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Death Note

Death Note

Manga series

Death Note (stylized in all caps) is a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The story follows Light Yagami, a teen genius who discovers a mysterious notebook: the "Death Note", which belonged to the Shinigami Ryuk, and grants the user the supernatural ability to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages. The series centers around Light's subsequent attempts to use the Death Note to carry out a worldwide massacre of individuals whom he deems immoral and to create a crime-free society, using the alias of a god-like vigilante named "Kira", and the subsequent efforts of an elite Japanese police task force, led by enigmatic detective L, to apprehend him. Death Note ran in Shueisha's manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 2003 to May 2006. Its 108 chapters were collected in 12 tankōbon volumes.

A 37-episode anime television series adaptation, produced by Madhouse and directed by Tetsurō Araki, was broadcast in Japan on Nippon Television from October 2006 to June 2007. A light novel based on the series, written by Nisio Isin, was also released in 2006. Additionally, various video games have been published by Konami for the Nintendo DS. The series was adapted into three live action films released in Japan in June 2006, November 2006, and February 2008, and a television drama in 2015. A miniseries titled Death Note: New Generation and a fourth film were released in 2016. An American film adaptation was released exclusively on Netflix in August 2017 and a sequel is reportedly in the works.

Death Note media, except for video games and soundtracks, is licensed and released in North America by Viz Media. The episodes from the anime first appeared in North America as downloadable from IGN before Viz Media licensed it. The series was aired on YTV's Bionix anime block in Canada and on Adult Swim in the United States with a DVD release following. The live-action films briefly played in certain North American theaters, in 2008, before receiving home video releases. As of April 2015, the Death Note manga had over 30 million copies in circulation.

In Tokyo, a disaffected high-school student named Light Yagami finds the "Death Note", a mysterious black notebook that can kill anyone as long as the user knows both the target's name and face. Initially terrified of its god-like power, Light considers the possibilities of the Death Note's abilities and kills high-profile Japanese criminals, then targets international criminals. Five days after discovering the notebook, Light is visited by Ryuk, a "Shinigami" and the Death Note's previous owner. Ryuk, invisible to anyone who has not touched the notebook, reveals that he dropped the notebook into the human world out of boredom and is amused by Light's actions.[5]

As criminals around the world die from inexplicable accidents and heart attacks, the global media suggest that a single mastermind is responsible for the mysterious murders and name him "Kira" (キラ, the Japanese transliteration of the English word "killer"). Hoping to apprehend Kira, Interpol requests the assistance of an enigmatic consulting detective, known as L, to assist their investigation. Deducing that Kira is based in Japan, L tricks Light into revealing that he is in the Kanto region of Japan by manipulating him to kill a decoy. Furious, Light vows to kill L, whom he views as obstructing his plans. L deduces that Kira has inside knowledge of the Japanese police investigation, being led by Light's father, Soichiro Yagami. Under the suspicion that "Kira" could have family ties with members of the "Kira" investigation, L assigns a team of FBI agents to monitor the families of those connected with the investigation and L learns enough to designate Light as the prime suspect. Around this time, Light graduates from high school to college. L recruits Light into the Kira Task Force, with each trying to get the other to reveal crucial information.


Actress-model Misa Amane, having obtained a second Death Note from a Shinigami named Rem, makes a deal with Rem for Shinigami eyes, which allow her to kill knowing only the face, at the cost of half her lifespan. Seeking to have Light become her boyfriend, Misa uncovers Light's identity as the original Kira, but Light has another motive: he intends to use Misa's Shinigami eyes to discern L's true name. L deduces that Misa is likely the second Kira and detains her. Rem threatens to kill Light if he does not find a way to save Misa. Light arranges a scheme in which he and Misa temporarily lose their memories of the Death Note, and has Rem pass the Death Note to a less morally driven individual, Kyosuke Higuchi of the Yotsuba Group. With memories of the Death Note erased, Light joins the investigation and, together with L, deduce Higuchi's identity and arrest him. Light regains his memories and uses the Death Note to kill Higuchi, regaining possession of the book. After restoring Misa's memories, Light instructs her to begin killing as Kira, causing L to cast suspicion on Misa. With Light insinuating the investigation would lead to Misa's capture and execution, Rem realizes Light's plan all along was to have her sacrifice herself to kill L, as a Shinigami may not kill others to prevent a human's death. After Rem kills L, she disintegrates and Light obtains her Death Note. The task force does not announce L's death and agrees to have Light operate as the new L. With Light working as both L and Kira, the investigation stalls but crime rates continue to drop as he no longer has a threat of capture.

