Death Note

Death Note
(Desu Nōto)
GenreDetective fiction, Psychological thriller, Supernatural fiction
Authored byTsugumi Ohba (story)
Takeshi Obata (art)
Publisher Shueisha
Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump
Arena Komik
Original run December 2003May 2006
No. of volumes12
TV anime
Directed byTetsurō Araki
Written byToshiki Inoue
Licensor VAP
Viz Media
Network NTV
Original run October 4 2006June 26 2007
No. of episodes37
Novel: DEATH NOTE Another Note Los Angeles BB Renzoku Satsujin Jiken
Authored byIshin Nishio
Publisher Shueisha
Viz Media
Publish date August 1 2006
No. of volumes1
Game: Death Note Kira Game
RatingCERO: A (All Ages)
PlatformNintendo DS
Released February 15 2007

Death Note (デスノート Desu Nōto) is a Japanese manga series created by the writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata. The series primarily centers around a high school student who decides to rid the world of evil with the help of a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it.

Death Note was first serialized by Shueisha in the Japanese manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump from the first issue in December 2003 to May 2006, with 108 chapters in total. The series has been published in its entirety in 12 tankōbon volumes in Japan and in North America. The series has been adapted into a pair of live-action films released in Japan on June 17 2006 and November 3 2006 respectively, and an anime series which aired in Japan from October 3 2006 to June 26, 2007. Also, a novelization of the series, written by light novelist Ishin Nishio, was released in Japan on August 1 2006.


Light Yagami is an extremely intelligent young man who resents the crime and corruption in the world. His life undergoes a drastic change when he discovers a mysterious notebook, known as the "Death Note", lying on the ground in the year 2003. The Death Note's instructions claim that if a human's name is written within it that person shall die. Light is initially skeptical of the Death Note's authenticity, believing it is just a prank. However, after experimenting with it and killing two criminals, Light is forced to admit that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become "the God of the new world" by passing his judgment on criminals.

Soon, the number of inexplicable deaths of reported criminals catches the attention of the International Police Organization and a mysterious detective known only as "L". L quickly learns that the serial killer, dubbed by the public as "Kira" (derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the word "Killer"), is located in Japan. L also concludes that Kira can kill people without laying a finger on them. Light realizes that L will be his greatest nemesis, and a game of psychological cat and mouse between the two begins.


Main characters

Light Yagami (Kira) (夜神 月 Yagami Raito)
The protagonist of Death Note, Light is an extremely intelligent but bored 17-year old student. When he finds the Death Note, dropped in the human world by Ryuk, he decides to use it to kill all criminals and earns the title Kira. His ultimate goal is to cleanse the world of evil to create a utopia and then reign over this new world as its God. He calls himself Justice.

L (エル Eru)
L is the world's three top-rated detectives (through two additional aliases), tasked with tracking down and arresting Kira. As such, he is Light's arch-enemy. His disheveled appearance masks his great powers of deduction and insight. L has many quirks, such as sitting in an odd manner (he squats on the edge of his seat, with his knees up by his chin), snacking on sweets in the middle of meetings, and holding his cellphone and other objects in a peculiar manner. He often takes drastic strategies to confuse and force his opponents, and on several occasions he has willingly disclosed several of his weaknesses to Kira at the risk of his own life in the hopes that he would lure him into a trap.

Misa Amane (弥 海砂 Amane Misa)
A girl with an immense crush on Kira, Misa is a popular idol in Japan, and tends to wear clothing in many different styles, depending on what she is doing. She is immature and tends to refer to herself in the third person in an attempt to be cute. Misa is completely devoted to Light, and she once said that she loved him at first sight. Light, however, only views her as an asset to his plans because of her Death Note and her Shinigami eyes (that she obtained at the cost of half of her remaining life span, twice). The murderer of Misa's parents had been punished by Kira, explaining her later devotion to him.

