Mark Watches ‘Death Note’: Episode 36 – 1.28

In the thirty-sixth and penultimate episode of Death Note, THIS EPISODE HURTS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Death Note. 

As I said on video, the ending of Death Note snuck up on me. I feel like I’ve been watching it for a long time, but it also feels like it rushed by. How are we already at the end of this? How is this all going to be resolved in just twenty minutes???

I know the last episode is going to be a spectacle, but I don’t want to ignore what a visual and musical treat “1.28” is. The animation is evocative and intense here, as is the brilliant score. Since motifs and themes often repeat in the background, I found it significant and thrilling to hear a newer score set behind the climactic standoff between Light and Near. My god, the colors! The use of light, of darkness, of shadow! All of these things combine to tell the story of the fight between Light’s perfect world and… what? I wouldn’t say this is a case of good versus evil, you know? At the same time, I root for Near. I want Light to be stopped. So I found all the elements of “1.28” necessary additions to the story. And that’s a challenge that I’m faced with on Mark Watches that I don’t deal with for Mark Reads. It’s a challenge to review and critique animation over live action storytelling, too!

Yet I truly believe that this episode excels at pretty much everything on this front. It’s gorgeous and haunting and disturbing and it’s a chance for the show to bring each character design to its height. Mikami has never been more dramatic or flamboyant as he “deletes” each life in that room. (I can’t get over it. THE MUSIC.) We’re shown Light and Near in the familiar color motifs of red and blue, which invokes the original competition between Light and L. (I MISS L.) You can see the sweat dripping off the faces of the members of the Japanese team, each drop a singular statement of tension and terror. God, that moment where Light and the Japanese team walk into the warehouse and it’s a giant tunnel of white light? THE IMAGERY IS TOO MUCH. And how about all of the tiny expressions that the show’s animators manage to convey? LIKE LIGHT TRYING NOT TO LAUGH? The evil red gleam in his eye? GOOD GOD, THIS SHOW IS TOO MUCH.

But when you get down to it, this was always about the cat-and-mouse game between Light and L. Thus, “1.28” works so well as demonstrating why this pursuit has been relentless over these thirty-six episodes. As Near reveals what he’s plotted out to capture Light, I was in awe. It was a GREAT trap, one that utilized Mikami’s need for organization and exploited his obsessive loyalty to Light. Since he knew Mikami was X-Kira, all he had to do was trick Mikami into attempting to kill everyone via the Death Note. The one name not included on his list would be the real Kira.

Yet almost as soon as Near finishes revealing his final plan, Light counters him. The notebook that Mikami carried and eventually was stolen? YEAH, IT’S THE FAKE ONE FROM A FEW EPISODES AGO. Why is this important? Because Light has survived this whole time by constantly being a step or two ahead of his competition. He examines every variable, he refuses to underestimate his opponents, and he exploits any weakness that he can find. Anticipating Near’s plan, he makes sure that Mikami’s Death Note is real. And if he’s right? If Near doesn’t reveal some last minute ace up his sleeve? Then the only remaining people in his way will all die.

The show drags this moment out to an impossible length, and even if it’s seriously unbelievable (WAY MORE THAN THIRTY SECONDS PASSED, COME ON), it’s compelling and nerve-wracking. This is it. There’s no leaving that room unless one side wins. You know, Death Note has been fairly cynical along the way, so if it ends with Light’s victory, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised. But I want Near to reveal that he knew this would happen because… well, I want to see Light pay for what he’s done. I want to see him fall from his unnatural height because he’s played with human lives as if they are nothing more than pieces of garbage to be discarded as he saw fit.

I want Near to bring justice to this world because Light has no idea what justice is.

The video for “1.28” 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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