We're up to episode eight of the Death Note live-action television adaptation, wherein Light has his memories back; Kira has his Death Note in his Golem-esque clutches; and the Wammys are pursuing new leads, whilst telling everyone to witness, watch and don't avert their eyes.
Don't blink. Whatever you do. Don't blink. And now, how about a nice game of chess? White moves first...
Great Acting in Death Note TV Drama
After this episode, we were discussing Shugo Oshinari's portrayal of Teru Mikami. He seems born to play him!
Fitting the role so perfectly that I can't imagine anyone else doing so.
Even physically, there's a resemblance between the actor and the manga/anime depiction of Mikami. It makes you wonder if the cast were chosen as much for their looks in comparison to the characters, as anything else. Or if the actors are just so good, that they draw that likeness down onto themselves.
Then there's Matsuda. Anyone else feel like Gouki Maeda has brought our bubbly hero Tota to life so completely, that it appears nothing short of preternatural?
I could highlight several more fabulous actors from this series, but those pair are the current stand-outs from Death Note episode eight.
Light Up Kira in his Shinigami Gaze
Light Yagami quite notably never got the shinigami eyes. But that isn't to say that the Death God can't been seen in his gaze.
As Light, he can seem quite wide-eyed and innocent, self-effacing even, nevertheless able to focus straight on. Head high, facing the world, though internally he may be scheming.
Just as it always will, when Kira presence is known.
His sidewards glance from the initial couplet carrying straight into that smug perusal of L. Then onwards; his vision moving across the floor, defocusing upon a spot beside him and up finally in smirking contemplation.
Shifting, sliding, crooked; just like Light's suddenly hooked index finger in the second of the four images, snapped at the instant that Kira fully comes to the fore.
Or Light Yagami gets a plan worked out to fruition. Which is pretty much the same thing.
So let's head on into the nitty-gritty.
TV Death Note's Kira on the Left Hand Path
In fact, his Kira gaze first looks left, then settles into whichever way it'll slither.
All over the world, the left has historically been denigrated as a cultural no-no. Some societies reserve the left hand for unsavoury necessities, like using it for cleaning oneself after using the toilet. Others have considered left handed folk to be luckless, awkward, stupid or downright criminal.
Language too, on a global scale, routinely disdains the left - 'the left hand path' is used in Abrahamic religions (and some Pagan ones) to describe selfish, sinful or destructive practices in worship and/or magic; from ancient Mesopotamia, through the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and into modern times, 'left' has been inserted into phrases meaning evil, wrong or otherwise not quite what should be done.
Nor is Japan exempt from this left disdaining social etiquette.
It's considered impolite - and bad luck - to eat with your chopsticks in your left hand there. The majority of left-handed children are still forced to use their right hands to write.
However, given the prevalence of Christian imagery in this adaptation of Death Note (and indeed the original too), it's worth noting that the Archangel Gabriel sat at God's left hand. And he was the Angel of Judgement.
Judgement Incarnate or possibly Satanic (in the traditional modern sense) evil doer? You decide.
Though I will say that imagery in previous episodes has suggested Light aligning more with Lucifer the Light Bringer, than Gabriel the Bringer of Life from the baby spirit banks of Sheol. I haven't seen Kira raise a trumpet to his lips once.
'We All Fall Down Like Toy Soldiers'
While Light ponders strategy, we clearly see his troops lined up against the wall behind him. Symbolically, at least, in the form of toy soldiers.
Yet overlooked, thus dominated by the antlered head of a Japanese Kirin - as already discussed in my review of episode two - positioned like Light to the left.
This mythological being is representative of vengeful judgement and justice. Its placement making it almost seem like a sheepdog herding those toy soldiers into their orderly rows. Like sheep corralled into the fold.
And below there is a human skeleton, not unlike Rem in aspect, standing slightly off the ground, aping Misa's stance whilst captured by L and the Japanese police. It's flanked by the skeletal reproductions of two dinosaurs - both extinct.
Does anyone know what purple creature features prominently in that bottom corner? It's staring straight at Light.
Possibly a mythological Japanese totem for luck or protection? Most of those pertaining to Light generally fall into that category, unless they're representing Kira in murderous reckoning. It looks like a horse to me. Please do shout up, if you can identify it.
