Death Note can be the first step to the anime world for most beginners. The story of a genius high schooler who randomly stumbles upon a mysterious and deadly notebook has become the 2nd most popular anime series according to MAL. With the overall score of 8.62 ranked by more than 2,4 million users, it’s only natural that fans seek more engrossing anime like Death Note.
But what makes an anime like Death Note? Some of the requirements would be probably intriguing and deep characters, engaging cat and mouse games, and dark aesthetics.
With that in mind, let’s get a closer look at 20 anime like Death Note.
This article was originally published on November 22, 2019, but it was updated on September 7, 2022. With more anime similar to Death Note getting released each season and fans craving more choices, the only option was to rework the original article.
20. Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul is a dark fantasy anime shrouded in mystery with great world-building. Which is something that Death Note fans will connect to. The anime was made by Studio Pierrot and premiered in 2014 with 12 episodes.
The world of Tokyo Ghoul is set in an alternate reality where humans coexist with ghouls. Ghouls are creatures that look like humans but consume human flesh. The MC, Ken Kaneki, was an ordinary college student until he got attacked by a beautiful ghoul woman. He somehow survived the assault, but to save his life, surgeons had to perform a procedure in which a ghoul’s organ was transplanted. As a result, his life as he knows it was changed forever.
When I introduced Death Note, I mentioned that it’s the 2nd most popular anime show in the MAL database. Tokyo Ghoul is the 7th with more than 2,550,244 people who have added the series to their watch list.
19. Parasyte: The Maxim
Parasyte: The Maxim is another dark-toned anime like Death Note produced by Madhouse. The supernatural element is tied to the MC who must keep it a secret, which is the key resemblance between the two.
The first episode could be uncomfortable for viewers who are afraid of bugs. What about poor Shinichi, though? Prior to an extraterrestrial worm invading his skin and attempting to take control of his brain, he was just another high school student. Fortunately, the worm only ate his hand!
18. Platinum End
Platinum End is a fairly new anime that finished airing in March 2022. The mangaka and the illustrator behind Platinum End’s manga are the creators of Death Note’s manga. And let me tell you: not only do the characters look alike but it also shares Death Note’s dark and suspenseful vibe. But those are not the only similarities!
The MC is also a high schooler like Light who suddenly becomes blessed with supernatural abilities. Even better, he has an angel following him! While Light is playing to be a God, Platinum End’s MC becomes a candidate to replace the current God.
17. Detective Conan
Detective Conan sparks nostalgia for many people born in the 90s. And the show is still ongoing after so many years with over 1055 episodes and counting. While the series doesn’t reach the global fame of shows like Naruto, it has a loyal and enthusiastic fanbase.
For fans who enjoy Death Note’s solving cases element, Detective Conan is a must-watch. The anime doesn’t focus only on one case but random cases, so it’s more episodic.
Conan is an investigator from a high school who was kidnapped by criminal gang members. They made him consume a toxic substance that transformed him into a child. But even after this incident, he still helps with police case investigations because his cognitive abilities haven’t changed.
16. Talentless Nana
Talentless Nana blends suspense, psychological, and supernatural genres like Death Note does.
The main character of the show is a non-talented assassin employed by the government to assassinate a group of talented young people. They attend an academy on a remote island to hone their skills further.
Her task won’t be simple, though, since the academy is home to another mastermind who will try to expose her.
Get ready for another wits-based battle between two brilliant minds.
Another and Death Note are similar in more than one way. For instance, they have a detective vibe going on and everything revolves around death and its consequence.
Koichi Sakakibara is a 15-year-old boy who transfers to a new high school and is caught up in an enigma involving a mysterious girl and a series of gruesome killings.
14. Kaguya-sama: Love is War
While Kaguya-sama: Love is War is neither mysterious nor dark, it’s a romantic comedy focused primarily on mind games between the main couple. And I am pretty sure you enjoyed the mind games in Death Note, right?
