If you are just now coming to this series or this blog, welcome, I’m glad to have you here. If you were following these posts a few months ago you’re probably wondering why I haven’t released a new entry before now. Well, it’s cheesy, but I started a new relationship. It was completely by surprise, it wasn’t something either of us was expecting to happen and so I focused on her. I wanted to get some good groundwork in and try and make it a real meaningful effort driven relationship. And now that’s pretty well accomplished.
The other thing I was doing was coming to terms with what I was going to do with my life. I just recently graduated and was having trouble deciding on what to do next. Hit a little bit of a depression and not doing something I was really looking forward to just had me dragged down. But I’ve figured it all out, I will probably have more news about it in the future. But for now, the topic at hand.
One last thing, I promised to do a Manga Analysis in the last post in this series. In coming back, the Manga post is going to take longer to make, and it is the deadline for this week already, and I got a late start on it, so I’m just moving ahead with the next episode. Next week I will be posting my analysis of the first book of the Death Note Manga series. I’m sure this switch up isn’t too horrible for anybody, and its a great deal of stress off of me, and hopefully aids in my returning to this series as a real ongoing project.
Thanks for sticking around, and sorry about the life stuff.
We open on the death of the bus hijacker. Raye and Light discuss keeping Raye’s identity and activities a secret. Light has Raye right where he wants him and Raye runs off. We snap forward to Raye arriving back at his hotel room. We’re introduced to his fiancee, Naomi, who upon hearing about the bus hijacking, instantly suspects that the incident is related to Kira. As it turns out, Naomi is an ex-field agent who has left her career in order to begin a marriage (I will discuss the troubling misogyny in a moment).
So hold up a moment: Naomi Misora is a bit of a star detective, but even so, she has no access to the reports and statistics that L does. And before you jump ahead and assume that it’s because Raye is an FBI agent, that doesn’t mean she gets to be in his files. Raye’s response to her minor bout of detective work makes it clear that he probably wouldn’t encourage that sort of behavior.
Speaking of which, what the fuck Raye. The tone that he sets with her and the whole “once we have a few kids running around you’ll probably be so busy you’ll forget you were an agent,” comment is a tough moment to decipher. Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen other anime, but rampant misogyny is not unheard of. Still though, this could be another situation of the writer’s making it clear–albeit clumsily–that the people who seem innocent or innocuous can hold troubling morality within them.
So Light sends L another letter which reads on the top lines, “Gods of Death,” making the combo, “L do you know… Gods of death…”
So we go to a subway where Light explains what mechanics are going to be at play in his Crazy Awesome Master Plan (from here on referred to as CAMP). Today in Death Note Configuration 101 Light teaches us (and Ryuk) that you can write a cause and time of death and add the name afterward. Now, one thing to note is how this sort of negates the absolute hell out of the whole forty second death and six minutes and forty second time limits for causes of death rules. If you could customize it in that way, why is there even a time limit?
And here’s where criticism of the nitty gritty writing details may not necessarily work. I’m of the opinion that introducing the rule that makes the very next scene work is bad writing, however, the resulting scene is easily one of the best in the series so far.
Light walks up behind Raye and says, “I am Kira.” The music and animation instantly bring the tension of the moment to a peak. What’s great about this moment is that the writing worked first: Light tells Raye something you would never expect him to say. Only once that happens the animation is employed to amp up the tension along side it. He kills a highly suspected criminal in front of Raye to prove his powers. Raye, likely in his shock slips up and asks Light how he knows about Naomi, which of course, he didn’t.
Light hands Raye an envelope with pages and a walkie-talkie inside. He gets on a subway. Raye takes the pages out of the envelope with slots revealing another paper beneath. He’s told to write his boss’ name in the top slot. He then receives an e-mail with all the pictures and names of the other FBI agents and is told to write each in order.
Now, if we’ve been paying attention – particularly in the last episode – we know that those are death note pages. Thanks to the new rule then we know that Raye is killing every single agent. Raye tries to figure it out, revealing a very realistic low key horror in the fact that he knows the voice, but can’t place who. He leaves the envelope on a rack and exits the subway. Then he begins to have a heart attack.
Raye falls and tries to look back at the car where he sees Light standing there. This is the first time since the first few kills that Light has really been there to see his victim die. It’s a glory moment for him, and for the animation, with Light’s bleached skin, his red eyes shining down, and the way he says goodbye to Raye. It’s a brutal moment and one we feel bad about. Raye had a life, a fiancée. This for me was the first time, as a teenager, when I realized how monstrous Light’s actions really were.
Even though its established in Episode 2 that Light will kill anyone who gets in his way, the effectiveness with which he eliminates the FBI threat, proves his ruthlessness and intelligence. He is not weak. He is capable of hunting his enemies and slaughtering them efficiently, effectively, and leaving behind the absolute least amount of evidence.
And this is all the first half of the episode.
