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For me, one of the premises of the series is that once a person died, they could never come back to life. I really wanted to set a rule that bringing characters back to life is cheating. That's why death equals "nothingness" … If I had to choose [a theme to express throughout the series], I'd say "Humans will all eventually die and never come back to life, so let's give it our all while we're alive

Tsugumi Ohba (Death Note 13: How to Read)

Mu (無), or Nothingness, is a concept in the Death Note series explaining that all humans, without exception, will eventually die and cease to exist.

Rules regarding Mu

# Title Chapter Page
- - Chapter 107: Curtain Rules no number - all humans die
  • All humans will, without exception, eventually die.
  • After they die, the place they go is MU. (Nothingness)


- - Chapter 108: Finis Rules no number - once dead
  • Once dead, they can never come back to life.

Overview

The general implication of Mu is that all humans, regardless of their actions during life, simply cease to exist upon dying and are equal in death. These rules are applied to all humans; whether they have used a Death Note or not does not matter.

The Japanese reads more like "after death, the place they go; it's Mu," and in Zen Buddhism, "mu is an answer to a question that depends on invalid axioms."[1] When the rule states "the place they go; it's Mu," it means the question relies on an invalid assumption. They don't go anywhere because there is nowhere for them to go to.

Heaven and Hell misconception

There's a popular misconception that heaven and hell do, in fact, exist in the Death Note universe. This is assumed when Ryuk tells Light Yagami not to believe anyone who uses a Death Note can go to either.[2]This scene is later revisited and extended in the manga, having Light state that this simply means there is no heaven and hell. Ryuk confirms this before Light dies.[3]

In other media

The Taro Kagami Story

In the pilot chapter, there exists an item called the Death Eraser. This item allows the owner to bring those killed by the Death Note back to life so long as they've yet to be cremated, implying the existence of some sort of afterlife within that continuity.

Death Note Relight

Although a different continuity from the Death Note anime and manga, the Mu rule remains present in the Death Note Relight films, debunking the famous Light Shinigami fan theory.

Audio drama

Armonia appears in the audio drama with a slightly expanded role relating to the "afterlife." The audio drama merges the concept of Mu and the Shinigami Realm, and Armonia deals with deceased humans. He tells L's spirit his premature death caused "a lot of paperwork." He's part of an inefficient bureaucracy of Shinigami, so slow it takes over five years to acknowledge L's request to return to the human world. Bored, he tries unsuccessfully to convince L that the afterlife is an illusion created by his soul. However, L's request eventually passes up the chain of command to the Shinigami King.

Trivia

  • In How to Read, Ohba states he had considered naming the final chapter "Nothingness," but decided against it as he previously used the title "Black."

References

  1. Wikipedia:Mu (negative)
  2. Boredom Chapter 1
  3. Curtain Chapter 107
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