The course will be focused on the question: What is Justice? We will do so by analyzing the Japanese Anime, Death Note, featuring a young genius, named Light Yagami, who seeks to create justice in the world through a mass murder of criminals. The original twelve volume series has gone on to sell over 26 million copies, and has received nominated for several awards such as "Best Manga at the 2006 American Anime Awards, the 2007 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, an Official Selection at Angouleme International Comics Festical 2008, and Obata was nominated for Best Penciller/Inker at the 2008 Eisner Awards." The protagonist's voice actor also won the "Best Voice Actor" award at the Tokyo International Anime Fair in 2008. In addition to the successful Anime adaptation, there have since been three live-action movies, three video games, and two spin-off novels from the material. The series has since been banned in several cities, primarily in China, to protect the physical and mental health of young students, as well as to avoid the copycat crimes that had been occuring throughout the world.
We will be using Death Note as a lens to look critically at current events such as the drone strikes in the Middle East, and discuss whether or not such actions are just. The course will address aspects of vigiliantism, as well as the morality within murder. Overall, we ask students to keep an open mind and to challenge their preconceived notions of justice based upon what is actually happening in the world.