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“Kira is childish, and he hates losing. You guessed it, I'm also childish and hate losing. ”
L (エル, Eru) is a world-renowned detective who takes on the challenge of catching the mass murderer known as Kira. In his investigation, L becomes suspicious of Light Yagami and makes it his goal to prove that Light is Kira.
L is a very slim, tall young man with messy black hair and dark eyes. One of his most noticeable features is the shadow below each of his eyes, a result of him being an insomniac. L is always shown to be wearing a pair of blue jeans and a long-sleeved white shirt. He almost never wears shoes or socks, preferring to go barefoot, even while in public. This was shown when he visited Light Yagami's school and was seen barefoot while sitting on a bench, not bothering to wear his shoes until he got up to walk.
L is quite secretive, and only communicates with the world through his assistant, Watari. He never shows his face to the world in person, instead representing himself with a capital letter L drawn in "Old English MT" or "Cloister Black" typeface. It is more likely to be "Cloister Black" as Watari's "W" is different in "Old English MT."
After meeting the Japanese Task Force, he requests that the task force refer to him as "Ryuzaki" as an additional safety measure. The Task Force never learns his true name, and it is revealed in neither the manga nor anime.
L is very intelligent, though his disheveled and languid appearance masks his great powers of deduction and many question his abilities upon viewing him. L tends to second-guess everything he is presented with, and is extremely meticulous and analytical. He is good at deceiving his opponents, and is willing to take drastic measures to solve a case. Some of his tactics are quite bold, such as having death row inmate Lind L. Tailor pose as himself on live TV in order to draw out Kira, while others seem bizarre to those involved, such as handcuffing himself to suspected-Kira, Light Yagami. He is also shown to have a dry sense of humor, and he isn't above making sarcastic remarks to people. Although he tends to be polite, to some (such as Task Force member Shuichi Aizawa), L can seem condescending at times.
Using subterfuge, misinformation, disinformation, and an analytical knowledge of human nature to help lure a suspected murderer into a false sense of security and possibly make him carelessly over-confident, L sometimes gets what he wants through abnormal or possibly criminal channels. Whenever L gives percentages to indicate how much he suspects a person of committing a crime, such as "five percent," he may in fact be over ninety percent convinced of their culpability. Although L tells Light that he is among the least likely suspects with one of the lowest percentages of probability, in reality L is "pretty certain" that Light is Kira. As series writer Tsugumi Ohba said laughing, making light of L's tactics: "The truth is, he's a liar."
He also has several quirks, such as preferring to crouch rather than sit, eating only sweet foods (like desserts, candies and fruits) and holding items by using only a thumb and a finger. He also has an unusual way of sitting, with both of his feet on the chair. He claims that if he sits normally, his reasoning ability would drop 40%. Interestingly, in the manga, he is seen sitting on the floor in a pose similar to how one would meditate, while thinking deeply about the Kira case. He is often seen arranging objects and very intently stacking, or in other ways playing with, his staple food items. L is almost always encountered while performing actions that are considered inappropriate or rude in public. These actions/habits include biting fingernails, placing feet on furniture, slouching, chewing with an open mouth, talking with his mouth full, and calling out personal observations that may offend others.
With his status as the world's greatest detective, he, like Light, has a very sensitive pride, being afraid to be wrong in his deductions and theories, evident through his drastic measures (torturing Misa and confining Light during an unnecessarily lengthy amount of time), and lethargic behavior during the beginning of the Yotsuba arc.
Although he is often seen sitting and inactive, L retains a high athletic ability. L stayed in England for five years, and during that time he was the tennis champion in the England Junior Cup. He also has a knack for martial arts, which is demonstrated in his brief fight with Light. In chapter 38 of the manga, L suggests that even though he eats only sweet foods, he remains underweight because the brain uses the most calories of any organ in the body.
When asked about L's ethnicity, creator of the series Tsugumi Ohba responded, "I think of him as a quarter Japanese, a quarter English, a quarter Russian, a quarter French or Italian, like that." Ohba said that L is the most intelligent character in the entire Death Note series because "the plot requires it." He added that he personally views L as "slightly evil."
