So I finished the Death Note manga series, and I have to say I was disappointed. The whole time I was reading it, I wasn’t that huge of a fan. This isn’t to say it was terrible and I couldn’t keep reading it–I finished it, but I don’t see what the big deal is all about. (There will be spoilers in this rant. It’s more of a rant than a review to be honest, so you were warned.)
The biggest problem I have with the series is that it’s not so much brilliant as it is well planned out. Whenever the characters are butting heads and trying to outthink one another, it only became apparent to me that they were thinking in a way that was purposely well outlined by the writer of the series. I hope that makes sense. It didn’t seem to me like they were thinking on their own, but they were thinking in a way that would work for the plot based on someone behind the scenes pulling the strings. So they did not seem like standalone entities to me, rather the writer meticulously decided one person had to think this way and this other person had to think this way in order for the plot to work. Nothing particularly screamed to me, “GENIUS.” Maybe it’s because the way they thought were made to be so factual rather than subjective? I don’t know. I just had a hard time buying the flow of their thoughts. I’ve seen other series do this sort of back and forth better, like Liar Game, Queen Seon Deok, even Sherlock to an extent.
This leads to another big problem I had with the series, which was that there was a lot of incalculable luck that played a part in what happened. This is realistic, but not particularly what I want to see, especially when the emphasis is on how genius the characters are, when, in fact, for the most part, they were really lucky. Light was lucky so often that it bugged me. The complex and weirdly specific rules of the Death Note seemed to exist only to work in Light’s favor. Misa Amane was created to assist him. As a result, Rem was also created to assist him. He was purely lucky that Misa was saved by a shinigami and was so devoted to him in such a blind, infatuated fashion. And then he was doubly lucky that Rem, yet another shinigami, felt the same way about Misa. What is with Misa and shinigamis? Light even says on more than one occasion he was lucky to have chosen Mikami as his proxy, and having the character say it multiple times doesn’t make it any more forgivable, dear author. At the very end, during the final showdown, Near says he was lucky because of Mello’s actions, which saved everyone there, and I still don’t even get Mello’s motive. Such key, important parts of the plot shouldn’t really be driven about deus ex machinas–and there were really a shitton of them in this series, and at the most pivotal moments to boot.
Going back to Misa, I could not deal with the portrayal of women in this series. They were all idiots. I’m going to refrain from my feminist side calling the series creator a misogynist–oh wait, I sort of just did it anyway. There are not many female characters in this series–but each one of importance is idiotic. Misa is just a simple-headed bimbo who becomes infatuated with Light to the point she decreases her life span how many times for him? Oh, and bring in Takada later, who basically replaces Misa as his side-bitch (and again, pure luck she was the one chosen as spokesperson). She is supposed to be this intelligent woman, but she’s nothing when it comes to Light’s super cheesy lines, and so she sacrifices her life for him, too. WHY? WHAT IS SO APPEALING ABOUT THIS GUY? ARE THESE WOMEN JUST PURE SIMPLETONS? And the other female character, who we never hear from ever again, is the FBI agent rather early on in the series whom they kept emphasizing as being this super talented, intelligent, experienced FBI AGENT–who just up and goes telling her suspicions to a teen who is somewhat related to the case but not really. YEAH GOOD JOB, WOMAN. We can assume she’s dead. Because she’s stupid. Oh, and we can’t forget about Rem, who turns out to be a female shinigami. The only woman in this character who deserves some respect is the SPK member, Lidner or Linden or whatever, but even she was wishy washy. For some reason, she feels obligated to update Mello on everything that’s happening with the investigation, and we never really figure out why. SO THANKS FOR THE AWESOME PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN, DEATH NOTE.
There were also a lot of arcs they attempted to tie back to the main plot as necessary parts of Light’s plan to not get caught, like Higuichi or what’s-his-face, but they were distracting and not altogether interesting. I really could have done without that guy. I honestly think this series could have ended earlier, maybe at most at 8 volumes.
A lot of people hate on Mello and Near’s characters, but the only one that bothers me is Mello, and even with him, I’m relatively nonchalant. My only problem is that he doesn’t appear to be a very complex character, or as intelligent as he’s made out to be. Near I did like and I do agree it seemed a lot easier for him to defeat Kira, but I do think he was a worthy foe. I still question why (BIG SPOILER) L was killed? He and Watari? That part sucked. I kept hoping he’d make some comeback later, especially with Near once asking if the connection to Watari and L could be made again. What was that about? Maybe I missed something. But I do think that the writer just sort of grew tired or bored of L and decided to boot him out and try someone new, but this seemed to be an impulsive, premature move, and the story suffered for it. Near grew on me and all, but L’s death was just too easy–it wasn’t about Light outsmarting him, but being lucky enough to have Misa and Rem on his side. That’s what gets my goat the most. L didn’t lose because he was outsmarted. LIGHT DID NOTHING BUT MANIPULATE SUPER EASY TARGETS. That can’t even be considered manipulation, more like gentle persuasion.
The last complaint I’m going to make is the ending. Light losing his mind seemed to come out of nowhere. He’d always been calm and collected, so seeing such a drastic change all of a sudden resulted in a disconnect. More than that, though, there wasn’t much closure in the epilogue. Rather than following the remaining members of the Japanese task force, I’d rather have seen how people close to Light reacted to his disappearance. How was his death covered up? What happened to Misa? I mean, we can assume she doesn’t have much left in her life anyway, but still. She also said she couldn’t live without Light. And what about Light’s family? What happened to Ryuk and the rest of the notebooks? And honestly, shouldn’t there be some repercussion for Ryuk’s actions? He really screwed around with the human world. We know there’s some leader in the shinigami realm, and we could tell he doesn’t care much about what happens, but at the same time, Ryuk said he can’t be found out or it’d be troublesome. Well, nothing comes outta that, and what’s to stop him from attempting a human and death note connection once again in the future? And if not him, someone else! Say goodbye to your apples, Ryuk!
And who the hell is that girl at the end of the series talking about Kira as their savior? She kind of looks like Sayu but her hair is light-colored. If it’s Sayu, I’m going to throw her off a bridge because that would make no sense and she’d be yet another idiotic female character. Anyway, it shows there’s still some movement and that Kira truly did become a god in a way, worshipped by a group of people, but I still felt like it fell somewhat flat. I didn’t know how I should feel about it. It’s good that a series is making me think, but I’m mostly thinking in confusion, like “Eh? Huh? What? Why?” I’m not particularly touched or amazed or anything in the end.
In that way, I’d have to give the manga series the rating of 6/10, and only because the premise was very unique and I liked the character of L. Otherwise, the actual storytelling and character development are mediocre, and the series was, in my opinion, overrated. YEAH I SAID IT.