Death Note, a beloved anime among both Otakus and newcomers, has earned its place on a pedestal for good reasons. The series has been praised for its flawless execution in terms of plot, character development, soundtracks, and attention to detail. As a psychological thriller, Death Note delves deep into the minds of its characters, exploring how their beliefs shape their actions and contribute to the story’s progression and thrilling atmosphere.
The anime presents a gripping battle of wits between characters who are all pursuing their own version of justice. It also explores themes such as the true meaning of justice, man’s inherent nature, the corrupting influence of power, and the consequences of its misuse. Let’s examine the key moments that make Death Note one of the best psychological thriller anime.
L’s Ingenious Plan to Locate Kira
Kira embarks on a crusade for justice by killing criminals he sees on TV, regardless of their nationality. The bizarre nature of these deaths prompts the police to enlist the help of the world’s top detective, L. To pinpoint Kira’s location, L sets up a broadcast exclusive to the Kanto region in Japan, featuring Lind L. Tailor mocking and threatening Kira. This provokes Kira to kill Tailor, allowing L to confirm that Kira is in Japan and can kill from a distance. L’s suspicion was initially sparked by the first shocking heart attack death in Otoharada.
This moment marks the beginning of L and Light’s mutual vow to destroy each other. L’s clever plan not only shocks Kira but also excites viewers, as it introduces a worthy adversary for the protagonist.
The Iconic Potato Chip Scene
The “Potato Chip” scene in Death Note has become a defining moment in the series, solidifying its status as one of the best psychological thriller anime of all time. Despite its dramatic and over-the-top presentation, the scene showcases Light’s intellectual prowess. After the death of Ray Penber, surveillance cameras are installed in the homes of the suspects, including Light’s. Ryuk warns Light about the cameras, prompting Light to devise the now-iconic plan.
Light pretends to do his homework while secretly watching a mini TV hidden inside a bag of potato chips. He knows that if the criminals continue to die while he is under close surveillance, it will help dispel suspicions about him. With this clever ruse, Light kills the criminals shown on the TV, all while wearing a sinister smirk. Although the scene has become a meme due to its exaggerated dramatization, it remains an iconic moment in the anime world.
L’s Bold Reveal to Light
L’s decision to reveal himself to Light is a daring, intelligent, and foolproof move. His suspicions about Light being Kira remain, so he creates a situation where he can observe Light up close. To execute this plan, L enrolls in Light’s university, To-Oh. During the induction ceremony, L introduces himself to Light, who is initially shocked but quickly regains his composure.
As the conversation continues, L tells Light that his real name is Hideki Ryuga and asks for his help with the Kira investigation. This puts Light in a difficult position, as L has assumed the name of a famous pop star. If Light tries to kill L and thinks of the pop star instead, the star will die, revealing Light’s identity. Furthermore, if Light succeeds in killing L, the police will become more suspicious of him. L’s mind games and intelligence make Death Note one of the best psychological thriller anime ever created.
The Heartbreaking Death of L
L’s death is arguably the most painful and unexpected moment in Death Note. How did Light manage to pull off such a feat? Light orchestrates a series of events that bring L dangerously close to discovering Misa’s identity as Kira. This forces Rem, who loves Misa, to kill L in order to protect her. Rem realizes Light’s plan too late and has no choice but to follow through with it, writing Watari and L’s names in the Death Note.
Yagami Light remains one of the most intelligent characters in anime, and Death Note stands as one of the best psychological thrillers of all time. Few other series can captivate viewers and provoke deep thoughts about human emotions as effectively as Death Note.
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