Death Note (デスノート, Desu Nōto) is a Japanese manga series created by writer Tsugumi Ohaba and illustrator Takeshi Obata. The series centers around a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone by writing the victim's name and picturing his face. The plot follows his attempt to create and lead a world cleansed of evil using the book, and the complex conflict between himself and those assailing him that results.</p>

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 twelve 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, and an anime series which aired in Japan from October 3, 2006, to June 26, 2007. Also, a novel based on the series, written by Nisio Isin, was released in Japan on August 1,

Development and creationEdit

Ohba said that he decided to create a suspense series because he did not feel that he could have created a "normal fight-style" series and that the genre had few suspense series. Ohba said that he did not derive the Death Note concept from any single source. He said that one day he thought of a concept involving Shinigami and "specific rules."</p>

After publication of the pilot chapter Ohba said that he did not expect for the series to be approved as a serialized comic as he thought it did not "fit with Jump." Ohba said that when he learned Death Note received approval and that Obata would create the artwork he couldn't even believe it. Due to positive reactions to the series Death Note became a serialized manga series.</p>

Ohba created "thumbnails," consisting of dialog, panel layout, and basic drawings, to be sent to Obata; the editor reviewed the thumbnails and sent them to Obata with the script set in stone and the panel layout "mostly done." Obata determined the expressions and "camera angles" and created the final artwork. According to Ohba he concentrated on the "tempo" and the amount of dialog; he added that he had difficulty in keeping the text from being too long. Ohba said that he tried to make the story concise and did not want too much text as he believed that "reading too much exposition" would be "tiring" and that it would negatively affect the atmosphere and "air of suspense". Ohba set the basic characteristics of his characters while he allowed for Obata to influence the actual character designs. According to Ohba he did not derive the actual plot idea from one particular source. Regarding the backgrounds and props Ohba said that he put descriptions such as "abandoned building" and let Obata wield most of the creative power regarding the backgrounds and props.</p>

Ohba said that when he decided on the plot he internally visualized the panels while "rolling around in bed," drinking tea, or walking around his house; Ohba said that he needed to feel relaxed while visualizing the panels. After that he drew the panels on white paper in a "very simple manner." The writer added that on many occasions the draft consisted of too many pages and he had to write drafts two or three times to find the desired "tempo" and "flow" for the chapter. Ohba added that he liked to read the previous two or four chapters very carefully to ensure consistency in the story.</p>

Ohba said that his general weekly schedule consisted of five days to create and think about the creation and then use one day pencil and insert dialog into the rough drafts; according to Ohba, after this point he faxed the drafts to the editor. Obata also described his weekly schedule. He said that he usually took one day with the thumbnails, layout, and pencils and one day with additional penciling and inking. His assistants usually worked for four days and Obata used one day to add "final touches." Obata said that sometimes he took an extra day or two to color pages and that this "messed with the schedule." Ohba said that on some occasions he took three or four days to create a chapter while on other occasions he took a month to create a chapter. Obata said that his schedule remained consistent except when he had to create color pages.</p>

Ohba and Obata rarely met in person during the creation of the serialized manga—they met with their editor, instead. The first time they met in person was at an editorial party in January 2004. Obata said that, despite the intrigue, he did not ask his editor about Ohba's plot developments as he anticipated the new thumbnails every week. The two did not discuss the final chapters with one another and they continued to talk with the editor. Ohba said that when he asked the editor if Obata had said anything about the story and plot the editor responded "No, nothing".</p>

Ohba said that the series ended more or less in the manner that he intended for it to end; Ohba considered the idea of L defeating Light Yagami with Light dying; he instead chose to use the "Yellow Box warehouse" ending. According to Ohba he had the details set from the beginning. Ohba wanted an ongoing plot line instead of an episodic series because Death Note was serialized and that Ohba wanted a series focused on a cast with a series of events triggered by the Death Note. Ohba used the Internet for research and did not go on any research trips.</p>

How to Read 13 states that the humorous aspects of Death Note originated from Ohba's enjoyment of humorous stories.</p>

General creative processEdit

For each chapter the creative process began with Ohba and moved to Obata; both authors took advice from the editor.</p>

Ohba began each segment by creating a rough draft; he said that his main weakness was including too much information in each panel. Once each draft "goes through a few rounds" and the elements "are decided on" Ohba split the panels and "solidified" dialog, monologues, and everything else. Ohba included "specific art" in thumbnails if he believed it was needed. Obata took the thumbnails and edited "camera angles" and expressions exhibited by characters. Obata used the thumbnails as models for his final panels. When Obata decided on the content he began drawing. At this point in many cases Obata determined designs of newly introduced characters and items. After that the editor takes the pages and lettering, special effects, and other type are inserted into the pages; at that point the final drafts are finished.</p>

