Mark Watches ‘Death Note’: Episode 37 – New World

In the thirty-seventh and final episode of Death Note, Near reveals the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Death Note.

Trigger Warning: For suicide and blood/gore.

Light exits the world as light exits the world.

Perhaps I should retract something I said: Light does underestimate people around him, and it’s the key reason why he fails so spectacularly here. His plan to murder everyone who might suspect him backfired because he didn’t view Mikami as a person. And couldn’t you argue that this is his core problem throughout Death Note? Light never sees people as fully-formed, rational beings capable of nuance, capable of regret, capable of reform. They are abstractions. They are pawns. That’s the case with the criminals he murdered from the safety of his home while his family was unaware that a killer lived upstairs. It’s the case with Maki, who he saw as an obstacle. It’s the case with Misa Amane, who he used and discarded as he saw fit. And that’s absolutely what happened with his own father and with Mikami. They existed solely for him to utilize, and he couldn’t even fathom of them making decisions and choices independent of him.

And yet, Mikami did. Mikami made a choice independent of Light. He acted in his own best interest (and certainly tried to protect Light, too!), and it’s what got them caught. He broke his methodical routine in order to hide the real notebook, and it’s how Near (through Gevanni) was able to get it, create an elaborate fake, and then use that so that Mikami would fail to kill them all during the final confrontation. It’s a complicated system, sure, and I think that’s part of Death Note‘s style of storytelling. These plots have always been complicated, especially since the battle of deduction and wits were a central part of the conflict between Light and L. They’re fun to watch unfold the first time around, but I don’t think that’s why I found Death Note compelling.

I’m far more interested in all the character revelations present in “New World.” Once Light’s identity was revealed, I wanted to know how he’d react. Surprisingly, he did not immediately cop to the truth. He lashed out and reacted horribly. I didn’t expect that! He’s always been such an arrogant person, so I anticipated that arrogance spilling forth from him. But no! He nearly started crying, and he chose to sloppily defend himself and call the whole thing a trap. I mean, it was a trap, just not the kind he wanted. And by the time he realized how deep into this he was, he abandoned the act. Watching him turn into Kira was so creepy and unnerving, especially since none of these people had ever actually seen this side of him portrayed so openly.

Thus, I found it incredibly powerful that after thirty-six episodes of this man proudly and defiantly claiming that he was at the head of a moral mission to protect the world from evil, Near called him a murderer. IT IS ABSOLUTELY THE BEST SINGLE EXCHANGE IN THE ENTIRE EPISODE, PERHAPS THE WHOLE SERIES. In just a few sentences, Near obliterated Light’s logic. He called him a serial killer and a murderer and refused to accept a single shred of this man’s terrible logic. I LOVE IT SO MUCH, EVERYONE. I think it’s a perfect lead-in to what comes next: Matsuda’s reaction. After Near so brilliantly dissected what was wrong with Light, I believe that Matsuda broke. And honestly, I don’t think there was a better choice of a character to finally go up against Light and to fatally harm him. Look at his transformation! He went from the goofy, underused investigator to the man who wanted desperately to be seen, to be respected. Then, as L was killed and Kira became an undeniable part of the world, he turned into a fanboy. He began to support the idea of Kira, perhaps not totally, but enough to be entertained by the drama that unfolded around him. He couldn’t take the case seriously because… well, did anyone take it seriously?

So when he found out that he’d been played, that the killer they’d been searching for the whole time was right next to him, he snapped. This story belonged to Matsuda, and it’s about the best closure I could ask for. Matsuda definitively rejects Kira for his deception, and for allowing Soichiro Yagami to die. And for what? Was it worth it?

I was initially shocked at how bloody this conflict was, but in the end, I think the imagery works as an intense commentary on the conclusion of Death Note. Matsuda shot Light multiple times, and Mikami kills himself. There’s a devaluing in this that actually thrills me because neither character is spared the violence that they’ve so easily given to other people. Their deaths are painful and visceral. Light lost, and this is how he pays for what he’s done.

It’s in the final moments of “New World” that Death Note retreats to a somber bit of storytelling, and for a show that has been so relentlessly over-the-top, I think it’s a fitting conclusion. It’s gorgeous, really. As the light leaves the world – the sun begins to set in the distance, casting the sky in oranges and blues, and the blood pouring from Light’s body is dark, nearly invisible in the shadows – Light leaves the world. Ryuk makes good on the promise he made at the start of the show. I believe that Light would have died from his wounds regardless, but Ryuk writes Light Yagami’s name within his notebook, and Light collapses on an anonymous staircase, and that’s it. That is the end of Kira, of Light Yagami, of this reign of terror and murder that’s lasted over five years. Even in the end, Light was haunted by L, and I thought that was a nice visual touch.

I’m surprised that both the SPK and the Japanese team survived this all, but I was blown away by the final image of Misa Amane, looking out on the new world born in Light’s exit. Did she know? Was she aware of what had transpired that afternoon? Or was she happy to be free of everything? She’s the only person who was involved with Light who got off scot-free. What happens to her?

Anyway, I suppose I’ll never know. This was a fun journey, y’all, and now I know why people had been recommending me this show for so many years. I UNDERSTAND. And now, it’s time for me to move on to another anime classic, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Reviews start tomorrow!!!!

The video for “New World” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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