Students from the most affluent and prosperous families in Japan attend Shuchiin Academy, together with some of the country’s brightest young scholars. The best of the best among them are the Student Council Vice President Kaguya Shinomiya and President Miyuki Shirogane. If not for their shared ego and pride, they would make the ideal couple. But because they believe that love is a battle and that the person who confesses their feelings first will lose, these two brilliant students come up with crazy and cunning ways to attempt and get the other to do so first.
13. Hell Girl
Hell Girl is a lesser-known anime that deals with killing people with help of supernatural power. But that comes at a price.
People who are bullied and mistreated can access a unique website that is operated by a Hell Girl who will allow them to exact revenge on their tormentors. The only cost of such a service is that the victim will spend eternity in hell with their tormentor.
12. Moriarty the Patriot
In addition to leading a typical noble life, William James Moriarty also provides advice to the general public on how to resolve their issues. However, he harbors a secret yearning to overthrow the system that rules British society.
11. One Outs
The approach applied to the plot of each episode is the same, with Death Note and One Outs belonging to the same kind of show: utilizing psychology to try to outwit your adversary.
The Lycaons’ top batter, Hiromichi Kojima, travels to Okinawa to train and get back on track. He faces 134 km/h (83 mph) pitcher Toua Tokuchi there, who is unquestionably the best at a gambling form of baseball known as “One Out.”
Tokuchi joins the Lycaons at Kojima’s suggestion. In contrast to the norm, his contract pays him 5,000,000 yen for each out he pitches but loses 50,000,000 yen for each point he gives up.
10. The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland might look cute at first sight but it’s an anime chock-full of psychological battles and mind games between protagonists and antagonists who try to outwit one another.
Orphans Ray, Norman, and Emma have been living together in the Grace Field house since they were infants. About 38 children of various personalities, ages, and ethnicities are housed in this orphanage. They have a kind mother who looks after them and they love one another as a family. As such, their days are full of delightful little things. There is only one constraint at the orphanage: the orphans are not permitted to leave its grounds. The only exception is if someone decides to adopt them.
When Conny, a young orphan, is adopted, she forgets to take her favorite stuffed animal with her. Knowing how important the toy is, Emma decides to pursue Conny and return the toy to her. But instead of returning the beloved toy to the little girl, she finds only her dead body and learns the horrifying truth behind why the orphanage was built.
9. Death Parade
For fans who enjoyed the MC passing judgment which results in gory scenes, Death Parade won’t disappoint.
When a person passes away, they either go to paradise or hell. However, when two persons pass away at once, a decision must be made as to which soul will continue to be reborn and which will go to the void. When this occurs, the people show up at QuinDecim, a bar run by Decim, a white-haired bartender.
With no recollection of their demise, Decim, the soul arbitrator must determine where each of their souls is going. For this to happen, they need to participate in a game that reveals their true selves.
8. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied frequently astounds newcomers with how bloody, dark, and violent it is. This alone gives off the same vibe as Death Note.
Unaware that the seemingly innocent Lucy is actually a mutant serial killer with a dual personality, two university students take her in to live with them.
7. Terror in Resonance
Terror in Resonance is a mysterious psychological thriller anime like Death Note. The MC is a genius who is mass-murdering people for his respective reasons. Both series also include a skilled and intelligent detective trying to catch them. The antagonist is playing mind games with the police through riddles.
The series tells the story of Nine and Twelve, the two boys behind the masked figures of Sphinx. The public and the police are unaware that the young boys are responsible for a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility in Japan until the terrorists release a video in which they confess to the crime and threaten to wreak more havoc around Tokyo.
In order to safeguard the city and its residents, the police are once again forced to engage in a cat-and-mouse game with Nine and Twelve.
Fans of Death Note will appreciate the supernatural battles between the crazy antagonistic MC and his counterpart in Inuyashiki.
Inuyashiki Ichiro is a middle-aged man who is a wonderful human being but has no friends and a heartless family. One evening while walking outside, Ichiro is hit by a massive explosion, which causes everything to change. The next thing he knows is that a mechanical body has taken the place of his human one. This is because extraterrestrial creatures were responsible for him losing his body and they replaced it with a mechanical one. Other people are unaware of the newly gained powers because the artificial body appears to be identical to the prior one on the exterior.
