Hi guys, it’s been a while, but I think you’ll agree it was definitely worth the wait. I’m Davey from What Happens In Gaming, and in this article, I’m answering the question: Could Batman solve the Kira case from celebrated manga, Death Note?
Firstly, here’s a warning: IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DEATH NOTE, OR WATCHED THE ANIME, EITHER WATCH THE ANIME, READ THE MANGA, OR CHECK OUT THIS LINK FOR AN EXPLANATION
Due to the complicated nature of crossovers, different rules apply than normal, and I’m setting them as thus follows:
- Gotham in this article is the stand-in for New York (as it pretty much is anyway).
- Batman has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Light Yagami is Kira.
- For Batman to truly have solved the case, he cannot arrest Light without evidence, and cannot kill Light.
- L, in all forms, does not exist for the sake of this piece.
- Batman can be afforded no help but the assistance of Alfred Pennyworth. No Robin and no “quid-pro-quo” help from fair-weather enemies such as Mr Freeze.
- For Light to have won, he has to have deduced that Bruce Wayne is Batman, before writing Bruce’s name in his notebook.
- The Death Note notebook Light has follows the rules clearly stated in the Shonen Jump anime, and the Death Note: How To Read compilation manga.
Round One: 猫とネズミ (Cat and Mouse).
To fully explain the strengths and weaknesses of both men, we need to ask the question: How likely is it for each one to find the other’s weaknesses?
Let’s start with Light Yagami. Light would probably not be aware of Batman within the continuity to start off with due to several reasons. Firstly, Death Note starts in 2008, shortly before the advent of social media, and despite YouTube being a thing even then, Batman more often than not operates only within Gotham/New York State.
Whilst Batman is likely to have copycats, this probably wouldn’t have reached Light, regardless of his father’s job (in Death Note, Light’s father, Soichiro Yagami, is a chief detective in the Japanese Police). Why?
Because, despite Batman’s close relationship with Commissioner James Gordon, the Dark Knight has an uneasy relationship with the Gotham Police, who view him as a vigilante with amazing technology. Unless Batman comes to the attention of Misa Amane (Light’s Girlfriend), or Batman comes into direct contact with Light before having enough evidence, there’s no way that Light would figure out Bruce Wayne is Batman.
This is proved by the events of the manga, where even though L dies by the hand of one notebook of death, it is ultimately not Light’s notebook that kills L, and thus, Light never discovers L’s true name.
As for Batman, well, the version of Batman that we’re going to use for this is the Batman seen in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Why? Simple. Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman is a Batman rooted in the real world, and thus we don’t have to deal with all the nonsense involved with other versions, and the narrative can be kept relatively interesting and simple.
So, how easily would Nolan’s Batman figure out that Light Yagami is Kira? Easily. Why? Batman in the Nolan series is somewhere in his 30s, and whilst L is stupidly intelligent, Batman has the two things L lacks: experience and maturity.
L makes plenty of mistakes during his attempts to expose Light as Kira, frequently butting heads with the police in Japan, and repeatedly breaking human rights laws in the process.
For L, the ends will always justify the means, which allows a beautiful case of duality between Kira and L. Batman, on the other hand, makes no such errors. Whilst Batman is no stranger to death, his rule of not killing enemies is one he tries hard to keep through the comics, and is shown to be the reason why he could never be Heath Ledger’s Joker in the second film.
Chapter 2: グレートチェイス (The Great Chase)
From this point, I’m going to explain how the scenario is likely to play out, using Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy and both the TokyoPop! manga and the Shonen Jump! anime for source material.
Our story starts the same way as the Death Note sources, with a bored 17 year old Light Yagami noticing the fall of the Death Note outside of his classroom window, before picking it up, and meeting Ryuk later in his home.
Once Light realises what the book is, and what Shinigami (gods of death) are, he initially kills the man who holds his local hospital hostage. Shocked about this, he then later uses the notebook to kill the two men attacking the girl in the shop.
