First came out as a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Death Note was adapted and developed as an anime series in October 2006 by Madhouse and was directed by Tetsuro Araki.
The story follows Light Yagami, a teen genius who stumbles across a mysterious otherworldly 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 morally unworthy of life to change the world into a utopian society without crime, using the alias of a god-like vigilante named “Kira” and the subsequent efforts of an elite task-force of law enforcement officers, consisting of members of the Japanese police force, led by L, an enigmatic international detective whose past is shrouded in mystery, to apprehend him and end his reign of terror.
Moreover, an American film adaptation was released exclusively on Netflix in August 2017, and a sequel is reportedly in the works.
Still can’t decide what anime to binge-watch now? You might want to try Death Note.
Episode 1: Rebirth
Outside the grounds of his high school, Light Yagami discovers a notebook that claims to be able to kill anyone whose name and face are known to its owner. He initially dismisses the so-called “Death Note” as a hoax, but after testing its powers, he discovers that these claims are indeed real.
The original owner, a shinigami named Ryuk, approaches Light and explains that the notebook now belongs to him. Since Light is the new owner, he is the only one who can see and interact with Ryuk. The shinigami also says that when Light’s time to die comes, Ryuk will be the one to write down his name in his book.
Light decides to use the Death Note’s power to rid the world of evil and become the god of a new, peaceful world.
Episode 2: Confrontation
As criminals begin dying from inexplicable heart attacks, Interpol convenes to discuss the phenomenon. Unable to come up with an explanation for it, they turn to the world’s top-ranked detective, L, whose true identity is a well-kept secret.
L speaks to the Interpol representatives through a computer and an electronic voice, promising them that they are dealing with mass-murder and that he will soon confront the killer whom the general public has been calling Kira (killer). This displeases Light, who had been going to great lengths to keep the Death Note hidden since learning that Ryuk becomes visible to anyone who touches the book.
L tricks Light into revealing that Kira lives in Japan’s Kanto region with a television broadcast. Having played right into L’s hands, an enraged and humiliated Light swears to eliminate L.
Episode 3: The Deal
Police authorities discuss the “Kira case” with L. Upon inquiring about the time of death of the victims, L concludes that Kira is likely a student with a naive concept of justice.
He requests data on how the victims were publicized and begin to suspect that Kira has access to police information. Because the police officer in charge of the Kira case, Soichiro Yagami, is Light’s father, Light can monitor the authorities’ movements.
Meanwhile, Ryuk tells Light that he is being followed. He also explains that shinigami get the lifespans of people they have taken before their time and, their eyes can see everyone’s name and lifespan floating above their heads. He gives Light the option to trade half his remaining lifespan for the eyes of a shinigami, just like Ryuk’s.
Episode 4: Pursuit
Light tells Ryuk that he is trying to create an ideal world where no criminals are left unpunished and that as the god of such a world, he cannot sacrifice half of his life for the shinigami eyes.
Light begins experimenting to find out how much control he has over how a criminal dies. Light successfully makes one criminal run to the prison bathroom before dying, another draw a pentagram in his own blood, and another write a suicide note that contains the message “L, do you know?” He tries to have other prisoners do things such as draw L’s face, travel to the Eiffel Tower in Paris in one hour, and write that they know that L suspects the Japanese police before they die.
When they fail to do so, he learns that the Death Note is not all-powerful. Using this knowledge, Light devises a plan to find out who has been following him. Light makes a drug dealer hijack a bus on which Light, and by extension, his follower, are passengers.
During the hijacking, Light gets his tracker to reveal that he is Raye Penber, a Federal Agent from the United States employed by L and his associate Watari.
Episode 5: Tactics
Light waits one week before killing Raye Penber. He follows Raye onto a train and forces him to write down the names of his fellow agents on a piece of the Death Note by threatening Raye’s family. Because of the simultaneous death of these twelve FBI agents in Japan, the police are scared to continue investigating, and the American president pulls the FBI off the Kira case.
