A fresh take on a classic franchise is always welcome in the world of anime. Bring in the original creators of the international craze, and you have what’s sure to be a small classic on your hands. Today’s newest Death Note one-shot, just titled Death Note: Special One-Shot, follows up on all these expectations.
Possibly the best part is, you can read it for free on the Shonen Jump website, officially translated into English. You don’t need a subscription or account or anything to pick up this one-shot: just half an hour of your time, if you’re a slow reader.
Death Note’s original creators, renowned author Tsugumi Ohba and the indispensable artist Takeshi Obata, return to the helm for this 87-page special. Special One-Shot features a new character and the return of some favorites, and it takes place in the year 2013.
Ryuk returns to a young Japanese man after two years to fulfill his craving for appels. After the boy receives the Death Note — and his memories — back, he hatches a unique plan to use the tool to his advantage. Yet, it’s absolutely not the way one would expect to use the Death Note. The wild scheme that unfolds confounds detectives, who must figure out how, or if, they want to pursue this new “A-Kira.” In the end, things play out far more interestingly than expected, and Ohba and Obata make a pretty clear statement about… well, spoilers.
There are some hints and explanations, too, about how the original Kira (that is, Light Yagami) affected the world. It’s clear, like before, that the world hasn’t forgotten about the mass killer. At one point, the protagonist even mentions that Kira is portrayed as evil in a book of ethics. However, it’s more of a day-to-day look at this world; we don’t see anything about the implied cult of Kira shown at the end of the original manga.
Overall, the one-shot leans back more towards playing on the political and social, instead of primarily murder-focused. Other spinoffs from back in Death Note’s height of popularity also similarly focus on different iterations of L solving murder crimes.
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In the prequel novel, Death Note: Another Note – The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, L chases down a murderer with increasingly confounding and high-logic clues. A past one-shot dubbed “Chapter 109” featured Near, before he becomes the new L, solving a mystery case. A novel and movie named L: Change the WorLd were also released, in which L must get to the bottom of a biological terrorist situation. The novel and movie each had differences but followed the same storyline. A series of 12 pages of prequel story, featuring L as a child, was released in conjunction to the movie.
And there’s been plenty more Death Note media as well. A musical, video games, more movies, and other media expanded the universe of Death Note. Netflix even released that one questionable and controversial American adaptation of the main series.
Similarly, it seems the welfare of the alternate universe of Death Note is on the original team’s mind. Maybe we’ll see more anecdotes of the world after Kira — and of other Death Notes around the world.