Death Note is a manga and anime series that bucks a lot of trends, having people talking for more than a decade. Fans discuss its characters and their motivations, its philosophy and its morals, and the incredibly tight plot structure with all of its twists and turns. Death Note is an incredibly well-thought-out story centered around a book that has a very interesting and tantalizing list of rules that its owner must follow. But the original owners of these books, Shinigami (gods of death) are just as bound by strict rules as the books themselves. Let’s take a look at some of the weird rules that Shinigami have no choice but to follow.
10. If Light Gives Away The Death Note
As Ryuk explains to Light almost immediately in the first episode of the anime, he must erase Light’s memory if Light were to give away the Death Note. He explains that the choice is Light’s, and he’s free to make it, but this comes with a dire consequence for Light: “If you don’t want it, just give it to someone else, but if you give it away, I’d have no choice but to erase your memories of the notebook.” Of course, Light is not going to want to take him up on this offer; his mind is already moving far too fast, dizzy with possibilities. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
9. What Ryuk Must Do When Light Dies
Upon the death of the human bearer of the Death Note (in our case, Light Yagami), Ryuk must write the name of this human in his own notebook. When this is done, Light will be sent to neither Heaven nor Hell. This is a duty that Ryuk, as a Shinigami, must fulfill. It is not clear what exactly will happen to Light, however. Perhaps he exists in an empty limbo for the rest of time (like those in the Harry Potter universe who are struck down by the Avada Kedavra killing curse) or perhaps he ceases to exist. Whatever the case, it is now his fate.
8. Whom Ryuk Is Not Permitted To Kill
Ryuk cannot, under any circumstances, kill another Shinigami with his Death Note. As Ryuk explains to Light regarding his motives for dropping the Death Note into the human realm: being far away from the human realm means it’s not interesting enough. Why kill a human from such a distance if he can’t have a front-row seat from which to soak up the action (this is very reminiscent of that brilliant twist at the end of Saw)? On top of this, not being able to kill another Shinigami is boring, too. So Ryuk’s only choice of stimulation is to head to the human realm and see some killing up close.
7. What Must Happen to Ryuk If A Human Touches The Death Note
The moment a human touches a single page from Ryuk’s Death Note, Ryuk will then instantly become visible to that human. This occurs even if the Death Note is already in a human’s possession. Light uses this to his advantage early on in the story, while attempting to stave off the FBI who are hot on his trail. This, of course, also means that Light must always bear in mind not only that he alone can see and hear Ryuk, but also that he must keep the book locked away from not only prying eyes but also wandering hands.
6. Ryuk’s Inability To Interfere
Ryuk can’t interfere with anything that Light does with the Death Note until Light dies or the Death Note is full. Ryuk is, however, allowed free reign to give any advice (whether true or misleading) and to inform Light of things verbally which might be of interest. (Such as when he chooses to tell Light that he is being followed in episode three of the anime.) Anything Ryuk says should be taken with a pinch of salt, but he is allowed by the rules to say anything he wants. He cannot, however, physically interfere with Light and the Death Note.
5. Ryuk Is Chained To The Human Realm
Ryuk cannot return to his own realm until Light dies or the Death Note is destroyed. This is explained by some helpful exposition by Ryuk’s attractive friends at the beginning of episode four of the anime. It explains why Ryuk stays by Light’s side for the duration of the story. Of course, this exposition is arguably unnecessary since Ryuk himself makes it clear that he enjoys the spectacle; he finds Light’s mind and motivations fascinating and is eager to see it all played out to its conclusion. Still, it’s good to know definitively why Ryuk doesn’t returns to his own realm: he simply can’t.
4. The Effects Of The Death Note On A Shinigami
Shinigami can use the Death Note to add the targeted human of choice’s remaining lifespan onto their own. As Ryuk explains to Light, whatever remaining years the human had before their life was cut short are then added onto the remaining years of the god of death that took their life. Think of it like a cell phone top-up: the human’s remaining minutes at the untimely end of their life are then carried over onto the next life. Unlike cell phone top-up’s, however, it’s not their own next life, but that of Ryuk or any of his death god friends.
3. The Power Of Ryuk’s Eyes
A god of death’s eyes allows them to see a human’s name and remaining lifespan hovering above their head. This means that they always know the human’s name and face at once, and they know how many years they will inherit once they have killed the human. For the Death Note to work, the name and face of the target must be known by the book’s owner. The power of Ryuk’s eyes comes very usefully since it requires little-to-no effort on his part to take the life on any human he chooses. It also takes away the challenge as well, further explaining Ryuk’s deathly boredom – and that of the other Shinigami.
2. What He Can Do with Those Eyes
Ryuk can offer whichever human that finds the Death Note the ability to see with a Shinigami’s eyes. This, surprise surprise, comes with a chilling caveat: were a human to accept the power of Ryuk’s eyes, that human must also agree to cut their remaining lifespan in half. Ryuk explains to Light that it is a “key part of the code that all Shinigami are bound by.” He cannot allow Light to only borrow his powers. Light must pay for them. And Light has no idea how long he has left; but whatever it is, is anything worth forfeiting half of that?
1. The Laws Of Physics
Ryuk’s Death Note cannot force victims to do the impossible. Both the book and its owner must follow the laws of physics. This is explained, explored, and proved in episode four when Light attempts to have a victim of the Death Note travel from a Japanese prison—which he is locked without escape—to the Eifel Tower in Paris, France within the space of a single hour. Since this is a physical impossibility, the victim simply dies of a heart attack inside the prison. Ryuk might be a god, but he and his book are still bound by the laws of physics.