Justice Doesn't Exist In Death Note

Justice Doesn't Exist In Death Note

Very early on in my journey with anime, I had a tendency to reflect on shows I had just finished by browsing through reviews or summaries to sort of get my thoughts together. I don't do this anymore, but back then the hours immediately after finishing anime were devoted to reading stuff like this to help myself gather an informed opinion on elements of the story in case I had missed something while watching. With Death Note being the third anime I ever watched it was no different; and very soon after witnessing the end of Light's journey.

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I found myself on the Death Note Wiki. Right at the top of Light's character page, I came across a quote that I hadn't really made much note of while watching the show, but one that piqued my interest looking at the series retrospectively "If Kira gets caught, that makes him evil; but if he wins and rules the world then I guess he's justice." While I initially thought that something like "I am justice", or "I'll take a potato chip and eat it." would be better as the main quote to represent Light, it became apparent that this one is significant. Of course everything Light says must be taken with a truckload of salt. But if we take a step back and see just exactly what he's saying here. It's possible to interpret it in a way that makes it way more important than it might initially seem. An action is defined as "just" when it is based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair. This is equivalent to righteousness, equitableness, and moral rightness.

A person's perception of justice may differ depending on their morality, which is in turn dependent on their culture or sociological nurturing. But that itself is the root of the problem with justice in Death Note. The common perception of justice is that it should be carried out in a cause-and-effect manner. Almost like Natural Law, Dealing out punishment or consequence comparable to the severity of the crime to those who deserve it, in order to restore balance and moral righteousness. This is a concept that's present throughout all kinds of media or fiction. Mário always beats Bowser. Voldemort was always going to be defeated. Sauron was never going to prevail. In short, the good guys always win. But Death Note takes this concept and turns it on its head with what it presents within this story. The characters believe that righteousness will win in the end, that good will come out top, and that the morally wrong will lose.

In accordance with what most people believe or like to believe. However, the problem is that the majority of the characters, regardless of allegiance, believe this. There is Kira's large group of supporters, who praise his stance, and there is a collection of people, notably the Japanese task force, who are on L's side. Obviously, there is no complete or absolute objective standard for what is right, but when it comes to justice within society, a common ground must be found ideally. For lack of better terms, a mix of subjectivity and objectivity. There is no chance of humanity ever unanimously agreeing on what true justice is, due to how many variables there are behind it. But it is reasonable to expect some sort of intersubjective perception of it.

Yet in Death Note, due to the emergence of Kira, the lines are drawn. What is justice? Is it self-determined retribution or is murder atrocious regardless of context? Is it wrong to kill or is it necessary? There is a clear divide here, and any compromise on what justice is in the story Is impossible due to the people on either side of that divide Justice, as an ideological concept, is concerned with fairness, and what is right. Most societies today have an untold inherent notion Of the aforementioned intersubjectivity.

This means that, to a certain extent, traditional justice has an element of absolution. When you get into controversial subjects, like capital punishment or other things, then this element of absolution fades away and actually backs up the messages of Death Note, but I'm speaking on a general level here. Modern society has guaranteed that due to how generations are brought up with regards to morals, There is a certain degree of perceived objectivity when it comes to what is just, but the minute that a contentious issue arises, sides are taken and Death Note's Japan has such a big divide that this perceived pseudo objectivity is rendered impossible. As such, justice can't be true for both sides because, by this logic, it must be absolute to some extent at least. In Death Note, subjective justice can't exist by design. If justice exists for everybody, it exists for nobody This means that one side must be wrong in their opinion of justice.

Yet the story never makes any statements here or treats any side as morally wrong, so this is not the case. So if in the universe of Death Note, the idea of justice can divide people into such polar opposite ideals, yet no one has proven to be wrong? Does true justice in the traditional sense really exist after all? And so we circle back to the original quote: "If we catch Kira, he is evil, If he succeeds, he is justice." Here, Light is saying that justice is claimed by the victors. It is obtained through victory, but it does not lead to victory. The history books may cite that the just side won, but they only cite that because justice was grasped through winning. This idea is tackled in a much more straightforward fashion in the 30-year old classic, "Legend of the Galactic Heroes." Buried within the multitudes of conversation that define what that series is, is a low-key exchange between one of the series flagship characters, Yang Wen-Li, and his friend and former attendant Yoo Liang, that pertains to this very subject.

