Revisiting Death Note Anime (Episodes 13-15)

Episode 12: Confession

Manga chapters: 28-29
Original air date: January 09, 2007

I think I might be one of the few Death Note readers who actually likes Misa, faults and all. Given the paucity of good female characters in the series, I'd say she is probably the least negatively portrayed woman in Death Note, aside from Naomi, perhaps. Like Naomi, Misa's storyline is focused on a man. She has a lot of power, and she's prepared to give it up for a man. She's clever and talented, but she resorts to using these skills in the pursuit of romantic love.

L and the task force appear briefly in the first part of the episode. L tells Matsuda to keep an eye on Light when they go to Aoyama to look for the second Kira. Oddly, we never see Light socialise unless it's part of a death note-related ploy, so how did he suddenly get all these friends? Maybe he has a reserve of them just for situations like this.

Light's idea of travelling in a pack (to make it hard to determine who Ryuk's haunting) is a good one, but Misa identifies Light right away as Kira. This brings us to Misa and Light's first face-to-face meeting. Her appearance at the Yagami residence is just like in the manga; Sachiko and Sayu's expressions turn to nervous shock when Misa goes to Light's room.

Misa's characterisation is retrograde on many levels, such as when she tells Light she wants to be used by him and will work to make him love her. How can a character with so much potential can be afflicted with so many annoying traits?

As Light embraces Misa, they are illuminated in a shaft of light. We see Misa's radiant face, which is not shown in the manga. But, before you start thinking that this is a(n) (un)holy allegiance of the new world's god and goddess, the camera circles round to show Light's devious smirk. Another shot, from a wider angle, shows the shinigamis watching them.

Episode rating: B

Misa doesn't see her own lifespan in her reflection.
Misa doesn't see her own lifespan in her reflection.
L still suspects Light.
L still suspects Light.
Misa gives Light her love and her death note.
Misa gives Light her love and her death note.
The Kiras hug.
The Kiras hug.

Episode 14: Friend

Manga chapters: 30-31
Original air date: January 16, 2007

I remember absolutely hating Misa when I first read the manga, especially in the way she tells Light that she's be happy to be used by him. Since re-reading the series, I've come to regard Misa with more sympathy. She's a little silly and emotional, but those aren't really negative traits. Would people be less likely to think ill of her were her outbursts not juxtaposed with Light's supreme annoyance? Along the same lines, would people be less irritated by Matsuda if he wasn't always being told off by the NPA or ignored by L?

Misa's seiyuu is great when she's supposed to sound angry. When she tells Light she'll kill any other girls he dates, her voice is the perfect blend of girlish petulance and rage. Light is also much more sinister here than in the manga when he threatens Misa with the fact that he has both death notes. Too bad Rem has to rain on his parade, but he should have known. Misa is a shinigami magnet.

Meanwhile, at Aoyama, when Takada says that she's uncomfortable with being called "Miss To-Oh or whatever," is Light surprised because he thinks she's not as shallow as he first thought, or is he smirking because he knows she's faking it? Judging by what we know of Takada, it'd seem appropriate that he's smirking because she's being falsely modest.

I don't always agree with the mangaka about the motivations of some characters, especially L. He's easily the most inscrutable character in the manga; yet Death Note Volume 13: How to Read defines L as a liar. True, he lies by telling untruths and also through acts of omission, but Isn't Light more of a liar than L?

This brings me to the comment that L makes (it's also the name of this episode) about Light being his "friend." I always took this at face value; I believed that L has no friends--just like Light, I might add--and that he has no real experience with or understanding of personal relationships. Thus it makes sense that Light is the one person he'd most likely call a friend. What Volume 13 says--that L made that comment just to disarrm Light--in retrospect seems inconsistent. Would L really think something like that would have an effect on Light?

Episode rating: B

Ryuk: "Domo!"
Ryuk: "Domo!"
Misa tells Rem not to kill Light.
Misa tells Rem not to kill Light.
Light and Takada.
Light and Takada.
L enjoys his sweets.
L enjoys his sweets.

Episode 15: Bet

Manga chapters: 32-33
Original air date: January 23, 2007

This was easily one of the more amusing episodes of late. We start immediately after Light thinks incredulously, "L will die this easily?" Ha, not as easy as you think, Light. Then, he kisses Misa when she starts fussing about romantic phone calls and dinner dates. Yup, he gave her a shut-up kiss.

The use of cityscapes in this episode is surreal yet effective. It overcomes some of the challenges that the manga presents in its excessive number of internal monologues: how many times can you watch Light or L just sitting and thinking? Thus, a few times in this episode when our two geniuses have internal monologues, they are shown against a sepia-hued city, with discoloured eyes and hair. Light falls off a building, then stops in mid-fall, floating. It's all rather dreamy.

This episode tweaked a few things to make the university scenes work very well. Like the movie, this part is played for laughs, but the anime does it much better than The Last Name. L's faux-happy hailing of Light is one of the funniest things I've seen in this anime. And it's not out of character, because he is obviously acting: he has an unnatural smile when he calls Light over, but reverts immediately to his deadpan expression when he mutters, "Konnichiwa." So Light gets rid of Takada, only to be accosted by--Misa! It's a great scene, in the manga and in the anime.

A few words on the anime soundtrack now. It's neat, if self-reflexive, that Nightmare's song "Alumina" is Misa's ringtone. Also, "Light's Theme" (probably my favourite track on the OST) plays when we first see Misa in restraints, and its subtly dramatic, melancholy tone works well. It underscores Misa's suffering, as well as L's capacity for cruelty. Although it's been used before, Rem's theme plays in the background during the flashback to Misa's confinement. It's a nice link to Jealous, the other shinigami who loved Misa, because the same tune played a few episodes back when he killed her stalker. Misa's seiyuu captures Misa's desperation perfectly when she begs Rem to kill her.

I wonder why a particular detail was added to the Misa scene. When she wipes her memories, Rem brushes Misa's face and hair, startling L, who sees Misa's hair seemingly move by itself. This was never touched upon later, so it might have been the start of something that the writers decided not to continue.

Oh, and one more thing. Why on earth would L do a backwards dive onto the couch when he has to scramble off his back, then get into a crouching position? I guess that might have been for the cute factor, and it is nice to see him being active and all...but I am more amused by Matsuyama Kenichi's (movie!L) effortless chair leaps.

Episode rating: B+

L and Light see Misa.
L and Light see Misa.
Misa is surrounded by fans.
Misa is surrounded by fans.
L has Misa's phone.
L has Misa's phone.
Misa: "Kill me."
Misa: "Kill me."

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