At the age of eight, L was found by Watari and taken to the orphanage known as Wammy's House, a home for gifted children. Sometime after, Watari realized that L had incredible intelligence and later assisted him in his cases. L became a detective at a young, unknown age and eventually gained a reputation as the greatest detective in the world whose opinion is highly valued.
L notices the rapid rate of criminals dying of heart attacks, and suspects a person is behind this and that he is in Japan, so he seeks cooperation from the NPA. He begins the Kira case by having undocumented death row inmate Lind L. Tailor introduce himself on television as "L" and say that Kira is "evil." This provokes Kira into killing Tailor on the spot, which in turn confirms that the Kira killings are not a coincidental succession of heart attacks amongst criminals but the designs of an ingenious murderer who will kill any and all who try to stop him. It also reveals Kira's location, since the broadcast was televised only in the Kanto region. Not long after this, because of the time of day during which the criminals die coincide with out-of-school hours, he deduces that Kira may well be a student. Not long after this incident, criminals begin dying during one-hour intervals, intentionally contradicting L's theory, showing to L that Kira has access to police information. Because of this, he requests that 12 FBI agents investigate those close to each of the members of the police.
Shortly after the FBI's investigation begins, Kira begins testing his abilities using criminals and leaves behind meaningless clues, successfully distracting L from the agents. Not too long after this, all 12 FBI agents die at Kira's hand. This causes a large portion of the NPA to quit the investigation, only leaving a few members, Soichiro Yagami, Touta Matsuda, Hirokazu Ukita, Shuichi Aizawa, and Kanzo Mogi. L books a hotel room where all six of them can regularly do their investigation, and he gives them counterfeit police badges as well as belt buckles which allow them to contact L in case of an emergency.
L finds footage of the death of one of the agents, and the footage shows that Raye Penber, who was investigating the families of Soichiro Yagami and Koreyoshi Kitamura, was reaching for something behind him when he died just outside the train. Furthermore, the body of Naomi Misora, who previously worked with L on the Los Angeles BB Serial Murder Cases and was Raye's fiancé, went missing. L assumes this was the work of Kira because Naomi didn't seem like the type to commit suicide at the loss of her fiancé. Because of these two factors, Kira must be among those whom Raye was investigating.
L installs surveillance cameras and wiretaps in the Yagami household as well as Kitamura's house. However, L places 64 in the room of Light Yagami, Soichiro's son, who L observes the closest. After seeing Light's alibi (which was that he writes name in a blind spot whilst studying), L senses something is very off about Light, deeming him "too perfect."
In order to take his investigation to its next stage, L decides to enroll at To-Oh University (東応大学, Tōō Daigaku)—the same college that Light attends—using the well-known name of a popular singer and actor, Hideki Ryuga. L attends To-Oh because he feels confident in his reasoning and interrogational skills and wishes to test his theory concerning Light's hidden identity by confronting him and perhaps provoking or tricking him to admit that he is indeed Kira. L is well aware that this is something of a gamble, and knows full well that his act of direct confrontation could prove fatal, but as he's convinced he understands Light's thought process, he feels confident that the adversary will not yet risk revealing his secret identity by killing him.
When L introduces himself as Ryuga, Light becomes alert and somewhat alarmed but recognizes that it would be pointless to attempt to kill him—the name is conspicuously fake. Light has no way of knowing whether Ryuga is the real L or a proxy acting under orders. He also reasons that L would have already introduced himself to Light's father earlier, and thus, were he to somehow kill L, this murder would instantly unmask him, proving that he is indeed Kira. If this person proved to be L's proxy, and his name really was Ryuga, he might die, but L would live and know his identity, without ever having had to reveal himself to Light, so that L will have gained all the advantage. Also, while writing the name "Hideki Ryuga" into the Death Note, the face of the pop singer bearing that name might enter Light's thoughts involuntarily, and that would cause the death of pop singer Ryuga, which would also lead L to the obvious conclusion that Light is Kira. As such, L's expectations about the outcome of his daring opening gambit prove true, and Light finds himself in a stalemate situation, unable to act for the time being, as any attempt to rid himself of his hunters would result in confirmed suspicions, his subsequent and unavoidable unmasking, and, ultimately, his undoing.
