Posted in My past writing

Death Note Anime Character Essay

Hi everyone,

I am sure you are wondering where I went since it has been a few weeks since my last post.

I have been busy finding a job and finishing school. I got all A’s in my college classes. I have a great job tutoring a teenage guy with autism. He is a really cool person and learns very quickly. He is also teaching me something. I really like video games, but have never had anyone to teach me, so now this kid is teaching me how to play Guitar Hero and Call of Duty Black Ops. It’s a really fun job.

Okay, so once again I’d like to share some of my past writing. This one is also from the Composition One class I took in the fall semester of 2016. It’s about the somewhat popular anime series, Death Note.


Ryan Maxwell

Dr. Netherton

English 1301

September 12, 2016


                                                   Great Minds Think Alike:

I recently watched an anime TV program, Death Note, which I found quite captivating. I found it to be such because of the intense minds and personalities of the two main characters. While at first the characters seem similar in their mindset and thought patterns, it is later shown how their moral standards greatly differ. Ultimately, because the one character has a moral compass and the other does not, the one with a moral compass wins, as good will inevitably trump evil.

The main character first introduced is Light Yagami, a seemingly normal 17-year-old high school senior who lives in Tokyo, Japan. When the show begins, Light is bored by his average life. This changes when Light comes across a book, known as a Death Note, which causes any person to die whose name is written in it. Light begins to see himself as a god of justice, killing criminals from all over the world simply by the stroke of a pen. His vengeance does not go unnoticed, and soon the public is both hailing him as their savior and reviling him as a vicious mass murderer, referring to him by the Japanese translation of the English word ‘killer’, which is ‘Kira’.

The second main character is L, a world renowned detective dedicated to the task of catching Kira and bringing him to justice. At a loss for how to catch a killer who can kill anyone from anywhere in the world whose face and name was at one time made public, the Tokyo Police force enlists L’s help, and the culprit list is soon narrowed down to only a few people, of which Light Yagami is one. Light, whose father is the Chief of Police, learns that he is one of those suspected and to divert such suspicion he offers to help in the investigation, an offer which is eventually accepted. By supposedly assisting the investigation Light is able to get to know L better, even becoming somewhat of a friend to him in the latter part of the show, a relationship which Light eventually uses to kill L.

As L and Light work together the similarities between them in the way they think is rather startling. Both men have a strong desire for justice, though their means to accomplishing said justice differ somewhat. Both are intellectually superior, and have excellent detective skills, though L is slightly quicker than Light to pick up on clues, given that he has been in the business of detective work much longer. The most interesting similarity between these characters is their mutual desire to win at all costs and disdain for admitting defeat. As Light is inwardly L’s greatest adversary, and L secretly never stops suspecting Light of being the mass murderer he claims to be helping to catch, both are playing a mental chess match throughout the show. This makes the plot exceptionally diverting as well as unexpected in its turn of events.

However, as much as Light and L are alike mentally, they are polar opposites in disposition and outward appearance. Light appears competent and capable in his manner. Light speaks with an air of calm authority, he stands up straight, and he is always outwardly polite, even altruistic at times. He always seems dressed ‘to the nines’ and is almost never seen without a suit and tie or at least a nice shirt and jacket. In short, Light never seems like the insane person who would kill millions of people at a few strokes of a pen. L, on the other hand, is rather awkward and socially inept. He has odd habits, such as crouching in chairs instead of actually sitting in them, eating only sweet and sugary foods, and asking questions or making statements which are blunt and to the point, often coming across as quite rude. He is always seen wearing the same outfit: a plain white shirt, baggy jeans, and bare feet.

The poignant difference between these characters is their moral standards. Light will stop at nothing to make himself a god among men, killing not only those who he deems to be threats to society, but also anyone who is against him or tries to catch him. L believes that no one person is capable of judging who is good or evil, and that murder is murder, whether done in the name of justice or not. Hence, Light believes that the law is something he can judge for himself, while L believes that law can only be properly determined by more than one individual, and no one person is above the law. While L is eventually killed by Light, one of L’s successors later destroys Light after forcing a confession as to his true identity as Kira. Thus the god among men fallacy which Light had entertained for so long was shattered by his death, as, were he truly a god, he would have succeeded in his plot to destroy all evil off the face of the Earth.

This series evokes much thought as to the meaning of good, evil, and life. While one may say that, essentially, Light Yagami’s motives were good, it is very clear that his rampage of killing did not do much to make life better for the general populace, and indeed created a great amount of chaos on many levels. Conversely, while L did not seem to do much good in stopping Light while he was alive, he paved the way for L’s successor to eventually bring Light down and was never blinded by Light’s manipulation and false sense of justice. These two characters are by far the most well developed and complex I have encountered in any anime I have watched, and have caused me to see how deceptive outward appearances can be. Never be fooled by what’s on the outside. It is the motives which count. “No matter how gifted you are… You, alone, cannot change the world.” – L Lawliet, Death Note


So there it is ladies, gentlemen, and humans. My masterpiece. I hope you like it. If you do, please feel free to comment and like.




I am a writer, a dreamer, and a realist. I enjoy music of most types and never write without some tunes.

2 thoughts on “Death Note Anime Character Essay

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