Highlights

  • Death Note is still considered a legendary anime with unforgettable characters like L and Light, and finding a thriller anime that matches its intensity can be a challenge.
  • Zombie Loan, Future Diary, Another, Paranoia Agent, Tomodachi Game, Shiki, and Classroom of the Elite are recommendations for Death Note fans looking for shows with similar dark and suspenseful atmospheres.
  • These recommended anime series offer mind-bending plot twists, high-stakes pursuits, supernatural elements, psychological thrills, and exploration of the human psyche, reminiscent of Death Note.

More than 15 years have passed since Death Note adorned our screens and gave us a psychological thriller experience that has perhaps not yet been surpassed by any other anime. The series was such a huge hit that it is still considered a jewel of the anime realm, and its legendary characters like L and Light are still remembered to this date for their perfect cat-and-mouse chase game.

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After experiencing Death Note, finding a thriller anime that matches its intensity can be a challenge. However, we’ve meticulously curated a list of shows that echo its sinister atmosphere, mind-bending plot twists, and high-stakes pursuits between the characters. For fans of Death Note, these recommendations are a must-try.


15 Zombie Loan

MAL Rating: 6.83

Zombie Loan two characters' portraits shown against city backdrop

Zombie-Loan

$6 $13 Save $7

Release Date
July 3, 2007

Genres
Animation , Action , Comedy

Seasons
1

Rating
6.1/10

Similarities to Death Note:

  • A show where choice matters.
  • Addition of supernatural element based on time.

Not a popular name in the industry, but one that would definitely pique your interest. Within the world of Death Note, nothing would have started in the first place if it hadn’t been for Ryuk and his boredom. Zombie Loan brings the concept of the Shinigami in front for you once again, and interestingly, the characterization closely resembles Death Note’s.

Michiru discovers that two boys in her class are zombies on a mission to hunt down evil undead creatures. When she accidentally gets involved in their battles, they offer her a deal: help them hunt the undead, and they’ll keep her alive with their powers. Reluctantly joining forces, they form a unique team that battles dangerous foes, and together, they learn dark secrets about the undead world.

14 Future Diary

MAL Rating: 7.41

Future Diary character holding face in hands

Future Diary

$29 $70 Save $41

Release Date
October 9, 2011

Seasons
1

Studio
Asread

Genres
Romance , Thriller , Horror

Similarities to Death Note:

  • The characters use a cell phone as the ultimate weapon instead of a Death Note.
  • The female character is deeply in love with the main character.

Future Diary, or Mirai Nikki, will keep you guessing with each unexpected twist. You might as well toss your predictions out the window because everything you predict about the story will eventually prove incorrect. As for the finale, it will leave you with your mouth wide open. With just 26 episodes, it’s the perfect recipe for an anime marathon, just as Death Note lovers would want.

Yukiteru Amano discovers his cellphone can predict the future. He becomes part of a deadly survival game orchestrated by the entity Deus Ex Machina, along with 11 other diary owners. Each one possesses a unique ability and must eliminate others to become the next deity. Whether swapping the Death Note for a cell phone and encountering a partner akin to Misa Amane, Future Diary will frequently trigger deja vu moments from Death Note.

Release Date

Season(s)

Where To Watch

October 10th, 2011

1

Crunchyroll

13 Another

MAL Rating: 7.47

Another character rests in coffin

Another

Release Date
January 10, 2012

Seasons
1

Studio
P.A. Works

Similarities to Death Note:

  • The use of supernatural elements in the series.
  • The Dark and mysterious theme of the show.

In just twelve episodes, the relentless suspense builds to the point of helplessness, urging you to binge-watch this captivating series in a single day. In Death Note, it’s clear from the start who’s behind all the heinous crimes that unfold. Another, on the other hand, keeps you guessing until the last episode, and all your guesses are sure to fail.

