She wasn't even witness at the grand finale clash between Light and Near. Her creator Tsugumi Ohba dumped his character in a hotel room and forgot about her, because he self-admittedly couldn't find 'a situation to fit her in'.
It was only by the reappraisal of the manual, in Death Note 13: How to Read, that the author seemed contrite about his choices. Ohba proffered the opinion that she probably committed suicide. Whilst also confirming that the widely believed interpretation (at the time) of the final manga scenes - that the Kira priestess was Misa reinvented as a cult leader honouring dead Light Yagami - was completely incorrect.
So why does Misa Amane commit suicide according to the mangaka mind that made her? Because someone 'like Matsuda' 'probably let it slip' that Light was dead. She had already long since stated - to L no less - that she couldn't contemplate living in a world without Light. It would be too dark.
Only now does the mangaka get the brainwave that Misa might have ended her own life. Recorded in the transcript of the interview complete with pauses denoting the hesitancy of Tsugumi Ohba as inspiration hits there and then; well after the manga chapters have completed their inaugural run of publication in Weekly Shonen Jump. He finishes weakly, 'something like that'.
It would probably be easier to accept Tsugumi Ohba's suggestion as canon, if he sounded more sure about it. But all those 'likes' and 'probablys' make it sound like he's making up stuff on the spot to answer a question and wriggle out of abandoning his character to a crowbarred plot ending. As a dutiful storyteller, he should have found the narrative that included her too.
Tetsuro Araki certainly did. At least the director of Death Note's anime met Misa Amane halfway, marrying up that maybe plot titbit inserted rather belatedly as a footnote in the manual by Ohba.
In the anime along, we get that hauntingly beautiful, though inherently creepy journey on a metro through the vibrancy of a Tokyo sunset, and the steady drifting gait across an equally red hued bridge caught against the same deep stained tapestry of a sky in the dying of the light.
Misa's haughty, sad song lightly tinkled in notes; sentiment indelibly sounded for all that, its cadence scarring cerebrally when you know what's coming.
Misa no Uta it's called, Misa's song. A bitter-sweet irony in that bardic device of our dangerous heroine able to sing her heart's own tune, walking to the beat of her own rhythm, even as she grasps her life losses and lack of control so keenly that she is journeying into self-slaughter.
Her clothing is just as carefully chosen and arranged about her person. Black and white dress, with matching headband, and great white ruffles arranged just so. Beneath that topmost article, her hair remains teased into shape, styled without a strand out of place, like every lock was cemented on. Her big, clumpy platform shoes mark the precision of her gait, keeping it of necessity slow, as if she apes the slow, striding pace of the funeral director at her own final send off.
There is something of the Geisha about her, though not a single visual artifice directly apes that of those traditional entertainers. But for the general unreality of the look; woman as walking art. A canvas shell without soul inside, to be adorned for the pleasure and artistry of the thing. Which isn't to paint a disservice to the actual Geisha, who were notably vital. Particularly those with their obi worn around the front.
Misa no Uta (Misa's Song) - English Lyrics
So was Tsugumi Ohba right? Was it for love of Light that Misa Amane makes this horrifically unromantic fatal plunge? The timing would imply so.
Misa-Misa suicides on St Valentine's Day 2011. Choosing February 14th on which to end her life has an obvious resonance for those viewing from the West. A day in which lovers are celebrated makes this unequivocally about Light Yagami. Fragmented sensibilities exposed therein, echoed in the lyrics that she intones so sweetly en route:
(English translation of Misa no Uta/Misa's Song)
Be mindful for God is watching.
In the dark alley, don't let go of my hand;
for if you do I know that I'll be safe.
Even if I'm far away and alone,
I can be sure you will find me there. This I know.
You draw me close for a while, so quiet.
You tell me everything.
If I forget what you say, then you come to me,
and tell me again. Yes, you tell me once again.
But what happens when I know it all?
Then what should I do after that? What then?
(Original Romanji lyrics of Misa no Uta/Misa's Song)
Ki o tsukete
Kami-sama wa miteru
Kodaio yomichi wa te wo tsunaide kudasai
Hitori de tooku ni demo itsumo mitsukedashite kureru
Shitteru koto wa zenbu oshiete kureru
Watashi ga oboetenakutemo
Nando demo oshiete kureru
Demo zenbu wakatte shimattara dou sureba ii no?
