- This page is for the chapter. For the manga volume, see Boredom (volume).
“Because I was bored, that's why.”
The story begins in the Shinigami Realm, home of the Shinigami: demon-like creatures whose world is a barren, rocky, and desolate area. One such Shinigami is Ryuk, who is watching a couple of fellow Shinigami play with skulls as a form of gambling similar to dice. He tells them that he is off to look for his Death Note, which he mislaid some time ago. The Shinigami King has given him a new Death Note, but now he is going to look for the other one. Ryuk enters a trans-dimensional portal and arrives in the Human World.
In the Human World is Light Yagami, a bored 17-year-old Japanese student. One day at school, he is staring out of a classroom window when he sees a black notebook suddenly appear as if by magic in the school yard.
After lessons have ended, Light goes out into the yard and picks up the notebook. On it is written: "Death Note." Inside are a list of instructions written in English. These include:
- The human whose name is written in the Death Note shall die.
- This will not take effect unless the writer has the person's face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.
- If the cause of death is written within 40 seconds of writing the person's name, it will happen.
- If the cause of death is not specified, the person will simply die of a heart attack.
- After writing the cause of death, details of the death should be written in the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
Believing this to be some kind of prank, Light puts the notebook into his bag and goes home. In his room, he reads through the instructions again and lies down on his bed with a sigh. Killing people just by writing their name down is ridiculous, but he believes it to be an intricate prank.
Five days have passed, and Light returns home from school where his mother, Sachiko Yagami, is eagerly waiting for him. He gives her a sheet of paper from his bag that shows the results of the school practice exams which take place as preparation for the actual university entrance exams. Sachiko is delighted to see that Light has been ranked the #1 student in Japan.
Light goes up to his room, locking the door behind him. He switches on both a small TV and his computer and takes the Death Note out of a drawer in his desk. At that moment a voice catches his attention. Glancing behind, he suddenly falls over backward in horror. Standing before him is a tall, monstrous figure, dressed in Gothic-like leather clothes and with large intimidating eyes who introduces himself as Ryuk the Shinigami.
Ryuk tells Light that he is the original owner of the Death Note, which is no ordinary notebook. Pulling himself together, Light admits that he is aware of that and is not surprised by the arrival of Ryuk. In fact, he opens the Death Note to reveal that he has written dozens of names in it.
Ryuk is impressed. It is not the first time that a Death Note has been in the Human World, but it is certainly the first time that a human has used it on such a scale in such a short space of time. Most humans would be too horrified to take it to such lengths and kill so many people.
Since he used the Death Note and knew the consequences, Light asks if Ryuk has come to take his soul, a remark that the Shinigami puts down to old human superstition. Ryuk says that he is not going to do anything and that Light can keep the Death Note. If he does not want it, he can give it to someone else, though a side-effect would result in Light forgetting all about Ryuk, the Death Note, and using it.
Ryuk also explains that Light can only see him because he touched the Death Note. To make his point, he leaves the room and goes out into the street. Outside, people go about their everyday business and cannot see or hear Ryuk.
Ryuk tells Light that the only price he would pay is the stress and strain that he is going to put himself through by using the Death Note to kill people. Shinigami take such killings for granted, but humans have a conscience. Ryuk also announces that when the time comes, he will write Light's name down in his own Death Note.
Light then asks why he was chosen to have the Death Note. Ryuk answers that he did not choose Light in; he simply left the Death Note lying around to be picked up by a human. Any human would do and that was why Ryuk wrote the instructions in English, the most common language in the Human World. Picking up on that statement, Light asks why the Death Note was left lying around at all. Ryuk answers that he was simply bored.
Ryuk explains that life in the Shinigami Realm has become very tedious of late. Most Shinigami spend their time just sleeping or gambling. Even writing human names in their Death Notes has lost its appeal. By leaving a Death Note in the Human World, Ryuk expects to get some enjoyment out of it, though he is surprised at the number of names that Light has already written in the Death Note. Light then admits that he was bored as well.
