Death Note: Tokubetsu Yomikiri

Death Note finally returns after 12 years. And you know what? It was absolutely glorious.

To be honest, I had my doubts and wondered if this was a cash grab. Death Note went off kilt when that character passed away, the sequel oneshot with copycat Kira was even worse. And to quote my girlfriend, the most recent serialisation from Ohba Tsugumi and Ohbata Takeshi in Platinum End is giving Darwin’s Game a race to the bottom when trying to discover which one is the inferior Mirai Nikki rip-off. Fortunately, I can say one thing. This new oneshot does not disappoint. It successfully captures the magic which made the original Death Note so special.

It all begins because Ryuk was craving apples. He seeks out a genius in the vein of Light Yagami who can provide him with a steady supply of apples, and elects to negotiate with Tanaka Minoru – an academically struggling highschooler who has unwittingly topped national IQ tests in his age category for three years running. You can be sure he has a plan when he tells Ryuk to come back in two years, and it didn’t disappoint. I like how the writers acknowledged that in a modern age, any attempt to replicate Light Yagami would probably be foiled by modern surveillance and cybersecurity. A new approach would be required. To that end, Tanaka Minoru decides to put up the Death Note for auction – which proved to be an extremely fascinating and entertaining storyline, with global authorities quickly getting involved.

When other series try to attempt political commentary, it typically comes across as hammy and unrefined. Dross for the sake of appearing sophisticated. While still cheesy, particularly with the inclusion of Trump, Xi Jingping and Putin all bidding for the Death Note (which probably wouldn’t be beyond the realms of believability), the execution felt refined and this one-shot made two extremely cognisant cases. Capitalism and hedonism have become an increasingly dominant force within modern society, compelling A-Kira to forgo exercising any of the godlike powers from the Death Note by opting to find out if the Death Note itself could be leveraged for a sizeable sum of money. Who can blame him for preferring to seek out a cushy life? The other point made is that any global entity (including nation states) would eagerly chase the prospect of obtaining destructive powers, either for their own agenda or to prevent other nation states from furthering their own agenda – which would be a likely occurrence given the precedent of arms races between nations throughout history.

By flogging it off to the highest bidder, Minoru essentially forces the hands of every nation state in the world, who would seek to prevent it from falling into the ‘wrong’ hands. Now, I’m not saying that Trump, Xi Jingping or Putin gaining possession of the Death Note would be a fantastic outcome. But having it in the hands of a confirmed figurehead of government is more reliable because if they tried something, people would know that they’re behind it. If any of these political leaders went on a mass killing spree, it can be easily traced down with nuclear missiles primed at the ready for swift retaliation. All in all a solid plan which really echoed shades of Light Yagami’s genius, which actually minimises the Death Note’s threat to society and world order.

My only complaint would be directed towards the literal Deus Ex Machina ending. In my opinion A-Kira fully deserved to win there and there’d be no real harm in letting him off the hook, since it’s not like he killed anyone. Opening a bank account and crediting tens of thousands of young people with a distributed monetary rewards makes it nigh impossible to track him down, with Near conceding complete loss. So it was complete bullshit that A-Kira got randomly smote by the Shinigami King’s unpredictable and retrospective rule change. If the Shinigami King is intervening now, why didn’t he intervene when Light was exploiting every conceivable loophole under the sun? At least all those other young people in Japan who had a Yotsuba account were able to benefit from his ingenuous plan – becoming overnight millionaires in the process. So some people were able to achieve a very happy ending out of this fiasco.

Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. While it’s a shame that the one shot ended on such an anticlimactic term, I would say the overall chapter definitely didn’t disappoint, delivering a dynamic and satisfactory continuation to unexpectant fans of the franchise. Of course, that’s not to say it matches the good old days where Light and L played some of the most intense mind games against each other. But it covered significant ground considering the limitations of a one-shot and I will certainly be looking to purchase a physical copy whenever it lands. As always, thanks for reading this post and let me know about your thoughts on this one-shot in the comments down below!

