Death Note: Short Stories is a new collection of previously published shorts being translated and collected for a western audience for the first time. Being published by Viz Media, written by Tsugumi Ohba, art by Takeshi Obata, and translated by Stephen Paul, Death Note: Short Stories is a delight for any fan of the series. Within this collection is the “a-Kira” short story that was released in 2020 that revolved around a new Kira who sought wealth distribution and political upheaval. Alongside this, there’s “C-Kira”, ‘Taro Kagami”, and the Death Note “Four-Panel Comics”.
It’s hard to look at Death Note material and not feel immediate nostalgia for a worldwide phenomenon. Death Note was the first anime I ever watched from start to finish, and it holds a special place in my heart. The moral dilemma between Light Yagami killing people who ‘deserve’ to be killed for the sake of the greater good will always be thought-provoking and timeless. What Death Note: Short Stories does is provide fans with context around a society post-Light Yagami and L or provide fan service for those who love the series.
In the ‘Four-Panel Comics’ which is translated by Akira Shiwawa and lettered by Gia Cam Luc (originally from the 2008 Death Note 13: How to Read), readers can see comical interactions between Ryuk, Light, Misa, and L. Have you ever thought about what it would be like if Light and L went to the beach with Misa? Did you ever wonder what could have happened if Light and L were just catty best friends instead of rivals? “Four-Panel Comics” delivers that alternate universe vibe that gives fans both a slice of nostalgia and happiness.
The bulk of Death Note: Short Stories is the “C-Kira” and “Taro Kagami”. “C-Kira” shows how Obha and Obata are a dream team. This short story focuses on life in Japan 3 years after Kira’s influence swept the nation. The death note is being used once again to kill off the 60+ old demographic. Near is the new L and readers explore a new moral dilemma. Is it wrong to systematically kill older people who are suffering and on their death beds? While Near deals with his first big case since replacing L, readers get a small glimpse into L’s backstory. It frames why L was so fascinated with the original Death Note case and provides further context for a fan-favorite character. The thrill of the chase, the callbacks to L, and the conversation around Kira is fascinating and a wonderful addition to this universe.
It’s hard to say whether or not a casual fan would appreciate the depth that Death Note: Short Stories provides. It’s a fully formed collection that lives and breathes as an extension of the original source material. Its comedy sketches, new stories, and throwback content all come together for an ultimate Death Note experience. For fans of the series, I don’t think there’s anything more you could want, and reminds me that outside of nostalgia, Death Note is truly an amazing manga experience. This collection has readers jump straight into these stories and these characters.
A perfect addition to any manga collector’s collection and, hopefully, a reminder to get around to reading the original source material if you haven’t yet, Death Note: Short Stories is available everywhere on May 10th.