Ryuk’s form is quite similar to that of a man. He has large spherical yellow eyes, bright red irises and retractable feather-like wings. Ryuk is unusually lean, with light-gray, almost bluish skin. His hair is black and spiky, and he has thin blue-gray lips. His limbs are abnormally long and he wears rings on his fingers.

Ryuk is a male Shinigami. He stands 230 cm tall. From the point of view of his appearance, he immediately and obviously resembles someone not from our planet. The feather-like wings on his back enable him to fly. Because of his ever-tired appearance, some even say he always looks like he’s under the influence of drugs.

Personality and character

In terms of his nature, Ryuk is quite different from other Shinigamis. He finds the Shinigami realm boring and doesn’t want to simply pass the time in his own realm. He’s looking for something to relieve his boredom. Ryuk is unaffected by the other Shinigamis’ mockery of him.

Ryuk is presented as a curious being. He sees Light as “intriguing”, not least because of his investigations and discovery of loopholes in Death Note rules and instructions. Ryuk is amazed by Light’s discoveries about certain aspects of the Death Note that even Ryuk was unaware of.

He has an indifferent attitude. Although he finds Light attractive, he doesn’t care whether Light lives or dies. Ryuk’s help for Light is not significant throughout the manga. At times, he withholds crucial information from Light and only helps him when he has something to gain.

Ryuk’s only intention in dropping the notebook on Earth was that he was bored. Most of his actions are mainly inspired by the desire to see something fascinating. He carefully observes human use of the Death Note and finds the reaction of other mortals really amusing.

Ryuk has a great admiration for apples, claiming that obsession is the equivalent of a drug for humans. Shinigami apples are wilted and taste like sand, as he demonstrates at one point to Misa. He shows particular signs of withdrawal if he goes too long without eating them. Ryuk is also shy with girls, which is revealed when Misa recovers her memory and enthusiastically hugs Ryuk.

Ryuk also loves video games. He asks Light to play video games with him, but is refused because Light’s room is monitored by microphones and cameras.

The story of Ryuk: The Shinigami who got bored

shinigami death note

Ryuk is a Shinigami, tired of the boring, monotonous life in his own kingdom. He decides to acquire a second Death Note and drop it into the human world, hoping to ease his boredom. He manages to trick the King of the Shinigami into obtaining a second Death Note.

He knowingly writes the instructions on the cover page in English, which he assumes is the most common language in the human world. Ryuk does this so that people understand his purpose.

The Death Note is discovered by Light Yagami, and Ryuk follows him for much of the manga, observing how Light uses it. Ryuk is characterized by his constant pleasure and indifference to Light’s problems, as well as his curiosity about humans. He delights in seeing Light overcome the various challenges he faces. He is occasionally helpful, but only when it serves his own interests, i.e. for fun.

Mainly in the manga, Ryuk ironically asks Light what his next move will be. He even asks him to explain the purpose of a particular action. Ryuk tells Kira, in the first volume, that he doesn’t always read what he writes because it’s more entertaining.

Ryuk constantly praises Light and actually helps him on two separate occasions. When L and his team recover the Death Note modified with the fake rules, L asks Ryuk if Shinigami can add fake rules to the notebook. Ryuk replies that they can’t. This seems totally inconsistent for someone who wants to remain impartial and see L and Light fight.

Ryuk also helps Light when he’s being watched by L and his team. Even if he’s doing it to get something out of it, it shows a certain camaraderie for a God of Death. Ryuk is a great help when Light needs an invisible Shinigami to inspect his room and find the hidden cameras.

Ryuk’s symbolic role in the Death Note manga

Ryuk’s confidential and symbolic role in the series is significant. When Light Yagami acquired Death Note, he was eager to add a dimension of power to his ambitions and create a new world. However, what he fails to recognize is that death always wins in the end. Ryuk himself illustrates the fact that death takes no one’s side.

Ryuk told Light that death is impartial, without detours. Although Light listened at the time, fate made sure he forgot all about it in the end. Ryuk himself is a neutral observer, invisible and inaudible to other people. This gives him a comfortable first-class seat in Light’s life.

Ryuk is akin to death itself, which can be present potentially anywhere, at any time, and no one escapes its grasp. But despite all he observed in Light and his admiration, Ryuk was not Light’s ally.

All living creatures die, and no one can conquer death or escape their fate. No matter how righteous or hostile a person may be, the end will eventually come to them. Ryuk, as a Shinigami, can peek in from his own realm and spontaneously choose humans to kill with the Death Note to extend his own lifespan.