Intent with the seriesEdit

Ohba said that he did not have a theme that he wished to express throughout the series. Ohba said that if he had to choose one, he would select "Humans will all eventually die and never come back to life, so let's give it our all while we're alive." He said that he did not intend for Death Note to push an ideology or make a statement about good and evil. Ohba said that Near's statement in Volume 12 about deciding right and wrong is closest to his own personal belief. Ohba said that he understands how debate can form from the story; He also said that since the answers to the questions raised become "ideological" and that he believes this development would be "dangerous" and not "interesting in a manga." Ohba decided not to include this aspect in Death Note.</p>

As a response to the interview question "So the series is meant to be all about enjoying the plot twists and psychological warfare?" Ohba responded by saying that the statement is the reason why he was "very happy" to place the story in Weekly Shonen Jump. He said that, because Death Note is aimed at "the young" the reader can "push back ideology" and focus on "pure entertainment." Ohba said that if he aimed the series at an older audience he would expect "more debate over the issues" and therefore he believed that the story would have had to develop in that direction. How to Read 13 states that debate about good and evil "sometimes" appears in the series and that the "answer" to the debate is left for the reader to decide.</p>

Ohba responded to the question "If you had to say what the most important thing in Death Note is, what would it be?" by answering "The human whose name is written in this note shall die." while Obata responded by answering "Impossible to say."</p>


Light Yagami is an extremely intelligent young man who resents the crime and corruption in the world. His life undergoes a drastic change in the year 2003, when he discovers a mysterious notebook, known as the "Death Note", lying on the ground. 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 notebook's authenticity, but after experimenting with it, Light realizes 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 those he deems to be evil or who get in his way.</p>

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, 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.</p>


Light Yagami/KiraEdit

Light Yagami (夜神 月 Yagami Raito) is a bored young genius who is dissatisfied with the Japanese justice system. When he finds the Death Note, he uses it to kill criminals in large numbers. His goal is to create a "pure world" without evil, which he intends to rule over as "the god of the new world". The name Kira (キラ), derived from the English word killer, is quickly popularized, as people start to deify the source of this tide of judgment. In the end, when Light was in disgrace and is exposed, the shinigami Ryuk kills him using a Death Note.


L Lawliet, known solely as L, is the world's greatest detective. He takes on the task of tracking down and arresting Kira. His disheveled appearance and odd behavior belie his genius. He lives in solitude, and only his manager Watari is able to contact him. L suspects that Light is Kira almost from the beginning, but cannot confirm his suspicions until his dying moments, when a victorious Light secretly reveals the truth. He dies when Rem writes L's and Watari's name in her Death Note. She did that so she can save Misa's life.

Misa AmaneEdit

Misa Amane (弥 海砂 Amane Misa) is a popular Japenese idol. She has an extremely cheerful, upbeat manner. She is devoted to Light, who does not return her affections; instead, he manipulates and uses her. As a Death Note owner and the second Kira, she has the Shinigami Eyes, which allow her to view anyone's name and lifespan on sight. While her fate is left unstated in all versions of the story, writer Tsgumi Ohba has said that she probably commits suicide after Light's death.


Near (ニア Nia), real name Nate River, is the young detective who succeeds L by default, defeating Light Yagami at the story's climax. A placid character with a sharp tongue, he has white hair and wears pale clothes. He constantly plays with toys, building towers of dice and playing cards, and illustrating his exposition with small finger puppets and Lego minifigs. While both he and Mello were in competition to succeed L, Near accepts in the end that neither of them can completely do so, and their eventual cooperation is critical to Kira's defeat.

In the film L: Change the World, L gives the name "Near" to a Thai boy, who is a mathematical genius. He intends Near to succeed him.


Mello (メロ Mero), real name Mihael Keehl, grows up in competition with Near to succeed L. After L's death, however, he concedes the position to Near and leaves to hunt Kira through criminal means, eventually joining the American Mafia. He dresses extravagantly, and is rarely seen without a bar of chocolate. He is obsessed with outdoing Near, to whom he considers himself to be always second. He is ultimately killed by Kiyomi Takada, while kidnapping her. This kidnap is critical to Light Yagami's defeat.

Mello narrates the light novel Another Note.


Shinigami (死神, literally "death-god") are demon-like beings who live in the Shinigami realm. Shinigami are functionally immortal, able to extend their lives indefinitely by writing the names of humans in their Death Notes. By writing the name of a human whose fated time of death has not yet come, Shinigami have their lifespan increased by the amount that human would have lived (e.g. a forty-year-old who would have lived to the age of sixty would yield twenty years). As Ryuk describes it, life in the Shinigami realm is incredibly dull; Shinigami do little more than gamble constantly, and using the Death Note more than once in a while is considered something workaholics do. The main Shinigami featured in the series are Ryuk, Rem and Sidoh. The only way to kill a Shinigami is through love for a human (e.g. if a Shinigami kills to save a human they love [which adds more time to the lifespan of that human], the Shinigami will then turn to dust and evaporate, as Gelus did to prolong Misa's life).