The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
No other words have evoked such immense curiosity in my mind than these when I read the first chapter of Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Death Note has become one of the the most popular Manga (and as an extension, Anime). So much so, that people who don’t usually read manga are at least aware of Death Note and at most, they love it. Heck, so many people have read just one manga series and that is Death Note.
Since its inception, Death Note has became a global phenomenon and for good reason. It includes elements of psychological thriller, crime, mystery and supernatural among others. This led to an Anime adaptation that is decent (not as good as the manga, of course) and a few movies, TV adaptation and spin off novels (which should all be ignored completely)
This series is simply about that- a notebook that can kill the person whose name you write in it. How brilliant is this idea? Look at the words themselves- Death and Note. Who would have ever thought of a correlation between writing in a notebook and murder? As soon as you read about this, you may wish to have such a notebook. That was exactly what the protagonist Light Yagami believed. He wanted to create an ideal world where he kills off the criminals and allows only good citizens to live.
Coming back to the main question- Is Death Note the Ultimate weapon? It seems to be so- you won’t have to deal with any of the difficulties of killing in person: no need to acquire weapons discreetly, no need to arrange logistics, no need to look a person in the eyes before killing him, no blood and gore and no witnesses to see you do this deed! Seems perfect, no? At first, yes. BUT, the moral implications can be terrifying to say the least.
How do you deal with the fact that you have caused the premature death of someone who was not destined to die? How do you justify your acts of judging another human being when you have no inherent right to decide who gets to live or die? Does having power to kill someone justify your doing it?
As soon as Light Yagami gets a grip on himself, and sets aside morality for the greater good; he kills a staggering number of criminals. As he is enjoying himself being the God of the new world, the greatest, most secretive detective in the world, only known as “L”, figures out that someone somewhere is using a mysterious method of killing people. Thus begins the greatest mind games ever created in literature. Both sides exceedingly cunning, calculating and wanting to be the one true brand of ‘Justice’.
The books span 12 volumes and the story is a rollercoaster ride that is just as much detailed as it should be. Not more, not less. What happens in the end? Who wins? Is a perfect society created?
Would I want to use the Death Note? Probably. Probably not. The main reason I would not want to shoulder this burden is because I cannot know for sure the circumstances of the criminal. I believe it is the circumstances and the decisions you make as a person that shape you as an individual. We don’t have control over our circumstances and that affects our sense of morality and decisions to a large extent. What someone in an affluent family thinks is moral may not hold the same definition as a person in a poor background. Especially in today’s day and age where we see news outlets creating sensational headlines and images to pull in more readers, we never know what is the truth. The news outlets have a duty to tell us the unbiased, unfiltered truth with complete objectivity and zero judgement. Reading a newspaper should be as dull and dry as reading a textbook or technical document. In today’s world, how can we know what the news reports is the truth?
What do you feel? Would you want to use the Death Note? Do you sympathise with Light for choosing to use it? Let me know in the comments below.
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