I studied film, literature and drama for 3 years and have continued to review and analyze many works, both contemporary and classic since.
Death Note: Why We Love It!
Death Note is one of those anime that will change your impression of the entire genre. The story is unique; the plot is full of twists and intelligent development and contains one of the best cat and mouse stories I've seen in any show. It's never predictable, and the end will have you wishing you could start all over and watch it again.
The characters are amazing, detailed, and highly creative. Light, the protagonist, is an amazing anti-hero, one which allows viewers to not only understand his point of view but also kind of hoping he escapes justice. His flair for dramatics really heightens the tension.
The infamous L is another fantastic creation; the eccentric, socially odd, and almost toddler-like man with the mind of a genius will have you wanting more of these characters in anime shows. Along with all the other amazing characters in this series and the constant misdirection and twists, this anime is, without a doubt, one of the best!
And Now Something Completely Similar
So you've just finished Death Note and are possibly feeling a little upset that it is over. It's addictive, and when your source runs out, it feels like the world is about to end. Ok, maybe that's dramatic, but believe me, it's definitely a life-changing show.
So, where to go from here? The good thing is there are equally good shows, ones with similar themes, excellently developed characters, and exceptional storytelling. Because let's be honest, Bleach just is not as exciting anymore . . .
So if you're craving a show that will leave you feeling like you've actually been on an emotional roller coaster, an adventure of a lifetime, then maybe these Animes are just what you're looking for.
No. of Episodes: 27 episodes in total
Manga by SakaeEsuno, the Anime series is produced by Studio Asread, directed by Naoto Hosoda, and the script written by Katsuhiko Takayama.
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A Psychological Horror Anime Like Death Note
Where to even begin with this one. It's one of those shows that go above and beyond what you expect from it. From the very first episode, I was hooked. A young boy, Yukitero, spends his time documenting his life in his phone, from the cat he saw sitting on the fence to what he had for lunch, who he saw.
He only friend is an imaginary one called Deus, except one day, he realizes he's not imaginary, he's a God, and he wants to play a game of survival with Yuki. He has enlisted eleven other contestants to join and fight to become the new God. Each has a unique ability to help them in their fight, and it just so happens that Yuki's is his Phone Diary, which can tell the future as if he himself has written the notes.
The other contestants too have abilities that are directly related to them as people, which is when we are introduced to Yuno, a contestant whose phone tells her everything her true love is doing, and her true love is none other than Yuki. And so the games begin.
Yuki is a good character, well developed throughout the entire show; however, I have yet to find a character anything like Yuno, she is absolutely incredible. She is absolutely psychotic and yet there's unexpected deeper emotional development to this character by the end of the show.
It's a horror, no doubt about it, but its also got some amazingly poignant moments along with very humorous ones. Visually its clear and bright, which just makes the horrific, darker scenes seem much more terrifying.
No. of episodes: 25
Directed by Gorō Taniguchi
Written by Ichirō Ōkouchi
A Good Guy But Totally a Bad-Guy Anime Like Death Note
Death Note is impressive for its portrayal of Light as ultimately a bad guy, but only because of his need to make the world a better place. In order to do that, criminals must be sacrificed.
In this sense, Code Geass is extremely similar. Lelouche is a prince who, along with his Sister Nunally, were exiled from his country by the emperor after the murder of their mother. He meets a strange girl, C.C, when he accidentally gets caught up in a terrorist attack, who gives him the special power of Geass, which allows him to control people by looking at them. He uses this power and creates a rebellion using an alter ego 'zero' to control people and obliterate the Britannia empire, thus turning the world into a safer place for Nunally.
In the process of creating this new world, Lelouche sees sacrifice as the only way to achieve this goal, so he's more than willing to get people to kill for him, either themselves or others. Lelouche, like Light from Death Note, seems to become more and more persistent in achieving their new worlds, becoming more crazed and obsessed as the plot unfolds.
Code Geass is amazing for its plot, which certainly isn't predictable. Lelouche is such a memorable character, with extreme dramatic flair that borders hilarity, making it a worthwhile and fun watch. His childhood best friend/enemy Suzaku is also a good character, and when both are head to head, it makes for some awesome TV. Lelouche is renowned for his theatrical announcements and dramatic characteristic, making him very similar to Light.
