Death Note: Short Stories Review

It’s time to return to the world of Death Note. The concept/premise has so many possibilities that I’m surprised this isn’t revisited more. You could say it’s a bit of a gold mine of ideas. Think of it like Twilight Zone or something and you could have a different person get it each time. After a point you’ll probably want to make them fully standalone with the prior events not happening though because I think the longer it goes on, the tougher it would end up being with handling the reactions since having it first happen in the world is part of the fun with how shocked everyone is.

There are quite a few stories here as well as some 4 koma adventures. I won’t go into the mini strips but I’ll dive into the main stories. Of course one of the stories is one I reviewed back in 2020 so check out my full review for that one in this link. The story definitely holds up really well and is still a great What If. You feel like the Shinigami King effectively had to cheat to stop this guy because otherwise it was completely a perfect plan. There were no weaknesses and even Near had to admit defeat. So I thought that was really impressive and it’s a plan that holds up under scrutiny. Even if you think about it a lot of put yourself into Near’s shoes, there was likely no way to break apart this strategy.

There’s a story here for L’s origin which is fun enough. We see how he was a genius ever since he was a kid and how he got rich. Ultimately L gets inspired to be a detective which ends up being a strength of his. The guy is very quirky and has a lot of odd habits so it’s good that he became a detective because he probably would have struggled in more traditional situations. After all, the guy likes to do things at his own pace. I suppose he would be rich enough where he wouldn’t have had to worry either way but this way he has something to put his mind to focus on. There’s not much to it but seeing a glimpse into L’s past is always cool.

Now we dive into the 2 main stories that I hadn’t read before. The first one is C-Kira. Basically someone has appeared with the Death Note and is murdering all of the senior citizens who say they want to die. This Kira is effectively trying to be a mercy killer who only destroys the people who really want to die. Then it starts to go further as he’ll murder people getting in his way, people who criticize him, and this all starts to go down a path we’ve seen before. The police quickly contact Near but unfortunately he doesn’t care enough to help.

The ending to this story is incredibly convenient to the point where it does weaken the whole thing though. You can’t get me to believe that this guy could be stopped with a sentence or two on the air like that. I think the author wrote himself into a hole here because there would be no way to track this guy much like the previous story. After all, in this case people were volunteering their information so they could be murdered and anyone with internet or a TV could see them so the suspects are unlimited.

It helps to underscore how even with Light nobody could have ever tracked him down if he had played it safe. If he relied on public information rather than using classified police files then the heroes would have been cooked. Even if he hadn’t responded to L’s taunt with the big screen then it would have been that much harder to find him. Light technically did make a lot of mistakes and it was only his overall genius which kept him in the game so long. In this compilation you’ll notice that the characters constantly put him on a pedestal.

Of course they don’t agree with Light, that’d be crazy but they constantly talk about how he was so smart and how these new villains shouldn’t even be called Kira. It’s almost like a running gag where every chapter you can expect them to talk up Light to some extent. Light was a very fascinating character though so that makes sense. To date he’s one of the top main characters, I don’t think we’ll see very many villains who could match this guy.

Finally, we end with the pilot story involving the magic eraser. A kid gets a Death Note and accidentally takes down the bullies who had been messing with him. Naturally he didn’t realize that writing their names in the book would murder them but fortunately the eraser comes in handy. The cops get involved eventually and it becomes a whole big thing. As you can guess the eraser was a pretty big deal here. It would completely change the dynamics of the main series if it were to actually be here. After all, any and all deaths could be immediately reversed in the series which would lower the stakes but also add a whole new element into the mix.

Ultimately the eraser is an interesting idea but you can definitely see why it wasn’t put into action. I think there’s enough potential where you could do a whole series with that concept and I’d be interested to see how the characters react to that, but I doubt it would past the original. Still, from these various stories you can see the overall potential of the universe. There’s just a whole lot here and this is only scratching the tip of the iceberg.

For example we see that a lot of people still look up to Kira. Apparently Light’s actions caused all war around the world to end and lowered crime by 70%. It’s one of those classic examples where the ends don’t justify the means but once someone already did all of that, you have no choice but to accept the benefits. Some characters still resent that this had to happen while others have made peace with it already. Still others continue to root for Kira. In the story where he is murdering the people who want to die, it’s an interesting discussion. You could ultimately use the Death Note to help someone pass on peacefully without any pain. (Conceptually at least. This guy still went for the heart attack in each case since he didn’t seem to know about the rules)

As always though we see how this corrupts each of the users. No matter the intentions, the Death Note will ultimately cause its user to want more and more power until they start murdering just anyone. It’s just not a good idea to use it and murder is always wrong. Seeing the characters wrestle with the notion of this being wrong while also being tempted to let it play out is the most interesting dynamic here. You could probably talk in circles about how cool the premise is for quite a while to be honest.

If you’re a Near fan then you might not be super pleased with him here. Personally I never cared for the ugy much and this volume reminds me why. He barely ever tackles any cases and he’s out of his depth when he does. His only win here is pretty much by chance since the villain should not have lost and I just feel like he never has the charisma or genius of L. The government is going to need a new L at this rate if any more Kiras show up. Meanwhile the art is really good too so it’s easy to follow the action. It’s a very detailed style that works well for a serious mystery title like this. The Shinigami world can be a little hard to visualize but that may be intentional to show how odd that world is.

Overall, It was nostalgic to see more Death Note stories here. I think the author needs to get to work on more of them. The idea of having a Death Note appear in real life would certainly be terrifying. Imagine everyone having to conceal their real names at all times so that nobody would find it out? A person’s birth certificate would suddenly be worth its weight in gold. It also makes you wonder how it affects things like changing your name. Does the Death Note take that into effect once it’s legally certified or the instant you change it? There are infinite things to discuss so ultimately the best thing to do is to read this for yourself and see what you think.

Overall 8/10

2 thoughts on “Death Note: Short Stories Review

  1. One thing that drives me crazy is when authors create short stories after the main manga, but then you never know if/when people outside Japan will be able to read them. And if they do get released, sometimes they’re digital only, or included in another series’ books. Glad to see the one-shot and other extras finally get a proper release that’s all Death Note.

    • Agreed, there’s probably so many gems out there that will never be licensed and it’s definitely sad to think about. Hopefully we’ll get more compilations like this for other titles in the future

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