Top 10 Death Note anime clues that Light Yagami became a shinigami

Light Yagami depicted as a Shinigami.
Light Yagami is depicted as a Shinigami. Pic credit: Artist HollowCN

Most otaku will agree that Death Note is one of the greatest animes of all time. When Light Yagami died a lot of fans felt conflicted. Was Light a villain or vigilante that needed to be killed? Or was Light a hero that should have been lauded? Even Light’s killer questioned whether or not he did the right thing in killing Light.

Light used the Death Note for 7 years and as a result crime rates went down and so did the amount of hardcore criminals on Earth. He did change the world to a better place while he was ‘playing god’.

It’s interesting to note that even after his death the cult of Kira worshipers continued to worship Light/Kira even after he was dead. Also, after Light’s death crime rates rose to pre-Kira levels.

Manga page depicting Kira's worshippers.
A Death Note manga page showing Kira’s cult worshipers. Pic credit: Takeshi Obata

All in all, Light was such a complex character that fans were sad to see him go and when a two-hour animated TV special aired on Nippon TV in Japan on August 31, 2007 at 8:00 PM, fans went into an uproar over the new scenes, which featured an unnamed Shinigami. Fans instantly began to wonder if that Shinigami was actually Light.

The special was titled Death Note Relight: Visions of a God and was a recap that began with a scene where an unnamed Shinigami is seeking out Ryuk due to the fact he heard Ryuk had been to the human world and wanted to learn more. Ryuk ends up telling this unnamed Shinigami Light’s story and about his rival L.

After watching this scene it feels like a final puzzle piece has slid into place and all the little hints and clues that were dropped throughout the series that suggest that Light’s destiny was to become a Shinigami finally made sense.

1. Ryuk calls Light a Shinigami

At the beginning of the series, during their first meeting, Ryuk said to Light, “I wouldn’t worry. Even without the [Shinigami] eyes and wings, you’re already a worthy Shinigami.”

A little later, Ryuk says, “What I’m saying is, compared to that, you’re becoming a much more impressive Shinigami.”

Light responds, “I don’t know about that. I mean, from what you’re telling me, it sounds like I’m doing a lot more work than they are, but uh I don’t want to be compared to a Shinigami.”

2. Second opening shows Light in the Shinigami realm

If you watch the second opening closely it looks as though Light is transforming into a Shinigami. His eyes glow red and then suddenly Light is seen standing in the middle of the Shinigami realm.

Death Note’s second opening. Song: Maximum The Hormone – What’s Up, People!

3. The significance of where Light dies

Light died in the middle of a staircase. If the bottom of the staircase represents Hell and the top of the staircase represents Heaven, then what do you think Light dying in the very middle of the staircase represents? That he went to a realm between Heaven and Hell? A place much like the Shinigami realm, perhaps?

4. Heaven, Hell, and the Shinigami World (MU)

One of the rules of Death Note users is that at the time of their death they will go to neither heaven nor hell. As seen on the Death Note page, after they die the place they go is MU (Nothingness).

Page of the Death Note.
Page in the Death Note explaining where a user of a Death Note goes after death. Pic credit: Takeshi Obata

Why is MU the Shinigami Realm? Because it just makes sense. Ryuk wanted to visit the human world because he claimed the Shinigami realm was boring. When we get to see the Shinigami realm it appears to be a barren wasteland filled with nothing.

It also makes sense that Shinigami are previous users of the Death Notes because they can go to neither Heaven nor Hell. The purpose of the Shinigami realm might be for the users to atone for their past sins in killing humans. Once in the Shinigami realm, there is nothing to do but watch the lives of humans – how they live and how they fall in love.

A Shinigami even has the ability to give up its own life to save another human, just like the Shinigami named Jealous when he sacrificed his life for the human he’d fallen in love with. Self-sacrifice is the ultimate form of atonement for one’s sins.

5. The appearance of the no name Shinigami

Why do Shinigami look the way they do? Could they possibly reflect the way they died? And maybe even resemble a little of how they looked in their past life? If that’s true then the no name Shinigani that appears in Death Note Relight: Visions of a God has an uncanny resemblance to Light.

No name Shinigami
No name Shinigami that resembles Light. Pic credit: Madhouse

The no name Shinigami is seen wearing a jacket, vibrant red tie to keep his brown hair back, and shoulder bag that all resemble items that Light used to wear with his school uniform.

6. The no name Shinigami knows Ryuk likes apples

Throughout the series we watched Light tossing Ryuk those juicy apples he loved so much. Then in Death Note Relight: Visions of a God, when the no name Shinigami seeks Ryuk out, he says it will be worth Ryuk’s while to hear him out and he tosses him an apple.

(Poor Ryuk had to eat a very sad, shriveled up looking apple) How did this no name Shinigami know that Ryuk even likes apples? Shinigami don’t have to eat so the offering makes little sense unless the Shinigami possessed memory fragments from his past life as Light.

7. The no name Shinigami has a limp

In the movie when the no name Shinigami first appears he asks a group of Shinigami where Ryuk is because he heard that he went to the human world. After that the no name Shinigami is seen limping up a set of stairs. At the time of Light’s death he also limped up a set of stairs due to his injury.

8. Ryuk calls the no name Shinigami ‘Light’?

Ryuk decides to tell the no name Shinigami Light’s story – about how a man tried to change the world and how he became a god.

Ryuk starts to say to the Shinigami, “You were not a god. You were just…gone already.” And he laughs when he realizes that the Shinigami left already. Perhaps, because the no name Shinigami already knows how the story ends. It would be interesting if Ryuk’s story somehow jogged the no name Shinigami’s memories.

Ryuk is seen continuing to speak to himself: “You should go and take a look. Someone might pick up the note if you are lucky and you get to see something you won’t forget for the rest of your life. Am I right, Light?”

The way this scene is directed it almost seems like Ryuk is calling this no name Shinigami ‘Light’.

9. Shinigami have red eyes

Shinigami eyes are red and I think we all remember how when Light would get excited with his own internal thoughts his eyes would glow red. I think fans will especially remember the time Light dramatically ate a potato chip.

That epic moment when Light ate a potato chip.
That epic moment when Light ate a potato chip. Pic credit: Madhouse

10. The alternate ending

There’s also an alternate ending in the manga where Light asks Ryuk to kill him because he’s tired of humans killing each other all the time. When Ryuk kills Light he ends up in the Shinigami world.

Ryuk explains to Light that his punishment will be experiencing pain and death the same amount of times he’s killed people. Light panics and says he wants to make a deal with the Shinigami King. Light explains to Ryuk that he has time to try and find the king because he’s killed a lot of people. Ryuk seems impressed, calls Light amazing, and he and Light begin their quest to find the Shinigami King.

Manga page from the alternate ending of Death Note.
Manga page from the alternate ending of Death Note. Pic Credit: Takeshi Obata.

It would make sense that Light did indeed find the Shinigami King and managed to strike some sort of deal with him, which turned him into the no name Shinigami.

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