That's when the blame games really kick off, and a year ago this week, it was Death Note in the frame.
On February 20th 2013, a fifteen year old girl leapt from the 13th floor of an apartment building in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Her suicide note simply read, 'I don't want to live anymore'.
What drew the ire of her distraught parents towards Death Note was where the missive was left - on a pile of four volumes of the manga.
There was apparently no other link. She didn't write, nor tell friends, that Light Yagami had told her to do it. Nor did she seem to have any avowed affinity with Naomi Misora. It was just the position of the suicide note that made the link.
However, the teenager's bereft parents quickly blamed Death Note for making suicide seem so enticing.
That fury was channelled into a protest against the manga. Russian parents soon began campaigning for President Vladimir Putin to ban Death Note outright from the country.
Does Death Note Promote Suicide?
The parents protesting in the Urals stated that the story 'arouses an interest in death'. But so does living. And I'd argue that this particular manga actually warns against death.
As a Death Note fan, I know that there's nothing in the story to spark any wish to end your life. It's a dark tale, but those who die stay dead.
There's no fantasy Other World to entice the lost and lonely like, say, the Annwn of the Mabinogion or the Tír na nÓg of the Tain. The only supernatural realm present in the narrative is the home of the Shinigami, but mortals don't go there. It's for the Death Gods alone.
For a manga story so concerned with death and destruction, there's not even a single ghost. This isn't Bleach.
On the contrary, the only Fate mentioned for humans beyond death is Mu. That is the nothingness, the loss of all existence, for those who touch a Death Note. As for everyone else, the Death Note universe and its implied philosophy is completely silent on the matter.
If anything, Death Note is all about survival. People do reckless things, but the narrative is ultimately about a lot of individuals going out of their way to stay alive. If life wasn't so precious, then nobody would have cared enough about Kira to try and stop him.
My heart goes out to this girl's parents, and all others who loved her. They all have my profound condolences. But I'm hard pushed to think of anything in Death Note that could have inspired that leap, even if read through the twisted interpretations of extreme distress.
What do you all think?
Was Death Note Banned in Russia?
Death Note was translated into Russian in 2012. It had long since been available on-line in Japanese, English and many other languages besides, so this wasn't the first time that Russians per se had access to it.
(In fact, I had two Russian Death Note fans ask permission to translate my fan-fiction back in 2009. They'd long since got past the point of enjoying the canon and well into the realms of fan produced stories in foreign languages!
Blanket permission was granted for them to translate any and all of my Death Note fan-fiction. They duly did so and added it to an already bustling Russian Death Note fan forum, which was bursting at the seams with stories based on the manga.)
President Putin has hitherto ignored calls for Russia to ban Death Note anime, manga and other related media. Hence the Russian Death Note fandom are still able to hear Nika Lenina's beautiful version of the original ending theme song.
I just wish that the poor girl in Yekaterinburg could too.