A mysterious curse has been bound with Class 3-3 of Yomiyama North Middle School for many years, which activates when a special condition is met in the class. When Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to the school, he finds the school odd and befriends a girl named Mei Misaki. Slowly, Kouichi learns the dark secrets behind the curse and the series of deaths it brings along with it.

12 Paranoia Agent

MAL Rating: 7.67

Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent

Release Date
February 2, 2004

Genres
Anime , Drama

Seasons
1

Distributor
Cartoon Network

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Psychological thrills are similar to Death Note.
  • Both shows offer an exploration of the human psyche.

Paranoia Agent offers an enticing journey for Death Note enthusiasts, particularly those drawn to the dark moments where the chase game between L and Light becomes intense. The enigmatic golden bat wielded by Lil Slugger bears a resemblance to Death Note as he roams the city, claiming lives through brutal means. Soon, his notorious reputation spreads, instilling fear among the populace. The series brilliantly captures the psychology of killers and psychos.

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Paranoia Agent tells about a boy named Shonen Bat who hits people with a bat, making things chaotic within the city. Detectives try to find him and discover secrets about people’s lives, while fear grows as Shonen Bat keeps attacking. As the search gets harder, the truth about Shonen Bat changes from person to person.

11 Tomodachi Game

MAL Rating: 7.72

Tomodachi Game two characters stand head to head

Tomodachi Game

Release Date
April 6, 2022

Main Genre
Anime

Seasons
1

Studio
Okuruto Noboru

Similarities to Death Note:

  • A show where everyone questions each other.
  • Mind games and strategic planning.

Most anime shows brag about the unbreakable bond of friendship and depict friends going to any extent to prove their love for each other. Then comes Tomodachi Game, a series set in high school that puts the so-called friendship among a group of friends to the ultimate test. The mind games and strategic plot of the series will strongly remind you of Death Note.

Yuichi Katagiri was always taught that true friendship came above everything else. As a result of this message, he always held his best friends in high regard and believed in them. However, things start to change when the school trip funds are stolen, and all five friends are called to play a certain game that would test their friendship and find the culprit who stole the money.

10 Shiki

MAL Rating: 7.73

Megumi Shimizu from Shiki leans over person

Shiki

Release Date
July 8, 2010

Seasons
1

Studio
Daume

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Significant transformation of the character due to the situations they face.
  • Dark and serious theme.

While Death Note portrays deaths and bloodshed with subtlety, Shiki elevates it to a more intense level, featuring graphic scenes of slicing, cutting, and unsettling content that may be challenging for some viewers to endure. However, if you want some really disturbing horror, then it’s time you give Shiki a shot. Don’t expect the brilliance of Death Note’s mind games, but Shiki is sure to creep you out.

In the peaceful village of Sotoba, a string of mysterious deaths disrupts the calm. Dr. Toshio Ozaki investigates the matter, while newcomer Natsuno Yuuki becomes unsettled by the supernatural happenings. They soon uncover the shocking truth: the village is infested with vampires known as Shiki, responsible for the rising death toll.

9 Classroom Of The Elite

MAL Rating: 7.86

Classroom of the Elite cast stands together

Classroom of the Elite

Release Date
July 12, 2017

Distributor
Disney+

Genres
Animation , Drama , Thriller

Rating
7.7/10

Seasons
1

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Ayanokoji is equally intelligent as Light Yagami.
  • Strategic planning among students to become the best.

Love super-intelligent characters like Light Yagami, who spice up a show with their excellent wits and outside-of-the-box thinking? If so, then Kiyotaka Ayanokoji will surprise you every time he makes an appearance on the screen. Not as intense as Death Note, where the characters fight for their lives, Classroom of the Elite is set in a high school, where the characters play mind games to reign supreme in the academy.

Classroom of the Elite follows Kiyotaka Ayanokoji, a high school student at Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing High School, where students’ rankings define their class. Initially uninterested in socializing, he befriends Suzune Horikita and Kikyou Kushida, and together, they survive the brutal politics going on within the school.

