Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who's Your Favorite Sociopath?

is about a straight-A, high school senior named Light Yagami, who - through arbitrary circumstance and a Shinigami's boredom - comes across a mysterious notebook called a Death Note. Light learns that if you write someone's name (and envision their face) in the Death Note, that person will die. He then proceeds to use the Death Note to kill heinous criminals, to whom he feels deserve capital punishment, in an effort to create a better world...and be regarded as a "god" of this new & better world.

Unfortunately for Light, the police notice the several dozen criminals meeting an unfortunate demise and come to the conclusion that, somehow, someone is responsible for this. They hire the legendary, world-famous detective, known only as L, to solve this mystery - along with a task-force of the police's best officers (which includes Light's father).

Keeping his enemies close, Light also joins the task-force to find the mysterious murderer known as Kira (which, in reality, is Light himself). The great minds of Light and L compete in a sophisticated game of cat-and-mouse that makes Death Note a must-see for anime fans!

Death Note is a fantastic series, but what blew my mind? It wasn't until the LAST EPISODE that I realized: Light is a sociopath!

I'd been cheering for him the entire time! Every time he was backed into a corner, I'd sit on the edge of my seat hoping he'd find a solution! Then, at the very end, I realized something that was evident from the beginning yet I ignored: the protagonist and his cause are utterly immoral!

Go Light! Kill those criminals! Become a god! Woo!

I recently read an intriguingthat lists 10 reasons the audience would root for amoral protagonists. Without spoiling the story, Light did some pretty awful things, but he meets a few of the article's listed criteria.

* "1) MAKE THEIR ENDS NOBLE (OR NEUTRAL) EVEN IF THEIR MEANS ARE EVIL": Light's ideal world without violent crimes was a noble cause. However, he chose immoral means of achieving this goal.

* "3) SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THEY CARE ABOUT": There were moments when Light showed us he wasn't a complete monster. There were people, such as his father, that he cared about.

Furthermore, I think audiences appreciate strong skill regardless of the morality conflicts. Though Light was a sociopath, he was undeniably good at what he was doing! It was fun to watch him think his way out of sticky situations. After all, the good guys are measured by the strength of the bad ones, right?

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