Link to Chapter:


  1. No matter how clever, altruistic, and forward thinking a person is, if the powers that be want them wiped out for whatever reason, they will be wiped out. Sad reflection of our current reality.

    1. I don’t see why everything needs to be called a ripoff of something more popular just because it was there before. I doubt Mirai Nikki came up with the concept anyway.

      The term always seems more like low-key spite rather than any factual statement or approximation thereof imo.

  2. Death Note is a good way to show various aspects of human nature. If given the power to choose who lives or dies, do you become a serial killer and end everyone? or do you have a more noble objective and take out only the worst in society? Maybe you would reject the note altogether because murder is bad however you slice it. Either way there are people from all walks of life/society who would use the note for very specific purposes.

    1. Though in the Death Note manga/anime/movies the antagonists have a very “attention seeking” personality and aren’t content to hide in the darkness and use the note. I think if a Death Note user made no immediate grabs for attention in the media or with how they ended people they would be near enough impossible to find.

      You only have to see how in Death Note: Light Up the New World the antagonist made such a big show about his Light Yagami admiration that he was simple enough to find.

  3. “In my opinion A-Kira fully deserved to win there and there’d be no real harm in letting him off the hook, since it’s not like he killed anyone.”

    Yes he only sold the worst murder weapon in history (according to Near anyway) to a bunch of prominent sociopaths for profit. What a nice guy.

    1. I explain in my previous paragraph that at least global leaders can be held accountable, since they appear in the public eye. And because the auction was open, we know who received it. It’s totally different from allowing a mysterious individual to freely dispense justice – and I can imagine living in fear of accidentally being framed for a crime I didn’t commit, then being offed by Kira.

      With a political leader obtaining the Death Note, it feels like there’s much less for average Joes like you and me to worry about. Perhaps a bad thing for their political opponents or personal enemies, but they probably don’t go on a rampage because Mutually Assured Destruction is a deterrence with the existence of nuclear missiles. Though internal checks and balances to address any potential misuse might be problematic given how Russia and China are autocracies, while the Republican Party are flagrantly exploiting the constitution.

  4. It’s just speculation but I feel like the Shinigami King approved of Light’s rule abuse because he was killing untold numbers of people. Minoru never wrote a single name in the book and just drew a lot of attention to the world of Shinigami (albeit without just outright announcing its existence). Selling the Death Note to a government would result in having a human-run pseudo-Shinigami group.

    Again, speculation, but the Shinigami King stomping that out doesn’t feel like total bs even if it was sudden and not actively explained due to the nature of a one-shot.

    Char Aznable
    1. Can the Shinigami King make someone a Shinigami upon death? I always felt in the opening scene of the first Death Note Relight movie that the Unnamed Shinigami was a reincarnation of Light. Everything about that character just screamed Light Yagami.

      The new material in the recap movies aren’t part of the canon I believe but I felt it was interesting enough.

  5. Honestly, the President could have requested Ryuk to “drop” the Death Note to any loyal patriot in America. The problem is that this president is likely hated and likely feared any American patriot would write his name

    While that was a cheap move, on the King of Death’s part, for making that new rule, it means no one will sell it again.

    1. That’s a possibility. And I considered it. But I think that Ryuk was merely tasked by the Shinigami King with adjudicating Minoru’s death. Same as how he wrote down Light’s name, I think he also has a duty to record the previous owners of a Death Note. That, or he’s a sadistic entity that kills off his play things the moment they stop entertaining him.

      1. Ryuk killing Light made more sense purely on the fact he would have been given the death penalty for his crimes anyway. There’s no way any confirmed Death Note wielder would have escaped the death penalty in Japan.

        So Ryuk was left with the choice of letting humans kill Light for his crimes or simply killing him and moving on. He took the latter.

  6. It was a fun little idea on how to use the Death Note unorthodoxically I’d say though little more than that. I wish Ohba would return to serialized storytelling that I can actually care about.

    It certainly had one of the sanest Trump depictions I’ve seen in anime & manga though. Usually they’re more on the edge.

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