Revisiting Death Note Anime (Episodes 4-6)

Episode 4: Pursuit

Manga chapter(s): 6-7
Original air date: October 24, 2006

In episode 4, we see more of the shinigami world, and more of L, who discovers the first part of Kira's message, "L, do you know?" I'm also glad the animators didn't draw tiles for L's walls, as in the manga. Reading the books, I thought he was in a padded cell and that he was a Hannibal Lecter-type character.

I remember the bus hijacking plot being very creepy when I first read the manga. It was the first time we got to see Light planning and executing something fairly elaborate. While I couldn't agree with his morality, I couldn't help admiring his cleverness. Subsequent re-readings dampened the tension of this plot, and the live-action movie fouls it up totally, but seeing it in this episode reminded me of the scary precision of Light's plan. Light is cute, charming, and ruthless here, and this is the only instance in the anime, thus far, that he really seems like he can pull this 'god of the new world' thing off.

One of the coolest parts of the hijacking scene is when the hijacker discovers Ryuk on the bus. After he touches the note paper, the bus goes under an overpass. As sunlight pours into the bus, Ryuk's shadow appears before the hijacker, who promptly freaks out. In fact, all of the enhancements made to this scene are good. At one point, Raye tries to intercept, walking through Ryuk and leaving a kind of ripply trail behind him. Raye is more assertive and courageous in the anime than the manga. I can believe him as an FBI agent now.

I think the ending of the bus scene is particularly well done. When the hijacker is killed, everyone on the bus is shocked into stillness (except for Light, who's probably gloating). A series of shots shows the bus passengers reactions: they're horrified, but they can't tear their eyes away from the body lying in a spreading pool of blood on the street. It's even more effective because there's no music or dialogue--everyone is a silent tableau of horror.

The episode closes with the revelation of Light's chilling plan, and how it worked perfectly. The death note is shown as a background to a montage recap of the hijacking plot. I like the onscreen writing that the live-action movie employs, but this method is truer to the manga and looks better overall.

Episode rating: A

L in front of his computer.
L in front of his computer.
The hijacker sees Ryuk's shadow.
The hijacker sees Ryuk's shadow.
Raye and the bus driver are in shock.
Raye and the bus driver are in shock.
Light's poor date is probably scarred for life.
Light's poor date is probably scarred for life.

Episode 5: Bargaining

Manga chapters: 8-10
Original air date: October 31, 2006

The episode picks up at the precise moment where the last one left off. Raye flees the accident scene and returns to the hotel where the lovely Naomi Misora awaits. One of my many beefs with this series is Raye's chauvinistic attitude, and how Naomi just meekly takes it. When she finds out about the hijacking she's afraid that Kira's involved. She tells Raye, who essentially pooh-poohs her theory and tells her not to worry her pretty little head about it; then she apologises when he says she is just his fiancée. Raye, you may be a Eurasian hunk, but you're also a caveman!

The subway plot is well done, highlighting Raye's fear and confusion at the right moments. When Kira approaches him, the background and the people in the station fade out. It's eerie--as if they're the only two there (three, when you see Ryuk)--and you can bet that Raye is sweating. For once, I don't mind the overused choral music; it suits this scene.

There are some things that just cannot be done in print media. No matter how nuanced manga!Light's smirks are, they can't match the animated version. Same with his maniacal laughter, which we'll hear later on in the series. I never thought I'd say this, but I like Light's seiyuu a lot more than L's.

Kudos to Raye's seiyuu, too. When Raye collapses, he actually sounds like he is having a heart attack. (It made me a little queasy, actually.) The live-action movie actors can learn something from this guy.

For a minor character, I find Naomi pretty fascinating. She is intelligent, driven, and talented. I don't quite buy her submissive wifey-poo act; plus, in the next few episodes, we'll see just how driven and smart she is.

By the end of the episode, the NPA officers dedicated to the Kira case are whittled down to the core five. We finally have a good look at Mogi and Aizawa, too. Mogi looks good, but what is up with Aizawa's, well, everything? Even his 'fro looks weird. The episode ends on a shot of L's hotel room door. Oh, the excitement.

Episode rating: B+

Raye being a caveman.
Raye being a caveman.
Light smirks.
Light smirks.
Raye dying of a heart attack as the subway doors close.
Raye dying of a heart attack as the subway doors close.
Naomi weeps over Raye's death.
Naomi weeps over Raye's death.

Episode 6: Open Seam

The wait to see the man, detective L, himself was well worth it. This episode is almost shot-for-panel exactly like the manga chapters. Characteristic L poses are faithfully reproduced, and a few new poses made their way in as well. Manga creators Obha and Obata have stated that they didn't really know what to do with L at first, which explains why he evolved from looking like a serious, quasi-bish adult to a childish eccentric. In this episode, L is already like the latter.

Once the NPA get over L's strange appearance (did they think he'd be smoking a pipe and wearing a deerstalker?), they settle into their roles: Aizawa is brusque, Mogi is mostly silent, Soichiro is avuncular, and Matsuda...well, you know.

With his lanky physique and permanently dilated pupils, L's part-monkey, part-panda. Watching him is a pleasure, because his design combines the best of his bish and cute qualities. Anime!L, by being a happy medium, is consistently designed where manga!L is not.

Meanwhile, Light is in trouble. His seiyuu does a good job at portraying Light's charming, fake-sweet side. I really loved Light's phony innocent smiles in the manga, and in the anime he doesn't disappoint. We also get to see a few more of his evil smirks. Ah, Light. You're entertaining, as always.

The live-action movie messed up the Naomi storyline in a huge way, so it's good to see this re-told properly. I imagine that the tension must be awful for someone who doesn't know what Light is going to do, and how he's going to do it. The first time I read this part in the manga, I was nervous. The ending of the epsiode is dramatic, with Naomi and Light walking in slow motion, and the background fades out (as in the subway scene).

On the whole, a good episode.

Episode rating: B

L in one of his typical poses.
L in one of his typical poses.
L needs more sugar in his coffee.
L needs more sugar in his coffee.
L and Light: "Just one clue..."
L and Light: "Just one clue..."
Light charms Naomi into revealing her name.
Light charms Naomi into revealing her name.

Poll: Your First Impression of L

Okay, 'fess up. What was your initial reaction to L in his first appearance (either manga or anime)?

  • Disappointment
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  • Approval
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  • Attraction
  • Other
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