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Villain Overview
This world is rotten, and those who are making it rot deserve to die. Even if it means sacrificing my own mind and soul, it’s worth it. Because the world… can’t go on like this. I wonder… what if someone else had picked up this notebook? Is there anyone out there other than me who’d be willing to eliminate the vermin from the world? If I don’t do it, then who will? That’s just it: there’s no one. But I can do it. In fact, I’m the only one who can. I’ll do it. Using the Death Note, I’ll change the world.
~ Light Yagami.
If we catch Kira, he is evil. If he rules the world, he is justice.
~ Light Yagami to the Task Force.
I’m a hardworking honors student who’s considered to be one of Japan’s best and brightest. And I… I will become the god of this new world.
~ Light Yagami expressing his goal.

Light Yagami is the main villain protagonist of the Death Note manga/anime series as well as its multiple adaptations. Light was a Japanese high school senior who found a notebook called a Death Note. Anyone whose name is written in the notebook will die. At first skeptical of its power, Light tested its power on two criminals. After realizing the power of the notebook, Light went mad with power, deciding to use the notebook to rid the world of criminals and create a new world full of law abiding people he accepts. Light would then make himself the god of this new world. The series charts his use of the notebook and his struggles with the Japanese police, the detectives L, Mello, and Near, as well as his associations with other notebook users, such as Misa Amane and Teru Mikami. His online followers dubbed him "Kira" in Japanese or "killer" in English.

At first skeptical of its power, Light tested its power on two individuals. After realizing the power of the notebook, Light went mad with power, deciding to use the notebook to rid the world of criminals and create a new world full of law abiding people he accepts.

Anime/Manga

In the anime, Light was voiced by Brad Swaile in the English version, and Mamoru Miyano in the Japanese version.

Becoming Kira

The notebook had been dropped to the human world by Ryuk, a shinigami (god of death). His motivation was to alleviate the boredom of his life. People began to notice when a disproportionate number of criminals began to die of heart attacks. The urban legend of Kira was born, a savior (or mass murderer, depending on the point of view) who would rid the world of crime and injustice.

The Investigation

The deaths of criminals eventually came to the attention of the National Police Organization. They were contacted by L the world's greatest detective. No one knows his identity or has met him face to face. He had determined that all criminals who had died were broadcast on TV. From this L determined that Kira needed a face and a name to kill. L also determined that Kira's first victim was only broadcast within the Kanto region of Japan, and that the first killing was an experiment. since the killings occurred most often at night and on holidays, L determined that Kira must be a student. Light was not worried about these developments, since his father, Soichiro Yagami, was a police chief and in charge of the NPA's Kira task force. Light could easily hack into his father's computer and copy his files in order to keep abreast of the investigation. When it became clear to L that Kira had connections to the police, he brought in a team of FBI agents to investigate the members of the Kira task force and their families. Agent Ray Penbar was assigned to tail Light.

Ryuk pointed Penbar out, and Light used an ingenious scheme involving the notebook and a bus jacking to get rid of all the FBI agents in Japan. This led to Penbar's fiance, Naomi Misora, to offer evidence in the Kira case, but Light got to her first, using the notebook to make her commit suicide. The task force found out about the FBI agents, and all but five left, including Chief Yagami, Matsuda, and Aizawa. The task force was angry at L for secretly investigating them, so l decided to show himself to them, meeting at different hotel rooms each week, calling L "Ryuzaki" for security purposes. The information that Penbar's fiance committed suicide shortly after he was killed by Kira led L to investigate those who Penbar was following. As Penbar was only tailing two families, that narrowed down the suspects considerably. L paid the most attention to Light, as he was a student, in one of the suspect families, and had a strong distaste for injustice. L had cameras planted in the Yagami house, but Light sensed that something was wrong when of his devices used to tell if someone had entered his room was out of place. He then had Ryuk, whom no one else could see, search the house for cameras and microphones. Ryuk found 64 cameras in Light's room alone. Light managed to fool the cameras by getting the names of criminals from a miniature LCD TV hidden in a bag of potato chips.

