Death Note is a complex series that has been written about…a few times here. For those who know nothing of the series, here’s brief summary: Shinigami or “gods of death” have journals called death notes. When a person’s name is written in the book, they die. There are more rules than that about the book’s use, but that is the basic premise. In the original series, a teenage boy obtains a book from a Shinigami (Ryuk) and decides to use it to create his own world order. The original series follows the rise and fall of “Kira.”
This one-shot picks up in the same world that the last series left off. Ryuk has come back to earth looking for apples. He drops his Death Note on a new, smart teenager named Minoru Tanaka, who immediately comes up with a plan on what to do with it. He asks Ryuk to return a few years later to implement his plan.
Upon Ryuk’s return, Tanaka says he is going to sell the power of Kira with Ryuk’s help. The one-shot then follows the attempted sale, how the people (and their governments) respond to this, and how it impacts everyday life.
The story is jam packed with fascinating moments from both old and new characters. It keeps you going page after page just to see what will happen next. There’s even a sub-plot where the second L is trying to find this new “Kira” who’s selling off the power. Seeing them again and how they respond is fascinating to behold.
While similar to the original Kira, in many other ways Tanaka is nothing him. The biggest divergence comes as he clearly does not want to kill. He does not care about changing the world; he seems to just want to survive. Selling the death note is a simple way to do so. Yet, the morality of such a powerful object in the hands of the highest bidder is incredibly questionable. Tanaka does not seem to care, merely using it as a tool for survival without even truly using said tool.
The story’s rises and falls are fascinating to behold and worth checking out. If you like the original, this is a must read. However, if you never read the original series, I’d avoid it. The previous series (manga or anime) is required reading as without the knowledge of the world setting and previous characters, you are likely to quickly become lost in this setting.
The original team behind Death Note comes back for a one-shot set in the same world. The chapter raises new questions about the morality of selling the ultimate weapon. Fans of the original Death Note series should absolutely check it out. Those who are unfamiliar with the source material should not, as it requires a full knowledge of the original series in order to enjoy it.
Overall Rating: A
Art: A — Excellent artwork. Ryuk is as horrific as I remember him from the original series and the character designs are, as with the original, just utterly cool.
Characters: A — The old characters are true to form and the new characters are fascinating to meet. Also, some real world leaders were included in the story—watching them react to the concept/power of the death note is so interesting.
Continuity: A — This story picks up where the original left off in a good way. It does not in any way conflict with the original series, only expanding upon it. However, new readers who know nothing of Death Note would be better off avoiding this altogether.
Story: A+ — The story is where this shines. I loved every moment of it as it takes on the real world ramifications of what would happen if an ultimate weapon was sold at auction. The reactions of world leaders and the average people on the street felt genuine and accurate. I truly enjoyed this story. However, as I noted a few time already, those who are not already knowledgeable about the original series may not enjoy this as much.
Death Note (2020) one-shot can be read at Shonen Jump.