Here’s something you may not know about me: I’m a big manga fan. Growing up I was pretty big into anime, and as I got older I began to be more interested in the original manga series’ than the television shows that were made based on them. I’m not a rabid collector by a long shot, but I have a few full series and am slowly working my way through a few others, and one of the latter is a rather wonderful series called Death Note.
If you’ve never heard of it, the series follows a teenage boy named Light who has come into possession of a “Death Note” notebook which allows him to kill anyone he wants, in any manner he wishes, just so long as he knows the person’s name. He takes it upon himself to use his new-found power to pick off those members of society that he feels deserve to die – murderers, rapists, con-men, criminals of all shapes and sizes – and soon enough finds himself being hunted by the world’s most renowned – if not a little off-center – detective.
So where does this “Ryuk” character that I’ve named the post for come in? Well the Death Note books are the possessions of creatures called “shinigami”, which translates to “death god”. Basically, shinigami are like grim reapers, whose job it is to take the lives of humans. One shinigami in particular, named Ryuk, becomes bored with the lack of entertainment in the shinigami world and decides to have some fun. He “loses” a Death Note in the human world and then follows around the kid who picks it up to see what happens.
The story in general is just quite brilliant and interesting, and the TV series that was based on it is actually quite good as well, and my favorite part of both is Ryuk. He is one of the strangest creatures of any story that I’ve ever read or watched – a literal death god who loves watching humans and is quite oddly obsessed with apples – and his antics and the way he “mentors” Light add a creepy-yet-goofy feel to the story that make it that much better than it might otherwise have been.
If you’re someone who enjoys the occasional manga or comic, I definitely recommend this series, and if you’re someone who doesn’t feel silly watching cartoons (trust me, this one is NOT for kids!) then I would definitely recommend the TV show as well.
As mentioned before, Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan) is at the top of the list of my favorite games of all time. My best friend and I discovered the Super Nintendo cartridge in our local convenience store/rental shop when we were quite young and proceeded to spend ungodly amounts of money renting it over and over and over again. As those who have played it will know, you can spend well over 100 hours on this particular game, and so my friend and I would struggle to come up with the money to rent it day after day, knowing that if we allowed it to return to the store it might be rented by someone else who would overwrite our save. I’m quite certain that between the two of us we paid for the game three or four times over in rental costs…and this was back when it only cost, like, $2 to rent a game.
We fell in love with the game for a number of reasons, but for me one of those reasons was the main bad guy of the story. Kefka Palazzo was a general in the evil Empire. He was one of the first subjects that the Empire used to test their methods of transferring magical powers to a human by extracting them from an esper. But the techniques had not yet been perfected, and it is understood that something in Kefka’s brain snapped during the process. He became a complete lunatic, insane to say the least, and eventually (SPOILER ALERT!) he betrays the Emperor in favor of taking control of the entire world for himself.
I always loved the Kefka villain for how just terribly maniacal he is. Our first glimpse of him is during a nightmare that Terra has in which he is taking control of her mind and body by forcing a “slave crown” on her head. The next time we meet him he’s searching for Terra and decides that the best way to flush her out is to set an entire castle on fire. And the story goes on like that, with him ready, willing, and able to murder anyone who wanders across his path, laughing demonically the entire time. In a time – and a medium – in which it was difficult to accurately portray emotions and suspense and the like, Kefka easily came through as a raving mad psychotic, and for that, Square, I salute you.
(As a final note, if you’ve never played Final Fantasy III, GO GET A COPY RIGHT NOW WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!)