Yes. Yes you truly did just read that as the title of this post. We are going to talk about how he took a chip…and ate it. Welcome back to 13 Days of Otakutober! We are here for glorious day three where I am excited to talk about something that has followed me through life–much like how Ryuk followed Light. That’s right, today we talk about the cult classic–Death Note (okay maybe not cult classic but rather mainstream hit. It’s a cult classic in a whole other meaning of the word). Without further a boo (I’m so sorry for these terrible puns but also no I will not stop), let’s get talking!
I feel like Death Note is so well known, there is no need for me to explain the premise. Not only was a hit in the manga and anime world from 2003-2007, it remained a hit for many years after. Even to this day, there are rarely any weebs/otaku who don’t know what you’re talking about when you said Death Note. It inspired movies, light novels, tv shows, musicals–even video games. It was a perfect manga for teens and adults alike–but definitely teens. Especially when copious amounts of eyeliner and swished bangs, colored hair, and the ’emo’ aesthetic was in. Death Note made people question themselves and their own sense of justice. It created debate between fans, and it certainly played with your emotions. It was definitely a manga for edgelords back in the day. You couldn’t go to anime convention without running into a Light or L cosplayer. Everyone wanted to dress like Misa Misa, even if she was useless in the story, and people made their own notebook copycats of the death note. To put it simply–it became an instant classic. It even offered us great quotes that live on to this day…like the fact that Light made a huge deal over taking a chip and eating it. The OPs and EDs were also impressive, and there hasn’t been a single anime fan that I’ve met that DOESN’T recognize The WORLD when it starts playing. It was huge.
But that’s just went on at a first glance. Death Note had impact beyond it’s sensation. For instance, there was a huge boom in the BL shipping fandom (ironically one that can’t necessarily be described as good) right around the years that Death Note was popular. Naturally, there is hardcore shipping in every big fandom, and occasionally yaoi shipping, but Death Note was gigantic for this. Gaia Online had huge forum discussions and guild for the ship between Light and L, and Death Note was one of the most popular series on fanfiction.net (it still is today, with over 35,000 stories dedicated to it). There was definitely something in this era of anime fandom that really enjoyed the idea of rivals getting together (I mean, there always has been and is to this day), but Lawlight was a prime example of the shipping trope. Both were brilliant and played a cat and mouse game so similar to Holmes and Moriarty. For a manga without any real romance to offer, Death Note certainly took the shipping world by storm.
There’s also some…darker things associated with Death Note and how it impacted the world. Because in a way, it really did change the world. Unfortunately, Light’s story and idea of justice inspired more than just kids making copycat notebooks. No, it inspired real crimes. Sure, there were plenty of kids hauling around their personal death notes and getting in trouble for writing classmates names in them, but that was nothing compared to the real life crimes inspire by the show. The one I actually remember reading about at the time was in 2007. There was a note found near the remains of a body in Belgium that read “I am Kira”. It took three years for the culprits to be found. In 2009, a thirteen year old boy was found creating a note that detailed where bombs could be placed in his school. The crimes more or less came into alignment with the release of Death Note outside of Japan. Which ended up being bad for manga overall. After all, Death Note ended up being banned in some places like China, and many parents began believing that manga was bad for corrupting their children and causing them to go out their way to write the deaths of classmates and other people into notebooks. In my opinion, it was all a little ridiculous.
But honestly, between the parents wanting to ban their kids from watching anime, to being dubbed the weird kid by peers for either possessing a death note or shipping Lawlight, Death Note made people who weren’t into anime look at you different. I mean, given that liking anime back then wasn’t cool, you just seemed like a psycho or edgy weird kid the minute it was known. Which is so crazy to me since Death Note was such a huge phenomenon in the manga/anime world–so cool there, so taboo elsewhere! It was so strange. But the craziest part yet? Now it’s one of the cool anime to watch again. Like, now it’s a gateway anime for those just getting into the wonderful world of weeb, and even people who don’t like anime know of or might have watched it. Sugoi how far we’ve come. As for the rest of the weeb world, it’s a classic for sure, but the hardcore fandom has died down.
No one can deny that Death Note was a sensation. It hit the market outside of Japan strongly, and sometimes for the worse, but it is certainly regarded as a classic now. While the days of seeing Light and L cosplayers in the dozens at con is over, there’s still always going to be a few. The merch will probably never leave Hot Topic stores. And for the weeb world, it’ll never truly leave our hearts. That’s all I had to say for day three of 13 Days of Otakutober! Hope you enjoyed this and look forward to tomorrow.