In a gray world known as the Shinigami Realm, a shinigami named Ryuk is watching the others gambling. They ask him to join them, but he refuses out of boredom. On Earth, in Japan, a student named Light Yagami is bored in class. He answers the teacher's question of translating a sentence in a religious text into English. As he walks home after school, he has thoughts of how the world is becoming rotten. Ryuk has the same thoughts as well.
Light finds himself at another boring day at school when he sees a black notebook falling from the sky. As he picks it after class, he sees the name Death Note and reads the first rule inside: "The human whose name is written in this notebook shall die". Not believing it, he drops it back to the ground, only to go back and pick it up moments later. He reads the rest of the rules at home and dismisses it as "pretty detailed for a prank". Still curious on the subject, he tries it out on a criminal on the TV named Kurou Otoharada and waits for 40 seconds to see if he will die of a heart attack as the rules state. 40 seconds pass and there's no news of his death; Light concludes that it's just a prank after all.
However, just as he is about to turn off the TV, it's reported that not only have the hostages escaped, but also Otoharada has collapsed and died. Shocked, Light thinks it must be a coincidence. His mother is calling him to go to cram school so he decides to test the Death Note again. Inside school, Light has thoughts of killing Sudou, a bully, but he must avoid killing people that he knows. Walking home after school, he wonders if he would be doing society a favor by killing useless people. Light witnesses a girl about to get raped by a biker gang member named Takuo Shibumaru. Entering a convenience store, he writes down the name and cause of death, "accident". Seeing the biker hit by a truck moments later, Light concludes that the Death Note is real after all.
In the Shinigami Realm, Ryuk tells his fellow shinigami that he dropped his Death Note, and the way to get it back is to go to the human world. Light arrives home from school with perfect grades, much to his mother's excitement. Going into his room, he opens the Death Note to look over the pages of names he's written down. Suddenly, he is surprised by Ryuk in his bedroom. Ryuk introduces himself to Light and explains the nature of the Death Note and Shinigami. Light is suddenly interrupted by his mother, who is unable to see or hear Ryuk. She gives Light some apples from the neighbor, which Ryuk wolfs down.
Ryuk tells Light he dropped the Death Note into the human world because he's bored and wants some entertainment. Light responds that he's been bored as well, and has decided to use the Death Note to rid the world of wicked people. He had doubts initially, but quickly convinced himself he was in the right. Ryuk says that if he kills all the bad people in the world then he'd be the only bad person left. Light doesn't understand this remark, saying he's one of the best, most hardworking students in Japan. He declares that he will become the God of the new world he will create. Ryuk is excited at the prospect, considering Light very interesting.
Tropes used in this episode:
- Adaptational Heroism: The second man that Light killed attempted to rape a woman in front of the store and the woman was begging for someone to save her. There's nothing to support his desire to help her, but the shot makes it look that way.
- Agent Scully: Light when it comes to the Death Note, thinking things like "it's pretty detailed for a prank". That is until he realizes that it's really real.
- Alien Catnip: Apples for Ryuk.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: While Light ponders about killing Sudou, he wonders whether anyone would care if he were killed.
- Asshole Victim: Light's first two kills-Kurou Otaharada a man who's taken a preschool hostage and is threatening the children and teachers and Takuo Shibumaru, a leader of a biker gang that is about to gang rape a girl in the middle of the street.
- Axe-Crazy: Light after using the Death Note. Also Ryuk, he's Axe-Crazy -even for a Shinigami- something is clearly wrong with Ryuk, while the other Shinigami are content to gamble Ryuk's idea of fun is to sow chaos in the human world.
Light: There must be something wrong with me to even consider it.
- Lampshaded when he picks it up right after putting it back to the ground.
- Blood Bath Villain Origin: After Light's initial Freak Out!, he's filled pages with names. Ryuk, a God of Death, is surprised.
- Cassandra Truth: This is how Light thinks of the Death Note, at first.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Light wonders if he'd be doing society a favor by getting rid of his asshole and idiot classmates but decides to start with the worst criminals instead. Though one day he might work his way down or have them die by disease or accidental death.
- Contrived Coincidence: Sachiko gives Light a basket of apples that the neighbors apparently brought over in the middle of the night, in the rain Ryuk soon becomes addicted to them.
- Cram School: Light attends one in the evening.
- Crapsack World: Light thinks so as he listens to the news every day.
- Crazy Sane: Light has definitely lost it by the end of the episode. It's just his brand of madness is very cool and calculating.
- Deal with the Devil: Light assumes there must be some punishment for using the notebook. Ryuk assures him "I'm not going to do anything to you." At least not today... but he will kill him when it's his time to die.
- Dramatic Thunder: When Ryuk appears in Light's bedroom.