Release Date

Season(s)

Where To Watch

July 12th, 2017

2

Crunchyroll

8 Ergo Proxy

MAL Rating: 7.90

Ergo Proxy character aims gun

Ergo Proxy

Release Date
February 25, 2006

Seasons
1

Distributor
Manglobe

Rating
7.9/10

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Reveal the dark side of human nature.
  • The show creates a similar dark and eerie atmosphere as Death Note.

Here’s a great psychological thriller with a post-apocalyptic setup. Similar to Death Note, Ergo Proxy is more about the battle of wits than the typical anime fights. The twist here is that this battle takes place between humans and androids. In the course of the 23 episodes of Ergo Proxy, you will find yourself completely entangled in its mind-bending plot.

In the domed city of Romdo, humans live in one of Earth’s last civilizations. AutoReiv robots assist people, but when they contact the Cogito Virus, they gain self-awareness. Investigator Re-l Mayer and AutoReiv Iggy uncover a dark conspiracy, while Vincent Law faces surreal events due to his connection with the Proxies. The show has almost as many intriguing moments as Death Note itself.

7 Terror In Resonance

MAL Rating: 8.09

Terror in Resonance

Terror in Resonance

$16 $30 Save $14

Release Date
July 10, 2014

Genres
Thriller , Psychological

Seasons
1

Studio
MAPPA

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Really clever protagonists.
  • Cat and mouse chase with detectives.

The meticulous orchestration of bombings in Tokyo and the constant pressure exerted on the government showcase the strategic brilliance of Nine and Twelve, the central protagonists in Terror in Resonance. The hide-and-seek between the detectives and the main characters heightened the intensity and enjoyment of the series.

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Terror in Resonance follows Nine and Twelve, two boys who carry out bombings in Tokyo. They leave riddles as clues, catching the attention of the police and a girl named Lisa. As their plans unfold, they aim to reveal a dark past involving government experiments. Nine and Twelve challenge authority to expose the truth, facing their own haunting past along the way.

6 Erased

MAL Rating: 8.30

Erased

Erased

Release Date
January 8, 2016

Seasons
1

Studio
A-1 Pictures

Rating
8.5/10

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Protagonist with supernatural ability.
  • Psychological thriller elements are similar.

Erased stands as a pinnacle in psychological thrillers, drawing comparisons to Death Note on multiple levels. While the overall theme is quite unmatching, the cat-and-mouse chase between the characters is equally thrilling. Satoru, like Light, is bestowed with supernatural abilities that he must wield to resolve conflicts.

Satoru, a man with a mysterious ability called Revival, goes back in time to prevent tragedies. When wrongly accused of a crime, he’s sent 18 years into his childhood to stop a series of kidnappings. Racing against time, Satoru uncovers secrets, including the identity of the culprit and the connection to his past.

Release Date

Season(s)

Where To Watch

January 8th, 2011

1

Crunchyroll

5 Parasyte: The Maxim

MAL Rating: 8.33

Parasyte the Maxim anime like Death Note

Parasyte The Maxim

Release Date
October 9, 2014

Seasons
1

Studio
Madhouse

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Unusual partnership of two otherworldly beings.
  • Shinichi and Migi strategize their battles.

The standout similarity between Parasyte: The Maxim and Death Note lies in the unconventional partnerships of their main characters. While Light finds himself stuck with Ryuk, Shinichi finds an unexpected ally in Migi, a parasitic entity. While the show is known for intense battles, what makes those battles awesome is the strategic brilliance between Migi and Shinichi, which makes us remember the strategic maneuvers between Light and the detectives.

Parasyte: The Maxim follows Shinichi, whose right hand is invaded by an alien parasite, Migi. They form an uneasy alliance to survive against other parasites attacking humans. As they encounter more threats, Shinichi transforms, gaining new abilities, which he uses to save humanity.

