Light vs. L

For the majority of Death Note, the story concentrates on the cat-and-mouse game played between these two characters who seemingly stand opposite of each other. Light is Kira, the vigilante who is using the Death Note to bring justice to an evil world. On the other side, there is L, the world’s greatest detective who is determined in catching the world’s biggest mass murderer. There are some interesting differences and similarities between these two characters.


The physical and personality differences between are emphasized by the students at the To-Oh entrance ceremony where Light is dressed sharply like the typical brilliant rich kid prep while L is dressed in his regular disheveled clothes and dirty sneakers. Light is very popular and has many friends. On the other hand, L is not a very sociable person and rarely lets anyone get too close to him. Light’s outward appearance is that of a normal high school student. L’s outward appearance seems to suggest bizarre, crazy genius, especially if you consider his unkempt hair.

From the get-go, L believes that the murders that Kira is committing are wrong and calls it a “monstrous crime of mass murder that must be stopped at all costs.” Even though winning the case is a matter of pride to L, he truly believes that someone like Light should not have the power of divine retribution. Of course, the difference is that Light has justified the murders he has been committing.

In addition, even though most of the time Light is cool, calm and collected, he does tend to let his emotions and pride get the best of him. During the Lind L. Tailor fiasco, Light lost his temper and quickly killed “Lind L. Tailor” without thinking that it was probably not the real L. His rash actions gave the real L substantial clues about Kira’s location. In contrast, L is often unemotional, which keeps him calm during a crisis.


Both of them are brilliant geniuses who seemingly have no equal. They manifest their logical reasoning skills and gift for strategy every time they try to outsmart each other. Light thinks of a plan, and L quickly counters with a plan of his own. In fact, Volumes Five and Six proved that Light and L could be a formidable team if they worked together. They have found their intellectual equal in each other.

In addition, they both have a childish desire to win. It was one of the first things that L admitted to the investigation team: “Kira is childish, and he hates losing… I’m also childish and hate losing.” No matter how many people tried to convince him otherwise, L never stopped suspecting Light of being Kira. Even though he was ultimately right, he still held on to his suspicions because he did not want to be wrong.

Light also hates losing and is willing to do whatever it takes to reach his goal. He never does stop to think whether what he is doing is right or wrong. Light, from the beginning, has his mind already set. He must win against L.

It’s pretty evident that Light is willing to sacrifice and manipulate people in order to reach his objectives. He murdered countless prisoners, the FBI agents, Naomi Misora and basically anyone else that got in his way. He used Misa, Soichiro and the rest of the investigation team as pawns for his own use.

However, people often overlook at how L was also willing to bend the rules and manipulate people in order to catch Kira. It’s illegal in Japan to set secret cameras and listening devices in private homes, yet L breaks the law without second thought. He was willing to let the Yotsuba Kira kill top business executives in order to obtain proof that they are behind the murders. In addition, he tortured Misa when she was first captured in order to make her divulge any details about Kira.

If you think about it, L has done some pretty evil things, although they don’t compare to Light’s track record.

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Created by Carla Astudillo