Death Note is a manga series written by Tsugumi Ōba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, whose anime adaptation was directed by Tetsurō Araki. Since its debut, Death Note has become one of the most important anime and manga series. Its thrilling plot, combined with its great characters, is what made the series great, and even now, many years since its debut, fans are still vehemently debating it, the characters, and its ending. But, with all that fuss going around, is Death Note actually appropriate for your kids? With Death Note being one of the most important anime series in history, we have decided to tell you whether the series is appropriate for kids or not.
Death Note is categorized as TV-14 in the United States; in Japan, the show is listed as being R15+. And while Death Note is a pretty grim and dark story that is not your typical representative of the shonen genre, it is still part of that group, and that is why there is no doubt that it is appropriate for all audiences who can follow the plot, as the plot is quite complex. Some scenes might be more exaggerated, but they don’t influence the overall tone of the series.
In the following paragraphs, we will elaborate on this answer and give you some additional information on the show’s content. You’re going to find out whether Death Note is appropriate for children, how scary and gory it is, whether there is sex, nudity, and profanities, and what age it is appropriate for. This is going to be your ultimate parent’s guide for Death Note.
What age is Death Note appropriate for?
As per the official ratings, Death Note is rated as “14”, which means 14 years of age. That standard is defined as follows: This program contains material that most parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Japan lists the series as an R15+ one, whereas most other countries have it listed in similar age categories (12-18, depending on the country). No countries have applied a stricter standard for Death Note, which says enough about the maturity of its content, despite the grim undertones.
This means that Death Note is a show that is appropriate for teenagers and older fans. Children under the age of 14 should not be able to watch the series, as there is content that might be inappropriate for them as per the standard. This is the official rating for the show, and we will now observe how things stand in several different categories.
Death Note: Sex & Nudity
As we could have seen, the series has a very mild level of nudity and some very benign sexual references, but over the course of the series, there haven’t been many such scenes, and they were – in most cases – shown in a very comical context. Here is an example of some scenes involving nudity and/or sexual references:
- There are some mild sexual innuendos, but nothing over the top; the same goes for some suggestive scenes, which never go beyond the boundaries.
- There is a scene of an attempted rape that never materializes.
- Some mild nudity is seen (a naked woman is seen showering from the back, or a woman wearing provocative lingerie, for example), but nothing explicit.
- Some inappropriate romantic behavior is also seen, but nothing is over the top.
As you can see, this is really not much, and while some scenes might be a bit suggestive, they are very limited.
Death Note: Violence & Gore
The violence of the fights in Death Note has also been described as moderate in general, although certain scenes are both milder and more violent than others, which is why certain moments would definitely earn a MA rating; the number of such scenes is very small and limited overall, and only one episode in the series was actually given a straightforward MA rating. The series involves a lot of dark and grim scenes, there is a sense of underlying darkness to the whole story, and death is heavily featured in the story, but the graphical depiction of all of it is more or less within limits.
Most of the violence portrayed in Death Note is within limits, and there is no excessive gore; sure, there are accidental deaths, traffic accidents, murders, and such, but it’s not like someone’s actually mutilating or cannibalizing someone. Some scenes suggest some deeper violence, but they are rarely depicted on-screen. As the series progresses, the situation becomes more and more chaotic, which is somewhat expected based on the plot, but – as we have said – the violence is moderate and never really passes that border.
Death Note: Profanity
As far as profanities are concerned, they are not heavily featured in Death Note, although they are present. Examples of words that can be heard are “damn,” “hell’, “bastard,” and the occasional “ass,” and depending on the subtitles, an occasional “fuck” can be heard here and there. Now, this might bother some viewers, and it is something that children shouldn’t really repeat, but it adds to the realism of the show, doesn’t it?
First of all, we have to state that the characters of Death Note aren’t really children (okay, Near is, but he doesn’t really use such words) but rather adolescents and adults, and whatever we think, we must not kid ourselves that adolescents and adults don’t use such words. Secondly, despite the urban fantasy setting, Death Note tends to be realistic, which means that this kind of vocabulary is normal for such a world and adds to the series’ inherent realism.
So, profanities are certainly present in the show, but we don’t think it’s something bad. It adds to the show’s realism and helps the viewers better understand the characters, world, and setting. Anything else would be completely out-of-character, so we can only praise the show’s authenticity. And on top of that, they are not heavily featured or severe.
Should you allow your kids to watch Death Note?
Death Note is definitely the odd man out when works from the shonen genre are concerned. It is dark, gritty, and overly philosophical, and it doesn’t really tackle the issues typical of the genre, but that is why it is so popular and beloved by the fans. But, despite all of that, Death Note doesn’t really cross the border in any way, as all three major categories – sex & nudity, violence & gore, and profanity – are generally mild, with some moderate violence present in the series, but it’s not over the top. The series focuses on complex philosophical and moral issues, which is the main issue with children, as the topics might be too complex to fully understand. So, should you allow your children to watch Death Note?
Well, the official ratings suggest that children under 14 should not watch Death Note, but it all comes down to your parental approach. We at Fiction Horizon honestly don’t think that there is anything bad in watching such animated shows, and Death Note doesn’t really cross any borders, which would make it overly inappropriate for children. The only issue might be that it is too complex for younger viewers and that they might not fully understand all the messages the anime is trying to convey, which is an important part of this series.
Children under the age of 10 to 12 will definitely be confused by the show and probably won’t be able to follow through with all the twists, but we don’t think those older than 12 will have any problems with the show. If your younger children can follow the plot, they can also watch Death Note because they could also learn a lot about moral values, the right thing to do, and the wrong thing to do in certain situations. So, we believe that Death Note is appropriate for older children, so if your child can follow it without confusion, we absolutely support it.