By Jorge Paiz
Death has always been a a factor that has always played a role in most anime, not just by having a character dying in anyway shape or form but by having death assume a role as a character in physical form. These type of characters are referred in to in the Japanese language as “Shinigami” Now the word Shinigami in Japanesse can be defined as deity or personification of death or a Death God as some call it. How ever while most view these Shinigami as a bad thing to be feared, there have been some anime that portray these Shinigami in a different light. In which I will be sharing and explaining using various well known anime , to explain the different personas of Shinigami.
(warning spoiler alert!)
Now for those of you who have or have not seen the anime “Death Note” it deals with a note book in which if one rites someones name while having there face in mind will die of a heart attack or will die of what ever Death specified in the death note. This Deathnote is usually owned by Shinigami a.k.a Gods of death. In Death Note Shinigami are extra dimensional beings who’s very existence rely on killing other human beings to extend their life span. In this Anime Shinigami are portrayed very much how they are in Japanese folklore as being what is known to western audiences as the Grim Reaper. Although the Grim Reaper is said to be a single being, it is shown in this Anime that there are multiple Shinigami just like in Japanese folk lore. The Shinigami in this anime however are not all neutral some actually have feeling for other human beings. Though it is in there nature to bring death upon a human being, if a Shinigami were to kill another human being to save the life of another human they would be reduced to dust and there remaining life span will be given to the human they saved.
Also another factor is that Shiingami are spirit there for they can walk through walls as if they were ghosts. Thay are also invisible to humans unless one touches the Death Note.Although Shinigami have no need to eat food since there organs are rotted, they do have human tastes for certain things like the Shinigami Ryuk has a tatste for apples. Also Shinigami have the power to materialize and de-materialize at will.
In Bleach Shinigami or Soul Reapers as they are refereed to, play the role of the heroes in this anime series. In Bleach not only is Shinigami changed to Soul Reaper , as well as the persona of a Shinigami. In Bleach Soul Reapers carry out the work of exterminating evil souls that cause harm to the world of the living known as Hollow they also must ensure the safe crossing of souls after death. these souls are known as Pluses.just like it mentions in Japanese folk lore a Shinigami guides to soul into the after life for its final destination. ( no pun intended) Unlike the Shinigami of Death Note who kill humans for the sake of their survival using a notebook, Soul Reapers have the duty of keeping balance in the spirit world. Also Soul Reapers can only be seen by people with spiritual powers.
Souls Reapers also are ruled by a different logic then that of the world of the living. Soul Reapers unlike the Shinigami of Death note earn Salaries just like one would for working at a daily job, as well as earning bounties for terminating Hallow’s. A Soul Reapers Weapons include the Zanpakuto a weapon that is shaped typically like a Katana, low ranking soul reapers receive a Asauchi sword and high ranking Soul Reapers arm themselves with a unique sword generated from their own soul in which the shape of the swords blade will depend on the owner.
Soul Reapers also do not show signs of aging and maintain youthful body along with incredible spiritual power and Durability. How ever they are still able to die or be killed though not that easily. Also Soul Reapers can also can take aform known as Hollowfication which is an ability to shift a plus into a hollow to increase their strength if they are able to control their hollow form, in this form the soul reaper gains a hollow like mask upon shifting to this state in which he is considered a Visored (a Soul Reaper -Hollow Hybrid).
In Soul Eater Shinigami are very well unique I would say, for one Shinigami are refereed to in this anime as Meister’s. Meister’s just like the Shinigami in Bleach have the responsibility of of hunting down corrupted soul’s known as Kishin and are the heroes of the series. In Soul Eater Meister’s must attend a school with there Weapon who are also living being, known as Death Weapon Meister Academy, which is runed by the grim reaper himself Lord Death. In this academy Meisters have to learn how resonate with their weapons using what’s called their Soul Wavelength with their ability to communicate with each other through Wavelength communication both Meister and weapon create what called Soul Resonance.
The Weapon of a Meister is indeed an actual person who shape shifts into the form of a Weapon when needed for combat allowing their Meister to wield them. However in order for the Meister and to wield them as a Weapon both their soul wavelengths must be in sync with each other. otherwise the Meister will not be able to wield them. With the technique Soul Resonance Meister’s and Weapon’s like Soul and Maka can use special technique’s like Witch-Hunter. Also each Weapon has a unique a ability and form whether it be a sword, scythe, chain-scythe, gun or shuriken.
In order for a Weapon to obtain its ultimate form a Meister and a Weapon must capture 99 Kishin souls as well as a soul of a witch. This ultimate form is known as Death Scythe and Meister’s become level three star Meisters which the highest level they can reach. Meisters and Weapons are both durable I mean look at Black Star he took several blows to the head to the point where he was busted open in order to insure his weapon Tsubaki fought her brother inside the sword , if that’s not convincing enough look at Death The Kid he got stabbed and impaled by Kishin and was still able to use Death Canon and lived. Though the Shinigami in Soul Eater have the least amount of reference to the Japanese folk lore they still pack a punch with a lot of unique abilities.
The Shinigami in Black Butler have to the most traditionally referenced to Japanese folk- lore thus far. In this anime they are a a group of neutral supernatural being who’s job is to review lists of individual people who are about to die. Which again is mentioned in Japanese folk lore that it is a Shinigami’s job to ensure that a person dies at the correct appointed time.
In Black Butler Shinigami are presented like a corporate organisation who must remain neutral and emotionless, which is the attitude needed to judge and collect souls. Just like in Japanese folk lore there are multiple Shinigami and they are also working together as some would imagine. Shinigami also have rules and etiquette in which they must follow other then staying neutral and emotionless Shinigami must fill out a letter of reflection and report that is reviewed by a the Main Branch that assigns the mission to all the departments of Shingami. Also Shinigami may not alter or customize there Death-scythes in anyway, breaking rules can lead to consequences such as Demonetization or confiscation of there Death-Scythe.
Shinigami are given Weapon called a Death-scythe which unlike in soul eater is used to take the life of all and not just corrupted souls. Shinigami also have enhanced strength and speed, as well as great endurance allowing them to take numerous assaults which no living human would even stand a fighting chance. When a an individual is cut by a Death-Scythe a brief movie plays known as a Cinematic Record which shows information a about a persons life this is used to determine whether the person dies or if there existence is beneficial to the world to let them continue to live though it is very rare that a Shinigami would let someone live. Shinigami also have the ability to stop the present in ones Cinematic Record using a special tool called The Death Bookmark with a special pen they can write the next few lines of one life , however they can not change the fate of ones outcome.
Who is the best?
In the end teh question stands who is the best out of the Shinigami? Who rains as the supreme Death Gods? Based on there abilities and skills displayed in each anime series let us know by commenting or calling in on our live broadcast tonight 2/11/2013 at 7PM-9Pm at 347-996-3997 eastern standard time
Click Here For Our Listen Live Page