What would you do if a note capable of granting you the power to decide the life and death over whoever you want fell out of the sky at your feet? This is the question Light Yagami is requested to answer in the first pages of the revolutionary manga Death Note by Ohba Tsugumi which is still greatly popular although concluded in 2006. In fact, after the success of the anime, three live actions, and a TV-drama, Death Note is about to be made also into a Hollywood movie showing that is no exaggeration to label it as an immortal masterpiece.
So, what is so special about Death Note? Well, first of all, it is not an ordinary manga you read just to pass the time. Death Note is clever and the plot is structured in great detail, so everything that happens, the characters’ relationships, their way to think, their emotions are essential in order to give an interpretation to the story, whatever it is; indeed, Death Note is a manga with multiple keys to the reading which largely depend on the reader’s perspective. This is because Death Note has a strong provocative side, since it casts a shadow on what the concept of “justice” really means. Actually, “Justice” and the way the characters interpret it are exactly the main themes in Ohba’s story, so that the concept of what is right and what is wrong stay unclear until the very end, even though it is human life the element in the balance.
In Asian spirituality, the idea of deities playing with humans’ life and destiny just for amusement is pretty ancient, as it can be traced back to schools of thoughts of inner Asia, such as Hinduism, or even to Shintoism itself. But can the game Light and other characters tempted by the powers of the Death Note are playing be acceptable the same way as the one played by God, if used for the right purposes? Can killing someone – it doesn’t matter how bad he is – can be considered the “right” thing to do? This is the big doubt Ohba’s Death Note casted on its thousands of fans, who will probably never be able to solve.
If you are one of those fans who found Death Note exciting and want to relieve the same thrilling experience, then you are in the right place. Here’s a list of the most similar manga to Death Note.
Similar Manga to Death Note
1. Liar Game
- Mangaka: Kaitani, Shinobu
- Genre: Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 19
- Published: Feb. 2005 – Jan. 2015
There are some people who say that if you are a Death Note’s reader it is inevitable you will become a reader of Liar Game as well. Why? Well, because Liar Game shares with Death Note all those main features which made of it an undisputed masterpiece appreciated worldwide. Liar Game is, indeed, the story of Kanzaki Nao, daughter of an honorable man who raised her as a foolishly honest girl. One day, Nao receives a box containing a hundred million yen in cash and a card informing her she has been selected to participate to the Liar Game Tournament. The Liar Game has just one rule: return the money you have received during selection, while you can keep for yourself the losers’ money if you win the game. Tricked out of her sum of money, Nao has no choice but to ask for the genius Shinichi Akiyama’s help. The Liar Game will put Nao in front of the reality of human nature’s falsity.
Cunningly intelligent, Liar Game is a chess match in which tricking others, step on them, making them fall for your lies just for money’s sake represent the cold logic on which the whole plot is based. The enemy Nao and Akiyama have to fight against in order to move on the next stage is not a monster or a powerful creature, but the worst of all evils – human’s ill nature, which especially emerges when money is involved and leads to a never-ending battle between truth and lies. As Death Note in which good and evil where two sides of the same coin opposing each other by means such as cold rationality, killings of convenience, lies and stunts just like in a sick predominance game, Liar Game is a mind-boggling work which will challenge your values and beliefs.
- Mangaka: Ootani, Akira (Art), Yabuno, Tsuzuku (Story)
- Genre: Drama, Shounen, Psychological
- Volumes: 3
- Published: May 2008 – Aug. 2008
Lost+Brain is one of those manga which resembles of Death Note the most, both for its plot and idea. Hirama Ren is the main character of Lost+Brain and he is a very smart student who could also become the chairman of the student’s council. However, there are many people who don’t like Hirama and wants to teach him a lesson; indeed, after beating up a couple of guys, a group of bullies blame Hirama by reporting him to the teachers. Enraged by those people who he calls pathetic, Hirama would like to take revenge and get rid of them, but he doesn’t know how. It will be the vice-chairperson to give him the method he was searching for; chosen as a trial for an experiment on hypnotism, Hirama will be granted the frightening power to manipulate human’s mind.
There are plenty of reasons for Death Note’s fans to start reading a work like Lost+Brain; the main concept of the plot is basically the same as Death Note, in which a prodigy happens to be granted special manipulative powers and decides to use them in order to exterminate all bad people from the Earth, but you must be careful not to get caught by the police who is looking for him. As Light, also Hirama is a cold-hearted, scheming genius who is willing to do anything in order to fulfil the godly mission he entrusted himself and won’t stop until it is accomplished. With an ending that will blow you away, Lost+Brain is a valuable work for psychological thriller enthusiasts.
3. Bloody Monday
- Mangaka: Kibayashi, Shin (Story), Megumi, Kouji (Art)
- Genre: Action, Drama, School, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Psychological
- Volumes: 11
- Published: Mar. 2007 – Apr. 2009
Death Note is not only based on Light’s perspective on what is right or wrong, but also detective L’s. However, if L didn’t last long enough to stop Kira, maybe Bloody Monday’s main character Fujimaru Takagi’s destiny will be different. A deadly virus capable of killing tons of people in a short period of time has fallen into the hands of a mysterious woman, “Maya”, in Russia. The Third-I – a top-secret division of the Public Security Intelligence Agency led by Fujimaru’s father – believes that “Maya” and the virus have something to do with the strange murder case of a KGB agent in Japan; in fact, a chip was found on the scene of the crime and the genius hacker Fujimaru is asked to decode it as fast as possible. Investigation uncovers information about the murder, but also about the “Bloody Monday” project to spread terror in Japan. There is no other choice left than entrusting Japan in Fujimaru’s brilliant hands.
