I am slowly watching through Death Note for the first time right now, lots of belated anime education. I say slowly not because it isn’t good, every time I finish an episode I want to see more, but because I am watching it with another person who has far less free time than I do right now. So far I have gotten up to episode seven, and every twist is awesome as L and Light stay one step ahead of each other in ways I could never have predicted them seeing, proving themselves to be incredible individuals who will be a joy to watch over the remaining episodes when I get around to watching them.
I still have no idea where the ending is going so I’m avoiding spoilers right now, not that I’m even sure where to find them but they’re out there and they need to be kept away from me. If you please.
My main discussion point at this early stage has to be Light’s morality. It’s scary because it’s relatable. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have had thoughts about how you could forcefully make the world a better place, thoughts that I’d never act on. In a general, anonymous sense, you might think less population is good for the world, but if you were in a position to exact that and know whose lives you would be ending, you see it is morally wrong. Light doesn’t stop at that obstacle but then he has a device that protects him and even then he is slow to start using it. On a tangent that contains mild spoilers for Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, that is how Archer from Fate/Stay Night is also portrayed, as a knight of justice who becomes so far removed from his original goal of being a hero that in order to save lives he must take so many more, all evil people and he keeps killing until his ideals to make the world a better place seem meaningless to him. What was a noble goal became ignoble and warped through many deaths. And it’s the same for Light, although it isn’t about Light’s aim to make the world a better place for very long, it becomes about his ego much quicker.
Now that I’ve said I’ve had those thoughts I should clarify I believe myself completely incapable of killing, I rarely even get into fights and if I think I hurt someone I stay with them, apologise and help them. I think, even if I did have a tool like the Death Note that removes the fear that harm would be done back to me, that I would shy away from using it. However if I did have it for a while and I knew people were in danger, I might be tempted to start, to write in names of unquestionably evil people that are still in this world today, with the excuse that I am saving lives elsewhere. And that could lead to a slippery slope where as I get more and more used to using the Death Note I become drunk on my own power and start killing all criminals and so forth (let’s not get that or anything else in this paragraph get taken out of context), including making yourself a household name because you believe that you’re invincible. That’s what it is like to be Light. He’s sympathetic, even as a villain, because the morality traps he’s fallen into so far are ones I could have, and you could have, if placed in the same situation. Criminals are easy targets, and while I believe very strongly in a system of rehabilitation to give everyone a chance to properly reintegrate into our society, there are many, killers themselves, who most of us I don’t think would be sorry to see go. And that should horrify you if you’ve thought about it and reached the same conclusion that I have, if it does, excellent. It should horrify you and you should also understand why those are your wants. If these people were not locked away, they could be a threat to your lives and that is scary. Can it make some people scared enough to want those people dead? Of course. Is that right? No, which is why the police are not on Kira’s side, because it perverts the course of justice and causes an undue amount of power to be in the hands of one individual. Death Note, with its unconventional plot device that allows the main character to kill without warning, is a perfect platform for starting off this discussion – would you do the same in Light’s situation? It horrifies myself to think that I would, but I cannot say that given the power of the supernatural plot device, that I wouldn’t.