Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Death Note - Morality in Manga

Philosophy via manga.

Hey! I see you over there rolling your eyes! 'Another excuse to inflict your fannish ramblings on us.' I hear you saying it. I do. And you may be a little right. Maybe. But there really is an interesting moral/philosophical idea contained herein.
Here's a general idea of the manga/anime/live movies:

A high school student (whose father is a cop) comes across a black notebook. The notebook was dropped by a shinigami named Ryuk. The shinigami are gods of death. How it works is they write your name in their books and you die. There's more to it, but for the purposes of this post, that's it. I don't want to give away the whole plot. If you want to know all the details, check the wikipedia.

Light (our high school student) can now see Ryuk and hear him, because he has possession of Ryuks notebooks (the Death Note). Ryuk explains what it does, and this gives Light ideas.

He can use the Death Note to clean up the world. Execute criminals for their crimes. And that's what he starts to do. He watches the news, reads reports, etc. and writes criminals' names down and they drop dead. Light also creates an alter ego named Kira who explains what he's doing to the world. People become divided - some believe that Kira is a savior, others that he's a monster. The police start searching for him, and it gets more complicated from there.

The thing is this: Light/Kira starts out with good intentions. He wants to stop people from doing evil and make the world a better place. And at the end he winds up being just as bad (if not worse) as the people that he started out to stop.

So my question(s) are this:

What would you do with that sort of power? Would you use it? Would you drop it (because that was always an option)? Was Light always corrupt? Or did the Note corrupt him?
It's always been an interesting question. If you had the power to remake the world, would you do it?



    I would say something more intelligent but Im at work Lol

  2. Is it not wonderful?!

    One of my favorite manga, ever. (This post was actually caused because I got the second and third live movies in the mail today.) :)

    You can have an intelligent something to say later, if you like.

  3. Hey, Amber, I just did another post thanks to this. Now you can see what my favorite three anime/manga are. : ) Tell me what you think, okay?

  4. Found myself here through Heather ^_^

    Goodness, I don't think I've figured Light out yet. Sometimes I would have to pause in an episode (I've only seen the anime) and just think about what was going on.

    It's also been a little while - my energies have been on D.Gray-man :P

  5. Heather,

    I saw it. :) All excellent anime.

  6. Sophia,

    First, hi there!

    I know, Light is exactly as complex a character as he'd need to be if this happened in the real world. That's part of what drives me nuts when people pooh-pooh manga and comic books as 'kids stuff'. They clearly haven't bothered to *read* the material.

  7. Yeah..."Utena" really isn't for kids, even though it's shoujo. All of the underlying themes would just go completely over their heads, and some of the content of the t.v. show is a bit much for a youngun (and the film!!! Incest and manipulation and lesbianism

  8. Heather,

    It's actually one of the things I love about Japanese manga. They have *no shame*. None. Stuff that American literature subtextualizes, they're right out there in the open. Wrongest manga I ever read? Angel Sanctuary. And yet...Kaori Yuki holds a special dark piece of my heart.

    Utena was a glorious fest of intrigue. And the lesbianism was just...'here ya go. Have some girl/girl action. On a plate.'


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