Light explains that after coming home with the Death Note he was tempted to try it out. However, he had hesitated, deciding that killing someone else raised moral issues. He had switched on the TV in his room. On the news was a story that a man called Kurou Otoharada had broken into a nursery school and was holding a teacher and pupils hostage. He was already wanted for the killing of six people. When his photo was broadcast on the news, Light wrote Otoharada's name down in the Death Note. A minute later, it was announced that the hostages were coming out of the building. After the police had entered the building, it was reported that Otoharada was dead.
Light was bewildered. Had he killed the man or was it just a coincidence? Not knowing what to think, he put the Death Note in his bag and set off for evening school, having to do extra classes as part of his exam studies.
Light decided that he could not be sure if the Death Note worked until he had used it again. Arriving at evening school, he noticed some bullies forcing another boy to give them his money. Light was tempted to use them to test the Death Note, but decided that it should not be people with whom he was personally acquainted.
After evening school, Light paced the city streets deep in thought. He saw students forsaking their studies in order to party, others losing their tempter in public, and others racing around on motorbikes. A chaotic, noisy, and undisciplined world.
At that moment, he noticed a group of bikers surrounding a young woman. One of them introduced himself as Takuo Shibuimaru and started to harass the girl. Light took out the Death Note and wrote down various spellings of "Takuo Shibuimaru," noting that he would die in an accident. When the woman ran off, Shibuimaru sped after her on his bike, only to be hit by a truck.
Horrified, Light ran off, realizing that he had now written the names of two men in the Death Note, and within moments, both had died. He was then convinced that the notebook is genuine..
Feeling sick, Light was at first tempted to destroy the Death Note, but paused. Shibuimaru the biker may not really have deserved to die, but Otoharada the killer certainly did. Light began to think that this was what he had been pondering all along. The world is a rotten place. Crime and chaos rules. People are lazy, undisciplined, and indifferent to others. This Death Note could be used to actually change the world for the better, and since no one else could do it, he would.
Light therefore undertook to purge the world of evil. By using the 24-hour news channels and the internet, he could easily find the names and faces of known criminals and write their names down in the Death Note. He admits that it has been a strain: he hardly sleeps and has lost a lot of weight.
Ryuk notes that with the exception of Shibuimaru, who died in an accident, Light has not specified how the others should die and thus they have all died of heart attacks. Light explains that this is deliberate: he wants the world to know that someone is causing all these evil people to die. He wants the world to realize that becoming a criminal could lead one to be judged by a supernatural force that will cause one to die of a heart attack. Other, lesser criminals will be killed through other means, such as accidents or illness, and be less noticeable. This will lead to a new World Order in which only decent people will live and he, Light Yagami, will be the God of this New World.
Ryuk chuckles to himself, remarking that humans really are fun.
As Light predicted, the wave of criminal deaths by heart attacks does not go unnoticed. Within days, an emergency meeting of Interpol is arranged, and delegates from law enforcement agencies across the world meet in order to discuss the events. They are convinced that it is not a coincidence that over 50 criminals have died of heart attacks in the past week alone; something very serious is going on.
In another location, a young man notes this meeting with satisfaction, glad to see that Interpol is taking the matter seriously. This is a case in which he and the authorities are going to need all the help they can get.
Writer Tsugumi Ohba says that "there was no hesitation in choosing this title 'Boredom' for the first chapter" since it is boredom that leads both Ryuk to drop his Death Note and Light to try it out.
- The chapter concludes with an Interpol meeting with officials sent from all over the world. In the official Viz Media English edition of the manga, published in 2005, the meeting takes place during a G8 summit.
- A G8, or Group of Eight summit would only include heads of government and officials from eight leading industrialized nations. Interpol is a completely separate body made up of police forces from most of the world's countries and would hold such a meeting independently of the G8.