Ichiro dedicates his life to helping others and doing good as soon as he realizes he can perform heroic deeds as a result. But when he finds that he wasn’t the only person in the park when the explosion occurred, the situation changes. High school student Shishigami Hiro also had his body replaced with a powerful, mechanical one that was identical to Ichiro’s. The only distinction is the psychotic way in which Hiro is utilizing his newly acquired abilities. When he realizes how powerful he is, the first thing he does is start murdering people for fun and creating chaos in the city.
Will Inuyashiki be able to stop him, and if so, what will be the cost?
5. No Game No Life
No Game No Life is another anime like Death Note with genius-like main characters who love mind games.
Sora and Shiro are NEET siblings who aren’t interested in the real world. They prefer to stay home and spend all their time gaming under the nickname “Blank”, which is quite famous in the online gaming world. This is because Blank is known for being so skilled that they can’t be defeated by anyone.
One night while gaming, they received a strange invitation through an e-mail to participate in a chess game. They accept and win, only to end up transported to a fantasy world called Disboard where Tet, the God of Games, who previously challenged them resides. In this world, every dispute is resolved by playing games and physical harm is blocked by a magical spell.
The OP duo doesn’t think twice about their old world and instead focuses on becoming the new gods of Disboard.
Monster has a dark, eerie, and psychological feeling to it that Death Note fans can resonate with. To make things entertaining, the anime focuses on intellectual games between two brilliant characters and on the debate of what is good and what is evil.
The narrative takes place in 20th-century Germany and centers on a character named Kenzo Tenma, an accomplished neurosurgeon. His life starts crumbling after he becomes associated with Johan Liebert, his former patient who is later discovered to be a dangerous serial killer.
3. Mirai Nikki
Eye-popping action scenes, mind games, Gods, and obsessed girlfriends are some of the common components found in both Death Note and Mirai Nikki.
Mirai Nikki’s MC is a lonely high schooler Amano Yukiteru who prefers to observe people and write his findings in his cell phone diary over socializing. Instead of hanging out with his peers, he hangs out with his imaginary friends: The God of Space and Time Deus and his servant.
During one of those hang-out sessions, Deus proves to him that he is not just an imaginary God by granting him a Random Diary that is capable of predicting future events around Yuuki. Sounds exciting, right? Unfortunately, the excitement is short-lived when Yuuki finds out that there are 11 other Diary Owners and they all unwillingly entered Deus’s contest of becoming the new God.
Psycho-Pass falls under the same category as Death Note with its gritty and mysterious approach.
Policewoman Akane Tsunemori obeys the commanding, electronic, precognitive Sibyl System because she believes in humanity and law. However, she starts to doubt Sibyl System and also herself when she encounters a criminal mastermind who can evade this seemingly ideal system.
1. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch
It comes without question that Code Geass is probably among the most similar anime to Death Note. It all boils down to the similarities between the protagonists. They are exceptionally intelligent individuals who received an OP supernatural power. They use it in a way that’s unorthodox for the greater good, at least from their POV.
The Holy Empire of Britannia conquers Japan, renames it Area 11, and completely dominates it before moving on to conquer other territories. Even though Japan appears to have a great will to battle the oppressors from The Holy Empire of Britannia and is unwilling to give up quickly, its power seems insufficient.
Lelouch Lamperouge is a British prince who was exiled and now resides in this violent, unjust, and repressive land. He is plagued by his past, and at first, he feels completely helpless.
However, things are about to change because of a mysterious woman by the name of C.C., who bestows Lelouch with the power of Geass, which grants him nearly unbeatable power. Consequently, he resolves to take the difficult path and abandon his humanity in order to entirely crush the Holy Empire of Britannia.
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Major props for mentioning Monster. That anime is seriously underrated and I can see some of the parallels even though Monster is the more realistic series. Johan is also one of the best anime villains ever in my opinion.
They are my fav psychological/ mysterious /thriller anime shows, both wonderful in their own way.
Thanks! That;s really cool. I do wish Monster was better-known though. Funny enough, I had Johan on my Top 7 Underrated Anime Villains list if you want to check it out. https://iridiumeye.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/top-7-underrated-anime-villains/