This is a guide explaining the placement of various works canon to the Death Note franchise. There are currently three separate main adaptations in the franchise: the manga, the anime, and the films. Each adaptation contains minor to major differences to the plot.
The following lists the three main separate adaptation formats (manga, anime and film), the works that are contained in each format, and what secondary materials are considered canon to each work and how.
- The twelve manga volumes
The original Death Note manga series created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. It can be considered the highest ranking canon source material across the entire Death Note franchise, and is the default source of information for this wiki.
A guide book to the manga that is written by series creators' Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. It contains information which can be considered canon across all spectrums of the Death Note franchise, such as information about Death Notes and how they are used. Other information is canon only to the manga continuation, such as characters' death dates and blood types, as well as the specific dates of certain events.
A single one-shot chapter that is a follow up to the end of the manga. It is considered canon specifically to the manga's continuation. However, it does not contradict events in the anime's continuation.
Two manga one-shot chapters released in conjunction to L: Change the WorLd in the book L: FILE No. 15. L: The Wammy's House tells of how L met Watari and solved his first case as a child. L: One Day details the daily activities of L as an adult.
- The original thirty-seven episode anime series
The anime series was directed by Tetsuro Araki, and is based on the manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. The anime adaptation follows close to the manga, however there are some minor plot changes. Notable are the large amount of characters' interactions, dialogues and inner monologues that take place after the time-skip in the manga, but are absent in the anime. Despite the ommissions, the overall conclusion of the story remains the same.
The two Relight specials are a re-telling of the original anime series. Death Note Relight 1 takes place after the series end, where a Shinigami approaches Ryuk in the Shinigami Realm in order to learn more about the Human world. Instead, Ryuk tells him of all the events leading up to the last story arc, about Light Yagami and his rival L. It contains updated dialogue, as well as a few new scenes, but does not outright contradict the events shown in the original anime. Death Note Relight 2 essentially rewrites everything that happened after the time-skip in the original anime, and creates a few plot holes. The story contains many small adjustments to the plot, as well as a few major ones, such as Teru Mikami and Kiyomi Takada killing the SPK (an act originally performed by the Mafia). It is told from no particular point of view, although it opens with L reviewing the events of Relight 1.
A pair of live-action films directed by Shūsuke Kaneko.
An L-centric film directed by Hideo Nakata. It is a spin-off of the films by Shūsuke Kaneko and contains the actors from the original pair of films. It is built around the premise from Death Note: The Last Name (in which L writes his own name in the Death Note) and follows L's last days alive.
A novel heavily based on the concept of L: Change the WorLd, written by "M" (the author's real name is unrevealed). It is considered to be in a continuation seperate from the film, although it contains the overall plot and characters from it. It differs notticeably in that Near is no longer a Thai boy, but is like the Near in the manga.
Death Note: Another Note is a novel written by Nisio Isin. A passage in Death Note: How To Read 13 urges readers to read the novel to learn more information about the Los Angeles BB Murder Case. Later on in the same book, series creator Tsugumi Ohba voices his liking of the novel and positively responds to the idea of Isin writing another. Death Note: How To Read 13, page 61: "For him to be in such an influentual position, he must have solved an amazing amount of cases, but I have no idea what kind of cases they were or how he solved them. But I would love for NISIOISIN, who wrote the Death Note novel, to write more stories about that [laughs]."