Earlier this week, we were hit with something so amazing that I almost fangirled in the middle of the work meeting I was sitting in when I got the news that it was a thing. This week, fans of Death Note, such as myself, were graced with a One-Shot that follows in the spirit of the titular franchise. And here at The Ramen Stand, I want to voice some of my thoughts on this chapter.
The Legacy of Kira
First and foremost, I want to talk about “Kira”. More specifically, I want to talk about his legacy and how he is remembered by the current generation. “Kira” was active for approximately six years with many different people using the title to carry out the plans of Light Yagami and, in that six years (2003-2009), “Kira” reduced the global crime rate by seventy percent and effectively eliminated war. However, this is not what he is remembered for in the One-Shot.
In the chapter, Minoru Tanaka, the new recipient of the Death Note, mentions that “Kira” is a person that was taught about in his elementary school ethics class and his middle school world history class. “…In ethics, they taught us that Kira was evil. And in world history, he was described as a mass-murdering terrorist. The worst in recent history. But there are also lots of people who say Kira was a god.”
To me, this is not a line that can simply be thrown away. In fact, I think that it is the perfect example of how history is written and how people are remembered for their actions by the general population. “Kira” was, in fact, a mass-murderer. He killed approximately 124,925 people in the six years he was active which, for context, is on the low end of the number of people killed in wars throughout history as annotated on Wikipedia. However, as I mentioned before, he also globally reduced crime rates and stopped all wars, a fact that isn’t mentioned in the One-Shot most likely because it had been omitted from the textbooks that Minoru had to study growing up.
Here nor there, it can be eluded to that “Kira” is remembered as a violent maniac by most people for the extremity of his actions without giving due credit to how much good those violent actions brought about, which mirrors the way people are remembered historically in the real world. Case in point, Adolf Hitler is remembered for the atrocities he caused and his brutality against the Jewish people. Most textbooks will only provide you that information without also informing you that, despite how horrible the Holocaust was, the advancements made in medical science by the Nazis were irrefutable.
(I feel the need to say that I do not support any of the atrocities that happened during the Holocaust or any other horrible war in history, I am simply trying to point out the parallels between how “Kira” is remembered and discussed and how people who have committed similar acts are remembered and discussed in the real world. I really hope I don’t offend anyone or have anyone think that I am in support of these atrocities.)
Minoru Tanaka’s Plan and The New Rule
So, Minoru is first given the Death Note in 2017, roughly eight years after the downfall of “Kira”. However, he returns the notebook to Ryuk and asks that the Shinigami comes to him two years from then, in 2015, to enact his plans. Why? Well, I assume that this is because when he first receives the Death Note, he is only 14 or 15 years old. As his plan centered around gaining money, it is my belief that his 2 year wait was simply because Minoru knew he would need the money to get into college and knew that he should wait instead of simply having that money sitting in his bank account for four years.
His plan was actually very simple. Auction off the Death Note, have the money distributed to a vast number of people so that it couldn’t be directly linked back to him, and go on with his life. This plan was brilliant and effective. In fact, in contrast to “Kira”, Minoru doesn’t commit any actual crimes while he is in possession of the Death Note. As stated in the chapter, there is no criminal charge for simply selling off the Death Note to someone else. Minoru singlehandedly comes up with the perfect plan where nobody gets hurt and he (and his country) benefits from it.
The United States buys the Death Note from Minoru for one-quadrillion yen (which is HILARIOUS because Donald Trump, the current POTUS, is featured quite heavily in this chapter. My personal political beliefs aside, each panel with Trump made me chuckle if not full on laugh). Then, Minoru has the money deposited to everyone aged 60 and under who has a Yotsuba Bank of Japan savings account in equal amounts. Since there is no official number for how may people that is, the chapter goes out of its way to state that, even if it was a million people, each person would get a hefty billion yen in their bank accounts.
As a result of Minoru’s actions, Japan’s economy begins booming. Whether or not this was part of Minoru’s plan is a mystery, but it cannot be contested that he did so much good with such a simple plan. After he has completed his plan, he tells Ryuk to take the Death Note to the POTUS and never appear before him again, blissfully unaware of the new rule that had been placed on the notebook. “A human who buys or sells the Death Note in the human world will die. The seller will die when they receive the money, and the buyer will die when they receive the Death Note.” So, unfortunately, Minoru dies immediately upon receiving his payment, carrying on the trend that whoever uses the Death Note will meet an unfortunate end, regardless of how they use it.
This chapter was a breath of nostalgic air. Death Note is easily one of my favorite anime/manga of all time and I was thoroughly surprised and delighted when this chapter was released. The art, the story, the ambiance, the returning characters such as Near (the new L) and Matsuda was incredible for me as the reader and I can only hope that they release another One-Shot (or a full on new series, fingers crossed) soon.