Not deterred, L had the cameras and mics removed. While taking the entrance exam for To-Oh university, Light noticed a strange examinee who crouched at his desk and went by the obviously fake name of Hideki Riyuga. At the entrance ceremony, Riyuga correctly revealed himself to be L, having decided the only way to advance the investigation was to have constant personal contact with Light. He even brought up the suggestion that Light join the task force, as he wanted to become a policeman after he graduated and had in fact assisted the police in previous investigations.

The Second Kira

Things took a turn when Sakura TV received video tapes from someone claiming to be Kira. The voice on the tape was scrambled and the video only showed "Kira" in a unique font. As several entirely innocent people died during the broadcast for no real reason, L determined that his was in fact a second Kira with similar powers to the first. Also, the incident revealed that this new Kira only needed a face to kill. Light was excepted onto the task force, in order for L to watch him more closely. The task force decided to make counter tapes, claiming to be the real Kira, begging the second one to stop killing innocent people. Light was only too glad to go along with this, as he believed this new Kira to be a nuisance. Sure enough, the second Kira sent more tapes in response, agreeing to Kira's terms and asking to meet him. He even mentioned recognizing each others' shinigami. The second Kira also said that they had the "eyes," meaning that she had made the shinigami eye deal, where she could see a person's name and lifespan just by looking at their face. He managed to communicate a meeting in Aoyama. Light and Matsuda went to investigate, but found nothing.

The second Kira had recognized Light because you cannot see the lifespan of a Death Note user. Later that night, The second Kira went to Light's house, where she revealed herself to beMisa Amane, an upcoming model and minor celebrity who had been in love with Kira ever since he punished the criminals who had murdered her parents. She had been given a Death Note by Rem, a female shinigami who had fallen in love with her and only wanted Misa to be happy. Because Misa had been unable to stay away from Light, L combed over the tapes she had sent, and found physical evidence on the tapes such as her fingerprints. He then had her arrested under suspicion of being the second Kira and had her put under somewhat aggressive interrogation by his handler, Watari. Rem threatened to kill Light if he could not rescue her, so Light came up with a plan.

Imprisonment

First, Light got Rem to convince Misa to renounce ownership of her notebook, which erased her memories of ever owning and anything to do with the notebook. Then, Light accepted that one, giving his to Rem with the instructions to give it to an insanely greedy individual. Light then gave the notebook currently in his possession to Ryuk with orders to hide it. Light went to the task force to turn himself in. L put him in a cell under surveillance. After a few days, he renounced ownership with the words "get rid of it." Kira style killings then continued to occur, and L released Light after one last test. But L continued to suspect Light, and had him handcuffed to himself, so Light would always be under L's watch. Unaware of his past, Light assisted the investigation in earnest.

Yotsuba

Rem had given the other notebook to Kyosuke Higuchi, an executive at the Yotsuba corporation and a member of the Yotsuba group, which ran it. He was also a self centered man who viewed other people as tools to be manipulated. Higuchi continued killing criminals, but also killed those that would benefit Yotsuba. The other members of the Yotsuba group noticed this and began holding meetings to decide who should die, but they remained unaware of who was doing it, just that it was one of them. The pattern of the killings came to the attention of L and the Kira task force. L managed to have cameras and bugs placed in the group's conference room. They even had Misa sign on to be Yotsuba's spokesperson, so she could meet the members of the group and make a report on each one.

