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Death note: Beyond good and evil

Imagine for a second you hold the power of the gods and I’m not referring to the ability to kill somebody with a pen. That is a superpower that only two people have, those being Kira and John Wick.

This is not the power of a god, this is just showing off some inhuman ability but gods are able to do way more than this. The power I am referring to is the ability to move, at your will, the separation mark between good and evil.

Sitting in the comfort of your room with a hot cup of coffee, watching the news, you choose who is good and who is evil. You choose who deserves to live and most importantly, surely most frightening,  who deserves to die.

Many times we see this kind of story and the plot makes us sympathize with a main character that has their own moral compass like Batman, The professor in “La casa de papel” or as the topic of this post Light Yagami aka Kira.

So the main question we have to ask here is: 

Is Light evil?

Surely he doesn’t think he is and this is the main component of so many villains that I’ve lost the count of. But let’s try to see how this idea of fighting for the greater good evolves the character in the story.

When he first meets Kira he is the righteous son of a police officer and he doesn’t even know about this power. His first reaction with the Death note is disbelief as it should be but then he starts testing the power of the note.

The first victim is glorious. Light actually saves a school full of children so is the hero we need but not the one we deserve.

The second victim is a test to see if the first test was actually a supernatural heroic stuff he was the hero of and he actually saves a girl from being raped so again we see this as a good thing but yet there is this itchy thing in the back of our head. He saved somebody but killed somebody else in the process.

From here things start going really south because in a matter of days his own safety gets in the way and in that moment we are gonna see who really is the hero we had been cheering for for the first couple of episodes.

He kills a man on live TV because he thinks the man is haunting him, he kills an FBI agent because he wants information about the case that is being built against him and the only way to force actions into somebody is to write their name in the Death note. Between these two events he kills a bunch of criminals just to test the maximum power of the note.

At the peak of his glory, at the peak of Kira’s greatness he understands that his great plan for an even greater good is even going above his own family and he even uses the death of his own father. For not speaking about the time, the very long time in which he used and abused a girl to get to his goals.

Later in the series it became a cartoonish evil guy with some shred of agenda of righteousness that is fading away by the episode. He even came to state that he will purge the world from people who according to him are not working hard enough. And this is exactly what happens when somebody makes its own moral compass, when they become vigilantes.

Who is the real villain?

Now there is the other side of the coin without whom the post and the show at full won’t have any sense. L is the nemesis of this villain but he is trying to stop the protagonist so it is only logical that we try to antagonize him. He wants to put the story to a halt and is fighting this crusade to rip the world of all evils. This will most probably make him the villain, the guy who has no business of being on the winning side, but he is on the side of the police, of the guys that are trying to stop this insane madness.

From the moment Light kills Linder L. Taylor, L understands that this person has to be stopped at all cost and when he fails in his mission there is the realization that this unstoppable evil, this force of righteousness will not stop in front of anything.

Fortunately at the end it got stopped not by his own powers, not by the police but by the fact that he was too sure of his powers, he underestimated the fact that humans have flaws and can make mistakes.

He had been a Shinigami for so long that he forgot that he was just a human surrounded by humans in a human world. At the end, in a deleted final scene, he actually becomes a Shinigami but the weird fact is that, at least within this world lore, not even the Shinigami seems to have a moral compass of their own.

They kill humans with their own Death notes just because they want, just because they get bored and if you consider this from a theological point of view, this does make Kira a Shinigami that is even better than the ones in the heavens.

A human that is better than a god, a human that is able to judge and kill better than a Shinigami, but at the same time is the villain of the whole story. Isn’t this amazing? Even when he is alive people consider him a god, they venerate and worship him, they even created a cult in his name.

Death note is one of the best anime ever made, since the day I heard the plot I wanted to see and I often watch it again and again and its greatness stands in the fact that this moral dilemma is questioned during the whole L saga and then in the unfortunately not really great M saga.

-ldmarchesi

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