The anime series is comprised of 37 episodes of about 20 minutes each. For a list of televised episodes, see List of Episodes.
The series was later condensed into two films: Death Note Relight 1: Visions of a God, which covered the first part of the story, and Death Note Relight 2: L's Successors, which covered the second part. The first film aired on TV in Japan in 2007, and the second aired in 2008.
Content was heavily revised to make the films feature-length. The films notably include a few new scenes, such as Light visiting L's grave, and Near recalling a time when L spoke to the children at Wammy's House.
Broadcast and release
The series was first broadcasted from October 3, 2006, to June 26, 2007, airing on the Nippon Television network "every Tuesday at 23:34". The series was co-produced by Madhouse, Nippon Television, Shueisha, D.N. Dream Partners, and VAP.
The anime series was first released on 13 DVDs.
Following the end of the series, two films that heavily condensed the anime series were released. The first film, Death Note Relight 1: Visions of a God, aired on Nippon Television in Japan on August 31, 2007, at 8:03 PM. The second film, Death Note Relight 2: L's Successors, aired on August 22, 2008, at 9:03 pm.
United States and Canada
In North America, the series has been licensed by Viz for residents in the United States to use "Download-to-Own" and "Download-to-Rent" services while it was still airing in Japan. This move is seen as "significant because it marks the first time a well known Japanese anime property will be made legally available to domestic audiences for download to own while the title still airs on Japanese television. The downloadable episodes contain the original Japanese audio track and English subtitles, and are available through IGN's Windows-only Direct2Drive service. DVDs of the series have also been released, containing both an English dubbed audio track, produced by Ocean Productions, and the original Japanese audio track with optional English subtitles. Viz announced at Anime Expo 2007 that the first DVD was officially released on November 20, 2007, in both regular and special editions, and also confirmed at Comic-Con International 2007 that the first 15,000 copies of each DVD contains collectible figures.
Death Note was slated to make its North American television premiere in Canada on YTV's Bionix programming block on September 7, 2007, The Canadian premiere was pushed back to October 26, 2007, at 10:00 p.m., when it finally premiered. Death Note premiered in the U.S. on October 20, 2007, at 11:30 p.m. on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, until January 10, 2010, when the contract expired. The last episode aired on Canada's YTV channel on July 4, 2008, and on Adult Swim two days later. YTV took away the show on July 5, 2008, with the last airing being the last episode rerun at 1:30 a.m. ET, as part of YTV moving the Bionix block to a 2-hour only block on Saturdays. The show also streamed online for free on Adult Swim Video, with a new episode available every Saturday afternoon, on the day of its broadcast premiere.
Tom S. Pepirium of IGN said that Death Note's "heavy serialized nature" is what "makes the show so engaging and discussion-worthy." Pepirium, saying that translating Death Note is "no small task," said that Stephen Hedley created a dub with "nothing clunky." Pepirium added that Karl Willems, director of the dub, assembled a "stunning voice cast of professionals" with a "solid tone minus some of the cheesy yelling and screaming of other dubs." Play magazine named Death Note as the best anime of 2007 in their "2007 Anime Year in Review" feature.
Tetsuro Araki, the director, said that he wished to convey aspects that "made the series interesting" instead of simply "focusing on morals or the concept of justice." Toshiki Inoue, the series organizer, agreed with Araki and added that, in anime adaptations, there is a lot of importance in highlighting the aspects that are "interesting in the original." He concluded that Light's presence was "the most compelling" aspect; therefore the adaptation chronicles Light's "thoughts and actions as much as possible." Inoue noted that to best incorporate the manga's plot into the anime, he "tweak[ed] the chronology a bit" and incorporated flashbacks that appear after the openings of the episodes; he said this revealed the desired tensions. Araki said that, because in an anime the viewer cannot "turn back pages" in the manner that a comic reader can, the anime staff ensured that the show clarified details. Inoue added that the staff did not want to get involved with every single detail, so the staff selected elements to emphasize. Due to the complexity of the original manga, he described the process as "definitely delicate and a great challenge." Inoue admitted that he placed more instructions and notes in the script than usual. Araki added that because of the importance of otherwise trivial details, the notes became crucial to the development of the series. Araki said that when he discovered the Death Note anime project he "literally begged" to join the production team; when he joined he insisted that Inoue should write the scripts. Inoue added that, because he enjoyed reading the original comic, he wished to use his effort.