L plans on getting closer to Light by asking him to join the investigation; this way, if Light is Kira, he would be more prone to slipping up, while Light not being Kira would still benefit the investigation. L begins by playing a tennis game with Light, in order to have grounds to get closer to Light and begin asking him about the investigation; during the game, L concludes that Light will attempt to meet with the Task Force members in order to confirm L's identity. After losing the tennis match, in order to prevent Light from meeting with the Task Force members, L announces his suspicions, claiming his suspicions are only one percent high. L begins testing Light at the cafe, first by asking him about why L revealed himself, then about the file that the FBI agents received, and finally about three notes Kira left behind using criminals. Light passes all the tests and doesn't slip up, and so L doesn't bother trying to test him anymore.
L then asks Light to join the investigation, but Light takes advantage of this by claiming that he'll refuse to join the investigation unless the Task Force members confirm L's identity. Considering L wants Light to join the investigation and he has another countermeasure to keep him safe anyway, L allows Light to have the Task Force members confirm his identity. Suddenly, L and Light receive news of Soichiro having collapsed of a heart attack due to stress, and at the hospital, L has Soichiro confirm his identity, while also asking for Light's thoughts on Kira's identity.
After a while, Kira sends tapes to Sakura TV, which airs on TV. After Kira begins to kill innocents to prove the fact that they're Kira, the Task Force tries their best to stop the broadcast. After all the calls fail, Ukita attempts to barge in the station, only for him to somehow be killed. This shocks them and angers Aizawa as Kira shouldn't have been able to discover Ukita's name. Luckily, a recovered Soichiro barges in the station using a truck, confirming his safety, and retrieves the tapes from Demegawa, and hands them over to L and the Task Force. Judging from the fact that Kira can now kill with just a face and that Kira is uncharacteristically killing innocents, L speculates that this is indeed a second Kira who seeks the collaboration and attention of the first. Because Light's deductive abilities would be useful, L asks Light to join the Task Force. Because Light knows of L's identity, L has Watari pose as another L through a computer screen in order to prevent Light from killing L and the Task Force, as an outsider would notice their deaths should they occur.
Together, they both manage to have the second Kira, who wishes to have L seen on TV, respond to them. In one of the responses, the second Kira mentions "Shinigami," and since their existence isn't implausible to L considering previous events, L is shocked and unsettled by the idea of him potentially needing to change his worldview. After the second Kira sends a diary, Light goes to Aoyama on May 22nd under the guise of investigating, only for him to find nothing. On May 23rd, the second Kira releases a tape announcing that she has found Kira, which has L suspect Light further considering this is probably referring to when Light went to Aoyama the previous day, so L has Mogi secretly tail Light.
Judging from the fact that the second Kira now does not seek Kira's attention, L thinks that the second Kira and Kira have joined forces. After this, Light suddenly gains a gaggle of girlfriends, all of whom L investigates. L manages to discover that Misa Amane was ahold of these tapes thanks to the hairs and fibers on them. Thus, Misa Amane is the Second Kira. Her manager is then charged for drugs, and L meets Light again at the university. There, he meets Misa before she is detained. Because of this, Light is in deep trouble and he asks to be detained, and so L does so. During Light's confinement, no criminals are killed, which confirms to L that Light is Kira. During Light's seventh day of confinement, Light begins acting uncharacteristically as he lost his memories of being Kira. After fifteen days, criminals begin dropping dead again, and once 50 days have passed, the Task Force pressures L into releasing Light and Misa. However, before letting them free, L has Soichiro act as if he would shoot Light, as he believes that Misa would kill Soichiro in this situation. However, since she doesn't, L agrees to let them free.