4 Psycho-Pass

MAL Rating: 8.34

Psycho-Pass character aims gun

Psycho-Pass

Release Date
October 12, 2012

Genres
Animation , Action , Crime

Seasons
1

Distributor
Toho Company, AV Visionen Filmverleih

Rating
8.2/10

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Both series question the system working in the world.
  • Passing judgment on criminals.

Psycho-Pass stands tall among the finest anime, earning a string of accolades that speak of the popularity it has garnered over the years. While the series doesn’t need the support of Death Note to be recommended to thriller and mystery fans, for those who haven’t experienced its offerings yet, there’s a possibility you might even prefer it over Death Note.

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Psycho-Pass is set in a future governed by the Sibyl System, an advanced AI that predicts crime based on individuals’ mental states, known as Psycho-Pass. Detective Akane Tsunemori collaborates with her partner, Shinya Kogami, to apprehend individuals identified by the system as criminals. Yet, capturing these offenders proves far more challenging than expected, raising questions about the implications of such a system.

3 Code Geass

MAL Rating: 8.70

Code Geass character looks over shoulder, cape billowing

Code Geass

Release Date
October 6, 2006

Main Genre
Anime

Seasons
2

Studio
Sunrise

Similarities to Death Note:

  • Both series feature mind games.
  • Lelouch has otherworldly powers that make him more powerful than others.

Anime fans never stop fighting over who’s more powerful, Goku or Saitama. Similarly, there has always been an ongoing debate about the most formidable genius between Lelouch Lamperouge and Light Yagami. With such an intelligent protagonist in the story, you can well imagine the mystery and mind games Code Geass carries along with it.

Lelouch Lamperouge, a young exiled prince, gains the power of Geass, which allows him to control people’s actions. Using the alias Zero, he leads a rebellion against the Holy Britannian Empire, seeking to avenge his mother’s death and create a better world for his sister, Nunnally. The lines he crosses in his attempt to bring this so-called peace to society, though, have made him the ultimate villain for some.

2 Monster

MAL Rating: 8.88

Monster character looking stern

Monster

Release Date
April 7, 2004

Main Genre
Anime

Seasons
1

Studio
Madhouse

Genres
Drama , Thriller

Rating
8.7/10

Similarities to Death Note:

  • The characters with dark and ruthless behavior.
  • The chase between the characters throughout the series.

Dr. Kenzo Tenma is a brilliant neurosurgeon in Germany who makes a moral choice to save the life of a critically injured young boy named Johan over the city’s mayor. However, things change when the same boy, named Johan Liebert, develops some serious manipulative skills. Tenma blames himself for saving the boy in the past and goes on a mission to find Johan and kill the boy he once saved with his own hands.

Johan Liebert could be the only man in this world who could make Light Yagami bow his head. Johan’s mind games and manipulation abilities far exceed that of Light Yagami. He could orchestrate mass murder, start a war with just a few words, or make people his minions by crawling into their minds. He doesn’t have supernatural abilities, but Johan’s mere presence is enough to put any sinister plan into action.

Release Date

Season(s)

Where To Watch

April 7th, 2004

1

Netflix

1 Steins,Gate

MAL Rating: 9.07

Stens Gate

Steins;Gate

$71 $156 Save $85

Release Date
April 6, 2011

Main Genre
Anime

Seasons
1

Studio
White Fox

Similarities to Death Note:

  • The consequences of using powers carelessly are explored.
  • Sharp-minded characters.

When debating intelligence between Rintarou Okabe and Light Yagami, the scales tip ambiguously. Rintarou, though not entangled in intellectual duels like Light, showcases brilliance by inventing a time machine. Steins;Gate, akin to Death Note, explores the repercussions of wielding extraordinary powers and the consequences of meddling with time. The ideologies and beliefs of the characters are strongly explored within the show.

Okabe Rintarou, a quirky scientist, discovers a time machine that can send messages to the past, altering history. Alongside his friends, they experiment with time travel, aiming to change the world. But their actions cause some unexpected consequences, leading to chaos and unfortunate loss.

NEXT: Best Detective Based Anime



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