However, Penber’s fiancee, a former FBI agent, seeks to find Kira for revenge. Light has another criminal leave a third coded note for L, which finishes the phrase “L, do you know? Shinigami (gods of death) love apples.”
Although there is truth to this, L determines that Kira is only mocking him as he considers his next move.
Episode 6: Unraveling
After the news of the deaths of the FBI agents in Japan breaks, the Japanese police, who were previously unaware that there were FBI agents in Japan, conclude that L hired them to investigate the Japanese police and their families, causing them to distrust L.
Chief Soichiro Yagami announces that because of the heightened stakes of the case, any officer who no longer wishes to work on the Kira investigation may leave and would not be demoted for doing so. Only five officers decide to remain on the case.
In an effort to repair his relations with the Japanese police, L meets in secret with the remaining detectives who want to work on the Kira case. L insists that they use false identities for protection against Kira and asks that they call him Ryuzaki instead of L. He reveals his thoughts about how Kira might be following the murders of the FBI agents and pinpoints who the federal agents were tracking during that period.
Meanwhile, Light happens to meet a woman who introduces herself as Shoko Maki. As the two talks, he realizes that she is Penber’s fiancee and that she has worked out that Kira can kill by means other than heart attacks, information she plans to share with the police.
Convinced that if the police were to find out this information, it would not be long before they identified him as Kira, Light decides that he must eliminate this woman.
Episode 7: Overcast
Light writes the name Shoko Maki on the Death Note. When nothing happens, he realizes that Penber’s fiancee has kept an alias and fears that she may lead the police to him.
Ryuk starts pressuring Light to trade for the shinigami eyes, but Light coaxes her true name, Naomi Misora, out of her by pretending to work for L. As the Death Note takes effect, Light informs her that he is Kira and watches as Naomi walks away to commit suicide, tauntingly yelling after her how he could easily contact his father now, with her only feebly returning that she has nothing to say.
Meanwhile, Watari reveals his identity in the meeting with Light’s father and the other detectives. He gives the detectives special gadgets embedded in clothing in the event Kira comes into contact with them or they are in trouble. Detective Shuichi Aizawa is sent to the police headquarters by L and just misses Naomi handing her driver’s license to Light as a form of identification.
Episode 8: Glare
L is close to discovering the identity of Kira. Misora’s disappearance causes L to shortlist the people who were being tracked by the FBI at the time of Raye Penber’s death. He requests surveillance equipment to be installed in the homes of those he suspects, including Soichiro Yagami’s son.
Light, however, becomes aware that he is being watched and has Ryuk locate all the cameras in his room. Later, he deceives the surveillance team by watching the news on a portable television hidden in a bag of potato chips and continues to kill the criminals being reported. This throws off L’s suspicions that he is Kira.
Episode 9: Encounter
L’s suspicions are momentarily subdued, but he does not discard the possibility that Light may be Kira and decides to meet him in person.
At the college entrance exams, Light notices a mysterious and eccentric student staring at him, who introduces himself as Hideki Ryuga, the same name as a famous idol. Light is shocked when “Hideki Ryuga” reveals himself as L.
Since it would be too suspicious for L to die right after meeting Light, he decides to befriend L and kill him at a later time. He decides that the best course of action is to get closer to L, gather more information about his true identity, and keep an eye on the police.
Episode 10: Doubt
In a bid to profile Light’s behavior, L challenges him to a game of tennis. L asks him some questions regarding the Kira case and invites him to help in the investigation.
The two then receive news that Soichiro Yagami has had a heart attack and is in the hospital. Light promises to his father that he will make sure Kira is caught and executed for making him suffer.
On the way out, L confronts and scrutinizes Light, still uncertain whether or not he is Kira. Light attempts a bluff and demands to be placed in a prison cell without television for one month to prove his innocence.
L is satisfied but curious that Light should offer this proposition. Meanwhile, television station Sakura TV receives audio tapes from an anonymous person claiming to be Kira.