He promised to be her knight in shining armor, always, and forever.
She would be his princess, and they’d ride off into the sunset.
That is, of course, AFTER he got a new steed.
The odds of winning the Powerball are more than that of stumbling across a person who knows what anime means but hasn’t heard of this one. For most, it serves as the gateway into the eccentric world of both Japanese animation and Japanese comics, and is easily in, if not at the top of their list of favourite anime of all time. With good reason too.
So here’s the sales pitch: 15-year old finds a book belonging to a god of death and uses its power to successively kill off the people he deems as the worst scum on the face of the earth. The book comes with its own set of rules, the first one being, “Whoever’s name is written in this book shall die”. True genius that he is, Yagami Light uses the book to reshape the world in his image, doling out death sentences to those he pleases, as he pleases, when he pleases. But a killer is a killer and soon enough, the brilliant and eccentric young detective ‘L’ makes it his goal to catch the murderous vigilante. The two find their ultimate rivals in one another, and one of the greatest cat and mouse chases ever written, drawn, and animated ensues.
Death Note is definitely one of the least clichéd or stereotypical anime ever created. It’s charm lies in the mind games and psychological battles that the two protagonists engage in, and can also be termed as an un-anime-like anime, which makes it extremely appealing to first time viewers since its theme and tone can be well compared to a gritty Netflix or cable channel show. It lacks frivolity and is heavy on the tension, keeping you on the edge of your seat, waiting to know what happens next. It’s a show you’re guaranteed to enjoy. That is, of course, if you’re not me.
Before fans jump down my throat for saying this is not the most amazing anime ever, hear me out. Imagine you’ve been digging through the bookshelves at your favourite store looking for that bestseller that you’d missed out on when it was fresh off the press. It’s been a few years since it was out and you know you’re late in jumping on to the bandwagon. You finally find the book, and with a sense of triumph, head out to the counter to pay your dues and get on with the book, hoping to finish it in a day. You step out of the store when your friend, who’s driving you back home, notices the book in your hand and goes, “Oh, I love this book. I felt devastated when Gary died in chapter 10.”
All it takes is one spoiler to effectively ruin it. You try to read the book but all you can think of, right from the moment you meet Gary, is how he’s about to die. And you only begin to actually enjoy the book once the event of Gary’s death is over and done with, because hey, you don’t know what’s coming anymore.
That’s what happened with DN. People will tell you that the series is absolutely brilliant before and starts to mellow after the crucial spoiled event, but for me the series could only be truly appreciated once I no longer knew what was about to happen. Knowing the episode number just made it worse, because I’d catch myself counting down the number of episodes to that fateful event, and instead of racing through the show, I let it drag for days, scuffling my feet, unwilling to watch the next. It also took the surprise elements away and resulted in this series ranking far lower in my list of good anime than most people would forgive.
The brilliance of the show though, cannot be denied. The writing is crisp and compelling with characters like Light, L, and M, who’s unparalleled intelligence is to be admired and feared. Their personalities and clashing philosophies are half the reason this show works. Coupled with a masterful soundtrack – special mention to L’s Theme, which is so iconic and unique you’ll always remember it, – the clean direction makes for good viewing. I do dock a few points for Light’s sexist attitude and lack of strong memorable female characters. While Amane Misa is memorable, she is far from capable of holding her own against L and Light. The one character who I thought would hold her own turns out to *spoiler* and I can’t even remember her name (the fact that I’m unwilling to google the name says a lot to0). Even characters supposed to be strong women of society appear to turn into naïve idiots around Light which was positively nauseating to watch. The show is so overpowered by L’s and Light’s personalities that even characters like boy genius M don’t pack the same punch. The gods of death make things fun with their contrasting and unique personalities. Rem is the closest thing to a strong female character, but I’m not even certain she (do shinigamis even have genders?) counts.
The show’s only 37 episodes long and makes for a fast watch. I almost always recommend the subtitled version over dubbed versions, but I cannot stress it more for this one. It makes no sense for our very clearly and obviously Japanese protagonists to talk in English and with this anime in particular, things are lost in translation. Fun fact for everybody: When the killings first start, Light’s character is christened ‘Kira’ by the general public. This is derived from the English word killer as Japanese does not have a syllable for ‘-ll’ thus making Kira a pretty logical name choice for the omnipresent invisible murderer of criminals. Guess what the explanation offered by the dubbed version is for the choice of name. None. I’d give the show a rating PG-15, mostly because it requires a certain maturity to understand the show and its messages, and only partly for its dark themes. Should you watch it? Most definitely. If you like psychological thrillers, crime dramas and good old Sherlock Holmes, this one’s for you. Just don’t let anyone ruin it for you.
There’s not much that I have to say in this post. A new year is here, and for some reason I can’t shake the feeling that life is going to be very different here on out.
