“At this rate, if I die, you could probably become the successor to the L name, Yagami-kun.”
Successor (後継, Atotsugi) is the forty-fourth chapter of the Death Note manga series.
The Yotsuba Kira Group gathers for its weekly Friday meeting, unaware that it is being observed by the Kira Task Force who have had bugs and cameras secretly installed in the room. From their HQ the detectives notice that only seven of the eight suspects are present and are dressed in black. Are they in mourning?
Takeshi Ooi begins the meeting by asking who should be killed! In the Task Force HQ, Light and Soichiro gasp in horror; Matsuda triumphantly points out that he was right to suspect these men; but L is not so enthusiastic—in fact this sudden admission bothers him!
However, Ooi then raises the issue of the recent death of their colleague Arayoshi Hatori. Three days ago he had announced that he wanted to leave the group and they agree that his death must be seen as a warning to them about chickening out. Ooi then suggests that they read through the report sent by the detective Eraldo Coil. Suguru Shimura, seated next to Hatori's empty chair, is surprised by the brief way with which his death has been handled.
Coil's report begins by stating that the Japanese police have unofficially called off the Kira investigation and that L is now working alone. He is not likely to give up trying to find Kira and is not to be treated lightly. Like Coil, he might notice how the deaths that are beneficial to Yotsuba occur during the week-ends and make the link to Kira.
Shingo Mido suggests that they spread the deaths more evenly, though Kyosuke Higuchi points out that Coil only found out the connection to Kira when he discovered that Yotsuba was his client and how the deaths of competitors had benefited the company.
At the Task Force HQ, the detectives are amazed by the way in which these confessions are coming out and Soichiro even believes that the video could be enough to arrest them. L bites his nails. He is troubled by the way things are going so easily.
Kira has been killing Yotsuba's competitors through fatal accidents on the assumption that the authorities are unaware that he can kill by means other than heart attacks. Shimura then suggests that Kira should really be more open, identify himself and thus be able to explain to them more clearly how the killings could be managed. Hatori's death is a warning of the potential of betrayal.
The others however disagree, pointing out that any one of them could then get Kira to carry out killings without consulting the others, and that his grip on them would be such that they'd hesitate to contradict him. Ooi in particular prefers that they keep meeting on an equal basis.
They then return to the main topic. They decide that the killings should be more evenly spread, about two or three a month, and be more cautious by holding their meetings once a fortnight.
They now proceed to discuss who they will kill. Watching from their HQ, Soichiro and Light are shocked at seeing how easily the men are deciding who should die—a reaction which does not go unnoticed by L.
Mido suggests doing something about a major American insurance company called Elf which is planning to set a branch up in Japan and which could be serious competition. Masahiko Kida has identified the men involved and they agree to have them die by accident while still in America. Another man called Santaro Zenzai is trying to instigate a lawsuit in order to block Yotsuba's plan to set up a resort in his area. A simple stroke should take care of him.
Light and Soichiro are horrified and want to act to prevent the deaths. L however counters this by pointing out that keeping tabs on the men up to and after their victims die would be the best way to capture Kira! The Yagamis are appalled by this attitude and insist that they cannot allow the killings to proceed just in order to form a stronger case against Kira. L explains that his real problem is that if they move too hastily then it will ruin their entire case.
When the Yotsuba men agree to kill their nominated victims over the next month, Soichiro quickly takes out his cell phone intending to contact them and telling them to call it off. L tells him that this will only lead them to suspect Coil (aka Aiber) of betraying them and Kira is likely to go straight into hiding, which will mean starting the investigation from scratch all over again.
L insists that they wait until they have found definitive evidence against Kira. Soichiro wonders if there is any proof—after all Kira may just kill through sheer mental abilities. Before L can answer, Matsuda suddenly announces that there is proof because Kira killed Lind L. Tailor and twelve FBI agents.
Matsuda explains that Kira killed Tailor and the American agents because he believed that they were after him and that if they caught him then evidence could be produced that would have resulted in him being arrested, jailed and even executed. If there was no evidence then he would not have bothered. Seeing the look of surprise on Soichiro's face, Matsuda then admits that it's a reasoning that Aizawa came up with some time ago and he has only just understood it.
Returning to the more immediate problem, L is at a loss as to how to prevent the deaths without giving away the fact they are onto Yotsuba. Light then suggests contacting one of the men, one who is unlikely to be Kira but who has considerable influence over the others. Matsuda nominates Ooi but L and Light opt for Reiji Namikawa! L then tells Light to use a phone whose number cannot be traced.
The meeting is still ongoing when Namikawa's cell phone rings. When he answers it, he is startled when the caller announces that he is L! (It's actually Light.) "L" tells Namikawa to stay calm and listen: He has seen the whole meeting thanks to bugs and cameras hidden in the room, but he is prepared to make a deal. "L" wants Namikawa to delay the killings of Santaro Zenzai and the men from Elf insurance for a month and in return all those present who are not Kira will not be charged with any crimes.
Although outwardly calm, Namikawa is panicking inside. At this stage of the game he will have to side with L but if Kira finds out then he will be killed. He feels conflicted. Guessing his emotions, "L" tells him not to inform the others because it will just cause a panic. He advises Namikawa to simply remain neutral. Meanwhile, he will go after Kira and no matter which one of them wins, Namikawa and the others will not be ruined by it.
Namikawa hangs up, telling his colleagues that it was a call from a member of his staff over an issue that he will have to deal with when he returns to work after the week-end. Shimura stares at him with suspicion.
Namikawa then suggests postponing the killing of Santaro Zenzai and the men from Elf for a month. They need to focus on L and give Coil time to locate and dispose of him. If, after a month, Coil has failed to make any progress then they will resume the killings, but only about two or three a month. Mido seconds the motion and the others agree, along with the decision to meet only once a fortnight. The meeting is then adjourned.
At the Task Force HQ, there is satisfaction with the outcome. L is impressed by the way Light came up with the plan even before he did and suggests that, in the event of his death, Light might be his successor to the mantle of L!
- When the Kira Task Force decides to contact one of the members of the Yotsuba Kira Group in order to get him to subtly block the forthcoming murders, Matsuda nominates Ooi who chairs the meetings and is the most senior figure. Light and L however opt for Namikawa whom they recognize as a highly intelligent and influential man. He can't be a Harvard graduate for nothing.
- In the next chapter L further explains that an intelligent man like Namikawa could have operated alone without resorting to a group of advisers and can thus be discounted as Kira. Shimura says the same about Namikawa and Mido in chapter 50 "Yotsuba".
The chapter's title "Successor" refers to L's question to Light about if Light will be the successor to him if he was to die. L already knows that, if Light is Kira, Light will try to kill L and be his successor.