The main character is Light Yagami, a high school student who discovers a notebook, the "Death Note", dropped on Earth by a death god named Ryuk. It centers around Light's attempt to create and rule a world cleansed of evil using the notebook and the efforts of a detective known as L to stop him. The Death Note grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose name they know, by writing the name in the notebook while picturing their face.
Death Note is referenced several times in Bakuman as it's the manga created before Bakuman by the same authors.
- In Chapter 1 on page 14: Mashiro comes back to school for his notebook only to notice Takagi holding it. Mashiro get's terrified about Takagi knowing that he likes Azuki in which Takagi asks Mashiro to not look so serious, "It's not a Death Note, is it?".
- In Chapter 1 on page 20: Mashiro answers to Takagi about becoming a famous and rich mangaka and reference Death Note's author once saying "If you don't get a job you'll die in five years.".