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Light Yagami is an intelligent young man who resents what appears to be a relentless increase of crime and corruption in the world around him. His life undergoes a drastic change 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, he realizes that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a shinigami named Ryuk, Light plans to become a god and establish a new world order by passing his keen judgment on those he deems evil and anyone who gets in his way.
Soon, the number of inexplicable deaths of reported criminals catches the attention of International Police Organization and a mysterious detective known only as "L". L quickly learns that the serial killer, dubbed by the public as "Kira" (キラ?, derived from the typical Japanese pronunciation of the English word "killer"), is located in Japan. He also concludes that Kira can kill people without laying a finger on them. Light realizes that L will be his greatest nemesis, and a nuanced game of psychological cat and mouse between the two begins.
Misa Amane, another Death Note owner, finds Light. Obsessed with Kira after the death of her parents' murderer, she devotes herself to helping Light, but is captured by L. Light makes a plan involving renouncing ownership of both Death Notes, and all of his memories of them, and turns himself in to L for surveillance. Together, Light and L investigate eight people from the company "Yotsuba" who are using a Death Note for their own profit. While arresting them, Light recovers all his memories when he touches the Death Note. He remembers and continues his plan of compelling the former owner of Misa's Death Note, the shinigami Rem, into killing L and his aide Watari.
After L's death, Light is given the position of the "new L" by the Japanese Task Force. Four years later, Near and Mello - two children who were raised to be successors to L - appear, with the goal of finding Kira. In the meantime, Kira has gained much public support, and has contacts. Mello, one of L's successors, kidnaps Sayu Yagami, Light's little sister, as a bargaining chip to get the Death Note. The Japanese Task Force plans to go to Los Angeles to rescue Sayu but ends up losing the Notebook. The Task Force later attempts to retrieve it and succeeds in doing so. However, as a result of an explosion that Mello uses to cover his escape, Light's father Soichiro Yagami dies.
Near begins to suspect the second L of being Kira thus causing some members of the Japanese task force to also openly suspect him. Realizing the risk of being caught, Light has Misa give up ownership of her Death Note. He then finds his next successor, Teru Mikami, a strong, almost crazed Kira supporter. Mikami later recruits a new spokesman for Kira, Kiyomi Takada, a newscaster and one of Light's former college girlfriends. Teru Mikami and Kiyomi Takada continue killing criminals while Light is unable to do so himself. Kiyomi is later kidnapped by Mello and is forced to kill him with a hidden piece of the Death Note. Light kills Kiyomi to avoid her implicating him after she uses the note to kill Mello. Mikami, unaware of this action, writes her name in his notebook, exposing it to the members of the SPK. Near has it replaced with a fake notebook and, in a final confrontation with Light, is able to use it to prove that Light is Kira. Realizing that Light had lost, Ryuk writes down Light's name in his own notebook, killing him with a heart attack.Main charactersLight Yagami
(夜神 月, Yagami Raito?), also known as Kira (キラ?) is the protagonist of the manga and anime series Death Note. He is an extremely intelligent, athletic, popular, but bored young man who finds the Death Note dropped by the Shinigami Ryuk by sheer chance. In the Japanese version of the anime he is voiced by Mamoru Miyano, and in the English version by Brad Swaile.L Lawliet
(エル・ローライト, Eru Rōraito?), known universally by the mononym L (エル, Eru?), is a fictional character in the manga, anime and film series Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba. In the storyline, L is considered the world's greatest detective, whose identity remains unknown before the story takes place because he has never revealed himself to the public. L takes on the Kira investigation in order to find the titular murderer able to kill people whose names are written in the Death Note. He meets Kira, a teenager named Light Yagami, and becomes determined to convict him. The character of L is portrayed by Kappei Yamaguchi in the anime and Ken'ichi Matsuyama in the live-action films Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name and L: Change the World. He is voiced by Alessandro Juliani in the English versions of both the anime and live action films.Misa Amane
(弥 海砂, Amane Misa?) is a fictional character in the Death Note anime, manga, and film series.