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Light, right before he found the Death Note.
- Education Mama: Sachiko is more interested in Light's test scores than the fact that he came home late at night or that something is obviously bothering him.
- Establishing Character Moment: Light establishes himself as a badass after initially freaking out when Ryuk appears. He calmly gets back up to face the seven-foot tall monster that has appeared in his bedroom.
- False Reassurance: Ryuk assures Light "I'm not going to do anything to you."
- For the Evulz: Ryuk dropped his notebook because he was bored. Also Light first wrote in the notebook because he was bored and thought it was a joke.
- Forbidden Fruit: A Death Note? Like anyone would believe that...
- Foreshadowing: Light decides that changing the world is Worth It "even if I have to sacrifice my mind and soul." Also very early in the episode when Light is sitting in class being bored his eyes take on a slightly red tinge.
- Freak Out!: Light upon discovering the Death Note is real.
- A God Am I: Light by the end of the episode.
- Holy Backlight: Light gets this when he declares that he will be the God of the New World.
- Ignored Epiphany: "Who am I to pass judgment on others? ... No. No, wait. Maybe I'm wrong. This is exactly what I've been thinking about lately. This world is rotting, and those who are making it rot deserve to die!"
- In Love with Your Carnage: Ryuk shakes with excitement when Light details his plan to kill off all the evil people in the world and declares himself God.
- It's All About Me: Light gets miffed when Ryuk is paying more attention to the basket of apples than giving him some affirmation to his predetermined ideas of having a special destiny of being The Chosen One who's meant to rid the world of evil.
- Jerk Jock: Sudou
- Jumped at the Call: How Light easily accepts the Death Note after realizing it's real.
- Knight Templar: Light after he Jumped at the Call.
- Laughing Mad: Light chuckles quietly to himself while looking in the Death Note with all the listed names.
- Lightning Reveal: How Ryuk is revealed to Light. He's initially terrified of him and falls out of his seat. However, he recovers almost instantly.
- Looks Like He Is Enjoying It: Invoked word for word, Light killing with the notebook somehow involves a lot of sweating, shouting, and giggling in sadistic glee and when he's uh... finished he slumps at his desk, panting in exhaustion.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Light killing people with the notebook is accompanied by Light's hammy speech and Ominous Latin Chanting. Justified, because really it is hard to make writing in a notebook look exciting-but they did.
- My God, What Have I Done?: "I-I've killed two men!"
- Obliviously Evil: By the end of the week Light has deluded himself into thinking his actions are completely justified, necessary, and helpful to the world at large.
- Ordinary High-School Student: How obvious can you get.
- Samaritan Syndrome: A dark version of this trope. "Someone has to do it! Why not me?"
- Sanity Slippage: Light is (initially) unable to cope with the horrific knowledge that he killed two people.
- Schmuck Bait: the Death Note itself.
- Selective Obliviousness: Light refuses to think he's doing anything wrong.
- Serial-Killer Killer: What Light becomes by the end of the episode.
- Skeptic No Longer: As soon as Light discovers the Death Note is real.
- The Sociopath: Light displays sociopathic tendencies soon after picking up the notebook, such as considering if society would be better off if his annoying classmates were dead.
- Shinigami: Ryuk of course.
- Stalker Without a Crush: Ryuk has been watching Light for days and shows up in his bedroom in the middle of the night.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Light and Ryuk "This world is rotten."
- Taking You with Me: Light was expecting some sort of punishment for using the notebook so he figures he might as well try to make it worth his while and take out as many bad guys as possible before some fiend arrives to take his soul.
- Tempting Fate: Light, about the Death Note. "If there's an off chance someone really dies, would that make me a murderer? Yeah right. It's completely impossible."
- The Unchosen One: By the time Ryuk drops by Light is already operating under a few set delusions such as he must have been "chosen" for this. Light still believes this even after Ryuk tells him he didn't choose him and had dropped the Death Note in a random place.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: the world is rotten and Light will use the Death Note to change the world...
- Visionary Villain: Light after he decides to use the Death Note to change the world.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Here's how to turn an Ordinary High-School Student into a crazy mass murderer with a God Complex in the space of one episode.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ryuk, to Light. "If you do that, you'll be the only bad person left."
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Light's only weapon is the Death Note. It kills people.
- Zeroth Law Rebellion: Light has a major conflict with his morals upon realizing the notebook is real. He resolves this conflict by coming to the logical conclusion that getting rid of evil people is righteous - the justice system punishes criminals and has them executed, it's okay for cops to shoot the bad guys. What he did was no different. If he hadn't used the notebook those school children would have been killed, that girl would have been raped. Therefore the murders that he committed were perfectly just and legal because he will BECOME JUSTICE.