Light Yagami became known in the anime world a few years ago, and everywhere I go I always seem to see him or the show he’s from, Death Note, plastered on every list that recommends anime or the top something villains. Personally, I think Death Note lost a bit of steam towards the end of the show, and I somewhat knew what to expect. However, I am not one to ignore a good villain so I wanted to delve deeper into Light’s character—he does deserve to be on those lists for this simple reason: He’s a manipulating genius. He’s not as good as say, Johan Liebert from Monster, but let’s give credit where credit is due shall we?
When we first meet Light, he’s not the maniacal, scheming, egotistical killer that he becomes. He’s actually quite likable, for the most part he’s your average senior. Well…not really his faults are his psychopathic interior, cynical outlook on life, overconfidence in himself, and belief that he is never wrong. He’s a genius and he knows it, and geniuses often get bored if they’re not challenged enough. Light can predict all of the possible scenarios that could happen and plan a solution in advance, even in the most impromptu situations. It’s actually quite impressive and he had quite a future ahead of him. His lack of patience, and his cynical outlook are the seeds that grow into “Kira.”
The path to hell is often paved with good intentions, and Death Note is a prime example of this. Light is frustrated by the lack of justice in the world, believing the world to be “rotten.” He wants a world where only “good” people live, he wants to rid the world of crime and make a utopia of sorts. But what can a high school senior do? Sure he could become a police officer like his father but even they are powerless in the arms of the law. Light knows all this and resorts to a cynical view of the world. He finds the “Death Note,” a notebook in which its wielder can kill anyone whose name is written in it, and thus begins his spiral into madness.
A psychopath is not the same as a sociopath, a psychopath is a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience. Light, because of his cynical nature, only hangs out with people he deems worthy to bask in his genius—thus making him more of an antisocial person. Being antisocial to an extent isn’t a bad thing, sometimes you just don’t want to be around people, but it is a sign of a serious mental illness if one is antisocial all the time. Light spend way too much time focusing on the negative in this world, he starts to develop delusions of grandeur—if he was in charge it wouldn’t be this way. With the Death Note, Light can enact his will to rid the world of evil people. His main goal is to create a new world that is free of injustice and populated only with honest and kind people, thus becoming his ideal: the “God of the New World.”
There’s a tiny problem here…
Who the hell is he to say who is good and who is bad? He’s not a god, he’s far from it even with his genius, he has no right to determine right and wrong. At least that’s what someone with a non-psychopathic train of thought would say. However Light is a psychopath, he has no conscience and he becomes judge, jury, and executioner in order to enact his utopia. He views himself as the only rightful savior of mankind—that all his actions are justified, no matter how inhumane they might be. The fact that he is intelligent also adds to his notion that only he is fit to judge humanity and steer it on a proper moral course. In his mind, he is right—he is good—he is god.
Here’s the thing about psychopaths: They never think that the universe is going to screw them over and they’re going to get caught. Light is so caught up in his Utopian delusion that he truly believes it will come to fruition. I won’t spoil how it happens, but Light eventually does get caught and he (unfairly) dies peacefully.
The creator of Death Note certainly created a wonderful example of a psychopath. Light is complex, maniacal, and a cold-blooded killer. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Light learned that the hard way—Death Note shows us that with every single action one takes, one must eventually face the consequences of those said actions.
Who else do you want me to do a character study on? Heroes or villains? Let’s discuss!