Death Note in China - Success or Disaster?
After the success of two movies and an anime series, Tsugumi Ohba (story) and Takeshi Obata's (art) manga Death Note has become a familiar name to anime and manga fans around the world.
"A notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it." – As Death Note's fame rose, it was bound to happen when someone would try to imitate the mysterious notebook found in the story. In early 2005, some schools in Shenyang, China banned the use of a stationery notebook in response to students using it as "Death Notes." While some felt the ban was an over-reaction, the view that Death Note is "a poison that creates wicked hearts" remained in the minds of many Chinese parents and teachers and protect them from the "evil notebook."
So did the school in Shenyang over-react? While some may disagree, a recent incident in China may have served to further damage Death Note's reputation among Chinese parents and teachers.
For months, toys and school utensil stores in Shenzhen, China sold a notebook called "Death Note," which is based on the same notebook found in the popular manga series. The notebook soon became one of the most popular items among Chinese students. However, as the new trend caught the attention of parents and teachers, who voiced their concerns over the possible negative influence of Death Note on their children.
On March 20th 2007, a Chinese reporter published in a newspaper an extensive report on the presence of "Death Notebook" in Shenzhen. Within a few days, the report found its way onto many news websites and newspapers. A few days after the report was published, the Cultural Market Administrative enforcement department visited toy and school utensil stores in Shenzhen and confiscated over 187 "Death Notes." Below is a summary of the report on the Death Note incident in Shenzhen:
Parents and Teachers Request for Ban, Psychologists Recommend Proper Guidance for Students
The notebook found in Takeshi Obata's popular manga Death Note recently became a popular toy among elementary and middle school students in Shenzhen, China. However, the concept of a death-notebook is making many parents and teachers nervous, who worries that the notebook will have a negative influence on their children's growth. Psychologists of the area expressed their view that parents and teachers should focus on properly educating the students.
According to a parent, a "Death Note" was found under his child's pillow:
According to a reporter, the notebook was delicately made. The black cover carried the word "Death Note" in golden letters. Also on the cover is a picture of Light Yagami and Ryuk the Shinigami (characters from the manga). Inside the cover, various rules found in the manga are available both in Chinese and English, also written were instructions on "how to kill people with the notebook."
"The 15 yuan version is the most popular version," says a store clerk, "we sell around 70 of those notebooks a day. Most of our customers are elementary and middle school students, and a majority of them are girls." According to the store clerk, the "Death Note" helped push sales of other notebooks and school utensils as well.
After interviewing many students, a reporter found out that most students are buying the "Death Note" for fun. Most of the students have seen, or at least heard about, the Death Note manga/movie/anime. Also, many students are buying the notebook simply because "their friends have it."
A middle school student said in an interview: "Death Note sounds a little scary, but that's why it's so cool." So do any of the students write people's name in the "Death Note"? The answer is no. Most students are simply buying the notebook as a "collector's item," some even use it for school work, writing their own names in the notebook. "The whole killing thing is fake, everyone knows it's not real," said a student.
Many parents have requested the notebook be banned. Many claimed that the concept of a "death notebook" has a negative effect on a child's mental growth:
So who is making these "Death Notes"? Apparently most of the notebook came from a tools and toy manufacturer located near Shenzhen. Two kinds of "Death Note" were being produced, a 15 yuan version and a 40 yuan version; also a special version came with a "feather" from Ryuk.
The special report on "Death Note" raised many heads in China. As of March 22, the Cultural Market Administrative enforcement department has investigated many stores that carried the notebook, and so far have confiscated over 187 "Death Notes." According to the officials, the "Death Note" found in stores did not have any information regarding its producer, making it an illegal product. The officials also announced that from now on any store in the area that carries these "Death Notes" will be punished accordingly.
While Death Note has managed to capture the hearts of Chinese anime and manga fans, will it be able to prove itself "innocent" to the older generation of China, or will it be regarded as a harmful tool that should be kept away from children?