Genre: Occult Detective, Psychological Thriller
Original Name: Desu Nōto
Light Yagami is a genius high schooler who discovers the “Death Note”, a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. After experimenting with the notebook, Light meets the shinigami Ryuk, the notebook’s original owner, who dropped the notebook to the human world out of boredom. Light tells Ryuk of his plan to rule over a new world free from criminals as a god, where only people he deems morally fit to live remain. Light eventually becomes known to the public as Kira, which is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the word “killer“.
Kira’s killings catch the attention of Interpol and the world-famous detective, “L”. L manages to narrow Kira’s location to Japan with a trap Light falls for. Light joins L and his anti-Kira task force in hopes of eventually finding a way to kill L. However, Light’s plan is impeded by a lovestruck second Kira, famous model Misa Amane, and her shinigami Rem. Misa finds out that Light is the first Kira and offers her assistance to Light. However, Misa’s infatuation with Light causes her to make several strategic errors, allowing L to gain enough evidence to detain her. After formulating a plan to prove their innocence, Light allows himself to also be detained. They both relinquish ownership of their Death Notes, erasing all their memories of using the notebook.
During their detention, a third Kira appears. When it becomes clear that Light and Misa cannot be carrying out the third Kira’s murders, L releases them and places them under house arrest in L’s headquarters. L’s task force identify the third Kira as Yotsuba Group executive Kyosuke Higuchi and capture him. Upon touching the notebook, Light regains his memories as Kira and kills Higuchi, regaining ownership of the Death Note. Light then manipulates Rem into killing L after putting Misa in a life-threatening situation. Because purposefully killing to prolong the lifespan of human violates shinigami law, Rem also dies. Upon L’s death, Light becomes the second “L” and continues his charade of searching for Kira while carrying out the killings himself.
The narrative picks up four years later, with Kira attracting a large network of contacts and a swell of public support. Two young men, raised as potential successors to L, are revealed – Near, a detective associated with theUnited States Government, and Mello, a member of the Mafia. Mello utilizes criminal means to get closer to Kira. One of Mello’s plans results in the death of Soichiro, Light’s father and a member of L’s task force.
Meanwhile, Near’s investigation of Kira leads him to suspect that Light is acting as both the current L and Kira. After Soichiro’s death, Near plants seeds of suspicion in the task force. In response, Light persuades Misa to give up her notebook and raises another “Kira”, Teru Mikami, a prosecutor and fervent supporter of Kira. Mikami recruits Kiyomi Takada, a newscaster, to serve as Kira’s public spokeswoman. Realizing that Takada is connected to Kira, Mello kidnaps Takada. She kills Mello, and is in turn killed by Light. However, Mikami’s actions as a result of the kidnapping enable Near to set up a trap that implicates both Light and Mikami as Kira. The task force and Near’s investigation team capture the two of them and force a confession out of Light. After realizing he will no longer be able to entertain him, Ryuk kills Light.