Death Note is one of the most successful and enduring anime of the 2000s, known and loved even by viewers who aren't anime fans. As such, many more media have sprung from the mystery anime, from movies to live-action works. So, what's the best Death Note watch order? Here's your Death Note watch guide!
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Death Note Watch Guide
Apart from the main 2006-2007 anime - your go-to if you're a newcomer - there are anime movies and live-action works to check out.
In August 2007, shortly after the ending of Death Note, a two-hour movie, Death Note: Relight - Visions of a God was released. This is a recap of the main anime, so feel free to skip it if something completely new is what you expected.
The 2007 film features Ryuk narrating the conflict between L and Light to another Shinigami, and, while being marketed as a retelling from Ryuk's viewpoint, it didn't offer significant new insights. It does, however, offer some updated dialogues and new scenes.
Next, we have Death Note: Relight: L's Successors, a 2008 anime special focusing on L's successors, Near and Melo. This is also a recap of the original anime, though, compared to the previous movie, it contains more updates and additional scenes, while also removing some plot points of the original.
But as is often the case with very successful works, Death Note didn't remain in the anime realm. Death Note (2006), a live-action movie, came out before the anime had even finished airing, and reached up to the point in which Light joined the Kira investigation team.
Death Note 2: The Last Name, - also a 2006 work - took over from the first film. In it, Misa receives her own death note and helps Light become a double agent. While the movie ends with Light's death, the conclusion is still different from the anime show.
Following that, we have L: Change The World (2008), a spin-off about L taking on a mission unrelated to Kira during the last days of his life. This live-action movie also covers Near's backstory.
Of course, such a franchise wouldn't stop at only a few adaptations. So, in 2015, a Death Note live-action tv series came out. This adapts the Death Note manga quite faithfully, with only minor changes.
Only a year after that, we got Death Note: The New Generation, a live-action which features a similar struggle to the one we encounter in the original; a young man obsessed with Death Note, L's successor, and a cyber-terrorist.
Death Note: Light Up The New World, also came out in 2016. Thematically, it's a sequel to Death Note 2: The Last Name and takes place after the events of New Generation, featuring the same three characters; Mishima, Ryuzaki, and Yuki Shien.
Finally, Death Note (2017) is an American live-action film that received mainly negative reviews from original fans, as it drastically alters the story.
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Death Note Watch Order
Thankfully for newcomers, the watch order for Death Note is mostly straightforward:
- Death Note anime (2006)
- Death Note live-action movie (2006)
- Death Note 2: The Last Name (2006 live-action movie)
- L: Change the World (2008 film)
- Death Note (2015 TV drama)
- Death Note: New Generation (2016 live-action miniseries)
- Death Note: Light Up the New World (2016 live-action film)
- Death Note (2017 live-action film)
You can start either with the 2006 anime or with the 2006 live-action movie and get about the same information, though we'd recommend starting with the anime, as it's the most iconic of the Death Note media and the place where it all started.
We haven't included the anime Specials, as they're recaps you can see at any point if you feel nostalgic or want more insights on the show.
If you wish to watch the films as a continuity, you might want to leave Death Note (2015) for later, as it's a separate adaptation and can be watched at any time.
Finally, some fans would advise you to skip the 2017 film altogether as it took too many liberties with the source material and altered the ending, but, ultimately, you'll have to make your own decision about it. It's definitely not the one to get started with, however, as it's a very different experience compared to the Death Note Japanese media.
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For more articles like this, take a look at our Anime and Death Note page.