Death Note is among the most popular anime shows of all time. During its release, many anime fans are raving about its story. And even up until now, new viewers are still on wit’s end about how the story unfolds. Its brilliant execution and clever storytelling are only some things you will love about the anime series.
But even before Death Note was patronized by millions of anime fans across the globe, its manga series was first serialized by Shueisha in the Japanese manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump from December 2003 to May 2006. In three years, the manga had 108 chapters; the anime consists of 37 episodes divided into two parts.
What Is Death Note?
Death Note is about the interconnected world between the Shinigami realm and the human world. It revolves around the story of extrajudicial punishment and blind justice. In both the manga and anime series, you’ll come to love or hate the incredible dynamic between the different characters.
The story follows Light Yagami, who makes it a mission to cleanse the world of humans, which he deemed unfit for society. He does this through a deadly notebook, hardly leaving any traces or clues pointing to his doings. Because of these mysterious killings, a team of experienced investigators hunts to find the culprit. It, then, introduces a roster of compelling characters with distinctive storytelling in a comparatively dark setting.
Death Note: Who Are the Main Characters?
Like most anime shows, Death Note features an extensive range of fictional characters. Despite its huge number, each character in Death Note is fleshed out and well-integrated into the story. The characters are designed by Takeshi Obata, and their storylines are written by Tsugumi Ohba.
While the Death Note Universe is remotely far from the real world, its characters experience the same motivations as any regular human would. These make them extremely relatable. According to Ohba, he created the names for his characters like they were real but could not exist in the real world due to the dark nature of the series.
Want to get to know the main characters of the series? Read on to learn their quirks and understand their motivations. Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Light Yagami (夜神 月, Yagami Raito), First Kira
Light is a bored yet bright genius who found the Death Note dropped by the Shinigami Ryuk. As the story’s main protagonist, Light gains the power to kill anyone through the supernatural notebook.
Motivated to serve justice and frustrated by the status quo, he uses the Death Note to kill anyone deemed unworthy of life; mostly, he killed criminals, sexual predators, and corrupt politicians. In his reign as Kira, Light exterminated more than 250,000 people — that’s more than the number of people who died in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
Throughout his worldwide massacre, he is pursued by a special task force headed by a consulting detective named L.
L Lawliet (Ｌ・ローライト, Eru Rōraito)
L Lawliet, commonly known as L, is one of the main antagonists in Death Note. He is dubbed as the world’s greatest detective and is tasked to track down and arrest Kira. Unlike Light, he doesn’t wear his emotions and personality on his sleeve. He has a reserved, enigmatic, and ambiguous nature, only communicating with the law enforcement through his assistant Watari.
He has a slim figure and a rather pale complexion. His most conspicuous features are his messy neck-length black hair and black eyes. As a result of being an insomniac, he has dark shadows under his eyes. One of the most puzzling things about L is he loves going barefoot, even in public. As for his clothes, he always sports a pair of blue jeans and a long-sleeved white shirt.
Though his true identity and background are kept a mystery, his reputation as a detective and criminal profiler is highly regarded. Throughout the series, he discovers Light’s true identity as Kira and wants to expose this information to the Task Force. However, he met his untimely demise and died collapsing into Light’s arms. His death was among the most disheartening and equally shocking scenes throughout the series.
Ryuk (リューク, Ryūku)
Without Ryuk, the whole events following the series would pan out. This only means that Ryuk played an extremely vital role in the story. Because he became bored with his role as a Shinigami, he decides to drop the otherworldly notebook for someone to find it intentionally.
While some people would be scared at the sight of Ryuk, he has a fairly humanoid appearance compared to most Shinigamis. He is thin with greyish skin, has large round yellow eyes with bright red irises. Some even say that he looks like he’s always high on drugs. Aside from his eyes, he has very distinct retractable wings on his back which allows him to fly around.
Ryuk is unlike most Shinigamis because he is more interested in the human world. He would like to spend more time interacting with humans than simply idling in the Shinigami Realm. However clever, he gets easily manipulated since Light understands his desires. He has a great fondness for apples, highlighting that the fruit is equivalent to the human’s addiction to alcohol, cigarettes, or even drugs.
Misa Amane (弥 海砂, Amane Misa) Second Kira
Misa is a well-known Japanese idol and supermodel, famous for her Gothic-style, feverish personality, and devotion to Light as Kira. She went head over heels for Light when he killed her parent’s murder. As an idol, Misa booked a lot of acting gigs and even became one of the most popular faces to model different kinds of luxury brands. On top of her busy career, she eventually became the second Kira.
