small girl. In this moment, Misa wants to die. She doesn’t want to give up Light and asks Rem to kill her. Instead, Rem tells Kira to help save Misa. If he save Misa, she can give up ownership of the Death Note and lose all memory of using it and that Light has one as well. Rem says she’ll kill Light if he doesn’t help. She’s too much of a loose cannon that can be used to force easy conflict.
At this point, I’d like to suggest that despite having some great twists, this batch of episode suffers from having some twists that are more convenient than clever. Now Shinigami can kill people and this lets someone Kira can’t kill threaten him. Also, L just happens to get this sense that he might be discovered soon so he says if he dies it is Light who killed him. Oh yea, and if you give up the Death Note, you lose all memory of using it. These twists come out of left field in a way that doesn’t make sense and too easily build conflict.
© 2014 James Blake Ewing