Fri, Oct 12, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Officials ask teachers to monitor `Death Note' fans

By Hou Chien-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pingtung County Government officials recently issued instructions to elementary school teachers, asking them to heed any negative influence on students who immerse themselves in reading Death Note, a Japanese manga series that has recently grown in popularity on campus.

The manga describes a high school student who decides to get rid of evil in the world after he accidentally picks up the God of Death's notebook. The supernatural power surrounding the notebook kills anyone whose name is written in it, according to the manga's storyline.

As the Death Note centers on the topic of death, a film -- based on the cartoon book -- was prohibited in some countries, and its TV program is only allowed to be broadcast late at night.

In Taiwan, the film has been classified "parental," the second-lowest rating, requiring individuals under 12 to be accompanied by parents or other adult guardians and restricting children under six altogether.

The owner running manga bookstore said that Death Note is popular with students from fifth graders to senior high schools students.

A fifth-grader said that he and his classmates all read the manga without their teacher knowing, do not find the storyline frightening and enjoy reading it very much.

Officials from the Pingtung County Government's educational bureau have called on school teachers to keep an eye on their students for any negative influences the manga might have on them.

The officials also urged the teachers to strengthen talks on appreciation of life.

Hsu Wen-bin (許文彬), executive-general of the Publication Appraisal Foundation, however, was not of the opinion that Death Note is bad for students.

Since it is unreasonable to classify books or to ask parents to read the manga with their children, Hsu said the best solution is for parents to provide answers that children might have while reading the mangas.

Tongli Publishing, the publisher of the manga's Chinese version in Taiwan, said the manga actually has educational meaning as the main character receives his share of punishment in the end of the story.

Saying Death Note is a good teaching material on the values of good and bad, life and death, comics commentator Jojo suggested teachers try to understand why students like the manga rather than over-reacting and implementing a ban.

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