There’s no denying that Death Note is widely considered to be one of the best anime of all time, so it’s not much of a surprise that many viewers make short work binging their way through the show. If you have finished watching Death Note and are looking for something similar to follow, then we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 anime like Death Note if you’re looking for something similar, listed in no particular order.
First up to bat is Code Geass which, in itself, is also about a megalomaniacal genius who uses underhanded methods to try and change the world for the better as an idealistic rival tries to stop him. However, that is where the two shows begin to differ wildly. Code Geass remains intelligent and offers its own unique talking points, but at the end of the day, the series is a military drama.
Lelouch vi Brittania attains the power known as Geass, which allows him to make people follow any one order he gives them. Using this power, Lelouch wages a war against his former homeland of Brittania, soon erupting into a global conflict that will go places nobody expects. On top of being a smart show, Code Geass is also action-packed, gorgeously animated, and a shockingly fun ride.
However, it does have an unfortunate flaw in that it loses a lot of steam in its second season. Still, fans of Death Note will find a lot to like here, and in the right mindset, the second season can be a lot of fun too.
Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
Mirai Nikki revolves around 12 individuals who all have a unique ‘diary’ that tells the future, each complete with its strengths and weaknesses. Now have those 12 people compete to kill one another until only one is left standing. Did we also mention whoever wins gets to become God?
While a bit outlandish, Mirai Nikki takes its premise with complete sincerity and revels in the macabre potential it allows. Each of the different 12 diary holders comes across as unique and memorable, often switching from delightfully amusing to horrifying from scene to scene. Like Death Note, there’s a real sense of strategy at play here. Each Diary tells the future differently with different limitations and seeing how each character manipulates the situation to best suit their specific strengths makes for some rather creative encounters.
The series also brings us Yuno Gasai, pictured above, perhaps the most interesting character study the series has to offer. Equal parts adorable love interest and horrifying murderer, to go any further would be to rob you of the fun. Just take it from us, she steals the show.
On that note, here’s another death tournament-style series. The Fate franchise has been offering up thoughtful stories since 2004, but one of, if not perhaps the best installments in the franchise remains its prequel Fate/Zero. In the world of Fate, there is a tournament held between seven mages to determine which of them will win the coveted wish-granting Holy Grail. Each of these mages is paired with a familiar known as a Spirit an iconic figure from history brought back to fight on behalf of the mages.
It’s a tournament setup, but the real core of Fate/Zero is the clashing ideologies of all the different characters, how they approach situations, and how it all plays out in the chaos of the Holy Grail War. There’s no sense that any one tactic is better than another and everything always boils down to whoever can out-think their opponent to secure a win. Plus, the central conceit of Fate’s premise allows for some really interesting characters.
King Arthur, Alexander the Great, Gilgamesh, Blue Beard, and more all appear, and seeing them bounce off one another as well as the mages makes for some of the most thoughtful discussions in modern anime. Couple all that with Ufotable’s beautiful animation, some intense action, and Gen Urobuchi’s signature style for crafting heartbreaking narratives and you have a show certainly worth checking out.
Now to change things up a bit. Death Note was a series all about a duel of wits, but another hallmark of the series was its ability to pose interesting philosophical questions. On that note, we have Ergo Proxy. A look into a dystopian cyberpunk world where the line between man and machine is blurred.
In the domed city of Romdeau, a killer is on the loose, and Re-L or R.E.A.L is assigned to track them down. What follows is a tale of suspicion, intrigue, moral ambiguity, and lots of scenes that’ll leave you with plenty of food for thought. Unfortunately, to say too much would be to give away too much of what Ergo Proxy has to offer. Just take our word for it and check it out. Especially if you liked the more philosophical side of Death Note.
Next up, we have Psycho-Pass, yet another blend of philosophy and cyberpunk dystopia. In the world of Psycho-Pass, people are overseen by what is called the Sibyl System, a system that is constantly scanning the brains of people to determine the likelihood of someone committing a crime. Those with a high “Crime Coefficient” are taken down in order to maintain the peace.