L gets a call from the FBI Director explaining that they are calling off the investigation due to the loss of the agents. He then gets a call from Soichiro where it appears the FBI told the Japanese Police about the incident as well. L admits he used the FBI to spy on the Japanese Police and then is told to explain. Soichiro in this scene contradicts something he’ll say later. He asks, “Are we now suspects in our own investigation?” The answer, is “duh,” or should be. That is a stupid question to ask when Kira clearly has access to police files. The Japanese Police should be investigating the Japanese Police. L was doing the intelligent thing. But more importantly, this reveal makes the investigators realize that L doesn’t trust them. They feel betrayed and vulnerable.
And honestly, I think this is the culmination of weak plot points. I understand the show sort of explains itself in a few minutes, but this whole outrage about a detective investigating a tapped into source that has had info leaked is not only rather ridiculous, it makes the police look like a bunch of idiots. So far, L and Light have demonstrated their intelligence not for being the only smart people in the room but for being incredibly intelligent characters in their own right. The entire Japanese Police v. L storyline is largely an excuse to pretend to be interested in the realistic beat by beat detective story. It makes sense that they need a large task force. It does not make sense, that reasonable steps of investigation destroys that task force. It’s plot for plot’s sake.
There’s also a third letter for L. We get a cool cut of Light reading the letter himself with L completing the third part. But the cool thing is that this is the first of the metropolitan landscapes that Light and L are going to be seen doing intellectual battle on throughout the next several episodes. Right now Light is on a small balcony, with larger buildings looming ahead.
“L, do you know that Gods of Death love apples?”
Now, I don’t know if this is as mocking in English as it is in Japanese. But the point is clear. Light was teasing L and sending him red herrings in the form of these clues. L was even beginning to suspect that Gods of Death were real, and by mocking him with that, Light ensures that that element of the Death Note will remain hidden.
We see Naomi in her hotel room mourning Raye. Clearly she’s going to come back at some point.
Light’s Dad calls a family meeting and reveals that he’s leading the Kira Investigation. His family pleads for him to save his life, not risk it. I don’t know what its like in Japan, I know that American values place sacrifice at a high regard, and so it’s strange to think that this is anything different for Soichiro to be doing. Police put their lives on the line.
Light says he thinks its honorable of his Father to take the case. Then he says that if anything happens to him he’ll ensure that Kira gets executed. Which of course is posturing. Although it does mean that Light is encouraging his Father to continue being involved in a case where Light may eventually be targeted and may eventually be caught or may eventually have to kill him. I believe Light only does this because he believes that he can stay Kira anonymously. Light’s relationship with his Father and the murder of police is one of the heavier moral ambiguities in the series.
Back at work, Soichiro says that any agents not willing to sacrifice their lives should leave the investigation and afterwards he only has five others remaining with him. We see Naomi tracking down the bus driver and asking about Raye. She believes that Kira was on the bus for the jacking. She is hot on Light’s trail.
The remaining six investigators are important characters for basically the remainder of the series. These are the equivalent of the Z fighters essentially. The best of the best, and with light personality touches that ensure we remember who they are. A man with an afro named Aizawa reacts to L saying he trusts the remaining detectives. They confront him with his secrecy again. He tells them that he is in Japan already in a text box. This is in Japanese, but it’s instructions to the hotel he’s staying at.
Outside the station, a man named Ide expresses that he distrusts L’s plan. He states L could send a body double, someone who is not L himself, and continue deceiving them. Soichiro states that L may have been anticipating a great amount of dissension and that people resigning down to a small group may have been his plan all along.
So this is where the series justifies its own nonsensical plot move with the vast superior intelligence of L. Now, granted, the whole show is built on long form strategizing, so it’s not so much out of place, as it is backwards writing. It’s providing the reason for something after the something has already taken place. It’s also the only mention of it, and simply a theory provided from a character. Still, it doesn’t make the plot better, and this is really the last time I have to say anything about it. So good. Moving on.
Here Soichiro says, “information had been leaked, so I’m not surprised he didn’t trust us,” which is strange considering earlier I’m pretty sure he shouted “I can’t believe you would spy on us,” or something along those lines.
Ide gets upset at the idea of being manipulated again. He leaves and says he won’t be following them. This is a bit of a throwaway scene in the anime, but actually plays out really importantly over the series. Basically, just remember that the investigators have influential friends in the Police. L explains that he’ll be moving hotels every few days and that the investigators should arrive at staggered times.
L explains that if Kira were to catch on to the secret meetings between him and the investigators that Kira might feel compelled to move in and interrupt the work. This is interesting as this is basically L’s plan for the next nine episodes or so laid out for us in full view.
The episode ends with the investigator one door away from seeing L for the first time.
So that’s episode five of Death Note. It is a notable episode because it’s sort of the end of the initial establishment of everything. The characters we know are basically the important characters for the rest of the series. Furthermore, the next set of episodes, six to ten, take on their own flavor and theme. Everything becomes narrower, the focus is more on characters, and L being in front of the camera actually makes the shape of the Kira v. L plot much stronger. Episode ten, is probably one of the best episodes in the series.
So next week, Manga book 1, be there. See you then.