Light Yagami is a high school prodigy and genius. However, he has an ever-increasing boredom and disdain for the rotten violent world. One day, he happens upon a notebook, called a Death Note, which states that if you write a name in it, the person will die. To his surprise, the notebook’s claims turn out to be true. This Death Note, the property of the Shinigami gods of death, gives Light the power to change this world and he decides to become its new God by executing all criminals.
Considered a masterpiece by many, Death Note shows its viewers a game of highly intelligent cat and mouse like no other series. Few other anime series can compare, but allow these anime recommendations to try.
For Fans of Mind Games
Terror of Resonance
After a terrorist attack on a Japanese nuclear facility, the country was paralyzed to act. After six months of searching for the perpetrators, the public is shown a video tape of two boys known as Sphinx that take credit for the attack. Threatening more mayhem, it is up to the police to catch these terrorists.
Like in Death Note, the mass-murdering protagonists of the series aren’t necessarily good, while the oddball detectives that serve as the antagonists are not necessarily bad. Both are one of those unique anime series where you are not quite sure who to root for.
Dr. Kenzou Tenma is a renowned brain surgeon with a perfect life, at least until one night when he is faced with a difficult decision. Both a small boy and the mayor are brought in with mortal injuries, and he can only save one. Naturally, he saves the boy, but when a series of murders begins to happen around him, all evidence points to the boy he saved.
Do you like psychological thriller mysteries that question mortality in its purest form? Well, will this be the anime for you! Tense, realistic, and just a dash of supernatural, if you liked watching the plans unfold in Death Note, than this is the next best thing.
Toua Tokuchi is an athlete and a gambler. He makes his money with a serious fastball and a simplified game of baseball called One Outs. However, one day he is approached by a veteran slugger and asked to join his long unsuccessful team, but the owner of the team doesn’t want him to threaten the money that he makes by losing. Toua, being the gambler that he is, eventually settles that for each out he pitches, he gets 5 million yen, but for each hit, he loses 50 million.
Confused on how baseball and murdering people with a notebook are even remotely similar? It is all in how they are played out. You wouldn’t think baseball is much of a thinkin’ game, but according to One Outs, there is a lot of strategy to it. Watch two opponents try to outwit each other in a setting you would never expect.
After death there is no afterlife, just reincarnation and oblivion. To decide your fate, you are sent to a bar where the bartender will challenge you to a game in which you wager your soul’s fate.
Both series deal heavily with death enough to have “Death” right in the name, but that is not what makes them so similar. What makes them similar is that in Death Parade, two people face off in the bar and the bartender needs to decide who is good and who is evil, a decision that Death Note taught us is not so easy.
For Fans of Law and Order
Akane Tsunemori is a young Inspector with an earnest sense of justice. Her job is to investigate the Psycho-Pass of individuals, a system that monitors their mental state in order to predict if they will commit a crime. Alongside Akane is a veteran Enforcer Shinya Kougami, a latent criminal given some freedom by society’s anti-crime system in return for carrying out the dirty work of Inspectors. Together they discover that society’s system is not as just as it appears.
Both series feature the “Law versus Crime” as they fight against each other with genius minds. While Psycho-Pass is a little more technological, both revolve around people trying to catch criminals by any means possible.
Those with a powerful grudge are able to access a website at midnight where they are allowed to enter anyone’s name and have them ferried off to hell. Ai Enma, the Hell Girl will come for them and not judge, merely carry out vengeance.
There is a fine line between revenge and justice, and both series dance around that line. In both Death Note and Hell Girl, right and wrong initially start out pretty clear cut, but over the course of the series, the lines in each begin to blur.
Eden of the East
During her graduation trip to America, Saki Morimi has a chance meeting with Akira Takizawa, a man who is naked and suffering from amnesia. Despite several suspicious traits, she befriends him, but it seems Akira may have something to do with a devastating terrorist attack that happened in Japan.
In both series, the main characters aim to make the world a better place to live. In both series that is done by a somewhat supernatural proxy ala a notebook or a cellphone that grants wishes. Both proxies have rules that must be followed.
Despite his teenage age, Shinichi Kudou is one of the great detectives of the world. However, one day when he witnesses some illegal going-ons, criminals catch him and dose him with a mysterious drug. Next thing he knows, he is waking up as a little boy again. Now Shinichi must try to solve his own mystery while stuck as seven-year-old.
While dipping its toe into darkness occasionally, Detective Conan is one of those Friday night mystery shows that even the young ones can enjoy. That is not to say there isn’t some intrigue for the adults though. While not as complex as Death note, Detective Conan still provides plenty of good mystery cases.
For Fans of Life With Just a Dash of Supernatural
High school student Yukiteru Amano spends his days alone, writing in his diary and talking to his imaginary friend Deus Ex Machina, the god of time and space. However, one day, Deus gives Yukiteru the power to know the future of his surroundings through his diary, also giving 11 others equally powerful diaries. Now they must kill each other with the winner taking his place as god.
Both series deal with supernatural notes the foretell things dealing with life and death. While in Future Diary, the diary is used to escape one’s death, the death note is used to kill others. Regardless, moral dilemmas, mind games, and fights for survival are abound.
Tokyo’s downtown district of Ikebukuro is a strange place filled with typical dangers like human trafficking and color gangs, but there are more mystical things afoot like Irish fairies, headless riders, and a mysterious slasher.
Both series feature high schoolers who are bored with life and decide to do something new. In Durarara, he starts a gang, in Death Note he kills a bunch of criminals. Regardless, in both stories you get more and more into a world that is based on the real world, but with distinct supernatural features.
In his darkest moments, the young Ciel Phantomhive formed a pact with a demon to exchange his soul for those who wronged him. Now this demon poses as his butler and Ciel strives for both success and vengeance in Victorian England.
What is a Shinigami if not a demon? However, while Sebastian can be seen, they are not the only things that Death Note has in common. Both involve a grand degree of mystery-solving, dark arts, and boys who want to create a new world. Although. Ciel’s changes are on a slightly smaller scale.
Have your own recommendations for anime series like Death Note? Tell us about it in the comments section below.