Civilizations the world over tell stories of people trying in vain to escape the chains of death. Nothing is eternal or impenetrable to destruction. He and his kind will often kill the first human they see simply out of convenience. Death has no personal favorites and cannot be bargained for; the same is true for Ryuk. He was delighted to see Light’s death when his plan failed.

Ryuk is identical to his fellow Shinigamis. He can pass through solid objects at will and allow things to pass through him. Even if they hit him, they won’t hurt him, and no one can simply shoot and kill him.

Ryuk’s abilities

ryuk death note story

Every Shinigami has a fantastic set of abilities and a personality that makes them powerful against humans. Some of Ryuk’s abilities are:

Ryuk’s psychometry

Thanks to his Shinigami eyes, Ryuk can quickly obtain all the information about a person’s life in the human world. Shinigami eyes allow Ryuk to see a person’s age and name accordingly. He can see anyone’s character data through his unique eyes, then quickly kill them by writing their name in the Death Note.

The first person to acquire Shinigami eyes in this way is Misa Amane, who makes a deal with Rem, another Shinigami from the Shinigami Kingdom. The eye deal is first mentioned by Ryuk when he proposes it to Light Yagami so that he can obtain the name of the man stalking him. Light refuses, as he is reluctant to sacrifice half his life.


As a god, Ryuk possesses strength unmatched in the human world. He is able to hold himself up effortlessly and can easily lift a person with just one arm.

Supernatural vision and the speed of light

ryuk character

Superhuman vision and the speed of light

Ryuk’s vision is so piercing that he can identify a person up to 14 kilometers away. This, combined with Shinigami eyes, gives Ryuk and the other Shinigamis a huge advantage in the human world. They can quickly identify anyone and eliminate them from the face of the Earth, thus prolonging their own lives.

As illustrated in the manga, Ryuk can reach a speed of 521.9 miles per hour in a time span of one minute. This is a speed only gods and supernatural beings possess.


In the manga, his intelligence is very high. Ryuk’s official statistics place him at almost the same intelligence level as Soichiro, the national police chief. He is also shown to know several languages, demonstrating his brilliance and ability to use his brain.

Resistance and reach

Ryuk can pass through walls and is probably impervious to damage done in conventional ways. His intangibility also makes him difficult to injure. In Death Note, the manga’s Shinigamis are impervious to conventional damage, as shown by the fact that bullets pass through Ryuk and Sidoh without harming them. They remain unharmed. Ryuk and Sidoh also remain unharmed when a large explosion catches them unawares.

Ryuk retains wings that allow him to travel the world. His range is so immense that he can easily move between different realms. His divine abilities and attributes enable him to move from one place to another in the blink of an eye.

ryuk death note 2

The Death Note

Ryuk holds the most powerful of weapons, the Death Note. He can write anyone’s name on it, and that person will simply die of a heart attack or some other cause written on the Death Note. This is Ryuk’s most formidable ability, and it makes him what he is. With the Death Note, he is invincible and can live forever if he wishes. He can use the Death Note to manipulate anyone’s behavior and make them act according to his wishes. After all, nobody wants to die!

The strange rules Ryuk must abide by

ryuks death note

The Death Note is an exceptionally well thought-out story, centered around a book with a very captivating and engaging list of rules that its owner must follow. The true owners of these books, the Shinigami (Gods of Death), are themselves constrained by the book’s strict rules. As a Shinigami, Ryuk must follow some of these regulations:

If Light abandons Death Note

Ryuk explains to Light almost immediately in the manga’s opening chapters that he must erase Light’s memory if Light were to abandon the Death Note. He says it’s Light’s decision and he’s free to make it. Light undoubtedly rejects this offer, as the saying goes: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Ryuk’s inability to interfere

Ryuk cannot interfere with anything Light accomplishes with the Death Note until Light dies or the Death Note is complete. However, he cannot physically intervene in the relationship between Light and the Death Note. Nevertheless, Ryuk can give advice, whether genuine or misleading, and inform Light of things that might interest Ryuk verbally. Anything Ryuk says should be taken with a grain of salt.

Ryuk is chained to the human realm

Ryuk cannot return to his own realm until Light is dead or the Death Note is destroyed. This is explained by some helpful explanations from Ryuk’s friends at the beginning of episode 4 of the anime. This explains why Ryuk stays by Light’s side for the rest of the story.

Who Ryuk is not allowed to kill

Ryuk cannot end another Shinigami’s life with his Death Note under any circumstances. That’s why Shinigami are immortal. Why exterminate a human from a distance if he can have a prime spot to enjoy all the action?