Mello (メロ Mero, real name: Mihael Keehl)
Mello was an orphan who grew up with Near in Watari's shelter for gifted children. Like Near, Mello was one of the candidates to become L's successor. Similar to L's fondness for sweets, he is often seen eating bars of chocolate. Although Mello is quite intelligent, he often lets his emotions get the better of him. Mello wears leather most of the time, unlike Near or L. He also appears to be less secluded in terms of his friends and hobbies, and seems to be fond of biking. When Mello is first released - Light tries to find and kill him, which he manages to escape - but due to an explosion, he is left with a scar over the left side of his face.

Near (ニア Nia, real name: Nate River)
Near was a primary candidate to become L's successor and calls himself N during the course of his investigations. He shares a number of similarities with L. Much like how L plays with things such as sugar cubes and forks, Near is frequently shown playing with toys or his hair. Near also sits in an unusual manner similar to L, but with some slight differences. He offered to join forces with Mello to fight Kira, but Mello turned him down. Near then gained the support of the US government and formed the Secret Provision for Kira (SPK).

Teru Mikami (魅上 照 Mikami Teru)
Mikami is selected as the fourth Kira by Light, after Light decides that it is too dangerous for the Death Note to be near Misa or himself, since he and Misa are currently under surveillance by Aizawa and Mogi. A prosecuting attorney and adamant supporter of Kira, Mikami shares many of the same ideals, thoughts, and priorities as Kira, and is ecstatic when he discovers that Kira, his God, has chosen him, proving that God is on his side and watching. He is completely devoted and loyal to Kira, believing that divine justice must be brought down upon the people. Little is known about his personal life; he appears to have no hobbies or anything else of the sort. He chants "delete" with each name he writes down in the Death Note due to events in his past when he thought God was "deleting" the evil people in his life. He, like Misa, has made the exchange of half his remaining years for Shinigami eyes.

Shinigami (The Death Gods)

Ryuk (リューク Ryūku)
The original shinigami who dropped the Death Note in the human world, which Light would pick up. Acting out of pure boredom, Ryuk begins the story of Death Note on a whim. It is stated that Ryuk found the second Death Note in the shinigami world. Ryuk is not Light's ally, and in fact declares in their first meeting that some day he (Ryuk) would write Light's name into his own Death Note, killing him. Ryuk often refuses to aid Light and instead enjoys watching him struggle for his goal. He acts for his own interests and entertainment, and often fails to tell Light key details about the Death Note. However, Ryuk will aid Light if it serves his own goals, such as providing amusement or obtaining apples, without which he suffers a form of withdrawal symptoms.

Rem (レム Remu)
The female shinigami who first gives Misa her Death Note and Shinigami eyes. Similar to Ryuk, Rem possesses two Death Notes; however, she purposely gives one of them to Misa Amane. Rem inherited her second Death Note from Jealous, another shinigami who died when he saved Misa's life, and thought it only right to pass it on to Misa. Oddly enough, Rem inherits Jealous' love for Misa as well and is prompt to defend Misa even at the cost of her life. She shows this when she openly shows her lack of trust for Light, stating that she will kill him if Misa dies before her time.

Death Note

A Death Note is a book held by a shinigami which has the power to kill people if certain conditions are met. All Death Notes follow a long set of specific rules, and the writer revealed a few of these rules with each volume of the manga in Japan.

Rules of the Death Note

Written rules

Before releasing his Death Note into the human world, Ryuk wrote some of the more basic rules on the first page in English, because he believed that English was the most popular language in the world. The rules written by Ryuk are the following:
  • The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
  • This note will not take effect unless the writer has the subject'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 subject's name, it will happen.
  • If the cause of death is not specified, the subject will simply die of a heart attack.
  • After writing the cause of death, the details of the death should be written in the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
Each volume of the manga has a page containing new rules or possible uses for the Death Note. In the anime series, each eyecatch contains a different rule written in both English and Japanese, similar to how they were revealed in the Japanese manga. Two new rules are revealed in almost every episode.

False rules

In addition to these original rules, Light persuaded Ryuk to add a set of fake rules to mislead L and company. The reason behind this was to remove all suspicion of him and Misa being Kira and the Second Kira and preventing L from destroying the Death Note.
  • If the owner of the Death Note does not kill within 13 days of the last entry, he or she will die.
  • If the Death Note is burnt, destroyed, or otherwise damaged in any way, all those who have touched that Death Note will die.


