Death Note Character Analysis: L
By: Prince Lammy
Death Note didn’t just break grounds in the Shounen genre alone, it also made big time waves amongst anime tagged Supernatural and Thrillers. Who would’ve thought we’d get such an amazing story from a seemingly simple concept?
The storyline aside, the character profiles were just so profoundly topnotch. And what’s crazier is the fact that fans of the Death Note franchise even love the antagonist, L, more than the main character, Light Yagami (often reminds me of Kuroko from Kuroko no Basuke).
Taking into account how secretive and mysterious L is, most fans have been able to gather much info about him. But here is the one place you’d get all info there is about him. I’m only barely holding back on the excitement of writing about one of my most favorite anime characters ever, so, let’s just get on with it.
Not much is known about L’s childhood, or his background. And frankly, this is one of the other small details that fans considered when concluding that L is one of the most secretive characters they’ve ever come across.
But from what the manga and anime tell, Watari found him when he was 8 years old, and sent him to an orphanage home known as Wammy’s House which is a residence for talented children. Watari later realized sometime later that L has extraordinary intellect and eventually decided to help him with his investigations.
L finally became an investigator at an early age (just how old he was when he started is unknown), and he soon became renowned as the best investigator in the world, who only gets contacted when even the police and security agencies are at a loss on how to proceed on investigations.
Not even his real name was known to anyone in the anime, and not even before or after his death, except to Rem, the Shinigami that killed him in a bid to save Misa. But some media has reported that L’s real name is Lawliet.
Just like his rather formidable opponent (at least till his death in Episode 25) L is a young man who is rather tall, quite pale. But unlike Light, he has very unkempt black hair that reaches his neck. He also has dark eyes. As a consequence of him being an insomniac, he has a dark circle under each of his eyes, which is one of the things that draws the most attention to him.
L is consistently seen in the series with a pair of blue pants and a white shirt with long sleeves. Even when he is out in public, he practically never wears anything to protect his feet since he prefers to walk about barefoot. And you would always see L slouching, hence, never truly revealing his true height.
This was demonstrated when he went to Light Yagami’s school and was observed sitting on a seat barefoot, delaying the act of putting on his shoes until he got up to go about the school grounds. When L walks, she frequently walks with a hunched over posture.
Now here is where the main and full gist about L would actually come in, as his
Personality is going to contain more than just his mannerisms, but also a bit of fan’s inputs on his actions and thought processes.
It cannot be denied that L is both an inversion and mirror of Light Yagami, the immovable object to his irresistible force. With this perspective, it’s clear that the conclusion to Death Note could not have been different.
For the sake of those who have not yet seen the Manga, all that’s penned down here will be cryptic i.e., would be devoid of spoilers. It was intentional that everything about L’s character be different from Light’s. His look is intriguing since it may be seen as a representation of the
justice that L is said to symbolize, in addition to lending itself to his more well-known features.
Seeing as L is ugly and quick to garner distaste; he isn’t quite on par with the flawless Light Yagami. Light is the obvious choice, so why should anyone even consider L? But yet, L managed to garner the love and support of most Death Note fans. It needs no gainsaying that L isn’t your regular detective, and for a long time, has remained unknown to the world. But what are the traits that sets him apart from everyone else?
L’s untidy and sluggish demeanor hides his considerable talents of deduction, and as a result, most of the task force members dispute his abilities upon meeting him. Despite this, L is extremely clever. L has a propensity to question the veracity of everything he is shown, and he is highly precise and analytical in his thinking.
He is skilled at fooling his adversaries, and he is not afraid to resort to extreme tactics in order to solve a problem. Some of his strategies are quite audacious, such as having a death row inmate named Lind L. Tailor present as him- on live TV in order to lure out Kira. Other strategies, on the other hand, appear to those who are involved to be quite bizarre, such as when he handcuffed himself to Light Yagami, who was thought to be a Kira.
Additionally, it is proven that he possesses a dry sense of humor, and that he is not beyond making caustic remarks to other people. L comes across as condescending at times, despite the fact that he is generally polite (especially to members of the Task Force like Shuichi Aizawa).
L is capable of sometimes getting whatever he wants through unorthodox or perhaps criminal routes by using deception, misleading information, deception, and an analytical grasp of human psychology to help entice a suspected killer into a false feeling of security and maybe make him irresponsibly overconfident.
He sometimes however, uses percentage to rate how much he suspects someone, but that in its own way, is a lie. Once L considers someone a suspect, the person would always be on his radar, irrespective of how small or high the percentage of suspicion is. As the author of the series, Tsugumi Ohba, joked while making light of L’s strategies by saying,
The reality is, he’s a liar.
In addition, he has a few peculiar habits, such as the fact that he prefers to squat rather than sit, that he prefers only sweet foods (such as sweets, candies, and fruits), and that he holds things with his thumb and index finger. Additionally, he sits in an unorthodox manner, with both feet on the chair at the same time.
He says that his capacity to think would decrease by forty percent if he sat in a regular position. It is interesting to note that in the manga, he is seen sitting on the ground in a posture that is comparable to how one might meditate, all the while giving careful consideration to the Kira situation. Regularly, he may be observed arranging things, stacking his basic foods with extreme concentration, or otherwise having fun with them in some other way.
Whenever L is present at any place, he’s always engaging in behaviors that would be seen as unpleasant or unacceptable in public. These behaviors and habits include biting one’s fingernails, placing one’s feet on furniture, slouching, eating with an open mouth, talking with one’s mouth full, and making remarks that often offend others.
Like Light, he is extremely proud of his position as the world’s greatest detective, and his fear of being proven wrong in his deductions and theories leads him to take extreme measures (mistreating Misa and confining Light for an unnecessary amount of time) and act listlessly at some time.
L maintains a high level of athletic ability despite his sedentary lifestyle. During his five years in the country, L won the England Junior Cup in tennis twice. He also has some martial arts skills, as seen by his brief encounter with Light. L explains in chapter 38 of the manga that even if he consumes nothing but sweets, he continues to be underweight since the brain consumes the most calories of any of the body’s organs.
From a different angle of analysis, L serves to show how Light’s god complex develops by providing an alternative to Kira’s view of justice and by serving as a counterpart to the ideals he personifies. This was the role that L performed in the narrative. This may be his larger thematic task and his responsibility from the perspective of story-telling, but of course, his character is admired for reasons other than these.
L’s lack of concern for fairness is made quite evident throughout the narrative. He acts in this manner for no other reason than that he finds it enjoyable. In any case, that doesn’t mean he has no interest in fairness. One of the most irritating aspects of my investigation into this analysis’s topic was the purported contradiction. Being familiar with the Manga, I knew going in that L’s true intentions were what they seemed to be.
But let’s not forget the one time that L said he couldn’t have any friends. He most probably said that after looking deeper into humans and their proclaimed humanity, and seen how false it is. And also, despite how much he and Light weren’t exactly friends, there seemed to be some chemistry between them, at least there existed some shortly before L’s death.
I think I’ve said quite a lot about L that I’m almost at a loss on what’s missing from this blog. But of course, I’ll love to see to see your comments and suggestions on anything I might’ve missed, or your opinions about this blog.
And until the next blog that gets uploaded on this space, I’m saying Sayonara min’na-san.