Misa is a famous model, singer and actress who is infatuated with Light Yagami. She usually refers to herself in the third person by calling herself "Misa-Misa" to be cute (although this is omitted in the English dub of the anime) and tends to be hyperactive. Though Misa wears jewelry with a crucifix theme in the manga, she wears fleur de lis jewelry in the anime adaptation.Nate River
(ネイト・リバー, Neito Ribā?), universally referred to by the mononym Near (ニア, Nia?), is a fictional character of the anime and manga series Death Note and in the film L: Change the WorLd. Near is the younger of the two successors of L, and the leader of the SPK (Special Provision for Kira), an organization that looks into the Kira case and, in the end, succeeds in uncovering Kira's identity.
Near is the younger of L's two successors raised in Wammy's House, Watari's orphanage for gifted children, in Winchester, England, United Kingdom. Of the successors, Near is more level-headed, calmly assessing the situation, while the other, Mello, is more emotional and quicker to act. Much like L, Near shows various odd behaviors during his normal life. He is usually seen hunched over rather than sitting. He also constantly plays with various toys, which he uses in his theories, as well as idly twiddling strands of his hair. In the epilogue of the manga, he is shown eating a bar of chocolate, as he pursues a new case, possibly in memory of Mello. He shows a great respect for L, basing much of how he solves crime on L's methods, even to the point where he only takes cases that he is interested with rather than trying to pursue justice. Near uses the Wedding text font "N" and "L" to represent himself and the fake L, respectively. But later in the aftermath, he used Old English MT font "L" like the original L did. He is voiced by Noriko Hidaka in the Japanese anime, and Cathy Weseluck in the English dub.Mihael Keehl
(ミハエル・ケール, Mihaeru Kēru?), universally referred to by the mononym Mello (メロ, Mero?), is a character in the anime and manga series Death Note.
Mello is the older of L's two potential successors raised in Wammy's House, Watari's orphanage for gifted children, in Winchester, England, United Kingdom. When it is decided that Mello should work with the other successor, Near, Mello refuses, citing an inability to work with Near, to whom he is considered second in ability. Near is more intelligent than Mello, but Mello has more ambition than Near. This results in Near thinking things out better than Mello, but sometimes being so uninterested in his surroundings that he verges on inactivity. Meanwhile, Mello has a brazen and driven personality, driving him (unlike Near) to be the first to resume actively hunting Kira; however, Mello lets his emotions cloud his judgment, often leading to rash decisions that impede his progress. Mello is voiced by Nozomu Sasaki in the Japanese anime, and David Hurwitz in the English version.Shinigami
(死神?, literally "death god") are a race of extra-dimensional beings who survive by killing humans to extend their own lives. Shinigami in this series are not responsible for every death that occurs; people will eventually die regardless of whether or not the Shinigami pay attention to them, but a Shinigami can end their lives sooner than intended for their own benefit.Ryuk
(リューク, Ryūku?) is the main Shinigami of the Death Note series. He is 6'6" according to Death Note volume 1, which is shown in a mug shot next to Light Yagami on the page of Chapter 1 Boredom. Bored with the activities (or lack thereof) of the Shinigami realm, Ryuk obtains a second Death Note and drops it in the human realm for someone to find, hoping to amuse himself. He deliberately writes the instructions on the front page (in English, which he assumed to be the most popular language in the human realm) so people would understand its purpose. The Death Note is discovered by Light Yagami, and Ryuk follows him around for much of the series to see how Light uses it. Ryuk has a fairly humanoid appearance. His skin is gray, or a purplish color, his limbs are abnormally long, and he has bulging yellow eyes with black irises (red in the anime); in the films, he is represented by CGI. He is voiced by Shidō Nakamura in the Japanese anime and live-action adaptations, while Brian Drummond voices him in the English dub.Rem
(レム, Remu?) is the Shinigami who gives Misa her Death Note. Like Ryuk, Rem possesses two Death Notes; however, Rem did not get hers through trickery. The Shinigami Gelus, who had fallen in love with Misa, intentionally killed someone who was going to murder Misa. Doing so caused him to be reduced to dust and ash, leaving only his Death Note. Touched by this act, Rem delivered Gelus's Death Note to Misa, since it was her life he saved. Her appearance is quite skeletal, with long, spinal cord-like arms and bone-like skin. Rem is voiced by Kimiko Saitō in the Japanese anime and Coleen Wheeler in the English dub.