Still convinced Light and Misa are Kira and the second Kira, respectively, L handcuffs his hands to Light's. L asks Light to manipulate Misa into spilling information regarding the case, but Light refuses as it is against his moral code. While Light, L, and Misa are in Misa's room, L sulks over the fact that he has come to the conclusion that Light and Misa have lost their memories of having been Kira and passed on their powers to someone else, which would make solving the case very difficult. Frustrated with L's unwillingness to continue due to all that L has put Light through because of the case, Light punches L, and in response, L kicks Light before Matsuda intervenes and stops the fight.
After a few months of not working on the case, L is shown Light's research; Light deduces Kira is now within the Yotsuba company and that Kira can kill through means other than heart attacks. Shortly after, because of the fact that Kira has bribed and blackmailed the NPA to not oppose Kira, Aizawa quits the Task Force in order to support his family after being fed up with L, who lied to Aizawa about him having to make a choice, as L had already ensured that anyone who would quit the NPA to work with the Task Force would be financially secure.
L hires Aiber and Wedy to help them with the investigation now that the Task Force is not a part of the police. Together, they all manage to concoct a plan, but Matsuda messes up by taking initiative and entering Yotsuba headquarters. In order to fix his mistakes, L tells Matsuda to fake his death. L takes advantage of his second alias, Eraldo Coil, who Yotsuba hired in order to find L, to find out more information about the company, with Aiber communicating with them as Eraldo.
When Misa finds evidence as to who the Third Kira is, L is a little underwhelmed, but comes up with a plan to stop Higuchi regardless. L uses Matsuda as bait during a Sakura TV talk show to lure Higuchi onto the scene, only for the Task Force members to ambush him. Higuchi makes an escape, but with the help of Ide and his return, the Task Force catches up to him. L finally discovers the Death Note, how Kira kills, and discover the Shinigami, Rem. Light and Misa regain their memories as Kira, and L discovers a rule, one where if someone doesn't write within the notebook within 13 consecutive days, they die. Despite this being a perfect alibi for Light, L still suspects him. Due to pressure from the Task Force now believing Light and Misa are in the clear, L releases Misa and removes the handcuffs from his and Light's hands.
L stands out in the rain, hearing the "bells," and massages Light's feet after doing so. (This has happened only in the anime and is absent from the manga. Many fans interpret this as L having knowledge of his premature death.)
A few killings after Misa's release, the killings from Kira start up again, resulting in L quarreling with the Task Force as he plans on using the notebook to test the legitimacy of the 13-day rule. However, just then, Watari has died, as he noticed all the data concerning the Kira case has been deleted. Once L figures out Rem must have killed Watari, Rem writes L's name in the notebook, killing him. As L has a heart attack, Light catches L and holds him by the arms, allowing L to see Light's smug smirk to show that he was indeed Kira the whole time.
Because of Wammy's House attempting to raise a successor to L, Near and Mello attempt to catch Kira, with Near doing this in order to avenge L and defend his pride. During some of his interactions with Near and Mello, Light remembers L. Ultimately, the combined efforts of Near and Mello succeed in defeating Light.
In other media
L retains many of the same characteristics seen in the original series. At the end of the first film, L eats potato chips in front of Light; Light understood this to mean that L was still suspicious of him, as Light had used a potato chip bag to hide a mini LCD television from security cameras while L filmed his room.
As there is no time delay between the first and second films, the second film begins soon before L supposedly dies. Unlike the manga and anime, in the second film, his original "death," caused by Rem writing his name in her Death Note, does not take effect, as L had written his own name in Misa's Death Note earlier. It is his self-sacrifice that allows him to stay alive for a longer duration (as he supposed that Kira would kill him on that day), and allows the investigation team to apprehend Light. After Ryuk kills Light, Ryuk offers L the Death Note. L refuses, and Ryuk, while saying that L is boring, leaves.