Psycho-Pass offers a lot of discussion into the nature of humans and whether someone is guilty without even doing something. In addition, it makes for a great thriller watching Kogami and Akane as they pursue their elusive criminal target. A man who himself is not considered a criminal by the Sibyl System. At its heart, Psycho-Pass is a sci-fi noir story, focusing more on the story of a pair of detectives in a corrupt world than anything else.
For another show full of intrigue and suspense, look no further than Joker Game. It’s pre-WWII and intelligence and espionage have become important tools for every country. As a result, Japan established a spy organization known as the D Agency, a team of highly-trained spies who are sent out to obtain whatever intel Japan needs to thrive in the coming conflicts.
The fun of watching Joker Game is the fun of watching a bunch of spies do their thing. It’s unapologetically anime James Bond. The D Agency has eight different agents, each of whom is a master of manipulation, so watching them work makes for some incredibly engaging television. Like any good suspense story, it’s filled with more than a few twists and turns that’ll have the characters forced to think on their feet, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
Set in an anime recreation of modern Japan, Steins; Gate focuses on the Future Gadget Laboratory led by Okabe Rintaro. As a collection of eccentrics with a passion for science, the group does all manner of experiments, soon gaining a few new members. Then, against all odds, Okabe and his friends discover the ability to send messages through time. From there, Okabe’s world is turned upside down as he sees the world around him getting rewritten. People change, the city isn’t what it once was, and he finds himself and his friends in danger.
Steins; Gate proposes a thoughtful story on the dangers of time travel and the rippling effects even the smallest thing can have on the world around us. Unlike shows like Psycho-Pass or Ergo Proxy, the world it shows is very much our own, and that only adds to the unnerving story it tells. What starts as a lighthearted group of science nerds goofing around ends as a climactic struggle for the future of our very world. Steins; Gate is the sort of series that takes a small cast and utilizes it to its absolute fullest.
Terror in Resonance
Terror in Resonance is a series where Japan is plagued by a terrorist organization known as Sphinx. People are scared to death, blissfully unaware that Sphinx is made up of two teenage boys named Nine and Twelve respectively.
Nine and Twelve are both brilliant boys who feel that the world around them needs to wake up, and they fully intend to be the ones to make them do it. It’s as twisted as it sounds, but much like the plot of Death Note, there is an uncomfortable logic to the ideals of these protagonists. Terror in Resonance poses some hard questions and isn’t afraid to have its characters do some very bad things for a good cause.
Outlandish stories and alternative settings can be a lot of fun, but sometimes all you need is to boil things down to the basics. Monster by all accounts is a simple mystery thriller, but there’s an elegance in its simplicity that it uses to tell the best version of itself it can.
Monster follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant neurosurgeon who finds himself at the heart of a series of murders. Police suspect him but have nothing to prove it, and it’s up to Tenma to clear his name and get to the bottom of everything, perhaps even fixing some past mistakes in the process. A fairly by-the-numbers story by all accounts, but Monster is well-animated and tells its story very well. Characters feel real and heartfelt, and the things that unfold leave the viewer on the edge of their seat from start to finish. For fans of thrillers, mysteries, and some dark themes, it’s a must-watch.
At last, there’s Death Parade. This show is one of those you’re surprised doesn’t get more love than it does. In a lot of ways, it’s the spiritual successor to Death Note. It’s also made by studio Madhouse, tackles countless dark themes, and feels like the culmination of everything the studio learned from shows like Death Note. It’s dark and depressing, but it also can’t help being lively and weirdly entertaining all at the same time.
Death Parade tells the story of the Quindecim bar, a bar in the afterlife for people who die. People who arrive there have to play a game, and those games will determine who goes to Heaven or Hell. These games are designed to bring out the worst in people as Decim, the bartender, oversees the games. Each episode tells the story of a different pair of people and a different game, as well as the often tragic outcomes of said games.
Perhaps more than any other show on this list, Death Parade is a show Death Note fans will enjoy. It explores the darker side of humanity and does so with a sort of style that is impressive to behold. The animation is gorgeous and the characters all remain memorable. Plus, Light Yagami makes a cameo, and if this show is good enough for him it’s good enough for you.