Death Note Postmortem

Looking back on the series, I hold to what I said early in the series: I’m left without a character to root for. The characters range from psychopaths, cold intellectuals, over-the-top bags of emotions and blithering idiots. Still, Death Note is such a well-plotted show with a ton of crazy twists that it’s easy to enjoy it without identifying with any character as most episodes end with you wanting more. It ultimately aligns us with the shinigami: distant, uninvested parties watching the show for the amusement it can provide us. For your own amusement, I’ll provide my rankings as well as a few standout elements.

25 Silence
5 Tactics
7 Overcast
32 Selection
36 1.28
37 New World
30 Justice
35 Malice
10 Doubt
31 Transfer
9 Encounter
2 Confrontation
4 Pursuit
1 Rebirth
24 Revival
29 Father
3 Dealings
23 Frenzy
18 Ally
11 Assault
8 Glare
19 Matsuda
17 Execution
21 Performance
34 Vigilance
6 Unraveling
33 Scorn
27 Abduction
22 Guidance
20 Makeshift
26 Renewal
15 Wager
28 Impatience
12 Love
16 Decisions
13 Confession
14 Friend

Best Scene: Potato Chips

Death Note loves to give us moments so intense and over the top that it becomes hilarious. The best combination of this is the scene where Kira comes up with an elaborate plan to use the Death Note while eating potato chips. Never has an activity so mundane been rendered so especially and been so deadly.

Worst Scene: Friendship

In the 20th episode (Makeshift), the show has L and Misa reconcile and decide to become friends. She gets excited, jumps around with Light and L, and seems super happy about everything. Not only is it a moment that is completely out of tone with the show, but also it doesn’t feel true to these characters at all.

Most Likable Character: Aizawa

Of the Japanese police that work with L, Aizawa feels like the most shrewd character without ever falling into the pit of being clinically detached. He gets a couple of small moments of humanity, like when he sees his daughter in the park, and he also has a few funny scenes. He’s a side-note for most of the series, but by the end he comes into his own and plays a key role in the final days of the investigation.

Least Likable Character: Misa

There are certainly morally worse characters in the show, but Misa feels a special role of being simultaneously annoying and morally reprehensible. She never has a particularly strong motivation and seems to start killing people more out of boredom than anything else. Her slavish devotion to Kira makes her do all sorts of terrible things in the name of “love.” Her bubbly nature is just a facade for a woman who will basically do the most awful thing because of her devotion to a man. It’s the worst kind of female character you could write in terms of both disempowerment and moral reprehensibility. At least Kira, as misguided as he is, is striving make society better. Misa just wants a boyfriend.

© 2014 James Blake Ewing