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Anime Breakfast: Death Note and the thrill of power

In this new episode of Anime Breakfast we are going to explore, with a discreet sense of nostalgia, that great work that was the animated series dedicated to Death Note: between justice and crime

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Our favorite Sunday series, Anime Breakfast, continues this week. We are temporarily abandoning the Chara and Top format to return to the good old basic episodes, those based on the series that have fascinated us most over time. We have already told you about masterpieces such as Cowboy Bebop and Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, but also about Steins;Gate, Space Dandy and many others. A series that, for various reasons, we had not yet covered is also one of the most mainstream, of the best known, loved and iconic of Japanese animation. We are obviously talking about Death Note!

Teleology of Death | Anime Breakfast: Death Note

Death Note was born from the pen of Tsugumi Ohba and the pencil of Takeshi Obata way back in 2003 on Weekly Shonen Jump. You will therefore immediately understand that, despite its decidedly mature tone from some points of view, Death Note is actually a shonen and not a seinen. However, regardless of the specific terminology (and perhaps we could even create an episode of Anime Breakfast to explain the differences between the various genres), the fact remains that Death Note becomes extremely popular both in Japan and around the world and is adapted into several other mediums: from live action films to film adaptations, obviously including the animated series.

First broadcast in 2006 in Japan, the Death Note anime consists of 37 episodes. Produced by Madhouse and directed by Tetsuro Araki, the anime follows exactly the plot of the manga, which is followed step by step. The protagonist is the iconic Light Yagami, a young high school student who, by pure chance, finds a strange notebook with a black cover on the ground that bears the writing “Death Note”. By opening it, Light discovers its rules and how it works: the notebook is capable of killing anyone simply by writing their full name on itprovided that this, together with the face, is known by the user.

Anime Breakfast: Death Note and the thrill of power

Low of Solipsism | Anime Breakfast: Death Note

Light, as a young student inexperienced in life, but terribly cynical towards the world, decides to become an avenger and use the notebook to eliminate criminals and free the world from evil. The pseudonym? “Kira”, killer. His fame grows as the deaths for which he decides to take responsibility increase, as well as grows it is also the concern of international authorities. Among the most excellent minds attracted by the Kira phenomenon we find L, a young and brilliant detective who works, body and soul, to unmask the identity of the smoky vigilante. And our plot ends here: Death Note is such a famous work that any other detail could really be considered a spoiler, so stop.

The anime has been widely appreciated both for its compelling narrative, especially in the first narrative arcs, and for the complexity of its protagonists and supporting characters, and for that constant sense of tension that is established between the two figures of Light and L. A suspense that hinges on an intricate plot, with several twists and ethical dilemmas that pose the viewer a difficult question: Is Kira really justice, or is she just a criminal intoxicated by power?

Anime Breakfast: Death Note and the thrill of power

Immanence | Anime Breakfast: Death Note

One of the main themes of Death Note is the concept of justice: Light is convinced, in his heart, that he is acting in the name of Justice (this time with a capital G) when he starts using the notebook, but he still remains a teenager who kills people around the globe. Who actually has the power to decide who should live and who should die? Can a human really ascend and attempt to place himself alongside the deities?

Every action has a consequence: Light’s contact with the Death Note unleashes a hurricane of change across the world. Every time Light kills someone, society reacts in increasingly unpredictable ways, leading the young boy’s life itself to be diametrically different from how he remembered it. The power granted by the notebook is indeed extraordinary, but equally corruptive: Light’s moral integrity is gradually destroyed by an ever-increasing sense of omnipotence which also corrupts his vision of justice.

Anime Breakfast: Death Note and the thrill of power

Requiem | Anime Breakfast: Death Note

The most shonen part of all Death Note is definitely the mental struggle between Light and L, two diametrically opposed geniuses, but so intrinsically linked that they almost seem like brothers separated at birth. L wants to find out who Kira is and strongly suspects Light from the beginning, just as Light wants to find out L’s true identity so he can finally get rid of him. Ohba’s intense narration of this mental and psychological struggle highlights the complexity of their personalities even moretheir strategies and above all their morals.

Finally: the concept of Mask. Not intended as per Pirandellian memory, this theme reflects more than anything else the knowing how to hide one’s true and corrupt identity behind a socially acceptable mask or, more simply, a pseudonym. Just as Light uses Kira’s name to protect himself and hide himself behind a mask, many other supporting characters change their names to protect their privacy instead. A privacy that, nowadays, can only be truly secured with these tricks, whether they are ethical or not.

Anime Breakfast: Death Note and the thrill of power

Light Lights up Light

In short, Death Note is an anime that has become iconic over the years that challenges the public to reflect on complex issues, mainly linked to the concept of justice, the ethics of one’s actions, the intoxication given by power and, finally, morality. Not a seinen, we remind you, but a shonen that shows the world how even works considered for children can make their audience learn, grow and improve through tools of discussion and critical analysis that would otherwise be lost. Highly recommended, if (very strange) you haven’t already seen it!

And if you really haven’t already seen it, you can find Death Note streaming completely free in the VVVVID catalogue! Let us know what you think below in the comments and stay tuned with us at for all the news on cinema and TV series!

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