Extremely similar to Death Note since it reinstates the concept of the major protagonist and antagonist countering each other’s moves while fighting for their own ideals, Bloody Monday is a mind game between two genius characters who don’t want to lose and whose actions for the win are calculated in detail. Indeed, just like in Death Note, every chapter is well-structured and full of a thrilling atmosphere that will make you wonder what is going to happen after. In Bloody Monday, nothing is what it seems; the plot is built like an elaborate web which the reader is invited to untangle, with lots of enigmas, twists, cliffhangers, and also action scenes. A worthy successor of Death Note you should definitely try.
Any Manga Like Death Note ?
- Mangaka: Tabata, Yoshiaki (Story), Yugo, Yuuki (Art)
- Genre: Action, Drama, Psychological, Seinen, Thriller
- Volumes: 18
- Published: Oct. 2002 – Apr. 2006
Death Note raised some questions that weren’t easy to answer: when can a murder be justified and is it really getting rid of all criminals the best solution to prevent evil? Akumetsu tries to reflect on the same ethical matters, but from the point of view of an apparently goofy teenager who has come to hate the rotten political and economic system ruling the country. His name is Hazama Shō. He possesses special abilities and wants to use them to defend his own view of justice by protecting as many people as possible. He wears a mask and calls himself Akumetsu.
What is good, what is evil? Like Death Note, also Akumetsu raises the matter of right and wrong though a character who is sick and tired of the rotten world he lives in and is willing to fight against the causes of corruption and sufferings. The main character of Akumetsu is also very similar to Light, being a clever young man pretty popular in school with the desire to eradicate from the world what he thinks is evil. Both share a murderous secret, but where Death Note involves supernatural powers to accomplish Light’s aim, Hazama relies only on his own skills and strategies, making the manga look more realistic. The overall cast is planned out well and every character plays a crucial role to make this series even more intricate.
5. Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
- Mangaka: Esuno, Sakae
- Genre: Action, Mystery, Shounen, Supernatural, Psychological, Thriller
- Volumes: 12
- Published: Jan. 2006 – Dec. 2010
Yukiteru Amano is a lonely student who can’t really relate with his classmates. Therefore, he spends all the day writing an everything his impressions on the event happening around him on his mobile phone. Racked by loneliness, Yukiteru begins to imagine strange phenomena, included his best friend Deus Ex Machina. Worried about Yukiteru’s condition, Deus reveals to be a god and gives him a diary which describes the future in details. Once Yukiteru comes to know everything that is going to happen, he gets forced by Deus to take part to a survival game, together with other 11 people; while killing each other, their aim is to take Deus’ throne.
Though being two manga with a different purpose, Death Note and Mirai Nikki share a big point in common, that is Light and Yukiteru’s weapons. Indeed, both manga start off with the main character receiving a tool of potential mass destruction from a godlike creature, and must use it in order to clear a game to which the main antagonists take part too. Comparing the manga, challenges in which they will have to use strategies involving their weapons and kill people to mislead their opponents are pretty similar, while the line between right and wrong, allies and rivals, is so blur you never know what is going to happen next.
6. Onani Master Kurosawa
- Mangaka: Ise, Katsura
- Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mature, Psychological, Romance, School Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 4
- Published: Sep. 2007 – Mar 2008
Not all manga similar to Death Note needs to be taken seriously, especially when that manga is Onani Master Kurosawa. Kakeru Kurosawa’s is the story of an introvert student with an aversion for everyone around him, in particular for the girls who treat him like trash. His only outlet for his anger against them is to sneak into the girls’ toilet on the 3rd floor of his school and masturbate while imagining himself dominating them. Kurosawa’s sinister secret gets almost exposed by Aya Kitahara, one of his classmates, victim of bullies as well. Here’s when Kurosawa and Kitahara will start to think to take revenge against the world which is making them miserable.
Although the two manga belong to completely different categories, Death Note and Onani Master Kurosawa are extraordinarily similar, at the point many people believe it was conceived as a parody of Ohba’s masterpiece. Indeed, the main characters basically share an almost identical personality being both cynical, apathetic, calculating, and self-confident in their own skills. Also, Kurosawa and Light’s purpose is quite similar, conceptually; what Light does is to punish criminals and evildoers who threaten the peace of the world through very strategical murders which makes of him a cold-hearted individual. Kurosawa shares exactly the same feelings as Light, but what he aims to do through masturbation is a little different from simple punishment…
What is it that we call “right”? What is it that we call “wrong”? Does an absolute actually exist, or that blur line between these two concepts which we call “ethics” can make the difference?
What do you think the answer to these questions is? Do you agree with Kira or L’s justice? Let us know with a comment!