Now keep your attention on Light's carefully placed pawns - those plastic troops - as he switches persona more noticeably into Kira.
No-one cares now what happens to the once vivid and innocent, penned and ignored toy soldiers. Losing their individuality as they fade from view. Just pieces to be played on Kira's personal battlefield. Deployed in dialogue, and already moving out of sight. Out of mind to follow suit quite swiftly.
Like any other war really.
White Knight L Upon a Death Note Chessboard
His entire inner sanctum seems fashioned upon a gigantic Wammy House chessboard - a game which was invented to equate a theatre of war, requiring tactical moves not unlike those found upon real life battle-fields.
Kira's biggest problem being the white knight sitting one step before him and two beside. That's an L shape and knight can own any piece from there, not least the black king currently held in check.
And is that a giant white king chess-piece looming alongside Light? Bit dangerous. It can only move one square, but that's enough to take him completely should he get too close.
Luckily it's only a pillar. Randomly ornate in a room full of squares, mostly in black and white with a nice blue border. (Cloudlike patterns for blue sky thinking.)
See the double row of identical shirts, white pawns awaiting play upon their white squares. With an option on snakes and ladders, as an option at the back.
(Black rook sits opposite. The entrance way into the room, all dark steel cages and stairs to descend within.)
The pawns are the white computer chairs standing all in a row. Presumably that's a bishop disguised as a triangle shaped meditation tent over to the side. Spiritual and triangular to imply diagonal.
Ignore the flowing curves of L's desk. A little fancy, but still L shaped. Positioning the White Knight, who has so often got his feet up; astride his table - equine in its stead - as befits a rider.
That L is the White Knight in a giant chessboard also accounts for his choice of lucky ring. The horseshoe signet which had me so befuddled back at the beginning of Death Note's television series run, when I thought it was actually a crescent moon.
Perhaps this explains too the purple horselike creature surveying Kira in that last picture from his own room. Black gets a knight too, though I'm not sure purple counts as black.
Nevertheless, Light's better off now than he was two episodes back, when white captured the black queen and took her clean off the table. A move which forced black king Kira to play repeatedly in check, relying upon stalemate to remain in the game.
At least he's got a queen. Stop looking at Near, no white queen there despite the actress playing them. Weren't you paying attention last week with the Tower of Babel and all? Or the week before that, with Near positioned up above in surveillance from a camera? Or a few weeks back with that big, red monument beckoning them on to the field of play.
Dude's playing rook right now.
Meanwhile L's having to pretend white has a queen too. Played psychologically - to be subtly intimidating, standing right alongside him - and introduced by dint of installing a suitably regal chess-piece pillar halfway across the board.
Divergent Plotline for Death Note (2015)
The glee in this household was palpable. After years of knowing the same old story inside and out, it's wonderfully exciting to have something new to enjoy within the same broad contours of this fascinating, familiar tale.
So Misa goes into the forest to collect her Death Note, finds it, digs it up and reads the title. All in red, like a woman on the brink of powerful ascension, as per long established colour coding in imagery for this Death Note television adaptation. Power right there in her grasp, with all due regard to those scarlet fingernails, which with she raked a manicured touch right across the cellophane.
Then in lieu of regaining her memories, she gets smacked around the head with a spade instead.
Talk about shock! And good fight with this show's propensity to surprise. Now us old timers can watch without knowing what is about to happen next.
And It was All Yellow - Colour Coding Villainy & Violence in Death Note Television Show
Yudagawa was brought to us today by the colour yellow.
I'm not kidding. Look, it follows him around.
Including the fact that Near is part way through completion of a plain yellow jigsaw (in place of the usual white one), whilst discussing Yudagawa with L.
You'd think it was just his colour, but then yellow crops up again and again. Like in the childhood bullying scene reminisced by Mikami, wherein a much more junior thug was indeed wearing yellow.
Yellow applies to the kind of physical violence you'd find in any dodgy pub on a Friday night. Plus the sort of villains who might live in your street.
They Call Me Mello Yellow (Quite Rightly)
Except its not Near, is it? And I think we all know whose persona watches from the sidelines there.
