Despite still being one of the most well-known anime franchises ever, Death Note failed to inspire much in the way of knockoffs and imitators. That finally changed three years ago, however, with the release of the Netflix ONA B - The Beginning. The story of the Netflix series drew comparisons -- many unfavorable -- to Death Note, though some of these are fairer than others.
Here's a look at what B - The Beginning was about and why it gained such a reputation for ripping off the adventures of L and Kira.
How B - The Beginning Is Similar to Death Note
B - The Beginning is a series set in the futuristic world of Cremona, which is besieged by killers and criminals who take advantage of the advancement of technology. One such criminal is the mysterious Killer B, who begins murdering other criminals across Cremona. Trying to uncover who Killer B is and what his motives are is central character Koku, along with his investigator friend Keith and an enigmatic organization with ambitions of their own.
Even on just a surface level, the similarities between Death Note and B - The Beginning are incredibly hard to overlook. Both series involve a serial killer with means of murder far above those of others of his ilk, much like Death Note's Kira. The shows' plots are eventually dominated by the cat and mouse game of special authorities trying to hunt down and stop the killers as the main characters are all suspected of having ties to or even being the murderer themselves.
Both series also feature an expert but eccentric detective who's brought in to help the police find the killer. Death Note has the now-iconic weirdo L, while B has the aloof Keith Kazama Flick. The use of the letter "B" is also eerily reminiscent of Death Note's use of letters for characters' names. These characters constantly outsmarting or being outsmarted by their prey is a frequent driver of both stories, as is the presence of supernatural forces working in the background.
How B - The Beginning Is Different to Death Note
The biggest difference between the two comes from the characters, particularly which ones get the focus. Kira/Light is the protagonist of Death Note, and it's him who the series follows from the beginning. B lacks such a central character, however, and thus is able to more evenly develop all of its characters. This makes the identity of the killer more of a mystery, as well. In the case of Kira's killings, they're initially driven by Light's sense of justice and wanting to take bad guys off of the streets. It's only after he becomes drunk on power that he becomes megalomaniacal, drawing the attention of the authorities.
Killer B, however, is treated in a much less ambiguous or positive manner and is simply one of several criminals who run the streets in his series. He's also hunted down from the beginning of the show, instead of the person behind the identity being spotlighted beforehand. This helps B, for as similar as it is to Death Note, stand out against it and tell a story all its own.