Higuchi revealed to Rem that he planned on marrying Misa, like it or not, after he eliminated his competition and became rich. Rem acted in Misa's defense, and touched her with a piece of the notebook, after which she informed Misa of her past while warning her about Higuchi. Misa then approached Higuchi and managed to get him to reveal his power, which cunningly recorded. This proved a boon to the task force, but they faced a new hurdle. The Japanese government decided it was best to leave Kira alone, and pressured the NPA to fire those who didn't quit the task force. All agreed to stay on except Aizawa, who had a wife and daughter to support. L and Light then set up a plan to capture Higuchi using other members of the Yotsuba group and a TV broadcast. The plan almost failed, but Aizawa saved the day with a well timed road block. Higuchi then revealed the existence of his notebook, and those who touched it could see Rem. It was Given to L and Light, who regained his memories when he touched it and killed Higuchi with a needle, his own blood, and a piece of the notebook hidden in his watch this whole time.

L then unchained Light, but still continued to suspect him. Light retrieved his other notebook, regained contact with Ryuk, and began his plans to get rid of those who stood in his way.

L's Demise

Light instructed Misa to begin killing criminals again. This was designed to have her fall under L's suspicions once more. In order to save Misa, Rem killed Watari and then L with her notebook. Because she intervened, Rem died and was reduced to ashes due to breaking one of the laws of a Shinigami: Don't save a humans life.Her notebook was left behind, and Light was now in control of three Death Notes. Light took over as the new L, and vowed to continue the investigation, while still secretly working as Kira. However, word of L's death reached Wammy's House, the orphanage where L grew up and was training possible successors.

4 Years Later

After Light graduated from To-Oh university, he joined the NPA, which had since accepted back the task force members, making it easier for Light to act as Kira. Suddenly, a new threat reared its head. Mello, the second choice to succeed L, had joined with the Mafia and managed kidnap NPA deputy director Kitamura, asking for the captured notebook as a ransom. He did this in direct competition with Near, the first choice for successor. Whoever could solve the case L could not would succeed him and become the new L. Knowing he was inferior to Near, he turned to criminal methods to win. Light decided to make Kitamura kill himself, but Mello overcame this setback by kidnapping Light's sister Sayu.

The task force made every preparation possible, but Mello had planned things out too well and got the notebook in exchange for Sayu. Light then had Misa use her eyes to identify which Mafia man was now owner of the notebook, and made him reveal the location of the Mafia base in LA. Light then had Ryuk deliver Rem's notebook to the task force, and his father Soichiro was given use of it, and made the eye deal. In cooperation with the US special forces, Soichiro led a planned attack on Mello's base and retrieved the notebook, but was shot down before he could write down Mello's real name. Mello then blew up his base and escaped. Soichiro died soon after. The notebook was then reclaimed by its original owner, a shinigami named Sidoh.

Battle with Near

However the task force had already contacted Near through the use of computers, who was helping them retrieve the Notebook from Mello. Near however was already susp3ecting that Kira and the Second L were the same individual so he had his voice disguised. This suspension caused some tension in the task force and eventually Aizawa came to near with information revealing Light was in fact the Second L. After a failed attack caused by Kira followers in an attempt to get rid of Near, Light had Misa give Ownership of her death not to a prosecutor and Kira follower Teru Mikami.

Kiyomi Takada

Mikami wisely choose Kiyomi Takada a former girlfriend of Light and popular news anchor to be Kira's spokesperson. Under the premise of investigating her in a bugged room without cameras they secretly communicated through notes. Through this revealed he wanted her to contact Mikami so she could receive pages from Death Note and assist him and tell Mikami to keep a fake Death Note on his person. Mello however unexpectedly kidnapped her and she killed him with a piece. Once hearing this Light had a piece of paper on his person to kill her. Unfortunately Mikami went to the safe deposit box and wrote her name on the real Death Note almost simultaneously allowing Near find out its actual location.

Final Confrontation

Near agreed to meet Light face to face at a warehouse known as the Yellow Box. Light planned for Mikami to show up after both task forces (Light's and Near's) had arrived, stand outside with the door open just a crack, and write down the names of everybody but Light. Mikami did so, and when victory seemed to be within his grasp, Light all but confessed to being Kira. When it became clear the plan had failed, Near revealed his ruse with the fake notebook. Mikami ran in weeping, and calling Light "God."