Twenty-three days after writing his name in the Death Note, and after burning all the remaining Death Notes and having a conversation with Soichiro Yagami, L dies peacefully while eating a chocolate bar, with a picture of Watari lying right beside him.
L: Change the WorLd chronicles the 23 days that L has left before he dies. L decides to solve one last case. He is in charge of stopping a deadly virus from spreading across the world. Ryuk comes to his aid on behalf of Kira's last wishes. Hideo Nakata, the director, told The Daily Yomiuri that he wanted to exhibit L's "human side," a quality which was not made all too apparent in the Death Note series.
Conception of L in the films
Shūsuke Kaneko, director of the films, said that L's role was the most difficult to cast; as the starting date of the shooting schedule drew near, many of the "big name" actors had other projects. Kaneko decided to offer the role to Ken'ichi Matsuyama, "very much a newcomer." When Matsuyama spoke to him of his intention to "live as L," the young actor had "clinched it," declares Kaneko.
Matsuyama admits having experienced some difficulty in trying to portray L, and he worried about his performance. In the end, he decided to interpret L as an individual who does not "quite understand other people on an emotional level"—the actor reasoned that L rarely interacted with others, and as a consequence, his social skills and emotional expressiveness may not be those of a socially active person. Matsuyama, describing himself as "not very flexible physically," encountered difficulty in emulating L's postures. The actor also ate sweets that L would eat, and carefully considered the details of L's signature gestures.
Matsuyama said that he and Fujiwara became "so immersed" in their character portrayals, that they did not talk to one another while on the set; only when filming ceased did they converse, and they "went out for a drink or two."
Matsuyama described L and Light as having "such unique characters that they’re impossible to understand" and that "the inside of L’s head remains a mystery" to him. Matsuyama said that L and Light are "extremely" alike in that they have "very strong sense of justice."
In the novel Death Note: Another Note, the reader is led to believe L—under the alias, Rue Ryuzaki—is helping Naomi Misora solve a murder case. She was recruited for the case by L because she was on leave from the FBI. This Rue acts very much like L and shared many characteristics like crouching to sit and consuming sweets. At the end of the novel, the reader discovers that Beyond Birthday detective name B, who was another candidate to replace L along with Near and Mello, was not only the killer but also Rue Ryuzaki in disguise under heavy make-up. He was trying to make a case L could not solve to prove his superiority to L. In the book the only certified reference to L was the phone conversations Naomi had with him to discuss the case. At the very end of the book, as Naomi was going back to work, she sees a man similar to Rue, who the reader is led to believe is L (and probably is, considering that Mello earlier stated that this case was the first time that L had shown himself in public under the alias 'Ryuzaki'). This man attempts to give Naomi a hug, which she counters in self-defense and sends him tumbling down a flight of stairs. She then catches up to him and asks him his name, to which he replies, "Ryuzaki."
It is revealed that, prior to the series, L once told Mello three stories regarding his previous solved cases—the Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, detective wars against the real Eraldo Coil and Deneuve, and the story of how L met Watari.
Although following closely the storyline of its film counterpart—with the exception of a few creative changes—the novelization reveals various attributes of L. It is revealed in the novel that the initial "L" has two meanings: L stands for "Last One," meaning no one could surpass or match him, but also for "Lost One," meaning a gifted entity who has dropped down, or was cast out from heaven.
The novel also states that L helped in the prevention of World War III when he was only eight years old.
In the novel, L takes a few capoeira lessons from Suruga. This is most likely a homage to the on-going fan speculation of L's capoeira like fighting style in the Death Note manga and anime.
Also, in the novel, L for the first time completely loses his composure and calm attitude: when Maki is kidnapped by Blue Ship, L breaks down and screams toward the sky after realizing that this was what Light meant about feeling helpless to protect the people he cares about. L also states at one point that "his heart hurts." His feelings about Light are also revealed, and it is described that L did consider Light to be his friend, going as far as holding on to Light's broken watch as a memento and saying, "Light, I'll see you on the other side. Let us explore the world of nothingness together."
