Death Note (a review)

Day 8. 81 pages, 37,483 words.

Before I even start on this review, I need to make it very clear: I am aware that there is a manga series that is the true original for this. And an anime television adaptation, and three Japanese movies, and a television drama. But – apparently unfortunately – it was the USian version made for Netflix that I watched.

But hey, it wasn’t awful, which probably means the originals are great. So I’ll have to check at least some of those out. Recommendations welcome.

Death Note was, basically, a very interesting thought experiment on what might happen if one was granted the power to kill without direct access to the victim or any sort of consequences (until there are consequences, obviously). A quite literal “what if you could be God?” style of philosophical dilemma.

I was also struck by how similar it was to the story of the Atonement that I have written into my Oræl Rides to War series. In the Atonement, an outside force merely identified the bad seeds making human society and development stagnant and toxic, and pushed those seeds quietly into fatal comas. It wasn’t a permanent solution, but it helped.

Death Note was a little more explicit, graphic, and ultimately its system was (intended to be) fallible … but it also had a nice sense of human nature and cause and effect, and the way good intentions can go wrong. Interesting to watch, and think about – and apparently the rash of real-world copycat killings and planned killings since the creation of the story illustrates just how powerful a story it is.

I can’t say any of the characters were particularly compelling, although L was a very neat concept and I would expect the other versions to go into more detail about him. And Ryuk was cool, obviously. Pity about all the rest, really.


All through the movie, I kept getting this weird 80s-movie vibe from the female lead, like she was Jennifer Connelly or something. Turns out she is Andie MacDowell’s daughter, so that checks out.

And of course the movie got a bit wacky, and wound up with a lot of sneaky twists and switcheroos and special notes and missing pages and all the rest. What I was most strongly left with was a feeling that the protagonists should have read the rules fully – although to be fair, it looks as though they did read them, but the filmmakers were just too lazy to show us. Which is … irritating. As a result, I was worried for a while that it’d just turn into a cheesy Wishmaster style movie. It might have been more entertaining if it had, to be honest. But sure, it was pretty cool.

I’m definitely going to have to check out one or more of the many, many original-er versions of the story. And I want to know all the rules – possibly because I am a technical writer. Let’s give this one an RT out of a possible RTFM.

– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the bus.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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