No. of episodes: 22 (2 bonus episodes with DVD)
Directed by Tetsurō Amino
A Thriller Anime Like Death Note
Death Note is quite the thriller, the plot itself being a personification of twisted ideas. It portrays themes concerning murder and crime and the investigation into such. In this sense, Shiki is very similar to Death Note. Throughout Death Note, L is trying to prove something that should, by all extensions of reality, not be possible. The same can be said of Shiki, where mysterious deaths are occurring in a small, rural town.
The entire series uses many of the townspeople as the main cast utilizing different perspectives and fractured storytelling. At first, a girl dies of a mysterious illness, the doctors and townspeople are stumped. Then it happens again and again until it appears there's a pandemic. A new, very extravagant family moves into the town leading people to believe it's not a simple coincidence.
And so the experience begins. The eeriness this show creates is simply breathtaking, turning what could have been very comical moments in the wrong hands into and horror story that actually seems plausible, with terrifying scenes, beautiful visuals, and a haunting tone to the entire show.
As the fear begins to take over the town it seems they would do anything go rid themselves of the problem, going beyond what we would normally consider the 'right' thing to do, not unlike Light's view of his world in Death Note. The finale is also one of the most epic, climactic endings, which may be highlighted by the seemingly slow developing plot.
No. of Episodes: 26
Directed by Ichiro Itano
A Good vs. Evil Anime
Gantz and Death Note are similar in the sense that both are trying to fight evil, but the lines between good and evil get harder to discern. Gantz is based around two boys who die, then strangely wake up in a room with a huge black ball, and other people, nobody knows what's happening or where they are but they know that they should each be dead.
The ball, aka Gantz, tells them they have a certain amount of time to kill a target, They gain points through successful completion of their missions, if they don't succeed, they die for real. However, while Gantz gives them weapons and armour, it never gives instructions.
This is a morality story, while the hunters for Gantz are told they are chasing aliens, they have a hard time exterminating them, asking questions instead of why this is happening, and what harm these creatures are doing. It takes the group a long time to follow orders because they don't want to kill someone purely because they were told to, they need to understand why, was it justified? It's a graphic show and seems absolutely bonkers at first. It wasn't until the finale of the series that I sat back, mind blown, breath taken.
It is without a doubt an adult anime, with themes of death, sex, violence, and assault but portrayed in a way that acknowledges the perverse actions of everyday society, the darker side of our psyches. In the same way that Death Note asked the question of 'What would you do to live in a safer world?', Gantz begs the question 'How far would you go to save yourself and the people you care about?'.
Throughout the series you find yourself asking 'are these really the good guys?'. They follow orders not knowing if the creatures they are killing are even dangerous, and even though they too ask these questions, they eventually start to understand that in order to save themselves they need to do what they are told, no questions asked.
No. of Episodes: 11
Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani, Kiyotaka Suzuki
Studio: Tatsunoko Production
An Eradicate-All-Evil Anime Like Death Note
Psycho Pass is an Anime based on the idea that evil can be eradicated completely by society, using a psycho pass assessment which calculates an individual's capability of engaging in crimes through a 'cymatic scan' of a persons brain. If this test shows you have these tendencies the enforcers must eliminate the threat by either forcing counseling/therapy or killing them.
However, it's not as black and white as simply killing criminals, people who have been through traumatic experiences are vulnerable which leads the psycho pass to believe they are a danger. If these people refuse therapy, they are eliminated.
The Story follows a new enforcer, Akane, as she joins a squad of Latent criminals (basically criminals who were law enforcement at some point or just criminals who have the skills required for the job) who together hunt down people who have failed the psycho pass. They use massive guns calls 'Dominators' which only allow enforcers to use them and can only be fired when a criminal is around. However, the enforcers try to hunt down a criminal whose capable of killing a person in front of a Dominator without it acknowledging his violence. And so the hunt begins, as this apparent lunatic whose aim is to destroy the psycho pass system.
From the beginning, it's clear that lines between good and evil are blurred, enforcers can kill someone who has simply thought of a criminal act, no matter the measure of criminality involved. They assume it's for society's best interests an so do as they are told, Akane, has a tough time coming to terms with whether this is true making it a great hypothetical future anime, where crime is low, but murder and fear are rampant. It portrays a world the Light would certainly approve of in a sense, where criminals are killed, people are safer because of this, but also fear whether it's totally just. How far do you have to go to achieve this perfect world?