Eventually, Misa became the second Kira and dedicated his life to helping Light in however she can; this led her to offer half her life to earn the Shinigami Eyes, allowing her to see everyone’s names and lifespans. Like the first Kira, Misa also has a very unsuspecting look.
She is simply a short, attractive young woman with long straight, golden-blonde hair. Her eyes are predominantly light brown but will turn into bright red while using the Shinigami Eyes.
Near (ニア, Nia)
Near is a young detective who was the successor of L’s duties when he died. His real name is Nate River; Near has white hair and wears white clothes. At first glance, you can’t even believe that he has superior problem-solving and investigative skills. He is also the head of the Special Provision for Kira (SPK), an organization created to catch Kira.
Just like any other kid, he constantly plays with his toys. He loves playing cards, building dice towers, and acting out his ideas with Lego figurines and puppets. Despite his playful personality, he knows how to get serious. He was the only person to successfully identify and capture Light as Kira.
Mello (メロ, Mero)
Mello grew up together with Near to succeed L. After L’s death. He conceded the position to Near. However, he didn’t stop chasing Kira and resorted to hunting him through evil means. Mello joined the American Mafia because of his obsession to surpass near. Unlike Near, he is relatively taller, wearing blond hair with bangs over his eyebrows.
Another notable facial feature is his large scar from his shoulder extending to his nose and left eye; he got this after initiating an explosion in the Mafia hideout to escape from getting captured.
Kyosuke Higuchi (火口 卿介, Higuchi Kyōsuke) Third Kira
Higuchi is an egocentric businessman who frequently wears a black suit; he has dark-brown hair and eyes and sports a villainous grin. While Higuchi only had a little screen time playing as the third Kira, he played a vital role in helping Misa and Light by being their fall guy.
As the third Kira, Higuchi senselessly killed anyone who got in the way of his business. As the head of the Technology Department of Yotsuba Corporation and member of the Yotsuba Group, he was greedy, forceful, and self-serving. These traits led to his demise since he can be manipulated so easily.
He eventually revealed his true identity to Misa because of her manipulative tactics — highlighting her deep Admiration of Kira. During this meeting, Misa records the meeting and shares the video with the Japanese Task Force.
Teru Mikami (魅上 照, Mikami Teru) Fourth Kira
Like Misa, Teru Mikami is also an avid Kira supporter. Considering Kira to be his God, Mikami is an obedient worshipped; he’ll do anything for Light. It was among the main reasons Light chose him to be the fourth Kira during the Kira investigation and surveillance.
More importantly, Light and Mikami share the same views on crime. He also had a principled sense of justice and a fervent passion for punishing evil. By the looks of it, Mikami hides his emotions well. He’s rarely seen showing any reaction but became insanely unkempt and in complete disarray when he finally saw Light.
Kira Investigation Team
Kira Investigation Team or the Japanese Task Force is the only organization within the country that is searching for Kira. They’re a classified organization and all the names and personal information of the members are unknown to the public.
Here’s the list of the team members:
Ryuzaki, L’s alias, founded the Task Force. His ultimate goal is to catch Kira and bring justice to his extrajudicial killings.
While Light Yagami is Kira, he joined the Task Force to get information about the investigation. He is also motivated to find out Ryuzaki’s real name.
Soichiro Yagami is the Chief of the NPA. He is also Light’s Father and the main reason why Light got into the classified team. Initially, he leads the men who hunt down Kira. He burns for justice and is dedicated to uncovering Kira’s true identity. This led him to make a deal with the Shinigami; eventually, the deal resulted in his untimely death during a standoff with Mello in the search of discovering Kira’s true identity.
Aizawa is a hardworking and intelligent member of the National Police Agency and the Task Force. He takes his work with pride and puts a premium on loyalty. Due to a lack of funding, Shuichi Aizawa left the investigation team. He only returned before Ryuzaki’s death and was among the few people who suspected Light as Kira. It is even made clear when he takes the most action against L’s surveillance on Light and Misa.
He has large black afro hair and dark brown eyes and is depicted as a man with tall stature. After the time skip, he gained facial hair and had a visible haircut since he donned short crop hair. Once the investigation on the Kira case came to a close, Aizawa became the Chief of the NPA.
