Revisiting Death Note Anime (Episodes 10-12)

Episode 10: Suspicion

Manga chapters: 20-23
Original air date: December 5, 2006

Things start very well with Death Note's two big geniuses battling it out on the tennis court. The physical contrast between them, though always pointed out in the manga, is more apparent in the anime. This scene is a great example of it. Light looks cute and preppy with his tennis gear; L looks like he just rolled out of bed.

L's so pale and thin that you can barely believe he can hold up a tennis racquet, and then--well, he says it best: He who moves first, wins. After some internal monologues and fearsome on-court battling, Light wins the match with an awesome smash. L strains, but is unable to make the hit.

One thing I never found convincing is L's efforts to catch Light using the fake "L, do you know" message and mixed-up photos. First of all, the plan isn't very genius-like. Second, it's not a foregone conclusion that Kira would react angrily (or at all) by the fake pictures, even if he is a "childish sore loser". In fact, he'd have to have very poor self-control to react, and L should know that Light is nothing if not controlled (Lind L. Tailor incident notwithstanding). At least the scene plays well, with the simultaneous phone calls and so on.

This episode also has one of the definitive L moments, when Light asks how he'd feel if he was accused of being Kira. L has to actually stop and think for a moment before realising that it would feel "awful." It shows how disconnected he is from his emotions, as well as his complete lack of empathy. L isn't necessarily being a bad person, but it's no wonder that he has no friends. He doesn't know how to connect to others on an emotional level. He's a compelling fictional character, but if he were a real person, he probably wouldn't be as likeable. L's character quirks have led many fans to speculate that he has Asperger's syndrome.

Episode rating: B+

L playing tennis.
L playing tennis.
Light playing tennis,
Light playing tennis,
Light passes L's 'test'.
Light passes L's 'test'.
L studies Light.
L studies Light.

Episode 11: Entrance

Manga chapters: 24-25
Original air date: December 12, 2006

This episode is pivotal in many ways: one of the task force members dies, another shinigami comes to the human world, and Aizawa loses his temper with L. Most importantly, a major character is introduced--a certain Gothic Lolita with shinigami eyes.

The episode begins with Ryuk sitting on Light's bed, still and silent for once, while Light gazes out his window at dusk. Light is obviously reflecting on something, though usually he does this at his desk, chin or cheek cupped in hand like Rodin's thinker.

It's unclear to me when this scene takes place, but we return to it after the second Kira's tape airs. The way they bookend the introduction of the second Kira means it probably takes place after those events, and Light is thinking about the other Kira. With Light silhouetted against the bleak skies and his shadow falling across the floor and Ryuk, the scene is quietly evocative.

The task force is in shock when the Kira tapes air, causing L to spring into action, i.e., he just barks orders at people and uses multiple phones. The beginnings of Aizawa's misgivings about L are shown just as in the manga, and L's seiyuu convincingly portrays L's discomfort.

Ukita's death is more effective here than in the manga. I didn't really care when he died in the manga, but I was positively cringing when he drove off to Sakura TV, and especially when the screen 'shook', indicating the onset of his heart attack. It is rather creepy. And it shows him straining, but not quite able, to hit the emergency belt buckle.

I didn't think that Misa would appear in this episode. She twirls around at the end of the episode a bit like Sailor Moon, only to have the shot zoom in on her red shinigami eye. It looks better than the contacts lenses used in Death Note: The Last Name. (If you're interested in Misa cosplay, see this hub on the topic.)

Episode rating: B

L bites his finger.
L bites his finger.
Ukita at the TV station.
Ukita at the TV station.
Soichiro and L on the phone.
Soichiro and L on the phone.
Shinigami Rem.
Shinigami Rem.

Episode 12: Love

anga chapters: 26-27
Original air date: December 26, 2006

I don't like this episode very much. There's no action, very little suspense, and some parts feel wrong. There are positive aspects: the animation is okay, and the score is good--especially in the Jealous (Gelus) sequence.

The episode begins with Light receiving word that he's to come to the task force headquarters. He shakes hands with L and settles down to watch the Kira video. As long as the viewer is not tired of Light and L's double-thought, the first half of the episode is not too bad. It's interesting that L, who already suspects Light, wants him to play the role of the 'real' Kira to catch the second one.

Despite the so-so start, I look forward to seeing Light work with the task force; the relationship between him and L is one of the more compelling aspects of the manga. It's fun to watch the geniuses play off each other, each pretending to be friendly but acting on their own agendas.

A major pet peeve of mine is L's reaction to Misa's mention of shinigami in her response to Light's 'fake' Kira video. It is utterly out-of-character. (See a short video clip here.) Think of it this way: he is an atheist; he quickly brushed aside the notion that Kira was a god. He is also very logical and emotionally detached. I don't think he'd get freaked out so easily just because the tape mentions "shinigami."

I'd be more convinced if L were to think "shinigami" is a code word or something. Even if he did think there was such thing as a death god, he'd be able to keep it together. His thought process would be something like, "Shinigami? How interesting....that would explain a lot of things. I can't believe it!..." *thud* "Oops, I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I knocked over my chair."Misa and Rem appear again at the end. Misa's seiyuu is pretty good, and I am so glad that Rem actually sounds female. But even better than Misa's place is our only glimpse of Jealous (see below).

Trivia: Matsuyama Kenichi, who plays L in the live action movies, is the voice of Jealous. Nakamura Shidō plays Ryuk in both the movies and the anime.

Episode rating: B-

L after falling from his chair.
L after falling from his chair.
Loyal Rem.
Loyal Rem.
Misa.
Misa.
Jealous (Gelus).
Jealous (Gelus).

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