The story begins in the year 2006 instead of 2003.
The anime series closely follows the original storyline of the first seven volumes of the manga (Part I, also called L's arc) then rushes significantly through Mello and Near's arc (Part II) by accentuating many action scenes and skipping monologues or long discussions between characters described in the final 5 volumes of the manga series. There are also a few changes in the character designs, adapted by Masaru Kitao, and the order of facts, as well as a few additional scenes not featured in the original manga.
The three-hour animated Relight films heavily condense the story and incorporate many changes to do so. The films are a recap which takes place after the series end, where a Shinigami approaches Ryuk in the Shinigami Realm in order to learn more about the human world. Ryuk tells him of events leading up to the Mello and Near arc, about Light Yagami and his rival L. Originally, this special was advertised as a retelling told from Ryuk's point of view, but it doesn't give a different point of view than what was originally told. However, it contains updated dialog, as well as a few new scenes, including an alternate ending. The second Relight film notably contains more in the way of updates, namely that the mafia plot is omitted; Light's meetings with Kiyomi Takada and Teru Mikami are moved to earlier than occurred in the manga and anime, and they are instead the ones to kill the SPK.
Japan originally released the anime on thirteen DVDs between December 21, 2006, and December 21, 2007. The first press edition of each DVD included a character figurine.
Japanese DVD 1
Released December 21, 2006
First Press Bonus: Ryuk Original Figure
Japanese DVD 2
Released January 24, 2007
First Press Bonus: Light Yagami Original Figure
Japanese DVD 3
Released February 21, 2007
First Press Bonus: L Original Figure
Japanese DVD 4
Released March 21, 2007
First Press Bonus: Gelus Original Figure
Japanese DVD 5
Released April 25, 2007
First Press Bonus: Misa Amane Original Figure
Japanese DVD 6
Released May 23, 2007
First Press Bonus: Rem Original Figure
Japanese DVD 7
Released June 27, 2007
First Press Bonus: Soichiro Yagami Original Figure
Japanese DVD 8
Released July 25, 2007
First Press Bonus: Sidoh Original Figure
Japanese DVD 9
Released August 22, 2007
First Press Bonus: Near Original Figure
Japanese DVD 10
Released September 27, 2007
First Press Bonus: Mello Original Figure
Japanese DVD 11
Released October 24, 2007
First Press Bonus: Kiyomi Takada Original Figure
Japanese DVD 12
Released November 21, 2007
First Press Bonus: Touta Matsuda Original Figure
North America DVDs
VIZ Media released the series on nine DVDs in North America:
- Death Note Volume 1 - Episodes 1-4 (Disc Cover Light Yagami)
- Death Note Volume 2 - Episodes 5-8 (Disc Cover L)
- Death Note Volume 3 - Episodes 9-12 (Disc Cover Ryuk)
- Death Note Volume 4 - Episodes 13-16 (Disc Cover Misa Amane)
- Death Note Volume 5 - Episodes 17-20 (Disc Cover Rem)
- Death Note Volume 6 - Episodes 21-24 (Disc Cover Ryuk)
- Death Note Volume 7 - Episodes 25-28 (Disc Cover Near)
- Death Note Volume 8 - Episodes 29-32 (Disc Cover Mello)
- Death Note Volume 9 - Episodes 33-37 (Disc Cover Teru Mikami and Kiyomi Takada)
- Death Note Relight 1: Visions of a God
- Death Note Relight 2: L's Successors
- Death Note /A Official Analysis Guide of the Animation
- Official site: ntv.co.jp/deathnote/ (Japanese anime)
- Official site: deathnote.viz.com (English, North America)