There’s a very definitive ending in Death Note. Loose ends are tied up. We know what happened to its main characters. But there’s still a lingering what if. There’s room to explore what shinigami did before. The manga Death Note Short Stories attempts to answer those potential questions, specifically showing the affect Kira, L, and Ryuk had on the world. This also provides an opportunity to see how others handle a Death Note’s power.
Editor’s Note: There will be spoilers surrounding Kira and L’s appearances in the original Death Note below.
As expected from a new installment tied to the series, the Death Note Short Stories manga primarily is a collection of stories about new Death Notes. However, given the characters and settings involved, it is also collectively about their legacy. For example, the C-Kira and A-Kira chapters both show how others would handle getting Death Notes years after Kira. The world is aware of these books when the new cases come up. They know about L’s involvement in the original Death Note case. Since those not active in the situation and its resolution didn’t know L or Light died, the new cases get treated as “Kira.” Even if L says they aren’t the “real” one, people want to believe. Which means we see the new fanaticism and reaction to the return.
It also means we see how L influenced his successor, Near. Since L’s death was never revealed, everyone considers him to be alive. The new manga shows how that knowledge affects Near and his decisions. It also provides an opportunity to read more about his thoughts on various matters. Due to his sharing the spotlight with Mello for part of the story, each story he appears in here helps build up his character. With A-Kira, we get a more direct view of a new “Kira” picked by Ryuk himself. In the original Death Note, Light Yagami acquiring the book happened by chance. Ryuk didn’t pick him out. In this new tale, things are more deliberate. Ryuk was bored before, and Light’s decisions were interesting. So for this new case, he picks out another intelligent individual in the hopes of another fascinating situation. And while Kira doesn’t influence this new person’s actions, someone else who worked on that case’s response to events because of that prior experience helps shape the course of the adventure.
As for its last story, it offers insight into the series’ foundation. The collection includes “The Taro Kagami Story.” While it exists outside of the main series’ continuity, due to being the first Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata story involving a Death Note, we still get to see Ryuk and the book in early forms. We see the influence of both on the human world and individuals who find them. More importantly, we see how this early concept affected the series proper.
Death Note Short Stories is all about what came before and what came next. We see what could have been in one story, with Ryuk influencing a new Death Note user. Meanwhile, other stories show new Death Note users, folks’ reactions to additional Kiras, and Near continuing to act under the L mantle. Each story shows how the original adventure permanently changed certain people and the world, and how they alter the future.
Death Note Short Stories will be available in English from Viz Media on May 10, 2022.