Death Note has to be one of the more recognizable anime trends, if for no other reason than one of the characters, Ryuk, is terrifying and striking at the same time. He is perhaps the most common subject for Death Note tattoos, and he certainly should be.
His imagery evokes an unusual mix of fear and laughter, and those who understand his role in the story certainly have cause to find the Shinigami a bit reckless and extreme.
Many who know Ryuk consider him to be a token for death itself. He is the one responsible for providing the main character of the series with the Death Note itself, a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. The notebook itself is fairly innocuous, at least in appearance.
It is nothing but a black college notebook, which is explained as merely the modern representation of an ancient magic that once produced scrolls for the people of the past. Its appearance is meant to be irrelevant, but that’s not the case for Ryuk, the Shinigami that gave the notebook to the human world.
Ryuk is basically the bringer of death who gives his power to kill away to a human merely because he was bored. The insane clarity of that action is irrefutable from a demon or god’s perspective, but most humans would find such needless destruction a tad wanton.