I don’t do resolutions too often because I have a track record of not sticking to them for longer than a week and I doubt I’m going to be making any now. But in the spirit of different, I’ve decided to start branching out from my usual fiction writing and begin dabbling in reviews.
Naturally, the question that arises is what shall I be reviewing. If you’d asked 15 year old me this question her answer would have quite simply been “books, duh.” But between now and then, things have changed drastically and I find that the number of books I’ve read in the past two years has been shockingly too few to review. So I turned to my other hobbies and there was a rather obvious answer staring me right in the face: anime.
There’s plenty of reasons why I’ve chosen to start anime reviews. A few weeks back, I found myself pitching multiple anime to my juniors and explaining the brilliance behind those shows. There’s a pretty large number of people on campus who enjoy this form of media and after coming to college, I found myself re-entering a world I’ve known ever since I discovered Cartoon Network. It’s also recently been brought to my attention that I’ve seen over 35 anime and while I still wouldn’t call myself an otaku, it gives me enough experience to safely start sharing my spoiler-free opinions. And since I’m pitching these shows to people and trying to convert them all the time, I just figured it’s time I started putting them down on paper (or webpages if you must) as well.
I’ll soon be kicking that off with almost everybody’s introductory and favourite show, so do look out for that.
I guess once and more importantly IF I get done with this, I’ll pick something else up and give that a whirl. I’m not much of a food reviewer though. I either like the food or don’t and don’t exactly have a sensitive palate that can truly appreciate delicacies, especially given my limited diet choices. So foodies, I’m afraid I must disappoint you there. I will however still steal your food if you don’t eat it quickly, so be warned.
Well that’s all there is for now. As the few people who’s still in the middle of finals (I know, I’m horrified too) I must head back to my prep now. In other news it’s my birthday tomorrow and then I have three papers back to back day after on so it’s going to be a fun week. I’m also starting a new job in 10 days and that’s something I’m really looking forward to. A new chapter thus begins and 2016 is going to be one hell of a ride.
Happy New Year everyone. I hope it’s a good one.
– Soon to be Birthday Girl
So it’s been over eight months since I last clocked into my journal. Eight extremely eventful months, which have brought their fair share of… well, everything. The last time I’d checked in, it was victory season and celebrations all around. Between then and now, there’s been losses, one exploding extension board, prompt based writing, employment, farewells, makeovers, success, four awesome Netflix shows, heartbreak, another victory, and five iPhone chargers (thanks, Apple). There’s been more than a good share of life changing events in this year and 2015 has been anything but boring.
But the highlight of these past month has easily been one event: TEDxBITSPilaniDubai.
Now, regulations require me to start by explaining that a TEDx is an independently organised event and NOT the same thing as a TED event. It’s an event where people from a small community come together to share in the ideas from their own community that inspire them. I could give you the whole marketing pitch for the event, but that’s really not the objective here. It also wouldn’t begin to describe the significance of the event in my life.
Being a part of this journey has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. The people I met, got to know, and the things they taught me are all but few reasons this ride has been an amazing one. What started off as a little WhatsApp group that buzzed all day long ended as the not-so-mini TEDx family that I don’t think I will ever forget.
It’s two days to Christmas and the year end is almost here. It hasn’t been the best of years, but I sure made some of my best memories in it. I’ve said good bye to more people than I wanted to, and come to know and cherish people I never imagined I would. I’ve made more than a fair share of mistakes but some pretty awesome decisions too (see TEDxBITSPilaniDubai). I disconnected with some and reconnected with others. I won more than some, but most days I’d lost more than I’d won. I also discovered how to make it snow on my blog and my life hasn’t been the same since.
I’m four days behind on my pre-Christmas ritual, still don’t know who my secret Santa is, haven’t begun gift-wrapping and the Christmas songs haven’t started blaring from my speakers yet. So, I’m making this a quick one and getting on with my to-do list before the 25th is upon us.
I miss you, Dear Friend, Panda and Goof. It’s not the same without you.
Thank you Supreme Leaders… and Sumeet. I’m going to miss telling you boys what to do.
Thank you to the best TEDx speakers I could have asked for, not just for being the inspiring wonderful people they are but also for NOT being a 15 year olds with a superiority complex (long story).
But most of all, thank you to every single person who helped make our event a success, and to everyone who got me to this point today.
A quick sneak peak at the stuff to come next year: start of the twenties, a super awesome internship, (ideally) the greatest story to be ever written and hopefully more re-connections and second chances. Maybe I’ll even start blogging regularly, learn to parallel park and win an all expense paid trip to Italy.
Happy Holidays everyone. Try not to short circuit your connections lighting up that tree and keep an eye out for a blue police box.
– So not prepped for Christmas