Here Yang says that, regarding conflict, it is history that decides who was good and who was evil. When questioned by Yoo Liang If there is some sort of universal or absolute righteousness, he blatantly says that there is none. This is an idea very much along the lines of what I believe that quote from Light to be implying. By extension, we can conclude that justice is a sick joke in Death Note. It is nothing but a word used to justify actions and a title given to those on top as used for posturing. In the Death Note one-shot special, which is chronologically the epilogue to the series, Near reflects on L having said the following when the latter is questioned on what drives him. "It is not a sense of justice. Figuring out difficult cases is my hobby. If you measured good and evil deeds by current laws, I would be responsible for many crimes.

The same way you all like to solve mysteries and riddles, or clear video games more quickly, for me too, it's simply prolonging something that I enjoy doing. That's why I only take on cases that pique my interest. It's not justice at all. And if it means being able to clear a case, I don't play fair, I'm a dishonest, cheating human being who hates losing..." L and Light are two figureheads for either argument, each representing justice for their respective sides. Light through Kira seeks justice through punishment and retribution. While L seeks to capture Kira. Both have their de criers and both have their defenders, based on what these people view as justice, but the thing is, justice has become a farce for the two men as well. Both probably had their own justice in mind when they took on their roles, but what was, at first, an ideological and moral battle for what was right soon devolved into a fight for pride, with each man wanting to win simply to be the winner more than anything else.

If the country's figureheads for two views on justice don't actually care much for justice, What does that say about its place in this setting? If we shift gears a tad, we can examine something that L says that actually pertains to the Death Note universe at large with regards to this, "There is no heaven or hell. No matter what you do while. You're alive everybody goes to the same place once you die. Death is equal." This is not just something that L says out of belief, This is an actual rule of the world, as confirmed by the series author Tsugumi Ohba. Now, why is this significant when we talk about the concept of justice in Death Note? Of course, there is a chance that there not being any heaven or hell is just a meaningless element of the world, but I don't think that's the case.

If you only go to the Void after you die and you aren't judged when you die, then from a certain perspective, it makes the concepts of good and evil seem like fallacies. And no matter what each person's views on the subject are, the writers seem to indicate that Light was, in some way, corrupted by the power Of the Death Note, rather than being as sadistic as he was from the start. And this holds great meaning because it downplays the notion of people being inherently evil. Ohba has said within the official guide to the series that it was decided from the beginning that right and wrong would not be a part of Death Note. There is no justice. No retribution. No heroes and no villains. No absolute good or absolute evil. Just people, shaped by circumstance and harboring what is considered to be both good and bad traits, too obvious differing extents.

Society is not bettered by moral rightness, it is bettered by an efficient analysis and correction of its flaws. And fighting against the so-called evil for the sake of principles is either a fruitless task or nothing but an excuse to mask ulterior, and at times, carnal motives. It could be argued that Light being caught in the end promotes the idea of justice, but I can't say that I agree. Yes, the guilty one was caught and this had to be done, but in the end, were all of Light's pursuers convinced that they were doing the right thing? Was balance really restored? Does anyone prevail? Does anything change for the better? In Death Note's final episode, when Near caught Light, there was no talk of justice or righteousness. It was all about winning and losing. And this is the best display of what Death Note is saying. When one side wins, they rationalize it with talk of justice, but justice doesn't exist. The light was not defeated because he was morally wrong. He was defeated because he made a mistake and those opposing him may say that justice prevailed but it's only because they won and thus they're idealistic needs were satisfied.

This is Death Note's take on justice or, at least, this is my interpretation of Death Note's take on justice. I'd love to hear some thoughts on what you guys believe Death Note to be saying through its narrative, so don't be afraid to share! I just like to show my appreciation to all of my Patrons for their contributions and a huge thanks to you for watching the video. If you liked this video and want to see more like it, you know the drill. Thanks very much for reading, and I'll see you later!