Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Death Note Review S1E1: "Rebirth"

"That in time, no one would do evil . . . Then the world would truly move in the right direction.And I would create a new world of earnest, kind humans."

-Yagami Light, Death Note S1E1: "Rebirth"

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Yagami Light, an intelligent student bored with the inanity of life discovers a death note, where he can kill just by writing a name. He soon decides to rid the world of evil and become a god.

TITLE SIGNIFICANCE: There is no physical rebirth this episode. No one comes back from the dead. Ryuk, however, journeys from the land of the dead, the Shinigami realm, to the human world. Even though Ryuk, as a death god, is not undergoing a true rebirth, he is following the same path of the reborn.

But I think the title refers more to Light. Light begins the episode an intelligent young man, bored with the inane chatter of the people around him, who thinks the death note is a prank, and who, after realizing he killed two people actually has a crisis of conscience. By the end of the episode, the death note has caused Light to change into someone with a god complex, intent on ridding the world of evil, of passing judgment on its citizens. Then there's Light's plan to remake the world into a land with no evil. This is the rebirth the title refers to; the rebirth of the world itself through Light's manipulations.

WORLD MYTHOLOGY: At first this was going to be questions of morality, but I think the mythology is actually a richer aspect of this show and I don't think it provides quite as much to talk about in the morality department as Angel. There exists a realm of shinigami, death gods with quite creative and horrific appearances. These gods write names in their books, called death notes. The shinigami realm is boring. They all sit around napping and gambling.

The more interesting mythology comes from the death note itself. There's a neat list of rules in order to prevent accidentally killing someone, and options to get quite creative with the deaths. It very mystical, and almost protects itself. The associated shinigami is bound in a relationship with the mortal user, the only one who can see them, and if they give away the death note, they forget all about it. It's a very weird relationship that binds human, god, and book.

Success of world building: It's enough to get me interested.

What "Rebirth" does right:

* The ending - Ryuk's trembling excitement when he decides that humans are interesting after all was perfect. His excitement made me excited for what's to come. Combine that with the visual of Light, who just confessed to a God complex, looking sweet and innocent and innocuous in the light of the rising sun, and you have got me interested.

* Asininity - Oh my gosh, it's easy to see why Light was so disgusted with the world. It goes beyond the news of the horribly violent things people do to one another. It's the stupid, asinine conversations that go on around him. My mom didn't pick me up. I watched this movie and it was horrible. It's easy to understand Light's boredom in the face of his surroundings.

* Don't flatter yourself - I love that Ryuk lets Light know that he wasn't given the death note because he was special; he wasn't chosen for any of his abilities. It was pure chance. Somehow, this puts Light's declaration that he will use the death note to make himself a god even more crazy. This isn't some predestined situation where he is a boy from prophecy. He's just crazy.

What "Rebirth" could have done better:

* Disjointed beginning - The beginning of the episode was incredibly disjointed. It wasn't flowing naturally, and I wasn't being drawn into the world. I felt like parts of it began too suddenly, that the transitions between scenes weren't effective, and that it didn't really feel cohesive. This really weakened the episode in my eyes.

* Announcing name - How convenient that the man who decides to harass the young woman in front of Light decided to announce his full name, including his nickname. Maybe this is something people do when they try to rape a girl in the middle of the street in Japan, but I doubt it. There was no reason for him to say his name except for Light to be able to kill him.

* Flashback - The episode is all of, what, twenty minutes long? Why didn't it just go in chronological order instead of skipping ahead and flashing back? I think it would have been more interesting to see Light's struggle and thought process before we see how he responds to it. It kinda takes the punch out of the flashback.

Overall: Not the best beginning.
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