Four years later, cults have arisen which adore Kira. Two young men, raised as potential successors to L, are revealed: Near and Mello. Aware that L is dead, they consider Light, the current L, as a prime suspect. Mello, with Mafia assistance, kidnaps Light's sister, resulting in his father's death during a rescue mission. As suspicion falls again on Misa, Light passes Misa's Death Note to a fervent supporter of Kira, Teru Mikami. He also appoints newscaster Kiyomi Takada as Kira's public spokesperson. Realizing that Takada is connected to Kira, Mello kidnaps her. Takada kills Mello but is killed by Light. Near deduces Mikami's connection to Kira and arranges a meeting between Light and the current Kira Task Force members. Light tries to have Mikami kill Near as well as all the task force members, but Mikami's Death Note fails to work, having been replaced with a decoy. Perusing the names Mikami had written down, only Light's is missing, which proves Light is Kira. Light is grievously wounded in a scuffle and begs Ryuk to write the names of everyone present. Ryuk instead writes down Light's name in his Death Note, as Light declares himself as the god of the new world before dying.

Three years later, Near, now functioning as the new L, receives word that a new Kira has appeared. Hearing that the new Kira is randomly killing people, Near concludes that the new Kira is an attention-seeker and denounces the new Kira as "boring" and not worth catching. A Shinigami named Midora approaches Ryuk and gives him an apple from the human realm, in a bet to see if a random human could become the new Kira, but Midora loses the bet when the human writes his own name in the Death Note after hearing Near's announcement. Ryuk tells Midora that no human would ever surpass Light as the new Kira.


Death Note is written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The series ran in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump from December 1, 2003 to May 15, 2006.[19][20][21] The series' 108 chapters were collected into twelve tankōbon volumes by Shueisha, released from April 2, 2004 to July 4, 2006.[22][23] A one-shot chapter, titled "C-Kira Story" (Cキラ編, C-Kira-hen), was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on February 9, 2008. Set two years after the manga's epilogue, it sees the introduction of a new Kira and the reactions of the main characters in response to the copycat's appearance.[24] Several Death Note yonkoma (four-panel comics) appeared in Akamaru Jump. The yonkoma were written to be humorous. The Akamaru Jump issues that printed the comics include 2004 Spring, 2004 Summer, 2005 Winter, and 2005 Spring. In addition Weekly Shōnen Jump Gag Special 2005 included some Death Note yonkoma in a Jump Heroes Super 4-Panel Competition.[17] Shueisha re-released the series in seven bunkoban volumes from March 18 to August 19, 2014.[25][26] On October 4, 2016, all 12 original manga volumes and the February 2008 one-shot were released in a single All-in-One Edition, consisting of 2,400 pages in a single book.[27][28]

In April 2005, Viz Media announced that they had licensed the series for English release in North America.[29] The twelve volumes were released from October 10, 2005 to July 3, 2007.[30][31] The manga was re-released in a six-volume omnibus edition, dubbed "Black Edition".[32][33] The volumes were released from December 28, 2010 to November 1, 2011.[34][35] The All-in-One Edition was released in English on September 6, 2017, resulting in the February 2008 one-shot being released in English for the first time.[36]

In addition, a guidebook for the manga was also released on October 13, 2006. It was named Death Note 13: How to Read and contained data relating to the series, including character profiles of almost every character that is named, creator interviews, behind the scenes info for the series and the pilot chapter that preceded Death Note. It also reprinted all of the yonkoma serialized in Akamaru Jump and the Weekly Shōnen Jump Gag Special 2005.[37][38] Its first edition could be purchased with a Death Note-themed diorama which includes five finger puppets inspired by Near's toys. The five finger puppets are Kira, L, Misa, Mello, and Near. In North America, 13: How to Read was released on February 19, 2008.[39]

