Death Note’s Spiritual Successor Outshines the Original In One Way

Super Smartphone, Death Note’s spiritual successor, has avoided one of the manga’s major flaws by making its protagonist more relatable than Light.

Despite being an iconic series, Death Note has some significant flaws that its spiritual successor, Super Smartphone, is working to correct. New manga with a similar premise to older series can have difficulty distinguishing. Fortunately, Super Smartphone appears to be avoiding this issue.

Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata created the manga Death Note, which appeared in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006. The series follows Light Yagami, a teenage boy who discovers a notebook that allows him to murder people magically simply by writing their names. The Light employs this Death Note to punish those he considers wicked while concealing his identity. His general disregard for the lives he takes makes him appear to be a sociopath, and by the end of the series, he has evolved into a full-fledged villain. Furthermore, Light’s genius-level intellect in Death Note allows him to carry out schemes that no normal human being could devise. Both of these aspects of Light’s personality make him an unrelatable protagonist. While this does not diminish the enjoyment of Light and his rival L’s extremely complex mental battles, it can make the rest of the series less compelling. Fortunately, the manga following in its footsteps makes its protagonist far more relatable.

Hiroki Tomisawa and Kentaro Hidano’s Super Smartphone manga follows a teenager named Q who discovers an incredibly powerful device known as a superphone. This places him in a perilous world of intense mental battles with other superphone users, similar to the conflicts in Death Note. However, in the most recent chapter of Super Smartphone, Q distinguishes himself from Light. In Chapter 15, Q fails to consider his enemies’ potential ruthlessness, resulting in the death of Moura, another superphone user. Even though Q and Moura were not particularly close, Q is still deeply affected by his death, to the point of curling up in a ball and becoming unresponsive. This demonstrates that the protagonist of Super Smartphone is far more sympathetic than Light.

In addition to not being a sociopath, Q’s inability to predict Moura’s death demonstrates that he is far less intelligent than Light. He’s still brilliant and does an admirable job of fighting villainous superphone users while concealing his identity. Still, he can’t compete with Light, who thinks an absurd number of steps ahead of his enemies. Instead of being a negative trait, Q’s character feels more grounded and relatable. Whereas Light appeared to be a sociopathic supercomputer, Q seems to be a smarter-than-average high school student, which makes him far more appealing.

While Death Note is an iconic manga, Light becomes increasingly unlikable throughout the series, which is one of the many reasons why fans generally dislike the series’ final arc. It would have been very easy for a Death Note-inspired series to follow in Death Note’s footsteps. However, by making Q more relatable, Super Smartphone has a chance to avoid Death Note’s flaws and distinguish itself from its predecessor.

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