12 Days of Anime Day 1: Death Note Manga vs. Anime Ending

I admit this post really doesn’t fit the 12 Days of Anime posts, but it’s a thought that I’ve had for a while that I realize I’ve never actually expressed on the blog, so it’s totally relevant (I think?). The anime adaptation of Death Note is a very faithful one with a lot of really strong points, most notable of which being the incredible musical score. However, there’s a fairly small difference in the way the series ends in the manga vs. the anime and I’ve always preferred the manga’s ending.

Spoilers for the ending of Death Note begin here

In the final moments of the series, our main character, Light, comes up with a grand scheme to kill all of remaining enemies in one fell swoop that ultimately fails leading to his own downfall. There are two parts of this episode that I want to address, the way Ryuk kills Light and the things Ryuk says to Light about people who use the Death Note.

In the anime, Light attempts to escape his captivity after being defeated. As he’s running he sees visions of himself before Ryuk ultimately writes his name in the Death Note. To me this has always seemed a bit too impersonal.

Contrast this with the manga’s ending, where Light never leaves the warehouse and instead begs Ryuk to write down everyone’s names for him. Ryuk seems to oblige, but reveals that he is instead writing Light’s name. In this scene, Light is forced to face the inevitability of his death and we see how he acts when faced with his demise. I’ll get to more on why I like this.

To me, the second difference is the more important one. In both the manga and the anime, Ryuk tells Light that anyone who uses the Death Note can neither go to heaven nor hell. In the beginning, this is an interesting statement that makes you wonder because you’d expect these people to be punished with the eternal torment of hell.

However, the manga in its final moments adds an extra bit of dialogue to this discussion. Light surmises that the true intention of Ryuk’s statement is to say that both heaven and hell do not exist. Ryuk drives home the point that death treats all humans equally. It’s a huge difference because it makes Light’s desperation when faced with his death so much more understandable. An egomaniac like Light would be completely willing to go to death where he is forced to stand on the same level as all of humanity.

So, that's my piece. Hope you enjoyed it and let me know what you think.

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