Death Note began as a manga series which was later adapted to become a set of live-action films, an anime based on the manga, and a light novel. Two games have also been released for the Nintendo DS in Japan.


See also:
The Death Note manga series was first serialized in the Japanese manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump published by Shueisha in December 2003. The series has since ended in Japan with a total of 108 chapters. Later, the individual chapters were collected into twelve separate tankōbon. Later, a thirteenth volume titled Death Note - How to Read was released, helping to elucidate some mysteries left at the end of the manga, like the destiny of some characters. Death Note was eventually licensed for North American publication by Viz Media,[1] and the first English-language volume was released on October 4 2005.[2] The manga has since been published in several different languages including English, German and Chinese. Currently, Viz has released all twelve volumes of Death Note in English, and will release the Death Note: How To Read 13 supplement in February 2008.[3]

To date, Death Note has sold around twenty million copies in Japan.[4] Death Note was nominated for Best Manga at the 2006 American Anime Awards.


A novel adaption of the series has been written by Ishin Nishio, called Death Note: Another Note.[5][6] It serves as a prequel to the manga series, with Mello narrating the story of L's first encounter with Naomi Misora during the Los Angeles "BB Serial Murder Case" mentioned in volume 2 of the manga. Beside Naomi's character, the novel focuses on how L works. Insight was given into Watari's orphanage and how the whole system of geniuses such as L, Mello and Near were put to work. Viz will be releasing the novel in English in February 2008.[7]

Live-action films

Main article: Death Note (film)
Death Note was also adapted into a two part live-action movie released in 2006. The two motion pictures were directed by Shūsuke Kaneko, produced by Nippon Television and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. A spin-off film is currently in pre-production.


The Death Note anime, directed by Tetsurō Araki and animated by Madhouse, began airing in Japan on October 3 2006,[8] and finished its run on June 26, 2007, totaling 37 twenty-minute episodes.[9] Contrary to the movies, the anime series closely follows the original storyline of the first seven volumes of the manga (L's arc) then rushes significantly through N's arc by accentuating many action scene and skipping monologues or long discussions between characters described in the final 5 volumes of the manga series. There are also a few changes on the character designs, adapted by Masaru Kitao, and the order of facts, as well as a few additional scenes not featured in the original manga. It is also set in the year 2007, instead of starting at the year 2003. The series aired on the Nippon Television network "every Tuesday [at] 24:56".[10] The series was co-produced by Madhouse, Nippon Television, Shueisha, and VAP.[11]

In North America, the series has been licensed by Viz Media for residents in the United States of America to use "Download-to-Own" and "Download-to-Rent" services while it was still airing in Japan. This move is seen as "significant because it marks the first time a well known Japanese anime property will be made legally available to domestic audiences for download to own while the title still airs on Japanese television".[12] The downloadable episodes contain the original Japanese audio track and English subtitles,[13] and is available through IGN's Windows-only Direct2Drive service.[14] DVDs of the series will also be released,[13] containing both an English dubbed audio track, produced by The Ocean Group, and the original Japanese audio track with optional English subtitles.[15] Viz announced at Anime Expo 2007 that the first DVD will be officially released on November 20, 2007 in both regular and special editions[16] and also confirmed at Comic-Con International 2007 that the first 15,000 copies of each DVD will contain collectible figures.[17]

Death Note was slated to make its North American television premiere in Canada on YTV's Bionix programming block on September 7 2007.[18] However, the show was removed from the schedule at the last minute.[19] The Canadian premiere has now been pushed back to October 26 2007 at 10:00 pm. On September 20, 2007, Anime News Network stated that Death Note will be set to premiere in the U.S. on October 20, 2007 at 12:00 a.m. on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.[20] This was confirmed in an Adult Swim bump on September 23, 2007. Death Note has also been aired by the anime television network Animax across its respective networks worldwide, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