February 14th is the day when Japanese women and girls vie to press their hand-made tezukuri chocolate into the hands and hearts of favoured males. If accepted, the gifter can expect to be the recipient of a small token - usually a white ribbon - on March 14th, aka White Ribbon Day. Thereon all that remains is the marriage, mortgage, pets, 2.4 children and a lifetime in drudgery to the maintenance of the household. But first they have to get Christmas out of the way.
It's not Valentine's Day when all romance is sought, elicited and put on show in Japan. It's Christmas Day. This is not a Christian nation. No-one native to Tokyo is singing hymns to baby Jesus, whilst trying to square that with the pile of presents to be bought and wrapped for the kids and all out.
Instead, they're trying to snag a date. Christmas in Japan is for couples. It's the more obvious date for Misa's sunset dive into finality. Which should incur the supposition that this is less about Light than something else. Except for one thing.
Misa Amane was born on Xmas Day and died on Valentine's Day. She would see that as heartbreakingly romantic, when in reality it's just heartbreaking. Nevertheless, the interconnecting of life and death in those two dates does bespoke a love issue underlying her grisly end. Plus it's only a fortnight on from the first anniversary of her disappeared finance's supposed death. The sadness would naturally push up to peek at such flashpoint dates with that the biggest of all.
More imagery relating to her lost relationship with Light Yagami lies in digging deep into the fine detail of each frame moving her excruciatingly steady towards her final encounter with a far distant pavement. Putting it all together might entrail the overall picture a little more.
Prior to the Yellow Box showdown, Near arranges for Hal Lidner and Mogi to forcibly re-home Misa in a reasonably luxurious room there. While Mogi tells Light that he's there by chose, Misa blithely announces that she is not. Yet she makes no attempt to escape, despite earlier chapters making clear her resourcefulness in such situations. On the contrary to her spoken words, she seems quite pleased to be there. Though whether her joyfulness is approval expressed as glee in regard to the appointment of this expensive room or rests fully (or in part) upon another underlying cause, it's never made clear.
During the two day interim just prior, it might be assumed that Light and Misa have conversed via telephone or PC, though such is never show. Then Misa is nominally set free. However, she is given the usage and run of a penthouse suite in the same hotel, and Misa's exuberance now holds no bounds.
Just before Light leaves towards the Yellow Box Warehouse and his eventual, unforeseen death, he speaks with his hyper fiancée against over the telephone. Misa Misa is beside herself with delight; rolling like a toddler around the furnishings. In fairness, Light does tell her to stay put, while he confidently walks towards degradation and the flooring of his plans of living openly in divinity, recognized as such in all due numinous euphoria. Instead, it is Near's reality which is inserted upon the scene and Light sees eight years of careful elevation dissolve into Nothingness. Right on the brink, or so he thought, of his Godhead coming into fruition.
Bloodied, raving, insane and disappointed to a deep soul level, Light never once turns to Misa, safely ensconced in the luxury of Teito's top floor apartment. As far as she's concerned, he simply let her rot there, while he walked away and vanished unutterably from their common law marriage. Eight years plus of near constant cohabitation, de facto conjugation and sometime actual companionship just got thrown away.
Because, for some inexplicable reason Light's wife, mother and sister are never told of his demise.
Not to mention local/national ones for the officers (and Near) involved, if their part in such proceedings was leaked to the press, public and Amnesty International. Still fiercely pro-Kira in those immediate aftermath months, Japan would be unlikely to support such vigilante dealings. Nor should be be forgotten that it disbanded one corrupt police force after World War II, then severely curtailed the liberties of its secondary, replacement force. There's a cultural twitch regarding abuse of due process by law enforcement officers to be evoked in Japan. Not a thing to be overlooked as YOLO.
Which means that for fear of the mob (in governments wide-world or on the street), Sayu, Sachiko and Misa have to suffer the unceasing starting and listening at any sound that might be their missing man come home. The inordinate cruelty of never knowing if he lies chained and tortured in some dark hole, or is freely wandering the Earth in rejection of their love.