According to the timeline that is presented on each page of the novel, it appears L was to have only 272 days left to live prior to writing his name onto the page of the Death Note. Based on this bit of information it's obvious that L's remaining natural lifespan at the end of the second film would only have amounted to less than a year.
According to page 151 of the novel, it is revealed that the reason why L has acquired so many eccentric quirks is because of the heavy strain of upholding the name of L. From the novel:
- How L did not and could not forget the faces of thousands of victims. "Who could comprehend the man who had lived his life, and had to live confronting all the lives ended prematurely, the tears of the grief stricken survivors, the devaluing of life as a daily reality. How was it possible to measure the pain of such a man? Was it a strain so heavy that L's back curved under all its weight? Was it an agony so terrible as to leave the indelible dark circles around his eyes? Was it a feeling so bitter that every bite he took needed to be coated in sugar? The chronically rounded shoulders, the inevitable dark circles, the eccentric tastes—L suppressed the pain of being a champion of justice, but the evidence of the pain was molded into his very body."
L's detective skills are also explored. In the novel L manages to disguise himself from Kujo and the Blue Ship members by wearing lipstick and putting on a women's wig. He even goes as far as playing the part, and calling Suruga "Honey" while in disguise, much to his annoyance.
Death Note 13: How to Read describes L in the Death Note yonkoma as the "holder of the world's greatest mind" and having the "powerful ability to act like a fool." Death Note 13: How to Read adds that in the yonkoma, "it's like [L was] born to be mocked."
L's role in Death Note: The Musical is essentially the same, but there are some notable changes to the plot. L does not create the Task Force; the Task Force is formed prior to his involvement, and Soichiro Yagami calls L in to assist on the case.
The ending is also very different. Light convinces Rem to not just write L's name in the notebook but to also write the manner of L's death. As written, L goes to meet Light at a warehouse in Daikoku Wharf and he takes a gun. Light reveals himself as Kira and allows L to touch the Death Note and see Ryuk. L shoots Light in the leg, but Light reveals that this is all according to what's already been written, because Light intends to make it look like L himself was Kira and Light exposed him. Light guides the gun in L's hand to L's temple, and L pulls the trigger and dies.
L is portrayed by various actors for the different musical productions. Teppei Koike (小池徹平, Koike Teppei) portrayed him in the 2015 Japanese production, and he will reprise the role in 2017. Kim Junsu (김준수) portrayed him in both the 2015 and 2017 Korean productions. Jarrod Spector voiced the character for the New York studio demo recordings.
L performs the following songs in the Musical:
- "The Game Begins"
- "Secrets and Lies"
- "Where is the Justice Reprise"
- "Stalemate aka A Game of Death"
- "The Way Things Are aka The Unwavering Truth"
- "Playing His Game aka Into Him"
- "The Way Things Are Reprise"
- "Last Moments"
L receives major changes in the drama adaptation. Unlike his manga and anime counterpart, this live-action L sits properly, albeit with his feet on tables and his legs crossed, regularly wears shoes, and eschews sweets and candy in favour of energy drinks. He is also portrayed as far more bold, evident in episode 2 when he accuses Light and several other suspects as being Kira over the phone without even using a voice scrambler. He shows more emotions than L does in the manga, screaming during his fight with Light and laughing when he knows he has Light cornered.
L has a much closer relationship to Near in the drama, and the two of them regularly keep in touch over the phone. L is very wary of Near’s “Mello” personality and does not hesitate to scold Mello when he comes out. It is for this reason that L attempts to keep Near sheltered, though he ultimately fails when Near escapes the Wammy House. The two spend time together in person, and L values Near's contribution to the Higuchi case and respects his establishment as a world-renowned detective.
Similar to the television drama, L's character and background have significant changes. Prior to the events of the film, L was raised in an orphanage in New York where he and several other children were trained by Watari to become the greatest detectives in the world. The orphanage was eventually abandoned soon after L's departure. L also rarely took time to sleep and ate nothing but sweets and required Watari's aid to maintain his health.