A three-hour animated Death Note:R From Vision of God' (デスノート:リライト 幻視する神 Desu Nōto: Riraito Genjisuru kami) TV special aired on Nippon Television in Japan on August 31, 2007 at 8:03 PM. It is about Light Yagami and his rival L from the unique vantage point of Ryuk, Light's shinigami. It contains new footage and dialogue that was not in the original TV show.[21]


The following volumes have been released in Japan.
The figures are only included in the first edition of each DVD.
  • Death Note 1 - Episodes 1-3 - Includes Ryuk Figure
  • Death Note 2 - Episodes 4-6 - Includes Light Yagami Figure
  • Death Note 3 - Episodes 7-9 - Includes L Figure
  • Death Note 4 - Episodes 10-12 - Includes Jealous Figure
  • Death Note 5 - Episodes 13-15 - Includes Misa Amane Figure
  • Death Note 6 - Episodes 16-18 - Includes Rem Figure
  • Death Note 7 - Episodes 19-21 - Includes Soichiro Yagami Figure
  • Death Note 8 - Episodes 22-24 - Includes Shidoh Figure
  • Death Note 9 - Episodes 25-27 - Includes Near Figure
Volumes scheduled to be released:
  • Death Note 10 - Episodes 28-30
  • Death Note 11 - Episodes 31-33
  • Death Note 12 - Episodes 34-35
  • Death Note 13 - Episodes 36-37

Anime theme songs

Opening themes
Ending themes
  • "Alumina" (アルミナ Arumina) by Nightmare (episodes 1 - 19, TV Special "Death Note:R From Vision of God")
  • "Zetsubō Billy" (絶望ビリー Zetsubō Birī) by Maximum the Hormone (episodes 20 - 36)
  • "Coda ~ Death Note" by Yoshihisa Hirano (episode 37)
Insert song
  • "Misa no Uta" by Aya Hirano (episode 25)
  • "Zetsubō Billy" (絶望ビリー Zetsubō Birī) by Maximum the Hormone (TV Special "Death Note:R From Vision of God")

Video games

Enlarge picture
Death Note Kira Game
A Death Note video game developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo DS, entitled Death Note Kira's Game (デスノート キラゲーム Desu Nōto Kira Gēmu), was released on February 15 2007.[22] Kira Game is a strategy game where the player takes on the role of Kira or L. These are just titles, as any character can be Kira or L. The player will attempt to deduce who their enemy is (Kira will try to uncover L's identity and vice versa). This will play out in 3 phases: Investigation, where the player will discuss the case and clues with other characters; Voting, where each member of the investigation team casts a vote on who they suspect is L or Kira based on the player's performance in the previous phase; L/Kira, where the player can either focus their investigation on one member to see if they are Kira (L part) or force a member off of the team (Kira part).[23] The gameplay is very similar to that of the common party game Mafia.

A sequel to the game, Death Note L o Tsugumono (デスノート Lを継ぐ者 Desu Nōto Eru o Tsugumono, lit. "Death Note: Successor to L"), was released in Japan on July 12 2007. The storyline is based on the second part of the manga, featuring characters such as Mello and Near.[23]

Several characters from Death Note appear in Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, a fighting game featuring a plethora of characters from Shonen Jump titles. Light, Ryuk and L appear in Jump Super Stars as support characters. In Jump Ultimate Stars Misa, Near, and Mello are added as support characters as well.


There have been several soundtracks released for this series, such as the ones for the movie adaptations and also for the anime adaptation.


People's Republic of China

Some schools in Shenyang, People's Republic of China have banned the manga after some of their students started to tease friends and teachers by altering a notebook to resemble a Death Note and writing their names in them.[24]

The newspaper Shenyang Night Report called Death Note "poison, creating wicked hearts".[24] Others however, including one major Chinese newspaper, felt that the ban is an overreaction and is inappropriate.[24]

Beijing also has a ban on "horror stories" around schools to protect the "physical and mental health" of students, which includes local adaptations of Death Note.[25] China itself is likewise trying to weed out pirated copies of the books and television series, as well other Japanese horror magazines, where no legal publication house prints it. Wang Song of the National Anti-piracy and Anti-pornography Working Committee has said that the series "misleads innocent children and distorts their mind and spirit".[26]

