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All ‘Death Note’ Main Characters, Ranked

#1 is indisputable, honestly.

Poster for the Death Note anime series

Death Note is undeniably one of the best anime classics out there. Everything from the storytelling to the villain’s perspective—plus the number of plot twists—made Death Note and its main characters iconic and unforgettable. The series follows Light Yagami, who receives the titular Death Note from the demon Ryuk. The notebook causes the death of anyone whose name is written in its pages, and Light attempts to use it to rid the world of criminals, attracting worldwide attention in the process, known to the public only as “Kira.”

In the list below, we will get to know who the series’ main characters really are and how well they were handled in the anime.

8. Kiyomi Takada

Kiyomi talking to Light in Death Note
(Madhouse)

An old college ex-girlfriend of Light Yagami, Kiyomi Takada is a graceful and intelligent young woman who is now a popular icon in the Japanese media. With her reputation built, she grew accustomed to the spotlight and became prideful.

She is also a firm believer in the cause and action that Kira is taking, and because of her obsession with “Kira,” Kiyomi found herself in a situation where she became his spokesperson on News 6 on the station NHN.

7. Teru Mikami

Teru Mikami writing names on a paper from the Death Note
(Madhouse)

Teru Mikami is a criminal prosecutor who believes strongly and religiously in Kira’s extremist actions against criminals and those who stand against him. Chosen as the hand of Kira by Light Yagami, Mikami takes ownership of the Death Note as part of Light’s plan to escape the famed detective L’s suspicion that he’s Kira. Mikami takes the mantle of Kira, writing names and killing criminals all while Light is away so that Kira’s work won’t cease and to help clear Light’s name.

6. Mello

Mello interrogating someone
(Madhouse)

Mello is predecessor and successor of L made to be just as smart as—if not smarter than—L himself. Raised at Wammy’s House—Watari’s orphanage for gifted children in Winchester, England—he is the second smartest person there, and that frustrates Mello.

Being only second-best, behind Near, fueled Mello’s inferiority complex, which made him hot-headed and impatient, which is his character’s major flaw and what sets him back behind Near. Eventually, Mello and Near team up to finally finish what L didn’t and find and apprehend Kira.

5. Near

Near investigating the Kira case
(Madhouse)

Near is the younger of L’s successors. He was raised at Wammy’s House—Watari’s orphanage for gifted children in Winchester, England—and was treated as the smartest person there and the closest to L’s personality and level of intelligence. After the death of L, Near collects evidence and information so that he can solve the case that L never could. In the end, Near’s plan involves the death of Mello in order to be successful—and it proves to be highly successful.

4. Ryuk

Ryuk introducing himself to Light
(Madhouse)

Ryuk is a demon from the spirit realm who adores apples of the living world, and is the original owner of the death note that Light Yagami eventually uses in his endeavors. Bored one day, Ryuk thinks of “accidentally” dropping his Death Note off the spirit world and into the living world so that he can watch what the humans will do and enjoy while he sits back and watches them go off the deep end with immense power.

3. Misa Amane

Misa on a photo shoot
(Madhouse)

A Japanese pop idol, model, actress, and hardcore supporter of Kira’s beliefs, Misa Amane was destined to die, until her life was saved by a demon who adored her and sacrificed his life to save hers. Ever since then, Misa became the owner of a Death Note that saved her life and obtained the Shinigami Eyes that gave her the ability to see any person’s real name and exact time of death. She became Light’s loyal follower and the second Kira.

2. Light Yagami

Light Yagami inner dialogue
(Madhouse)

Light is a highly intelligent and clever young man, whose life is turned upside-down completely after obtaining a special notebook that can kill anyone instantaneously. He has a vision of cleansing the world of evil after discovering the power of the Death Note. He goes on a rampage until the public notices him and gives him the name Kira, and he eventually catches the attention of the world’s greatest detective, L, who becomes his greatest adversary.

1. L

L investigating the Kira case
(Madhouse)

Arguably one of the most clever and brilliant characters in all of anime, L is a mysterious and extremely talented detective known for solving the most impossible cases in the world.

He keeps his identity a secret as a tactical defense for his notoriety, since effectiveness in his job puts him in danger, but also as a secret weapon, like how he used his reputation but lack of public identity to expose the whereabouts of Kira, showing both the protagonist and the audience how much of a threat L can be.

(featured image: Madhouse)

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