Death Note TV Poster Image

Death Note

Dark psychological anime mixes sci-fi, drama.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Light does not view his serial killing as wrong or evil, nor does he see himself as a criminal; he considers himself a good student who's trying to create a better world. But, still, he's responsible for a lot of deaths. And he's willing to sacrifice his soul to become a god. He loves his sister and respects his parents.


The series centers on the serial killing of criminals; the murders are typically depicted as people suddenly dying of heart attacks, though one victim is shown being hit by a truck. Brief scenes of criminal activity, including hostage taking, as well as discussions of various violent criminal behaviors. The police use a convicted criminal as "bait" and allow him to be killed in order to find clues. An early episode shows an attempted sexual assault. Ryuk is not violent, but his image is frightening.


Suggestions of romance appear in later episodes.


Includes words like "damn" and "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature Adult Swim anime series isn't intended for kids. It revolves around a high school student who becomes a serial killer. Since his victims are all criminals, he justifies the murders as a way of creating a crime-free world. Most of the deaths aren't too graphic, but they're frequent. The frightening appearance of a Japanese death god adds to the show's dark psychological nature.

What's the story?

Light Yagami (voiced by Brad Swaile), an intelligent high school student who's become frustrated with the endless criminal activity taking place all over the world, finds a notebook that enables its owner to kill people by writing their names in it. Realizing that he possesses the means of creating a crime-free world, he becomes a serial killer who targets criminals. Light, known to the public as "Kira," meets his match when the mysterious, cunning detective known only as "L" (Alessandro Juliani) joins the police investigation. L (who only communicates with the world via computer) knows that Kira is in Japan and is committed to finding him and bringing him to justice. As each man tries to outsmart the other, they find themselves developing a better understanding of the internal struggles that drive them to do what they do.

Is it any good?


DEATH NOTE is a somewhat brainy series that explores the mind of a young man whose almost childlike vision of a new world allows him to detach himself from the immorality of his acts. It also looks at some of the ethical questions surrounding the execution of criminals (both legally or otherwise) in the name of justice. But while it lacks a lot of the blood and gore noted in other anime series, this dark psychological drama isn't intended for young anime fans.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the cultural differences between TV shows in the United States and in other countries. What are the distinguishing characteristics of Japanese anime series? Why do you think there aren't many U.S. shows that tackle the same topics in a similar way? Families can also discuss Light's actions. Is there ever such a thing as justifiable murder? Is doing anything that you know is illegal ever OK if the target is a bad seed? Is there a point when your actions become just as reprehensible as the people and bad deeds you're targeting?

TV details

Premiere date:July 5, 2015
Cast:Alessandro Juliani, Brad Swaile, Brian Drummond
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Science Fiction
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Death Note was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Paranoia Agent TV Poster Image
    Dark humor + bloody visuals = not for young teens.
  • Bleach TV Poster Image
    Mature anime series is spooky and violent.
  • Dexter TV Poster Image
    Bloody drama for adults only -- we mean it!

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old January 29, 2011

A great book/anime, not as violent as it sounds

I love this, I love the story and everything about it. It's really interesting, I'm addicted to it xD For really young kids, it might be kinda intense but I'd say if your 11 or 12 and in the 6th grade you can go ahead and watch it. It has slight language like "hell" but that's no big deal, definitely no reason not to watch it. Death note is really not that bad. People who haven't seen it don't let their kids watch/read it because it SOUNDS violent, but it really isn't that bad! My nine year old brother watches it with me sometimes.
Parent Written byobnoxiousm September 6, 2010

Great Moral Questions But No Answers; Watch with Less Mature Teens

Death Note, the story of a brilliant teenager who finds a notebook that can kill and decides to rid the world of evil, is pure genius but misses the mark with its "shounen" or young male audience. Because Light is the main character, it's easy to assume he's the "good guy." If you do that, you miss the message entirely... which is what many kids who watch this show do. I'm a big Death Note fan, but I was 21 when I first found it. I was able to look at Light go from innocent but bitter teenager to delusional world conqueror and go, "OK, power corrupts." I was able to look away from him as a role model and identify moral, upstanding, kind-hearted Soichiro, Light's Father and the only good character in the piece according to its author, as someone I'd like to be more like. Many teenagers and even tweens can pick up on this, but some can't. Watch a little with your kid before you let them at it themselves, just in case they're one of the naive youngsters who feel that "Light Was Right." If you're worried about specific content, there's a lot of violence. Most of the deaths are bloodless heart attacks, but there is at least one particularly bloody shooting and some lesser ones. Also, Misa's clothing is downright scandalous and Light treats women like excrement. And the language! Even the second opening has the F-word in it! Still, all this is in the service of creating a gritty, realistic world that shows the best and worst that humanity has to offer. Death Note is wonderfully complex and poses great moral questions... but it refuses to answers them. If you don't know for sure that your child can find their own answers, you need to watch it with them. Even if not, it can't hurt--they'll appreciate having someone to try out their interpretation with and you can probably provide that better than their friends.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written byDziko August 8, 2009

Amazing show, lets you decide what's right and wrong.

Death note is simply fantastic. Although the story follows Light, the high school senior who finds the death note, it never exactly promotes his behavior as "good". Also, L (the other main character who many fans find more lovable although stranger) highly opposes Light's ideals and strives to catch him before there's any more killings. So, it's not as if everyone's supporting the serial killer. Death Note is not exactly a classic battle of good vs. evil, but that's why it's so wonderfully unique and interesting. The plot is extremely intelligent (like the characters), so it's never boring. And Ryuk, the apple-loving shinigami, also keeps it entertaining. But perhaps the best part of the whole show is that it never tells you who’s right and who’s wrong. People get to decide for themselves, which always sparks engaging conversations. And it’s NOT just for hardcore anime fans. I had never watched anything anime before I watched DN, and I absolutely loved it. I also forced my anime-hater friends to watch it, and they are now completely obsessed. Everyone that I’ve made watch it loves it (and they’re all 14, like I am). Perhaps the only problem with the show is that the characters are a little too lovable, no matter how bad they are. As an example, one of my favorite characters (who makes his entrance later in the series) is the teenage mafia leader with anger issues, who kidnaps at least three people and probably kills much more than that. Another one is a teenage chain smoker (although he’s only in the anime for a good 30 seconds). Anyway, although kind of violent (most of the deaths are heart attacks; I don’t believe that there’s a whole lot of blood until the end, where there’s a shooting) and cruel, it’s also clever and thought-provoking. I recommend it for any teen or highly mature tween.