Capture Kira and his accomplices. Find out how Kira kills his victims. Stop the serial murder of criminals and others involved in the case. L Lawliet, also referred to as Ryūzaki, is the main antagonist of the anime and manga series Death Note, serving as the main antagonist of the first half of the series and the posthumous overarching antagonist of the second half. He is also the titular protagonist of the film L: Change the WorLd. Considered to be the world's greatest detective, he is an enigmatic man who spends the series trying to catch the mass murderer Kira, who is none other than the villainous protagonist Light Yagami. He was voiced by Kappei Yamaguchi in Japanese, and Alessandro Juliani (who also voiced Prince Julian, Prince Antonio, and Prince Carlos in the Barbie series) in English. L is a very slim, tall young man with black hair and dark eyes. One of his most noticeable features is the shadow below each of his eyes, a result of sleep deprivation. L is always shown to be wearing blue jean pants and a long-sleeved, white shirt. He almost never wears shoes or socks, preferring to go barefoot even while in public.
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L's most prominent character trait is his secretiveness. He rarely goes out into the outside world when not investigating a case, never shows his face to the world, and communicates almost exclusively via his assistant and only friend, Watari. When meeting face-to-face with others, he never gives out his real name, instead using a variety of aliases, such as "Ryuzaki" (when interacting with the Japanese task force), "Hideki Ryuga" (when meeting Light at his school), "Eraldo Coil" and "Deneuve" (under which he has developed reputations as the world's second and third-greatest detectives). Additionally, due to having minimal interaction with other people, L has very poor social skills, and is prone to performing actions or having habits considered rude and inappropriate, including eating with his mouth open, talking with his mouth full, placing feet on furniture, biting fingernails, etc. L 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. Despite his disheveled appearance and odd habits, L is highly intelligent, and has a keen mind rivaling that of protagonist Light Yagami. Although he doesn't have any good social skills, L has an analytical understanding and knowledge of human nature, which he uses to his enemies' disadvantage, such as when he tricks Light into killing an impostor of himself on live TV and pinpointing his whereabouts to the Kanto region of Japan (since the broadcast was only airing there at the time), betting on the slim chance that Kira would kill someone who made a stand against him.
He also creates false information and leads to try to bait Kira into revealing himself, which nearly succeeds. When presented with any information, L tends to meticulously second-guess anything he's given, and analyzes it for any inconsistencies or clues. Although he's ostensibly the "hero" of the story, in that he's trying to catch a murderer, L is not above using questionable or brutal methods to get answers, making him an anti-hero. While he never kills anyone himself, he's not above keeping Light and his accomplice (and lover) Misa Amane in solitary confinement for more than 50 days to test whether they're Kira or not. Earlier in the story, he took a criminal on death row and made him act as a decoy to draw Kira out. Later, when confronting other Kira (Kyosuke Higuchi), L made it clear that we were willing to torture him to get the info he wants. Despite this, L sincerely wants justice to be served, and considers Kira, in killing criminals (as well as other innocent people later, such as FBI agent Raye Penber and his girlfriend Naomi Misora) to be equally wrong and just as evil as them, and that he should be punished for his crimes.
The "L" that L uses to represent himself. 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. 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 deciiving 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 poses 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 isn't above making sarcastic remarks to people.
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Although he tends to be polite, to some (such as Task Force member Shuichi Aizawa), L can seem quite rude and uncaring 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, 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 90% 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 wild.". 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 sitting like this improves his detective skills. 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, calling out personal observations that may offend others, etc. 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. He also says that if he sits normally, his reasoning ability would drop 40%. 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. When asked about L's ethnicity, creator of the series Tsugumi Ohba responded "I think of him as a Japanese quarter, 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". L begins the Kira case by having undocumented death row inmate Lind L. Tailor introduces himself on television as "L" and say that Kira is "evil".
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This provokes Kira into killing the man on the spot, which in turn proves to L that the Kira killings are not a coincidental succession of heart attacks amongst criminals but the designs of an ingenious serial killer who will murder any and all who try to stop him and also tells him of Kira's location, since it is only broadcast in the Kanto region. Not long after this, because of the time of day during which the criminals died coincided with out-of-school hours, he deduces that Kira may well be a student. He tells those assisting him with the Kira case early on in the investigation that he suspects that Light Yagami is Kira, but can not obtain any concrete evidence. In several situations, Light seems to be proven innocent by the circumstances, but L remains skeptical. If Light were Kira, the case would be solved, and L has trouble letting go of this simple and complete solution. L can easily present his conclusions publicly at any time, and due to his reputation as the best mind in the crime-fighting business, his thoughts and words are always taken very seriously. After his initial suspicions of Light, and in order to take his investigation to its next stage, L decides to join To-Oh University - the very same that Light himself attends - using the well-known name of a popular singer, Hideki Ryuuga. 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 somehow, and perhaps provoking or tricking him to admit that he is indeed Kira.
He intends to tell Light that he can "go on the offensive". 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 Ryuuga, Light becomes alert and somewhat alarmed, but does not attempt to kill him - the name is conspicuously fake; however, Light has no way of knowing whether the person 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 Ryuuga, he might die, true, 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 Ryuuga" 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 Ryuuga, which would also lead L to the obvious conclusion that Light is Kira.
As such, L's expectations about the outcome of his online 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. Light has no other choice but bide his time. When L is finally able to corner him, Light puts his master plan in practice. He temporarily gives up his Death Note to his Shinigami, Ryuk, erasing his memories about his time as Kira from his mind. Rem, Misa Amane's Shinigami, under instruction by Light to give it to someone who would use it selfishly, gives it to Kyosuke Higuchi of the Yotsuba Corporation. Now unaware of the fact that he was the original Kira, Light accepts L's offer to join the Task Force to hunt down Higuchi, known as the third Kira, although he is handcuffed to L throughout the entire case. Light proves very useful in helping to track down Higuchi, realizing the new Kira is connected to Yotsuba. When Higuchi is finally captured, Light touches his Death Note, thereby regaining his memory of when he was the original Kira. He then proceeds to killing Higuchi by using the Death Note paper he put in his watch before he lost his memories. After killing Higuchi, Light then tricks Rem into killing L for his own personal gain, making her believe that she must kill him for the sake of Misa's life.