Death Note and Nihilism

The successful manga Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba is about what if one person (the main character Light Yagami) could kill anyone they wish by simply writing down a name.

Since that’s how the Death Note works, *spoilers* it isn’t surprising that Light loses not only his life but also any compassion he had towards the people he personally knew, including his own family.

As a result, the story of Death Note shares possible connections to the philosophy of nihilism by Friedrich Nietzsche.

Analyze those connections in the Death Note manga to nihilism’s definition and practice. Include also how Death Note has been mistaken like nihilism (link) as something to literally follow in real life (link)

Please note that this topic doesn’t focus on the Death Note anime/show but the original Death Note manga only (i.e. where Light was told early on that there is nothing after death by his Death Note’s shinigami owner.) Therefore, that aspect of the Death Note manga connects back to nihilism as an example since nihilistic belief is also about there being no afterlife.

  • I would point out that the show does point out that Light does end up changing things because the crime rate went down tremendously. SO, I wouldn't say 'attempt to change life never works.' To relate an Anime to a Philosopher, we need actual evidence of the philosopher. – SpectreWriter 9 years ago
  • In regards to your first link, I would be wary of it. He makes mention of Nietzsche's famous quote, "God is dead!" but he does not give context to it, or even make mention-- for those who have not read, The Gay Science-- where the quote comes from. The quote comes from section 125 in The Gay Science and the section is italicized, The Madman. For your sake I'll quote it, The Madman.-- Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: "I seek God! I seek God!"-- As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why! is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea-voyage? Has he emigrated?--the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub. The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. "Where is God gone?" he called out. "I mean to tell you! We have killed him,--you and I! We are all his murderers! but how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breath upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Dow we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction?--for even God putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console our selves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife,--who will wipe the blood from us?.... That is most of the section. For a better knowledge of Nihilism and Nietzsche in general, I refer to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Not only is it free, but every article provides citations to tell you where this idea came from and why they are citing it. It might even be interesting, in staying with the Nietzsche vein, to think about the possibility that either Light or L are the √úbermensch (Overman or superman in German). – garland41 8 years ago
  • Another thing people should take into account is how the anime deconstructs the notion of justice and how more terrifying it is to look at when seeing it is more based on power rather than actual morality, which is itself more relative than people realize. – Vicious237 1 month ago

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