Although I would consider myself a huge fan of the manga/anime Death Note I certainly wouldn't go as far as classifying myself unhealthily obsessed. While I can easily overdo time spent discussing or analysing the series, this title is far more appropriately assigned to the purpetrator(s) of the Belgian so-called "Manga Murder" — a suspected serial killing linked to the Japanese manga by Tsugumi Ohba.
Death Note is an anime about a notebook dropped from the heavens that has the power to kill whoever's name is written within. The main character Light Yagami decides, perhaps selfishly, to use this weapon to act as God and rid the world of all unjust people. While the act is intended as a just means to a better world, it is left to the reader/viewer to decide which viewpoint is morally or ethically correct. The freedom to kill relatively consequence-free is a plot device used to serve a much greater question, yet, as always, it is the obvious link the prudes and the superficial obsessives decide to target.
Beyond challenging the common reader, Deathnote has been seen as dangerous, being described in the Shenyang newspaper as "poison, creating wicked hearts". Additionally Wang Song, a Chinese official under the National Anti-piracy and Anti-pornography Working Committee, said Death Note "misleads innocent children and distorts their mind and spirit." Subsequently it has been banned in schools in China after students have been found to be creating replica Death Note notebooks to intimidate with. However others feel the ban is an inappropriate over-reaction. Yet it's not just Asia where this type of controversy has been occurring. At the Franklin Military Academy in Virginia a senior was suspended in November 2007 for having a book called a "death note" where he listed classmates and peers that he allegedly wished death upon.
Finally, even further afield from the anime epicentre, on Friday, September 28, 2007 in Belgium, parts of a severed corpse were discovered along with two notes stating "Watashi wa Kira dess". It would seem the notes to be a phonetic misspelling of the Japanese Watashi wa Kira desu which translates to "I am Kira" — Kira being the alias Light hides behind to do his deity-esque duties. The case is referred to as the Manga Murder, or the Mangamoord in Dutch.
The victim was a Caucasian male, about 20-30 years old, and was discovered in the forest of Dudenpark. The lower abdomen and two thighs were all that was discovered on the Friday afternoon by two walkers who then alerted the police. It has not been confirmed if the thighs belonged to the same individual as the abdomen, and additionally revealed was that the genitals were shorn. As of yet the body has not been identified and the investigation appears to have come to a dead end. It has been suggested by detectives that it could be the work of local medical students pulling an elaborate (and resource consuming) prank, bearing in mind that they have access to cadavers, however police are still treating the case as a possible serial killing.
What is interesting about the case is that, considering the content of the manga, what if the body eventually is identified and its revealed to be the body of a former criminal? Could Light's cause of swift and brutal justice for all have filtered into someone's consciousness so deeply that they are willing to carry it through to the real world? Far more frightening to me, than an obsessive killer simply making reference to the name mentioned in Death Note, would be a vigilante who had accepted the role of the divinity who felt he had to create the imagined utopian world. Whether you sided with Light or with arch-nemesis detective L will determine whether or not you want to hear more from this manga murderer. Or perhaps putting justice/killing into a real life situation will help you re-evaluate the manga entirely?
However, the fact that the killing itself is not at all reminiscent of anything in the manga has been lost on all naysayers of the series. The violence in Death Note is far outweighed by conversations, plotting and a battle of wits between the two sides — good and evil, right and wrong. The only literal connection is that of the written notes, considering the body is unidentified. Perhaps the media have gotten ahead of themselves labeling this the Manga Murder as there is hardly anything to connect them, yet the one connection is substantial; It certainly makes clear reference to Death Note. So whether it's a murder or a prank, it is just as clearly the work of an unhealthily obsessed fan.
Incidentally, in my opinion, if I were somehow trying to rid the world of the unjust and impure, I think I would want to create my own mythology rather than make reference to a manga, no matter how profound I think it is. People are so unoriginal these days.