Gender Roles in Death Note

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One of the more interesting aspects of Death Note is the almost rigid, stereotypical that gender plays in the series. I don’t know whether Ohba is cleverly commenting on chauvinistic culture or if he/she truly thinks that women are less intelligent and willing to be submissive to a man.

In the world of Death Note, the protagonists and heroes are all men. The men are intelligent and have positions of power. They calmly analyze the problem and come to viable solution, rarely letting their emotions get in their way. If they ever do act on their emotions, it is seen as a disadvantage as is the case with Mello.

However, the females in Death Note are often referred to as less intelligent. L comments that the second Kira (or Misa) is “far less intelligent and methodological than the real Kira.”Even though Takada may have seemed more intelligent than Misa, Near notes that “she was an excellent student… She, herself, is downright stupid.”There was only one woman that was the intellectual equal of men and that woman was Naomi Misora.

In addition, females tend to make unwise decision when they often let their emotions take over. Misa would rashly visit Light when it was not safe to be seen together. Rem, a female shinigami, fell victim to Light’s plan and lost her own life by killing L and Watari.

Another big point is that the women in Death Note are always willing to be submissive to a man. Because of her unrequited love for Light, Misa gives up half of her lifespan twice in order to make her love happy. Takada feels like she needs Light’s approval to feel worthy. Even Naomi Misora is subjugated to her fiancée, when he jokingly tells her to use “that brain of [hers] to figure out how [Ray] can make a good impression on [Naomi’s] folks.”

It’s bizarre, in my opinion, how a manga series with so many complex male characters includes such simple characterizations for the female characters. Again, I don’t know whether it’s a cultural thing or not, but it was just something that kind of bothered me.

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Created by Carla Astudillo