The Death Note is discovered by Light Yagami, and Ryuk follows him around for much of the series to see how Light uses it. According to Shinigami rules, the Shinigami whose notebook is used by a human will follow them around until the human dies or gives up the notebook. Only the Shinigami who possesses the owner can kill them. Ryuk has a fairly humanoid appearance. His skin is a light gray, almost blue-ish color, his limbs are abnormally long and he has bulging yellow eyes with black (red at times in the anime) irises. He is voiced by Shidō Nakamura in the Japanese anime and live-action adaptations, while Brian Drummond voices him in the English dub.
Creation and ConceptionEdit
Tsugumi Ohba said that he always mentioned Apples in the thumbnails because he wished to use "the dying message that Shinigami only eat Apples." Therefore, he simply needed Ryuk to hold Apples and that "there's no other reason." Ohba also said that he specifically chose Apples because the red "goes well" with Ryuk's black body and that the apples "fit well" with Ryuk's "big" mouth. When Takeshi Obata informed Ohba that Apples held religious and psychological significance and that a person could "read a lot" into their inclusion and its Symbolism. When he assumed that was the reason why Ohba included the apples, Ohba said that he did not "think about that at all" and that he merely believes that "apples are cool... that's it. (laughs)" Ohba added that he felt including aspects that could become later plot points was beneficial, and the apples were used as a point when Light asked Ryuk to search for the cameras in exchange for Apples.
Obata said that he encountered difficulty in creating Ryuk. He said that his original idea of Ryuk consisted of Ryuk looking like a "young man similar to Light" with black hair and wings. Obata said that he had the idea of Shinigami looking like "attractive rock stars." Obata felt that if Ryuk appeared to be more attractive than Light he would "appear to be the main character" and "things wouldn't work as well." Obata said that he decided to erase the previous design and use the final design when his editor told him that Ryuk did not have to appear to be human. Obata said that he liked the "monster-like" appearance and added that, with his face, "you can never really tell what he is thinking." Obata said that he encountered difficulty while drawing Ryuk in the pilot chapter since he did not "have a good handle" on the "bone structure of his face." Obata said that during serialization he became "so used" to the underlying structure that he could visualize it. Obata describes Ryuk's face as appearing different between the pilot chapter and the actual Death Note series. In How to Read 13 Obata thought of an idea involving Ryuk's face being a mask, and under the mask would be an "attractive" face.
When designing Ryuk's Death Note, Obata thought about the appearance of Ryuk's handwriting. 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 front cover.
Tom S. Pepirium of IGN said that "Brian Drummond IS Ryuk." Pepirium described Drummond's voice as "excellent" and that this makes it "hilarious" to watch "Ryuk and his never-ending grin giggle at the events he put into motion."