Death Note is famous for exploring the psychological thriller genre in anime, so it is no surprise that the series hosts many extremely gruesome and chilling moments. These moments are not necessarily all graphic, but the implications associated with them can be pretty disturbing.
Disclaimer: Major spoilers for Death Note ahead.
8 times Death Note proved to be disturbingly messed up
8) Light’s experimentation with prison convicts
Light Yagami’s soul may have been damned from the moment he used the notebook, but his slow descent into madness began with him testing out the limits of the death note. Light used prison convicts as lab rats to test his powers, completely disregarding whatever human conscience he might have had.
7) Ray Penber’s end
The meticulous planning that Light used to get rid of the FBI agents impressed viewers, but how he killed Ray Penber was still shocking. What made it even more sinister was his subtly gleeful attitude when he revealed his identity to Penber, knowing that the latter would die before he got to tell anyone about it.
By then, it became obvious that Light’s motives were less focused on killing criminals and more on getting rid of anyone who got in the way of his delusional goal- to become the god of the new world.
6) Light’s reaction to his father’s death
This scene offered a double whammy, once during the scene itself and later on, by confirming fans’ suspicions. Light’s father, Soichiro Yagami, made a deal with Ryuk for the shinigami eyes while infiltrating Mello’s hideout.
This halved his lifetime and ended with his death. But Light’s reaction to his father’s death was disturbing because of how genuine it looked, yet the audience could no longer trust that the protagonist of Death Note was still capable of truly feeling sorrow or grief.
The second shock came after Light confessed to being Kira when Matsuda demanded to know what his father’s death was for. Light had to think about who his father was and proceeded to say that people like Soichiro Yagami always lost.
This proves that the audience was right all along, and Light sobbing over his father’s body was just an act.
5) L’s funeral
One of the few scenes on this list that is disturbing because of the psychological implications, Light’s reaction at L’s grave was chilling and pitiful.
Death Note established L as Light’s rival very early on in the series, and many fans went as far as to assert that the show became less interesting after L’s death because neither Near nor Mello could recreate the chemistry that Light and L had.
So, Light’s breakdown at L’s grave was morbidly appropriate, but the way he screamed and declared his victory and the shifts in his expressions were terrifying.
4) Light gets back his memories
This is another scene in Death Note where Light’s maniacal shifts in personality became evident. After Light relinquishes ownership of the notebook and loses his memories of using it, we see what kind of a person Light might have become had he never found the notebook Ryuk dropped.
But fans were made to face the jarring reality the moment Light touched the notebook again and regained his memories, his personality underwent a complete 180-degree flip while perfectly maintaining his facade. Light has used this ruse more than once in the series, and the transition is chilling every time.
3) L’s death
The way Light manipulated Rem into killing both L and Watari was one of the most disturbing sequences in Death Note. He had no qualms against framing Misa Amane and guiding L into figuring out the connections between the murders and Misa, prompting the shinigami Rem into killing them and dying as well.
This was undoubtedly a masterstroke and highlighted how far Light was willing to go to save his own skin. What made his actions even more unforgivable was that L considered him his first and only friend.
2) Light reveals that he is Kira
The final episode of Death Note showed Near cornering Light, leading him to finally declare that he was indeed Kira.
His behavior at this stage was nothing short of psychotic, his God complex surpassing sanity, and voice actor Mamoru Miyano’s fantastic portrayal of an unhinged Light sends shivers down viewer’s spines.
The pathetic agony he writhes in after getting shot by Matsuda realizes the fate Light was doomed to from the moment he used the notebook for the first time. Even on-screen, Teru Mikami was left horrified after seeing Kira’s fall, shocking him into committing suicide.
1) Naomi Misora’s death
Naomi Misora’s death is probably the least graphic and the most disturbing scene in Death Note. A set-up as brilliant as the iconic potato-chip scene, it exhibited Light’s diabolical plan to not only save himself but also manage to extract Naomi’s real name, planning and executing her death in a manner that would not arouse suspicion.
The scene is as poignant as it is shocking, with the imagery and musical score heightening the impact on the audience.
Possibly the most disturbing aspect of Death Note is Light Yagami himself and his character's changes. The series depicts how a higher power can corrupt idealism and how easily idealism can warp into obsession. The shinigami Ryuk acts as a spectator to the whole thing, and in the very last scene while killing Light, says:
“We’ve eased each other’s boredom for quite a while. It’s been quite fun.”