Death Note is a Japanese manga and anime series (directed by Tetsuro Araki) written by Tsugumi Ohba (and originally illustrated by Takeshi Obata). The anime series consisted of 37 episodes and aired in Japan on Nippon Television (NTV) between October 3rd 2006 until June 26th 2007.
A three-hour “Director’s Cut” compilation TV special, titled “Death Note: Relight: Visions of a God”, aired on NTV a few months after the anime concluded. Although advertised to be the “complete conclusion”, the popularity of the series inspired the release of a second TV special, titled “Death Note: Relight 2: L’s Successors” nearly a year later. These specials recap the first and second arcs of the anime respectively, with new scenes added to fill in any plot holes resulted from omitted footage.
Light Yagami is a bored young genius who resents all things evil. His life undergoes a drastic change when he discovers the “Death Note”, a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. After experimenting with the notebook, Light confirms its authenticity and is joined by an unexpected house guest – the notebook’s previous owner, a shinigami called Ryuk. Light tells Ryuk of his plan to exterminate all the criminals in the world, until only people whom he has judged to be honest and kind remain. Once he finishes creating this utopia, he means to rule over it as what he calls “the god of the new world”.
Soon, the inexplicable deaths of criminals catch the attention of Interpol and the world-famous detective, “L”. L stages a fake public appearance and quickly deduces that the serial killer, publicly known as “Kira”, derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the word “killer“), is located in a single Japanese prefecture and can kill people by supernatural means. Light realizes that L will be his greatest hindrance, and begins a cat and mouse game with him.
In 2007, Viz Media licensed the series for a bilingual release in North America. Episodes of the series were officially available for download soon after they aired in Japan; according to VIZ, this was “significant because it [marked] the first time a well known Japanese anime property [was] made legally available to domestic audiences for download to own while the title still [aired] on Japanese television.” VIZ Media began releasing these episodes via Direct2Drive on May 10, 2007. In addition to this downloadable release of a subtitled version of the series, VIZ also acquired the rights for the DVD release of both the subtitled and dubbed version of the series.
Also worth checking out are the two Death Note live action movies that were released in 2006.