Hungry for More?
As always, I welcome any comments and anime recommendations. Let me know if there are any more anime like Death Note for me to check out or just some really awesome ones. I hope you enjoy these anime listed above and find them as amazing and worthwhile as I did.
Watcher on August 01, 2020:
Watch "the promised neverland", that one is dark as well, and you're gonna love that one if you loved Death Note.
... on May 23, 2020:
if you like Death Note then watch Inuyashiki. It's so good.
abhay on March 08, 2020:
i have been searching for an anime like death note for 15 years,but unable to find one there no one like this ever made.there are good animes for sure but not like death note.If you have started with death note then unfortunately you will not be able to find that kick ever before.For me some anime able to engage me kinda like death note are 1.erased 2.school prison 3.attack on titan 4.future diary
Zoe winters on May 12, 2019:
I agree with the first one.
It definitely isn’t the same but the characters are complex and they have a hint of the same types of moral dilemma
Ixion on March 10, 2018:
Yeah only Code Geass almost manages to attain and maintain that labyrinthine plot structure and intensity. Death Note, though, is unparalleled in its suspense due to its detective like cat and mouse nature. And the music fits to a T.
Mr. Drak on January 03, 2018:
I have watched every single one but only Code geass is the real match
Fletcher on December 23, 2017:
Steins gate for sure should be in that list
caner demirbag on November 13, 2017:
i will watch now for psycho pass
but to be honestly, i know all these animes, but i can't find any like death note
this own following watching death note was incredible
just can't find this feeling anymore.. makes me kinda sad
adam on September 10, 2017:
tokyo ghoul is a must watch
Ddeokbokki on April 16, 2017:
If you like reading, then a better way of coping after finishing Death Note is to read its fanfics.
TyCoya on March 08, 2017:
Thank you for attempting to cure this Death Note craving I've developed. I will start watching Psycho-Pass, The Future Diary, and Code Geass!
itonyi on December 28, 2016:
I would also recommend terror in resonance...that is also a very good anime.
dmarl on December 19, 2016:
I would love to recommend Steins Gate, though it has a boring starting episodes but please finish the full series cuz it really is amazing and very interesting... I promise you will like it ( if you finish it though) :D
Jordan on November 24, 2016:
i watched deathnote from 25-37 in one night Second best series ive ever watched ...its 4 59 am now my dads getting ready for work......lol im gonna have to wait for the sun to rise because damn shiki loooks scary AF Gantz is awesome too great ending code geas didnt tickle my fancy. im gonna watch future diary now thanks dude theres just one thing you got wrong
btw Bleach is my fav even with the heartsore ending nothing will take its place for me unless i watch an anime with a villian
better than.....i dont need to say his name
Thanks for the good recommendations dude
aaa on November 12, 2016:
attack on titan would be interesting to watch
LuckyG on November 04, 2016:
Tokyo Ghoul should be on this list aswell!
Ggirl on October 15, 2016:
Not much touches Death Note, however I thought Death Parade many times throughout grabs you by the collar like Death Note - though the pacing is slower for sure - it's also has a fun little nod to deathNote as well.
Claymore is a different anime but it's super compelling and engaging and for me a close second behind death note, though it's a completely different story.
a2 on April 24, 2016:
Another should be on here. Its an interesting psychological anime that makes you want to watch more just to verify your theories, Death Note is still number one but Another is definitely worth watching.
Near on April 16, 2016:
Death Note. Still the best for me.
vib on March 31, 2016:
Only Code Geass is the match.Watch Baccano!!!.Highly recommended.
L on February 03, 2016:
None of these compare to Death Note though.
Abhishek on September 30, 2015:
Your list is awesome.. I had watched top 3 already.. M gonna watch the rest soon.. Thanx
belleart (author) from Ireland on July 22, 2015:
arpr: I have only added anime that I have actually watched, but love recommendations for more anime, ill definitely try to watch them and add them to the list. Thanks
arpr on July 22, 2015:
Surprised that Akame ga Kill and Seven Deadly Sins/Nanatsu no Taizai aren't in this list. They're not psychological so much as they're action, but not only psychological animes get to match up to Death Note. :D Really recommend these two!