Anime Challenge for November: Death Note

Light Yagami, a high school student discovers a supernatural notebook, the Death Note, that was dropped on Earth by a Shinigami (a god of death) named Ryuk. The Death Note grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose name and face they know. All you have to do is write the name of the person you want dead in the book while visualising their face. Pretty dark, right?

The series revolves around Light’s attempt to use the notebook to create and rule a world “cleansed of evil”, with his cast as a type of ‘god’, and the efforts of a detective known as L to stop him. In the first few episodes, criminals start dying one by one and fear falls in the criminal world like a dark rain. People become too afraid to commit a crime, rumours float around about Kira, a name for this unseen murderer of criminals. Light decides to adopt this name to sow his seeds of fear.

Throughout this the Shinigami Ryuk watches with amusement as Light plans and executes these criminal deaths by writing them in the notebook, playing a cat and mouse game with the authorities and L, staying a step ahead of them as they try to catch “Kira”.

Death Note manga first ran serialized in Shueisha’s manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 2003 to May 2006. Our anime challenge series adaptation aired in Japan from October 2006 to June 2007 and was developed by Madhouse and directed by Tetsurō Araki. The seres were also adapted into video games and light novel series, three Japanese live-action films released in Japan in June 2006, November 2006, and February 2008, and a television drama in 2015. A miniseries entitled Death Note: New Generation and a fourth film were released in 2016. An American film adaptation was released exclusively on Netflix in August 2017 and a sequel is apparently in the works.

Week 1 November 02 – 08 2020

Episode 1 – 3

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week 1 of our challenge and this week we talk about one of the creators of the Death Note Manga, writer Tsugumi Ohba who created the Death Note manga with illustrator Takeshi Obata from 2003 to 2006. This team not only created the Death Note manga but also created the manga series Bakuman. (2008–2012).

Tsugumi Ohba also collaborated with Robico on a series called My Little Monster, and has a fourth series, Platinum End which started in the December 2015 issue of Jump SQ. Who Tsugumi Ohba really is is a manga mystery. His true name is a closely guarded secret and people have speculated that Ohba may be. It is known that Ohba named Shotaro Ishinomori, Fujiko Fujio, and Fujio Akatsuka as mangaka Ohba is inspired by. Ohba also states in the profile at the beginning of every Death Note manga that Ohba likes to collect teacups and develops manga plots while holding their knees on a chair, similar to a habit of L, one of the main characters of the series. The mangaka is a mystery but a genius because Death Note is a story filled with mind games, between L and Light, which are well written.

Whoever Tsugumi Ohba is, he created a manga that is still talked about today and its success lies in the many adaptations there is of Death Note, like a musical, light novels, Japanese live-action movies, a Netflix live-action movie and various video games, as well as the anime that is our challenge this month. We hope you enjoy the challenge, have a super sugoi week.

Week 2 November 09 – 15 2020

Episode 4 – 6

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week 2 of our challenge. The Death Note anime was directed by Tetsurō Araki. He was born on November 5th, 1976 and he is an animator, storyboard artist as well as a director. When working as an episode director and key animator he likes to work under the alias Mochizuki Saburō. He is known for his work on anime such as Highschool of the Dead, Attack on Titan and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Tetsurō Araki loves to work on scary anime, it seems!

Highschool of the Dead

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Attack on Titan

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Tetsurō Araki, and if you have no,t maybe consider looking at his other work. Have fun with our Death Note challenge, have a super sugoi week.

Week 3 November 16 – 22 2020

Episode 7 – 9

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week 3 of our Death Note challenge. This week let’s look at a crucial element in Death Note, the Shinigami. If you watch a lot of anime these beings pop up in many anime in different forms and guises. Shinigami are death gods, according to Japanese folklore, they are supernatural beings that invite humans toward death. Some believe its origins might be in the Mrtyu-mara, a Buddhist demon that makes humans desire to die. Mrtyu-mara can possess humans, and suddenly the urge to commit suicide overcomes them. Some people think this myth originated to explain suicide.

Some of the earliest references to Shinigami appears in literature from the Edo period in Japan. In the Ehon Hyaku Monogatari by Shunsensai Takehara there are Shinigami mentioned that would possess humans from the tale entitled ‘Shinigami’. In the ‘Shinigami’ tale, the spirit of a deceased person (but this one with evil intend) leads people on bad paths, toward accidents.

In modern times, the belief in Shinigami became part of folklore in regions in Japan like some people believe that you must drink tea or eat a bowl of rice before going to bed otherwise the Shinigami might visit you. A type of urban boogeyman myth. There are also modern legends that a Shinigami might possess a person leading them to mountains, seas and railroads where people have died, then the possessed person dies there the spirit of a person that died there before can then ascend to the afterworld, a sort of ‘death turn’ (shiniban) believe.

A gentler belief that the Shinigami actually acts as a type of psychopomp (meaning guide of souls – a being who escorts the newly dead to the afterlife). They also believe that it is the Shinigami’s responsibility to make sure that people die at their destined time and does not perform the killing of the person itself. These Shinigami are invisible to people but can be seen by people whose death is near.

As we mentioned, Shinigami are found in anime, such as Bleach and Death Note. Here are two more examples of Shinigami in anime:

Takuto and Meroko are two cute Shinigami in the anime Full Moon o Sagashite that helps a girl dying of throat cancer to have a chance to reach for her dream to become a singer. Here is a video of the song New Future by Changin’ my Life from Full Moon o Sagashite.

Botan in the anime Yu Yu Hakusho is a Shinigami charged with ferrying souls of the deceased to the underworld to face their final judgment. Here is a video of the season 1 Opening Theme of Yu Yu Hakusho:

We hope you enjoyed our look at the lore of the Shinigami. There are many of them to meet in numerous anime, and we hope you will enjoy tracking down more anime featuring these fascinating beings. Have fun with our Death Note challenge, have a super sugoi week.

Week 4 November 23 – 29 2020

Episode 10 – 12

Konnichiwa Minna, it is our final week in the Death Note challenge. Death Note is suspenseful and the police, both international as well as local is having their hands full trying to find this murderous mastermind Kira. Death Note is not the only brilliant suspenseful anime that features police. Today we suggest to you another anime filled with suspense and the brave men in blue.

Zankyou no Terror

The anime Zankyou no Terror, promises action and suspense. This brilliant anime from MAPPA also known as Terror in Resonance is about how Tokyo is being held in thrall after a series of terrorist attacks. The terrorists, calling themselves ‘Sphinx’ upload a video with clues each time before one of their bombs go off. The police have to deal with public panic as well as trying to get ahead of these terrorist attacks. And here is a hint, the terrorists are two teenage boys!

Zankyou no Terror will keep you on the edge of your seat and it’s only 11 episodes long, perfect for an afternoon binge-watching. As for Death Note, our challenge feature the first 12 episodes but if you loved the challenge, why not watch the rest of the series? Have fun with our Death Note challenge, have a super sugoi week.