Kanzo Mogi is among the very few officers who remain on the Kira case after the cut in funding. He is a tall, broad-built man among the most committed members of the Task Force. While Mogi is often reserved and rarely speaks, he immediately turns into an excited and giddy manager for Misa — which is seemingly contradictory to his usual attitude.
Unlike most of the members of the Task Force, Touta Matsuda is naive and reckless, partly due to his age. Most often, the team berates him for his actions. Despite all the tirades thrown at him, he has proven to be a valuable member of the Task Force. He significantly helped the team’s operations after the time skip.
Ide is short-tempered and doesn’t like to play tricks on anyone. You can immediately notice his strict demeanor in how he interacts and deals with Matsuda’s foolishness. He is a great friend of Aizawa and has kept him from dropping out of the Kira Investigation Team. Although, unlike Aizawa, Ide is most suspicious and distrustful of L. He only joined the team full-time after Light took over the investigation.
As for his looks, Ide has short black hair and small, somewhat chinky eyes. He typically wears a green blazer with a red tie, which is uncommon since most members wear a regular black tie and suit.
Hirokazu Ukita is among the bravest and most determined members of the Task Force. While most of the NPA members left the Task Force in fear that Kira would hunt them down, Ukita chose to stay until his death. He was sharp and laser-focused on his goal, but he can be impatient and emotional at times.
Aside from being L’s handle, Watari is also the assigned logistics supplier for the Japanese Task Force. Interestingly, he is also the founder of Wammy’s House; it is an orphanage that housed some of the best detectives across the globe, such as L, Mello, and Near.
Hired by L, Aiber is a skilled conman who is pretending to be Eraldo Coil. He can speak multiple languages and easily adapt to various kinds of scenarios. Aiber has evenly sculpted facial features and a prominent jaw.
Due to his good looks and skill set, he quickly builds trust among different individuals. That’s why he played a pivotal role in L’s plan of infiltrating the Yotsuba Group.
Wedy, same as Aiber, are accomplices of L’s plan. Although she wasn’t part of the founding members of the Task Force, her infiltration skills proved to be relevant in planting bugs to gather information from the Yotsuba Group Headquarters.
Consisting of eight executive members of the Yotsuba Corporation, the Yotsuba Group was formed during Higuchi’s reign as Kira. They conduct weekly meetings to discuss and decide the killings of key individuals from their competing businesses. This is their way of guaranteeing dominance across the market.
Aside from Higuchi, these are the members of the Yotsuba Group:
Shingo Mido (三堂 芯吾, Midō Shingo)
Mido is the Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Director of Financial Planning. Unlike the rest of the members, he disagrees with Kira’s senseless killings and unkempt actions. It is also evident that he is an unwilling member of the Meetings of Death. At some point, he even contemplated leaving the group.
Reiji Namikawa (奈南川 零司, Namikawa Reiji)
As the Vice President of Sales, Namikawa is among the most talented of the board members. He is extremely skilled and intelligent, and he was able to fool L. That’s why it’s no surprise that he can make it to the top without Kira’s help. After receiving a call from L, he stopped participating in the Meeting of Death.
Eiichi Takahashi (鷹橋 鋭一, Takahashi Eiichi)
Looking rather serious, Takashi dons shoulder-length blond hair and a black mustache. He is usually seen wearing a black suit. Being the Vice President of Yotsuba Material Planning Division and Yotsuba Homes, he wasn’t as competent as the recent.
According to Death Note 13: How to Read, He never had what it takes to be a true leader. It even highlights that he was only invited to be part of the group to make Higuchi look more competent and good with his role.
Suguru Shimura (紙村 英, Shimura Suguru)
In Death Note 13: How to Read, Shimura is described as irrationally-anxious and suspicious of others. His keenness for detail is the sole reason why he was invited to join the meetings. He can quickly spot any change of emotions and demeanor. However, he is often talked down and berated by his colleagues for his severe anxiety. But despite that, most of Shimura’s suspicions are correct.
Masahiko Kida (樹多 正彦, Kida Masahiko)
Kida is in charge of controlling the finances and communicating with Eraldo Coil. He was given this gargantuan task because of his calm and collected nature, but he isn’t adept at dealing with surprises. He was even taken aback about Eraldo’s extortion.
Takeshi Ooi (尾々井 剛, Ooi Takeshi)
Ooi is the eldest and most influential member of the Group. He is the Vice President of VT Enterprises. He directs the Meetings of Death and contacts the members of the meetings individually.