Lamp like a spotlight, picking out just one figure to be fully lit in this scene: the Mello marionette. Glow bouncing blond like a halo around the top of its head; its shadow reaching out in the pool of yellow light before it.
Near hasn't twirled a single lock in ages. The same lamplight shades that white hair in hues of blond and grey. The puppet lies abandoned a few feet away. To my mind, that's already Mello staring back at us.
So does yellow also mean Mello in this show's internal colour coding? He'd certainly factor into the Man of Violence designation, vis-a-vis the Mafia.
Not to mention the more obvious link with the colour of his hair.
So We're Going to Ignore Murder in Death Note Then?
It makes the scene above downright weird.
Basically we have to accept that Wammy and L are blithely welcoming Near into their midst - introducing them to high-ranking police officers as L's highly intelligent 'right hand man' (despite looking like a child) - and calmly hanging out playing jigsaws.
All without mentioning this:
What I'm 100% certain about is that my Mum and Dad would not have plonked me in front of the Meditation Tent equivalent of a naughty step, then not mentioned the sodding great corpse I created with my own bare hands, while helping me complete pretty puzzles and complimenting me in front of their friends.
But then again, my parents aren't child traffickers in pursuit of detective dollars (unlike Watari) nor enthusiastic torturers (like, say, L). So perhaps this behaviour is normal in Wammy circles. The evidence seems to point towards as much (yes, we're all looking at you, Beyond Birthday).
Nevertheless, let's just review what the Wammy House massive are overlooking in their child today:
First their little cherub broke into the home of a known violent assailant.
And whatever showed upon his expression - turned away from the camera, thus hidden to us - was enough to cause panic to pass across a grown thug's face.
Mello continued, "Remember, you're the one who laid a hand on me first." Thus proving that he was raised right, in the correct and sane values that it's ok to commit cold-blooded murder, as long as they hit you first.
Kids today, eh?!
Shedding Light on Community Policing in Death Note's Japan
Just on it, her boyfriend turns up. He gabbles stuff about them being friends and asks the constable to go away, so that the couple could talk.
The officer does not know if this is actually the assailant, as he has no verification nor yet a statement. But he is aware that there's a dangerous woman battering thug out there in his city today. He needs information fast, so the next female digging in woods might do so without a spade across the head.
So the policeman says, "Yes, no trouble. I'll just leave you to it and take yet more time out of my busy schedule to come back at a time more convenient you to, Mr Random Stranger." Or words to that effect.
Actually, you don't need to imagine it. That's precisely what happened in Death Note this week, and the police officer wasn't even being sarcastic in his polite agreement before leaving.
Dodgy Scriptwriting and Police Procedure in Death Note Television Drama (2015)
That's when the Kira Countermeasures task force hears about the attack upon Misa, and L basically hacks the city's CCTV cameras to find out who did it.
Armed with a name and address, the assembled police officers pretty much discuss whether they can be bothered to investigate further. The conclusion being that they're too busy with the (largely stagnant) Kira case to nip over and arrest the spade-wielding psycho.
Not even with all that circumstantial evidence linking Kudagawa WITH the Kira case. Nor does anybody check with head office that Misa's assault is on somebody's else's desk as a case file.
After all the police officer originally tasked with collecting her statement was too busy being polite to actually do his job. (See above.)
Though perhaps not the message that Death Note's scriptwriter and director intended to convey in this scene. That would have been - show the caring, supportive presence of nice law enforcement agencies, then get him the Hell out of here ASAP, so we can move the plot along with an anxious exchange of words between Misa and Light.
THEN the bizarrest moment of all kicks in.
Matsuda decides that actually, he CAN be moved to check out the assailant. But he would like to take his boss's son along with him, perhaps for work experience or something.
Moreover, Mogi supports Matsuda's suggestion. Telling their gaffer that Matsuda is so crap at his job that he can only be trusted to investigate if Light is with him.
After all, the victim was Light's girlfriend, so taking him into the home of her supposed assailant is fine. I mean, what could possibly go wrong there? It's not like there's any potential for an emotional reaction, like avenging his missus with swift and bloody retribution, and/or leaving something nasty inside Kudagawa's home.
Plus you know, getting a warrant to search the property is too much paperwork. So Matsuda will just call the suspect's landlady instead and get her to open his front door.