From there, Light kills as many criminals as he can outside his hours at school, using his TV as a way of learning of the identities of the criminals to do it.
This would eventually hit international news, and reach Batman’s attention. It’s my belief that Batman would deduce that Kira is in Japan, due to the only criminals dying of heart attacks being in Japan, and being around the Kanto region.
I have no doubt in saying this would lead to Bruce Wayne opening a Wayne Enterprises building in either Saitama or Tokyo to allow Batman to further investigate. Due to the way the Japanese police treat vigilantes (not well), at this point, Batman would have to work with them (if only tangentially) to work out where in Japan Kira really is.
To do so, I imagine Batman would use the first stunt that L did. For those who didn’t read my warning earlier, I’m sorry for the spoilers, but L basically takes someone from Death Row in Japan and uses them as bait, to see if Kira falls for it.
However, instead of Lind L Tailor being a stooge for L, I’d have Batman use Lind in the same way as he does in The Dark Knight. Lind L Tailor reveals himself to be “Batman”, and challenges Light/Kira to kill him in the same way he kills the criminals (by causing them to have a fatal heart attacks).
Due to Light/Kira’s ego, Tailor dies, allowing Batman to show Light/Kira (from this point forwards, Kira) that he knows Kira’s in the Kanto region of Japan.
This enrages Kira, who then, using his father’s computer, researches Batman, in the attempt of finding out who he really is. He, ultimately fails, being unable to decide whether Batman is Oliver Queen or Bruce Wayne. He also starts killing people charged with heinous crimes using his father’s computer to work out their identities.
This is exactly what happens in the Death Note source material to try and throw L off the scent, and thus I have no doubt that Kira would pull the same stunt against Batman.
This would allow Batman to realise that whoever Kira is, they have access to valuable and high-tier information unavailable to ground-level Police officers, which would make him first investigate the director of prosecution, and his deputy.
This means that Soichiro Yagami and his family would be some of the first to be investigated here, and long before Light and Misa Amane ever interact with each other. Knowing the lengths that Batman is shown to be able to go to in The Dark Knight Trilogy, this means that Batman would have probably discovered that Light Yagami is Kira and also that the Death Note, along with Ryuk exists.
At this point, Batman would provide the evidence to the Japanese police, where they would arrest and charge Light Yagami for being Kira. Unfortunately, this would probably break Soichiro Yagami’s heart, as most Western audiences who have either read the manga or seen the anime read Soichiro as an analogue for Commissioner James Gordon.
Chapter 3: 結論 (The Conclusion).
Although this premise and concept was incredibly fun to write about, the differences between L and Batman are too vast and different for this to be much of a contest, and this goes to the genius of the two gentlemen who wrote the source material, namely Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.
The themes of this manga are brilliant, and I’m glad I used the Nolan version of the “Caped Crusader”, as it fits the tone of the manga and anime series. If you haven’t read the manga or watched the anime series, don’t worry.
I may have spoiled the first half for you, but from L’s death, the show kicks up a gear in a way that Christopher Nolan is currently showing that he can do with HBO’s adaptation of the Westworld TV Series.
No matter how intelligent Light Yagami is, no matter how well intentioned he started off, he became a monster by allowing his ego to take over himself.
Personally, I agreed with Light Yagami to start off with, and again, that’s thanks to the skill of the authors, but as Light starts changing his rules and adopting the Kira persona, it gets increasingly difficult to sympathise with him, particularly after his treatment of Misa Amane.
Amane clearly loves light to the point of obsession, whilst Light just views her as a tool to help purge the world of criminals.
This is why, even if Amane ended up interacting with Light before Batman inevitably catches him, Light would lose. Amane is attracted to high intelligence and a strong sense of justice, and I could very much see Bruce Wayne seducing her in order to catch Light Yagami.
Well, if you managed to get through that, and particularly if you disagree with me, please feel free to chat to me about it at Power Up Coffee in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, where we have amazing coffee, brilliant events and even better games to play at reasonable prices.