In the June 2019 issue of Shueisha's Jump Square it was announced that a new one-shot chapter of Death Note would be published. Part of the complete manuscript debuted at the "30th Work Anniversary Takeshi Obata Exhibition: Never Complete" event which ran in Tokyo from July 13 to August 12, 2019.[40] Titled "Death Note: Special One-Shot", the entire 87-page chapter was published in the March issue of Jump Square on February 4, 2020 and on Viz's website.[41][42] A collected volume titled Death Note: Short Stories (DEATH NOTE短編集, Desu Nōto Tanpenshū), which includes the February 2008 one-shot chapter, the "Special One-Shot" (re-titled "a-Kira Story" (aキラ編, a-Kira-hen), the series' pilot chapter and the "L: The Wammy's House"/"L: One Day" one-shot chapters and more, was released on February 4, 2021.


An anime series based on the manga is currently being aired in Japan. Produced by Wit Studio and directed by Tetsurō Araki, a first season aired between April 7, 2013, and September 29, 2013, originally on Mainichi Broadcasting System (MBS).[46] The second and the third season, directed by Masashi Koizuka, first aired from April 1, 2017, to June 17, 2017, and between July 23, 2018, and July 1, 2019, respectively on MBS and NHK General TV.[47][48] Upon the airing of the final episode of the third season on July 1, 2019, it was announced that the fourth and final season of the anime series is scheduled for release in Fall 2020 on NHK General.[49] On September 23, 2020, NHK listed the final season on their broadcasting schedule and began on December 7, 2020.[50] The final season was announced to have changed studios, with production being taken over by MAPPA.[51][50] Producer Toshihiro Maeda said that Wit Studio "refused" to produce the final season "due to scheduling” issues.[52] The final season's main staff includes directors Yuichiro Hayashi and Jun Shishido (chief), character designer Tomohiro Kishi, art director Kazuo Ogura, 3D CG Director Takahiro Uezono, scriptwriter Hiroshi Seko, and music composers Hiroyuki Sawano and Kohta Yamamoto.[50] For the final season, former 3DCG Director Shuuhei Yabuta was the only returning staff member from Wit Studio.[52] The first 16 episodes of season 4 aired until March 29, 2021, and the second half began airing on January 10, 2022.[53][54]

Other Attack on Titan-related manga or light novels were also adapted into anime. Two OVA episodes, based on the Attack on Titan: No Regrets prequel manga, were bundled with the 15th and 16th volumes of the main series, released on December 9, 2014, and April 9, 2015, respectively.[55] An anime television adaptation of Attack on Titan: Junior High began airing in October 2015. The series was directed by Yoshihide Ibata at Production I.G.[56] A three part OVA of Attack on Titan: Lost Girls was released in 2017 and 2018 with the limited editions of volumes 24, 25, and 26.


Several soundtracks for the series have been released. The music from the anime was composed by Yoshihisa Hirano and Hideki Taniuchi, while the CDs were also published by VAP. The first one was Death Note Original Soundtrack, which was released in Japan on December 21, 2006. It contains music from the series with the first opening and ending themes are sung by the Japanese band Nightmare in the TV size format.[64] Death Note Original Soundtrack II was first released in Japan on March 21, 2007. It features the new opening and closing themes by Maximum the Hormone in the TV size format.[65] The third CD, Death Note Original Soundtrack III was released on June 27, 2007. The tracks 1–21 were composed and arranged by Taniuchi, while the tracks 22–28 were composed and arranged by Hirano. The album features one track sung by Aya Hirano, who was also the Japanese voice actress of Misa Amane in the anime series. Also appearing on this soundtrack is the ending theme Coda〜Death Note, which can be heard at the end of the final episode of the anime as the credits are shown.[66]

Several soundtracks have also been released for the live action films. Sound of Death Note is a soundtrack featuring music from the first Death Note film composed and arranged by Kenji Kawai. It was released on June 17, 2006, by VAP.[67] Sound of Death Note the Last name is the soundtrack from the second Death Note film, Death Note the Last name. It was released on November 2, 2006.[68] Death Note Tribute is a tribute album dedicated to the live action film Death Note. Published by BMG Japan on June 21, 2006, Japan, it contains 15 tracks performed by various artists, such as Shikao Suga, M-Flo, Buck-Tick, and Aya Matsuura. The soundtrack came with a cosplay Death Note notebook.[69] Another tribute album is The Songs for Death Note the movie〜the Last name Tribute dedicated to the second film. Published by Sony Music Entertainment Japan on December 20, 2006, it contains 14 tracks performed by various artists, such as Orange Range, Abingdon Boys School, High and Mighty Color, Doping Panda, and Galneryus.[70]