Belgian murder

On September 28, 2007, two notes stating "Watashi wa Kira dess" (I am Kira, with "desu" misspelled) were found near the unidentified remains of a Caucasian male. Nothing was found on or near the victim besides these two notes. Belgian police are investigating the matter further.[27][28]


1. ^ "Death Note Licensed by Viz", Anime News Network, 2005-04-20. Retrieved on 2006-11-19.2005-04-20"> 
2. ^ Releases: Death Note G.novel 1. Anime News Network. Retrieved on 2006-11-19.
3. ^ Death Note How to Read 13. Simon & Schuster. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
4. ^ "Death Note Author Arrested on Weapons Offence", ComiPress, 2006-06-07. Retrieved on 2006-11-26.2006-06-07"> 
5. ^ "Death Note, XXXHOLiC Novels in the Works", Anime News Network, 2006-05-09. Retrieved on 2006-12-07.2006-05-09"> 
6. ^ 西尾維新 × DEATH NOTE (Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved on 2006-12-21.
7. ^ Death Note: Another Note. Simon & Schuster. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
8. ^ Shueisha TV Guide (Japanese). Retrieved on 2006-11-09.
9. ^ Nippon Television Network Program Catalogue: Animation (PDF) 4. Nippon Television. Retrieved on 2006-11-06.
10. ^ Official Death Note Anime Website (Japanese). Nippon Television. Retrieved on 2006-11-06.
11. ^ Official Death Note staff listing (Japanese). Nippon Television. Retrieved on 2007-03-28.
12. ^ "Viz Media Secures Landmark Agreement To Make Death Note Anime Series Available For Download", Anime on DVD, 2007-01-10. Retrieved on 2007-01-11.2007-01-10"> 
13. ^ "Death Note Release Won't be Limited to Downloads", Anime News Network, 2007-01-13. Retrieved on 2007-01-13.2007-01-13"> 
14. ^ "Viz to Offer Death Note Downloads via Direct2Drive", Anime News Network, 2007-05-03. Retrieved on 2007-05-04.2007-05-03"> 
15. ^ "New York ComicCon 2007 - Viz Media - Anime", Anime News Network, 2007-02-24. Retrieved on 2007-02-24.2007-02-24"> 
16. ^ "Viz Media Announces Fall DVD release of Death Note anime series", Anime News Network, 2007-06-29. Retrieved on 2007-07-02.2007-06-29"> 
17. ^ "Viz Media - Comic-Con International 2007", Anime News Network. Retrieved on 2007-07-27. 
18. ^ Death Note and Futurama to air on YTV this fall. Zannen. Retrieved on 2007-07-20.
19. ^ "Death Note Removed from Canada's YTV Schedule", Anime News Network, 2007-09-04. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.2007-09-04"> 
20. ^ [1]
21. ^ "Death Note TV Special to be Three-Hour Director's Cut", Anime News Network, 2007-07-12. Retrieved on 2007-07-13.2007-07-12"> 
22. ^ "Death Note Ads Starting To Make Their Way Into Magazine Pages",, 2006-08-19. Retrieved on 2006-12-18.2006-08-19"> 
23. ^ Official Konami Website for Death Note (Japanese). Konami. Retrieved on 2007-02-03.
24. ^ "Death Note Stirs Controversy in China", Anime News Network, 2006-02-06. Retrieved on 2006-11-07.2006-02-06"> 
25. ^ "Beijing bans scary stories to protect young", Reuters, 2007-05-15. Retrieved on 2007-05-15.Reuters&"> 
26. ^ "'Death Note' days numbered", China Daily, 2007-05-26. Retrieved on 2007-05-27.2007-05-26"> 
27. ^ "Notes left near bodies in Belgium linked to Death Note", Anime News Network, 2007-09-28.2007-09-28"> 
28. ^ "Japanese message found near body remains in Vorst (Belgium)", De Morgen, 2007-10-04.  (Dutch)

External links

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