In Too Deep: Disney’s Death Note.
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Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Death Note, for those that don’t know, is an anime about a Shinigami’s notebook that falls into the human world. A Shinigami is a god of death, with the Death Note being a notebook that, if a name is written in it whilst their face is pictured, that person will die. Light Yagami picks up the Death Note; and ends up killing thousands.
But what if the Death Note had fallen into a different world. A world populated by timeless characters and kids friendly adaptations. The Disney Universe. Which villain would use it the most? Note for this I’ll just be focusing on some of the more popular Disney Villains in the 50+ animated film canon.
Lets start from those that would use it the least. Villains that wouldn’t care about the Death Note and its power include Chernabog (Fantasia), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Jafar (Aladdin) and Hades (Hercules). There are multiple reasons why they wouldn’t care about it, first and foremost being that they already posses a phenomenal amount of power to begin with. Maleficent can put a kingdom to sleep, Hades rules over the land of the dead, Chernabog is the frickin’ Devil for christsake. The idea of having to write down the name of their enemies doesn’t appeal to them, since they have a lot of power over life and death. Sure they all have antagonists, but it’s not like they’re evenly matched. One is clearly more powerful than the other. Even Jafar, who is possibly the weakest one in this group, still has sorcery powers before he gets his wish grant by the genie. As such these are the villains that would hardly blink an eye if a Death Note fell into their laps.
Next we have the sort of villain that would use it only one. These include great characters like Lady Tremaine (Cinderella), Hook (Peter Pan), Ursula (The Little Mermaid), Clayton (Tarzan) and the Evil Queen (Snow White). These characters have clearly defined nemesis’ they’d love to get rid of. However they have no further use for the Death Note after they’ve killed off their enemy. As such, it wouldn’t be very useful to them. Oh they’re evil alright. But with Peter Pan or Snow White dead, what else would Hook or the Queen need the Death Note for? As such, they’d use it as a one time tool, perhaps hanging onto it in case they wanted to kill anyone in the future. They also have a big enough ego not to want to have the Shinigami’s eyes either (more on that later).
So we’ve established which villains wouldn’t use the Death Note, or at least wouldn’t use it often. So the question arises: which villains would use it? Well two strong candidates are Cruella de Ville (101 Dalmatians) and Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), but both of them run into a big setback. In order for the Death Note to work, they must know the person’s name and face. Cruella de Ville would have no problem slaughtering 101 dalmatians to make her fabulous coat, but none of the dogs have names. As such, she wouldn’t be able to use the Death Note on them. Sure she could use it to kill the owners, but the problem of having the cops sniff around would prove to be too much of a bother. As such while she’d love to use it, she wouldn’t be able to. The similar problem happens to Gaston. He’d love to kill the Beast, but he has no idea what the Beast’s real name is. Of course, a bigger problem is that the buffoon probably wouldn’t know how to write anyone. So both Gaston and Cruella de Ville have the motive, just not the ability to utilise it.
So who would have both the motive and the ability? I’m going to go for a dark horse candidate and say Professor Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective). He is the crime prince, who would love the chance to off Basil of Baker Street. Furthermore he’d continually use it, getting rid of any opposition in his way. He is shown to have no qualms with killing, hence he’d use the Death Note as often as he could. However there is one drawback to him. I mentioned earlier about the Shinigami’s eyes. The user, for the measly cost of half their lifespan, can acquire the special ability to see a person’s name hovering above their head. Ratigan is far too much of an egotist to every waste his precious life. So while he would be a full-range murdering psychopath with the Death Note (just like our dear old Light), he wouldn’t be using it to the full effect.
So which Disney villain would be the worst candidate for having a Death Note? Which one would cause the most death, taking every opportunity to do so? Who’d be that genocidal?
Enter Judge Claude Frollo, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. On the surface he is a respectable member of the Christian society. However he keeps a man locked up because he is deformed, thinks of the Gypsies of lower class citizens; and uses his religion to blaspheme those that he hates. He is one of the vilest and most evil villains Disney has ever created (while at the same time having one of the best villain songs of all time). Given the chance to wipe out the blasphemers with a single stroke of the pen, well, the ink wouldn’t even have a chance to dry. He would also take the Shinigami’s eyes, under the belief that he was doing God’s good and he’d be rewarded later. Frollo would truly use the Death Note to its full advantage, committing genocide as easy as dropping a paving stone onto ants.
So there we have it. A theory on what certain Disney villains would have done if they have got their hands on a Death Note. Feel free to comment about any I miss, or argue about my categorisation. Till next time.