Light novels

A light novel adaptation of the series has been written by Nisio Isin, called Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases. The novel was released by Shueisha on August 1, 2006.[71][72] 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 and one of the criminals L has to chase down. Insight was given into Watari's orphanage and how the whole system of geniuses such as L, Mello, Beyond Birthday, Matt and Near were put to work. Viz released the novel in English on February 19, 2008.[73] The film L: Change the World was also adapted into a light novel with the same name on December 25, 2007, by "M",[74] While the novel is similar to the film, there are many significant changes to the plot (for example, Near is not a Thai boy, but the same Near that appears in the manga). It also reveals more information about L and his past. Viz released it on October 20, 2009.[75]

Video games

A Death Note video game developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo DS, titled Death Note: Kira Game (デスノート キラゲーム, Desu Nōto Kira Gēmu), was released on February 15, 2007.[76] 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 three 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).[77] A sequel to the game, Death Note: Successors to L (デスノート Lを継ぐ者, Desu Nōto Eru o Tsugu Mono), 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.[77]

A third game, L the Prologue to Death Note -Spiraling Trap- (L the proLogue to DEATH NOTE -螺旋の罠-, L the proLogue to DEATH NOTE -Rasen no Wana-), was released for the Nintendo DS in Japan on February 7, 2008.[77][78] The player assumes the role of a rookie FBI agent who awakens in a strange hotel and attempts to escape with the help of L, who provides assistance via an in-game PDA. The story is set before the Kira investigation in the original series.[78]

Several characters from Death Note appear in Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars, a fighting game featuring multiple characters from Shōnen Jump titles. Light, Ryuk, and L appear in Jump Super Stars as support characters. Misa, Near, and Mello are added as support characters in Jump Ultimate Stars as well.[79][80] The 2019 video game Jump Force features Light and Ryuk as non-playable characters, playing a key role in the game's story mode.[81]

Live action films

Main articles: Death Note (2006 film), Death Note 2: The Last Name, L: Change the World, Death Note: New Generation, Death Note: Light Up the New World, and Death Note (2017 film)

Death Note was adapted into a series of live action films in 2006. The first two films were directed by Shusuke Kaneko and the third was directed by Hideo Nakata and produced by Nippon Television, CG production of all three films were done by Digital Frontier and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. The first film, simply titled Death Note, premiered in Japan on June 17, 2006, and topped the Japanese box office for two weeks, pushing The Da Vinci Code into second place.[82] The first film briefly played in certain North American theaters on May 20–21, 2008.[83] The film was broadcast in Canadian theaters for one night only on September 15, 2008. The DVD was released on September 16, 2008, one day after the Canadian showing.[84] The sequel, Death Note 2: The Last Name, premiered in Japan on November 3, 2006.[85] It was featured in U.S. theaters in October 2008.[86]

A spin-off from the films named L: Change the World was released in Japan on February 9, 2008. It is focused on the final 23 days of L's life, as he solves one final case involving a bio-terrorist group.[87] Two dubbed versions of the film were shown in the United States on April 29 and 30, 2009.[88]

In August 2016, a three-part miniseries entitled Death Note: New Generation was announced as a part of the Death Note live-action film series and aired in September. It bridges the 10-year gap between the previous films and the then-upcoming 2016 film.[89][90] A fourth Japanese Death Note film was released in 2016[91] and featured a cyber-terrorism setting with the inclusion of six Death Notes brought into the human world.[92]

An American adaptation was released on Netflix on August 25, 2017.[93] The film was directed by Adam Wingard and was written by Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, and Jeremy Slater. It starred Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Paul Nakauchi, Jason Liles, and Willem Dafoe. It was rated by many negatively after its release, and ranked low on Rotten Tomatoes. A sequel film is reportedly in the works.[94]


Further Resources


Death Note OP 1 [NC]


March 13, 2017


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