Studio: Madhouse (Ninja Scroll, Trigun)
Manga author: Tsugumi Ohba (Bakuman manga)
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
First complete run: 2006-2007
Regular episodes: 37
Death Note is truly an anime like no other. Even people who are not fans of the genre are likely to love this deeply psychological mystery. Set in contemporary Japan, Death Note follows the life of Light Yagami, a teenage genius with a strong sense of justice. Light finds a notebook called a "Death Note" lying on the ground one day; turns out, the notebook belongs to a shinigami, and if Light writes a person's name in the notebook, they die. After using the notebook to punish criminals and other wrongdoers, some worship Light as a god of justice, others as a cold-blooded murderer. In order to catch the genius killer, a suitably genius detective, named L, is dispatched to the case. The conflict between Light and the authorities forms the majority of this riveting whodunit.
Death Note does an amazing job making the invisible visible. The inner thoughts of the characters are expressed through voice acting which is very high quality in both English and Japanese audio. The viewer is given some insight into the characters' minds, forcing you to simultaneously follow both the subtle plotting taking place and the actual events on the show. No anime pulls you in and makes you feel a part of its world the way Death Note does. Its unique and carefully done visual scheme accentuates the inner conflicts at work, giving it an even more engaging feel. For an anime with a lot of thinking and dialogue, Death Note isn't boring for a second. The show is rife with complex philosophical themes and ceaselessly fascinating mystery. A thrilling experience for all audiences which I highly recommend, even to inexperienced anime viewers.
For those of you who are dissatisfied with the ending or left wanting more, I suggest consulting the manga. It may provide some additional closure.