On the death of the human carrier

When the mortal bearer dies (in our case, Light Yagami), Ryuk must record that human’s name in his own notebook. Light will not be sent to hell or heaven once this is done. This is a responsibility that Ryuk, as a Shinigami, must assume. However, it’s not clear what exactly will happen to Light. Perhaps he exists in a limbo void for the rest of time. Whatever the case, this is now his destiny.

Rules concerning Ryuk’s eyes

The eyes of a Shinigami allow them to see a mortal’s name as well as the remaining life hovering above their head. For the Death Note to work, the name and face of the prey must be known by the notebook’s owner.

Ryuk can offer any human who finds the Death Note the ability to see with the eyes of a Shinigami. This surprising offer comes with a significant drawback. If a human obtains the ability from Ryuk’s eyes, that human must also agree to halve his or her lifespan.

Ryuk explains to Light that this is “a crucial part of the principle that all Shinigamis are bound to follow”. He cannot allow Light to borrow his powers without paying the price. Likewise, Light has no idea how much time he has left; but regardless, is it worth giving up half his life for it?

The laws of physics

Ryuk’s Death Note can’t compel the prey to do the impossible. Both the book and its owner must respect the laws of physics. This is illustrated, analyzed and confirmed in the manga.

When Light tries to get Death’s victim to travel from a Japanese prison, in which he’s locked and from which he can’t escape, to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, in a single hour, he fails. Since this is a material impossibility, the victim simply dies of a heart attack inside the prison. Ryuk must be a deity, but he and his notebook are subject to the decrees of physics.

Characters who influenced Ryuk’s character


rem death note

Rem is a female Shinigami possessed by Misa Amane. Like Ryuk, Rem possesses two Death Notes; however, Rem didn’t obtain hers by deception. While Ryuk finds joy in everything to do with the human world, Rem is its exact opposite, looking down on most humans with contempt.

Ryuk is stunned by Rem’s devotion to Misa. Rem influences Ryuk on how Shinigami, agents of death, can experience love and true emotion. Ryuk, being a selfless character, enjoys Rem and Misa’s relationship and, on some occasions, helps Light, which goes against his nature as a Shinigami.

The fact that he spies on people on Light’s behalf goes against his personality. However, he does it out of sympathy, which is unusual for a Shinigami. I think Rem and Misa Amane’s relationship introduced Ryuk to an unconventional bond that can exist between a Shinigami and a human.

Misa Amane

misa amane death note

Misa is a promising model, actress and supporter of Kira in the manga, who eventually becomes the Second Kira. After touching Light Yagami’s Death Note, she meets Ryuk for the first time. She’s exceptionally friendly and attached to him, and often makes fun of him for being shy with women.

After Misa Amane regains her memories as Second Kira, she again trades half her remaining life for Shinigami Eyes with Ryuk. She takes on the role of Kira. Ryuk supports Misa in her position as Kira, i.e. killing and eliminating criminals from the face of the Earth.

Light Yagami, Kira

light yagami

Light Yagami is the promoter of Death Note. He wants to establish a new world order by eliminating the bad people from our planet. After growing tired of the Shinigami kingdom, Ryuk sends Light a Death Note. Light has Misa, Mikami, Takada and several others at his disposal. Yet Light is still attracted to Ryuk, even if Ryuk doesn’t always help him or make any particular effort.

Ryuk is bound to Light. When Ryuk becomes attached to Light, he becomes a component of his thinking. If Light needs convincing of something, he tells Ryuk.

In the end, Light takes Ryuk for granted. So much so that, in desperation, he considers calling on Ryuk for help. We never imagined how horrific the end of Ryuk and Light’s relationship would be, with Ryuk executing Light by writing his name in the Death Note.

Trying to kill Near and the SPK was Light’s biggest mistake, from which he couldn’t recover at all. Ryuk knew that Matasuda’s enraged shots had severely wounded him. So the fact that he’d suffered a heart attack indicated that Ryuk had written his name.

Ohba and Obata’s message: Shinigami only eat apples!

ryuk eating apple

Ohba said he encountered difficulties when designing Ryuk. He explained that his first idea of Ryuk was that he should look like a young man identical to Light, with black hair and wings. Obata also explained that he had imagined the Shinigami as attractive rock stars.

Obata thought that if Ryuk looked more attractive than Light, he would seem to be the main character. Obata expressed his appreciation for Ryuk’s monstrous form. He added that with his face, he wanted to give Ryuk an expression of permanent confusion that was difficult to understand.

When creating Ryuk’s Death Note, Obata thought about how Ryuk’s writing would look. Ryuk wrote the words “Death Note” on the cover of his own notebook, and when he took possession of Sidoh’s book, he wrote the same words on the cover.

