Two of the most well-known shonen anime today are Attack on Titan and Death Note, both popular in Japan, as well as internationally. This article strives to compare the two anime and find out which one comes out on top.
Attack on Titan has received more awards and overall recognition than Death Note, but Death Note has a much larger cult following. Considering that Death Note was released a few years prior, it outperforms Attack on Titan for continuous relatability and enjoys continued admiration from fans worldwide.
Death Note claims the deeper psychological message between the two, while Attack on Titan exceeds in overall production. Which anime is better, therefore, depends on what the viewer values more – meaning or presentation, which this article will discuss in more detail.
Why Death Note Is Still Considered A Better Anime Than Attack On Titan
Both the Death Note and Attack on Titan anime are critically acclaimed and sometimes compared since they share some themes, as well as the director Tetsurō Araki (currently of Madhouse Studios).
The Death Note anime aired from 2006 to 2007, while Attack on Titan premiered in 2013 and is ongoing. The fact that Death Note still holds a candle to Attack on Titan despite the age gap proves its continuous popularity.
In comparison to other anime of the time, Death Note was unique in concept and its universal applicability. For an anime to have such rapport outside of Japan attests to its relatability worldwide.
Furthermore, several copycat crimes relating to the Death Note anime happened across the globe, the most shocking being a murder case in Belgium. This indicates the psychological effect that Death Note has on its readers and viewers alike.
When comparing production, Attack on Titan takes the lead with several awards for animation, acting, soundtrack and characters.
The Storylines Of Attack On Titan And Death Note Compared
Both Attack on Titan and Death Note are considered dark shonen anime. Both stories follow male protagonists in superior roles to their fellow humans – Eren as a titan and Light with the power to kill people.
In Death Note, Light decides to make the most of his power by killing a large number of criminals. According to him, this would make the world a better place and eventually he develops a god complex due to his power.
Eren in Attack on Titan also chooses to use his titan power for “good” by helping the humans defend themselves against the titans. As the story develops the line between good and bad blurs and choosing a side becomes harder.
The most interesting development in Death Note is how the protagonist develops from hero to villain. It is the storyline that challenges our societal construct of justice and our moral judgement, asking the viewer what they would do within the same environment.
Attack on Titan undergoes a similar twist, but the story is slow to develop. Season 1 was an international hit, but it’s clear that the following seasons were not as popular, some followers even losing interest.
For those that did not read the Attack on Titan manga, the ending is still a mystery. The first part of the final season was released in December 2020 which has sparked interest in the anime again. The second part is said to be released in January 2022.
The Characters And Their Development In Both Attack On Titan And Death Note
Attack on Titan has clearly defined character roles. Eren is the protagonist throughout the anime, with his supporting characters as friends and co-personnel in the military.
A notable aspect of this anime is the growth that characters undergo alongside the protagonist. Several other characters become important influences on the storyline, and it becomes evident that no character can be truly trusted.
Attack on Titan also has definite allies and enemies from the first episode. Later in the anime, the enemy is humanized, and the watcher is obliged to reconsider the aspect of right and wrong.
The protagonist also undergoes an unthinkable change in the later seasons, further encouraging the watcher to re-evaluate previous opinions.
Death Note presents a similar intense protagonist development as Light needs to make difficult choices to maintain his status, but the story does not present distinct allies or enemies.
The support characters to both Light and L (Light’s main rival) undergo some growth, specifically the detective team working with L, but not enough to influence the story.
One similarity between the two anime is the conflicting moral choices presented to and made by the characters throughout the anime.
Another similarity is the highly unpredictable development of the story, keeping the watcher in suspense. Both Eren and Light develop into completely different, almost opposite, characters.
The Different Art Styles Used In Attack On Titan and Death Note
The art style in Attack on Titan has some of the best anime art to date, combining traditional animation with CGI to great success.
Some fans consider the art at the beginning of the anime to be lacking, but as it grew in popularity more animators were added and alongside advances in technology, Death Note seems outdated in comparison.
When Season 4 of Attack on Titan was announced, it was also announced that a new animation studio would be responsible for the finale season.
This did not bode well considering the high expectations of the final season. Other well-known anime like One Punch Man and Seven Deadly Sins also changed animation studios throughout development, with detrimental effects to the quality of the art style.
According to CBR, a replacement studio was necessary for the increased scale of production and MAPPA studios took over from WIT Studios.
After the first installment of Season 4, fans were put to ease regarding the quality of animation since MAPPA improved on general designs and color schemes.
The Death Note anime followed the original manga style as closely as possible since the illustrator has his distinctive art style. The characters from the manga are described as realistic with great detail.
His coloring style also resembles painting, quite unlike other manga artists.
Death Note is praised for its consistent and unique art style, while Attack on Titan is possibly one of the best art styles to date. Choosing the best art style between the two seems unfair since both are respectively well-executed and unique.
The Awards And Sales For Both Animes Compared
According to IMDB.com, Attack on Titan has so far received multiple winning awards, and many other nominations, including a Guinness World Record for the “Most In-Demand Anime TV Show”, while Death Note only received a handful of awards and recognition.
Both anime have been adapted into live-action films and Death Note even has musical adaptations.
This could be used as a measurement of which anime is better, but many would argue that Death Note was an anime that created more demand for anime in Northern America, after which the popularity of anime in the wider Western world increased.
It, therefore, made the success of subsequent anime possible. More demand for anime meant an increase in the budget available to produce better quality anime, as is clear with Attack on Titan.
When it comes to revenue received, it is easier to compare the number of manga copies sold. Attack on Titan released the 34th and final volume in June 2021 and has (to date) sold over 100 million copies, both printed and digital.
The Death Note manga has a total of 12 volumes and sold over 30 million copies. For Attack on Titan that means an average of 2.9 million copies per volume, with Death Note an average of 2.5 million copies per volume.
A quick poll on an Anime Discussion Facebook group showed a higher interest in Attack on Titan, but a popular anime community site, MyAnimeList, rates Death Note as #1 most popular overall.
Attack on Titan season 1 was ranked #2 on the same site, but the following seasons did not do as well. The final season (part 1) is currently ranked at #58. Comparing both animes in their entirety it still seems like Death Note outperforms Attack on Titan.
Attack on Titan vs Death Note Poll: What Fans Say
As we said above, we took a quick poll to see what anime fans say. Here is the outcome:
Final Comparison Points For Attack On Titan Vs. Death Note
Here is a small table to show you the winner when comparing the two anime in different categories. Again, this just shows the winner in that category, it does not mean that AoT doesn’t have a unique storyline, for example.
|Death Note||Attack on Titan|
|Overall online popularity|
The Attack on Titan anime has yet to be finished and this comparison should be revisited in a few years to determine whether it can surpass the legend that is Death Note.
What are your thoughts on this? What anime/ manga do you think is better? Let us know in the comment section below!