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Biblical References in Death Note

Death Note is filled with references and allusions from the Bible. It is said that these references are one of the reasons that make the series so profound and intricate. Find out more about these references and how they further the depth of an amazing series.

by bunsnow17
Oct 14, 2015 7:33 PM | 5,780 views

Death Note Title - Light Yagami & L Lawliet

Although probably mostly unintentional, Death Note has a lot of analogs and references towards the Bible. It could be because of a few references originally included and intended for the story. This became a precursor for people to start seeing other analogies from different objects, characters and scenes. A lot of other anime and manga series take inspiration from the Bible, but none seem to top Death Note. Even fans that are not spiritually inclined praise this anime. The story is so well designed that most won't even notice them at all. For those who do notice, it adds another level of depth that can be considered the cherry on the top for this incredibly successful series.

There are many different interpretations of the scenes, characters and objects. Some say that this ambivalence is intentional and adds to the value of the finished work. People can take from the series in their own way. It is rare for any work of art to be able to do that, which goes to show just how much passion was poured into making Death Note. As you read these references, do remember that everything is subject to taste and personal interpretation so you may not necessarily agree with everything that is written here. With that said, even after taking out these common and profound analogies it's easy to say that there are still many buried in the story for us to discover. So feel free to be inspired to find your own direction from what you read and watch.

Soul Reapers or "Angels of Death"

Death Note Moon

Soul Reapers (or Shinigami) are the beings responsible for the guidance of lost souls towards the next life. As such, they are often found wandering our world in search of souls. As their name denotes, they are considered executioners as well. They know when our time is up and reap us accordingly. Soul Reapers are similar to Grim Reaper, though they exist in larger numbers rather than just the one entity. The mode of execution in the story is the Death Note, a powerful object guided by a specific set of rules. This allows the Shinigami to carry out their duties with ease.

Death note notebook

The first mention of a being (other than God) that would carry out death in the Bible is the Angel of Death. It was mentioned when God instructed Moses to bring about the final plague in Egypt, which was the death of all the firstborn in the land. There is some debate about whether or not it was actually an angel or God himself, but it is definitely one of the earliest and most profound texts about it.

The Shinigami in Death Note resemble beings more akin to demons. It's not unlikely for demons to cause death as they are evil by nature. In fact, Ryuk never truly cared about Light and was only interested in his ambitions with the Death Note. You may also be aware that demons are also called fallen angels because they were angels before they became what they are.

Death Note Ryuk

In the Bible, there were three archangels that each handled 1/3 of the angels of God. There was the warrior archangel Michael, who also had warrior angels with him. There was Gabriel, the messenger angel who appeared numerous times in the Bible. Then there was Lucifer who became jealous of God's love for his creations. Lucifer would then become Satan or the devil as we know him now. With the fall of Lucifer also came the fall of the angels under him. The reason that the demons look the way they are now is because they are no longer in contact with the light and holiness of God. Humans are also the only ones that were created in God's image and a lot of references in the Bible towards angels reveal them in many different forms.

Death Note Archangel

The Forbidden Fruit

Death Note Apple

Throughout the story you'll find Ryuk's fondness for apples. In fact a lot of the shinigami seem to have taken a liking towards them. According to Ryuk it's because apples in the realm of the living are juicier and better than apples from their realm. The association of this fruit towards anything biblical was unintentional but it's often associated with the forbidden fruit that caused the fall of Adam and Eve. We don't necessarily know what kind of fruit came from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but in illustrations it is often made to look like an apple. There are also a lot of associations with the forbidden fruit being the Death Note, as Light (Adam) was tempted to use its power.

Death Note Ryuk, Light Yagami, Misa Amane & Rem

The forbidden fruit was never meant for Adam and Eve because God knew that they would not be able to handle it. Yet it was placed in the Garden of Eden out of respect of the freedom of choice of humans. If God never placed that tree and just surrounded Adam and Eve with good choices then it wouldn't be freedom. It's interesting to note that Ryuk is the one who often eats the apple because he was not human and could handle the consequences of accepting both good and evil in the world. There was also a significant scene in the series where Misa tries to eat an apple from Ryuk, a reference of the serpent tempting Eve.

Betrayal - Martyrdom

Death Note L

L is seen as a martyr towards his cause, as he will do anything, even die, to solve the most difficult cases. There are some fans who think of his task force as disciples. There is also a time in the series when L works closely with Light and considers him a comrade. This relationship is an analog for Jesus and his disciples with Light being Judas who betrays Jesus. Of course Light only works with L in order to find out his true name and kill him. There is even a profound scene in the series where L washes Light's feet. The act is a reference to the foot washing act of Jesus Christ. Whether this is intentional or not, one can't help but find the synonymous acts interesting.

Death Note judas betrays jesus

There are other minor references found throughout the story, but these are the most common and probably the most interesting in the series. Here's to hoping this adds a bit more to the depth that makes Death Note so enjoyable.

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Related Database Entries

Anime: Death Note
Manga: Death Note
Characters: L LawlietRyukLight YagamiMisa AmaneRem