Towards the film's third act, L displays an aggressive behavior that causes him to shout and even break things when he is angered. When Watari is killed, L's rage consumes him and he takes a gun in an attempt to hunt down Light Turner to avenge his mentor, but is knocked unconscious by a Kira worshipper before he can shoot Light.
After being taken into custody by the police, L is able to avoid prison due to his contacts in the government, but he is deported and is to be sent back to Japan. Before his plane takes off, L remembers Mia's involvement with Light and he breaks into Mia's house. He searches through her belongings and finds a page of the Death Note with the names of the FBI agents on it. Out of anger, L grabs a pen and considers writing Light's name down.
The following information is from Death Note 13: How to Read.
Tsugumi Ohba: Writer
Takeshi Obata: Artist
Ohba created L as a "force of justice" and a "super detective" who stands between Light and Light's goals and advances the story. Ohba believed that the story would not hold much interest if L was significantly older than Light, so Ohba created L as a young adult. Ohba said that for L's name he wanted to use a single letter with a lot of significance; according to Ohba, he considered "I" and "J" but decided that they did not "feel as good" as "L" and settled on it "after careful consideration." Ohba mentions having given L the alias "Ryuzaki" because L is pronounced like R in Japanese.
Ohba said that his favorite human character in the series was L as he believed that L was the "strongest" character in the series "besides Light." Obata also chose L as his favorite due to "appearance, personality, everything." He stated that he could never have created L and that he enjoyed drawing him. Obata added that because of this, L is not "real" to him, and he likes that aspect of L. In response to the question "Who was the most fun to draw?" both Ohba and Obata answered "L."
Ohba claims he left "everything" about L's character design to Obata, who asked Ohba if L could be "unattractive." Afterwards, Ohba would include his ideas about the character into his thumbnails, including L's posture when seated, and notes such as: "he's English," and "he's listless." He also added details regarding L's mannerisms, and his "sweet tooth." Apart from all that, Ohba credits Obata for the character designs.
Obata described the thumbnail pictures of L created by Ohba as having a "plain face with no expression," and no "bags" under his eyes. According to Obata, the thumbnail design was "great, and I wish I could have used it as is." Obata drew L as an "attractive young man" until Chapter 11, when the character appeared in person. After Chapter 11 Obata decided to contrast L's appearance with that of Light's; Obata claims that both he and Ohba held this idea.
Obata speaks of his concern, during the development of the early manga chapters, that L would appear to be "so suspicious that Light would know instantly it was L if they ever met." When Obata's editor told him that he wanted L to have a face "looking cool based on the angle," Obata added black "bags" under L's eyes, and he cited Devilman's Akira Fudou when expressing his belief that black bags "looked cool." In addition, Obata thought of a "dead eyes" concept, which involved L having "all-black eyes" and "mostly no eyebrows." Although he believes that giving it such black eyes tends to make an animated character appear "goofier," he also thinks that the bags "sharpen the character's gaze." Obata suggests that the design evokes "a feeling of mystery" surrounding the character, and as a result, the reader cannot determine L's true thoughts. He adds that the bags under L's eyes also attract speculation about L's lifestyle and past, and describes the bags as "useful." Obata designed L with a "simple" outfit of a white, long-sleeved shirt and jeans in order to convey the idea that L does not put much thought into choosing his attire. In Death Note 13: How to Read, Ohba presented an initial rough draft of L, and said that, with a "cool expression" and without the "bags" under his eyes the rough draft showed "a totally different person."
While designing color book covers, Obata assigned colors to characters to "get the atmosphere right." The color he assigned to L was gold.
Obata has stated his belief that traits exhibited by L are best revealed "gradually." He is convinced that if he drew L eating "mountains of sweets" prior to revealing L's face, the character would not have "much credibility as a super detective," and people would question whether L was "crazy."