Just by looking at Ooi’s appearance, he is a sharp, tough bald man who’s laser-focused on achieving his desires no matter what it takes.
Arayoshi Hatori (葉鳥 新義, Hatori Arayoshi)
Hatori is the VP of Marketing of the Yotsuba Corporation. Being the illegitimate son of the company president, he craves every ounce of power using his familial relations to benefit his desires. Because of his sudden outburst, Higuchi killed him.
Feared for being the Gods of Death, Shinigamis are equivalent to the Western’s grim reapers. In the series, they live in another dimension and survive by killing humans to extend their own lives. Aside from Ryuk, Death Note has featured several Shinigami characters, such as:
Rem (レム, Remu)
Rem is responsible for giving Misa her Death Note. While Rem had two Death Notes in her possession, she did not resort to any kind of trickery. She got the second notebook when Shinigami Gelus died as a result of protecting Misa from her murder. Since this is a violation of the Shinigami law, Gelus died and was reduced to ashes leaving only his Death Note.
This is when Rem recovered his Death Note and gave it to Misa. Unlike Ryuk, Rem looks rather odd and skeletal. You can notice her long, spinal cord-like arms and bone-like skin.
Gelus (ジェラス, Jerasu)
Gelus is the Shinigami who offered his life for Misa. He fell in love with her and sacrificed his life to protect Misa. Appearing in a flashback when Rem explains how to kill a Shinigami, he looks rather small and doll-like; seemingly appearing like a patchwork of mismatched fabric.
Sidoh (シドウ, Shidō)
A victim of Ryuk’s trickery, Sidoh is the Shinigami who lost his Death Note. However, his Death Note was already held by different people several times. So, he had to track down these individuals and regain ownership of the Death Note.
Like Mello, Sidoh is fond of chocolates. He looks rather timid and is even frightened by Mello despite being a death god. Aside from that, he is extremely forgetful and hardly remembers the names of the other Shinigamis.
Armonia Justin Beyondormason (アラモニア＝ジャスティン＝ビヨンドルメーソン, Aramonia-Jasutin-Biyondorumēson)
He is the Shinigami who alerted Sidoh about his missing Death Note. He is the primary Shinigami who advises his subordinates about the Shinigami laws. Being the most intelligent and well-equipped, he is also the Shinigami’s go-to when they’re in trouble. As for his looks, he has a skeletal figure embellished with all kinds of jewelry pieces.
Midora (ミードラ, Mīdora)
Resembling a large salamander with stubby limbs, Midora enjoys moist weather and hates the dry season. She also doesn’t like to wear any kind of clothing or accessories. In the same way, Ryuk likes apples, Midora enjoys eating bananas.
Shinigami King (死神大王, Shinigami Daiō)
Revered as the King of Death, Shinigami King is the ruler of the Shinigami world. While unseen in most parts of the main series, his presence is highly respected and feared among the Shinigamis. He takes control of the distribution of the Death Notes.
Question: What is the exact casualty count of Light’s reign as Kira?
Answer: While there are no exact figures to Light’s casualty count, it’s estimated that he killed over 228,000 – given that Light managed to claim 312 victims within about 5 days. He also averages 62.5 murders per day. Totaling 22,815 cases during the first year of activity, the numbers skyrocketed after L’s death.
Question: How many Kiras were there in the series?
Answer: There were four Kiras, Light, Misa, Higuchi, and Mikami. However, the two Kiras (Misa and Mikami) were influenced by Light’s desire of cleansing the world of evil.
Question: Does Light have a love interest?
Answer: Yes, he does. Her name is Kiyomi Takada (高田 清美, Takada Kiyomi). Kiyomi is his former college classmate who became Kira’s spokeswoman on the NHN television station.
Question: How did L die?
Answer: L is killed by the Shinigami Rem due to Light’s manipulation. He explained that if L lived, Misa would be in danger.
Question: Who is taller: Light or L?
Answer: It turns out that Light and L are almost of the same height. However, L often slouches, causing him to look shorter than he is. L stands at 178 cm while Light is 179 cm.
Death Note Characters Guide: Other Supporting Characters
There are still a lot of characters who are pivotal to the story progression of the series. Their overarching storylines have either played a significant role in the survival, confinement, and survival of the other characters. However, it might be difficult to highlight each character’s personality and contribution to the anime. That’s why we’d rather not include them on this list.
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