There's a dark, unbending cruelty there, not lessened by the months its allowed to endure, and made considerably worse by the justifications ditched out by all concerned for such obdurate behaviour.
Also adrift will be her societal connectivity (who can empathize amongst her neighbours and peers?); her yet to be mourned loss of context for a life shared with Light and hitherto built upon dreams, aspirations/goals and actual plans (how can she gain closure and remould a future, when he could walk back in at any moment, or not, and she will never know which until she watches the door and dies a little more inside each time it remains shut); and the deadening of that fundamentally Japanese concept of her personal 'ikigai' (reason to exist?).
All this alone may well account for Misa's descent into despair enough to jump from the roof of that skyscraper. But there's much more going on besides.
Some of it subtle, existing in the imagery alone. You see, Teito Hotel actually existed once. It was built, maintained and used by Allied Forces, foreign diplomats and Western business personnel in the post-WWII forcible reconstruction of Japan. Its architecture was distinctly American, as was the service, décor, amenities and portable goods to be found inside. By the order of General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for/of the Allied Powers, no Japanese clientèle was permitted within. Teito served Western venture capitalists, merchant buyers and global market enterprise agents only.
There was a reason it was called the Imperial. In Japanese.
No wonder Misa was so stunned to be sitting in the Penthouse suite. She must have been sneaked past reception by Near or one of his American personnel, because no-one as Japanese as she could possibly have been there under normal circumstances. Despite it being in Japan.
When Hotel Teito was finally sold back to Japan - under private ownership subject to the highest bidder - in 1959, the first thing that occurred was the whole edifice being razed to the ground and swept cleanly away. Hotel Palace with its elegant Japanese designs in architecture, facilities and interiors now stands pointedly upon the spot.
Japan regained its sovereignty in its own domain. Misa Amane could not.
Memories gone, she will never know the context for the crushing aftermath and secrecy surrounding the Kira case, nor her involvement in it. Light gone, she will never know why, how, where or when he was disappeared, nor if its even possible for him to come back.
She can never grasp those essential foundation stones for her own continuance into the future, but must remain waiting in a sort of emotional and esoteric limbo.
While practical things remain a nightmare too.
Without proof that her long-time partner is or is not dead, there will be bills continuing to come for him and maybe some accounts inaccessible without his consent readily available.
No amount of anti-depressants, Tai Chi sessions and mindfulness training are going to shift her from a despondency that she cannot trace to source. She kicked over the routes back there when she surrendered her notebook possession and shinigami eyes with it. Misa cannot even understand why. She'll never be able to fix it; nor can she know that.
There are other aspects too, seen in literal flashbacks - single frozen images flickering through her mind's eye, visible to the viewer too. This is Tetsuro Araki edging his bets in blatant disregard for the Death Note rules. Misa's memories have been washed clean, yet she still recalls numbers and names above people's heads.
She either retains the ability to view death data upon all things living now - in which case who wouldn't go mad or want to simply make it go away by ending the life of flesh and blood sustaining it? Or rogue, inexplicable snapshots of horrors have somehow stuck in her memory's cache. Clues towards knowing that she was once something or someone much more, but that's gone too with no way of knowing what it was nor how to reclaim it, should she want to.
Another blow to self-esteem and the wish towards self-preservation.
Or if Misa - more clever than half of her scenes would have her being, if the other half imply things more clearly - has worked it out enough to know what she was, and perhaps who Light Yagami was too, then she'd also understand she was on the losing team.
All humans beings want the haven of acceptance. To be within the cherubic sound of harmonious consensus all around in what you believe; and the cherished trills of affirmation from those concurring that you were right in things thought, said and done; the deep notes warming to a theme of being, totally and unshakably, a part of the great melody in the world about us, enjoying the overture resounding of, in and throughout our universe.
But Misa Amane sings alone. Her own song ineffectual, lost against a world that she can witness turning against Kira for the spectacle that's gone.
And neither would she.
As Misa Amane's sole song finished, she stared into the abyss; and it stared back. The last Death Note credits rolled from view and Misa-Misa jumped.