Obata mentions being told often that L's fighting style is much like capoeira; the artist claims that he did not consider this when he drew L's fights—he was simply thinking of the most effective method of kicking an adversary while being handcuffed to him. In Obata's opinion, if the style resembles capoeira, then this "adds another element to it" and "that makes me happy."
- L's name, L Lawliet, was first revealed in Death Note 13: How to Read on a promotional card featured at the beginning of the book.
- In the anime, certain characters take on stylized hair colors while the viewer hears their thoughts; L's color is blue.
- L's lifespan in the television drama is 51161121.
- L can tie two cherry stems in a knot with his mouth, as seen in episode 18.
- In the Death Note DVD Behind the Scenes, L's voice actor, Alessandro Juliani, describes L as an "enigma, and someone, that if you sat next to on the subway with you would probably move to the other side."
- In the Italian version, rather than using the letter "L" to spell his name, the phonetic spelling ("Elle") is used.
- In Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid episode 6, a character resembling L was briefly seen riding a bike.
- L was one of the Death Note characters made into Nendoroid figures. The L Nendoroid comes with a chair, an extra arm holding a cell phone, another body of L but in his crouching posture, and three other faces, an angry face, a shocked face, and a face looking to the right.
- American R&B singer Christina Grimmie cosplayed as L for her 2015 music video of "Shrug." Two versions of the music video were made with the L cosplay being used in the "Dude Version."
- “Kira is childish and he hates losing… I'm also childish and hate losing.” (Chapter 11)
- “Well, to put it simply… I had prepared a little trick to test whether you were Kira… But I didn't even feel the need to use it on any of you.” (Chapter 13)
- “He who moves first always wins.” (Chapter 20)
- “I just can't sit any other way than this. If I sit the way other people do, my reasoning ability drops by 40%.” (Chapter 21)
- “The only thing I see is the abnormal strength of Amane's love for Light Yagami.” (Chapter 36)
- “Light-kun, please shut Misa-san up.” (Chapter 37)
- "Not satisfied unless you're Kira…? Yes, that may be true… I have just realized something… I wanted you to be Kira…" (Chapter 38)
- “Misa-san, take this seriously or I'll kick you.” (Chapter 46)
- “It's not a sense of justice. Figuring out difficult cases is my hobby. If you measured good and evil deeds by current laws, I would be responsible for many crimes. The same way you all like to solve mysteries and riddles, or clear video games more quickly. For me too, it's simply prolonging something I enjoy doing. That's why I only take on cases that pique my interest. It's not justice at all. And if it means being able to clear a case, I don't play fair, I'm a dishonest, cheating human being who hates losing.” (Death Note One-Shot Special)
- “There are…many types of monsters in this world: Monsters who will not show themselves and who cause trouble; monsters who abduct children; monsters who devour dreams; monsters who suck blood, and… monsters who always tell lies. Lying monsters are a real nuisance. They are much more cunning than other monsters. They pose as humans even though they have no understanding of the human heart. They eat even though they've never experienced hunger. They study even though they have no interest in academics. They seek friendship even though they do not know how to love. If I were to encounter such a monster, I would likely be eaten by it. Because in truth, I am that monster.” (Death Note Relight 2: L's Successors)
- “The killer is B.” (Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, p 104)
- “Light wanted to live like a god. He didn't die like one.” (L: Change the WorLd)
- “Watari, now I want to live in this world a little bit longer.” (L: Change the WorLd)
- “Misa Amane… I hope you enjoy the remaining few years of your life.” (L: Change the WorLd, p 115)
- “Light, I'll see you on the other side. Let us explore the world of nothingness together.” (L: Change the WorLd, p 188)
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 From Death Note 13: How to Read.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 From Death Note/A Animation Official Analysis Guide.
- ↑ In the 2015 television drama, L dies a few days after August 24, 2015. That date is marked in episode 8, about 20 minutes and 55 seconds into the episode; L dies around two days later.
- ↑ Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases
- ↑ Death Note Manga: Special Chapter, Wammy's House
- ↑ Death Note Novel: Another Note