Tsugumi Ohba expressed that he always mentioned apples in the preliminary sketches because he wanted to use the death message that Shinigami only eat apples. He simply wanted Ryuk to hold apples and there was no other reason.

Ohba also stated that he mainly chose apples because red goes well with Ryuk’s black body and apples suit his big mouth best. Takeshi Obata informed Ohba that the apples had spiritual and psychological significance. You could read a lot of symbolism in them.

Apples were used as payment when Light asked Ryuk to look for cameras in his room in exchange for apples. Ohba simply stated that he hadn’t thought about it and simply thought the apples looked great, that’s all. Ohba added that he was thinking of including elements that might become important plot points later.

How do I see Ryuk?

ryuk death note 3

In my opinion, Ryuk is the personification of a selfish maniac. For example, violence is his way of having fun and living a life full of adventure. Ryuk enjoys the death and downfall of people. He embodies all the reckless, self-centered people in our society. We can find similarities between his personality and that of many humans of our time.

On the other hand, Ryuk’s unique temperament makes him endearing and humorous to me. In a manga like Death Note, where suspense and excitement are constant, a character like Ryuk is essential to lighten the mood.

Fascinating facts and anecdotes

Do you know why Ryuk betrays Light at the end?

Ryuk ends Light’s life because the idea of having Light imprisoned and captured wouldn’t be fun for him. Shinigamis are immortal, and so is he. He’s already said he’ll write Light’s name. Waiting would be too boring, so he decides to kill Light after the shoot-out, as all the fun would be spoiled.

Do you know if Ryuk loved or hated Misa?

Despite his lack of emotions, he’s very fond of humans, which contrasts with the death gods’ role of ending human life (hence the Death Note). He comes across as relaxed and sentimental; he admits to being intimidated by girls like Misa, which means he likes her.

ryuk death note 4

Why does Ryuk become visible to Near when he touches Rem’s Death Note?

There were three Death Notes held by humans in the manga. These were Ryuk’s extra copies stolen from the other Shinigami and returned to him before the end of the series. Rem’s notebook, kept in the human world after his death, attached itself to Ryuk and allowed Near to see Ryuk.

Why did Ryuk choose to write the rules for Death Note?

He did it to get humans interested in the notebook and to let them know how to use it properly. Most Death Notes have no rules or instructions, and Ryuk recorded everything he thought the new owner would need to know.

Light is not afraid of Ryuk

The relationship between Light and Ryuk shows just how scary a human can be. Despite the fact that Ryuk has been close to Light for years, there were many moments when the human scared Ryuk. Light would yell at him and get angry if he did something he didn’t like. Light, the fearless and violent character that he is, fears no one.


Question: what is the origin of Ryuk’s name?

Answer: The origin of the name Ryuk can be traced back to both Japanese and Korean terminology. In Japanese, Ryuk means “gift from God”. In Korean, it means “charm”, both definitions justify Ryuk’s character in the manga.

Question: what is Ryuk’s role in the investigation?

Answer: Although he wishes to be a mere observer in the battle between Kira and L, Ryuk sometimes gets involved. He lets Light know that Ray Penber is watching him, which helps him a lot. He also gets involved when Sidoh returns to retrieve his notebook, telling the other Shinigami to let the investigation team kill Mello.

Question: When is a Shinigami condemned to die?

Answer: There is only one way to eliminate a Shinigami. He must save a human he has fallen in love with from death. Because of the rarity of this prospect, most Shinigami don’t even know it’s possible to die this way. Since Ryuk will never love a human, he can’t die.

Question: what would happen if Ryuk wrote his own name in the Death Note?

Answer: Writing his own name in the notebook wouldn’t kill him. As long as Ryuk continues to be what he is, he will be eternal.

Ryuk character guide: Final thoughts

Death Note has been one of the most popular mangas, and almost every manga fan enjoys reading it. One of the reasons for this is its vast cast of endearing characters and their endeavors, Ryuk being one of them.

Ryuk plays a central role in the manga. He’s a Shinigami who willingly abandons a Death Note in the mortal realm just for fun. Ryuk’s need for satisfaction is immense and somewhat disturbing. As Ryuk himself says, “because I was bored.”

Ryuk differs from most Shinigami in that he doesn’t just want to pass the time in his own kingdom, but to find something to brighten up its monotony. Ryuk’s incorporation into the story is crucial, as there would have been no Death Note falling on planet Earth without him.

Ryuk is undoubtedly one of the best-written and perfectly accomplished male characters in the Death Note manga. And rightly so, as he’s the only reason Light was able to get the Death Note. What’s more, despite Ryuk’s best efforts, he’s not an appreciated character in the Death Note series. He deserves more appreciation from his fans to have some light shed on him.

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