Death (Manga)

Light is left incapacitated both physically and mentally. Light yells for Mikami to write down the names of everyone present, but Mikami responds by asking how he is supposed to kill them with a fake notebook. This brings Mikami to the realization that Light is not "God". Light becomes increasingly distraught and begins asking for help from Misa, only to be told by Aizawa that she isn't here. He then asks for Takada and is told that she is dead. In complete desperation, Light begs Ryuk to help him by killing everyone in the room, yet Ryuk reminds Light that he is on neither side. Ryuk fulfills his promise from the beginning: he writes "Light Yagami" in his Death Note, and Light futilely asks Ryuk to reverse the process. He begins to panic, repeating in his head "I don't want to die", before the Death Note finally takes effect thus killing him.

Death (Anime)

As he had now lost, Light went completely mad and admitted that he was Kira. Light made a last ditch attempt to kill Near with his blood and the piece in his watch, but Matsuda furiously riddled Light with bullets before being restrained. After Mikami kills himself, Light fled the warehouse and made it a good distance before collapsing. Ryuk, who didn't want to stick around while Light served a prison term, wrote Light's name in his own notebook, killing him.

Light's Reincarnation Theory

There is a popular theory that the unnamed Shinigami featured in the anime OVA, Death Note Relight 1, is the reincarnation of Light Yagami arguments to support the Reincarnation Theory are:

  • He wears a coat that looks very similar to the one Light was wearing when he died which also looks to be stained with what could be blood.
  • He sports a red tie around his head that's similar to the tie of Light's high school uniform
  • He carries a messenger bag, almost identical to the one Light often carried with him when he was in high school.
  • The Shinigami's mouth is shaped like Light's "Kira" smile.
  • Light also stands in the Shinigami Realm during the end of the second intro sequence- a possible foreshadowing of his reincarnation.
  • The Unnamed Shinigami also sports goggles, which could allude to the fact that Light never made the deal for Shinigami Eyes.
  • The way he tosses the apple to Ryuk, as Light did when alive
  • He walks with something of a limp, which could be related to the injuries Light sustained when shot several times by Matsuda.
  • Ryuk himself has some vague dialogue that could be interpreted as him referring to the Unnamed Shinigami as Light: After looking at his own Death Note, Ryuk speaks to Light as if he were there; "You were not God. You were just...gone already?" This could mean Ryuk was addressing the unnamed Shinigami as Light.
  • Ryuk also allegedly addresses the shinigami as Light when he asks "Wouldn't you agree, Light?" at the very end of the special.
  • The shinigami doesn't stay to hear the end of the story, which could imply he already knows how it ends.

Japanese Film Series

Films character icon Light
Light Yagami is the main protagonist villain of the Japanese Death Note film series, including Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name in 2006, L: Change the WorLd in 2008, and Death Note: New Generation and Death Note: Light Up the NEW World in 2016.

He was portrayed by Tatsuya Fujiwara.

Role

Lights is a first-year law student at a university. At one point, he hacks into the government database and finds that the government secretly acknowledges that it is unable to prosecute many criminals. Light discovers the Death Note in an alley during a rainy night after encountering Takuo Shibuimaru in a club. Light uses the Death Note to kill Shibuimaru, though because he does not specify on the cause of death, Shibuimaru dies of a heart attack. After leaving the scene of the crime, he meets Ryuk, who admits that he is going to let him keep and use the Death Note given he had left it behind on purpose because he was bored. Light eventually kills his girlfriend, Shiori Akino, and frames her death as a murder in order to join the Kira investigation team as a result of their sympathy.

He eventually gives the notebook to Kiyomi Takada. After Takada is caught, Light kills her to recover the Death Note, but it is taken by the investigation team. L states that he will test the 13-Day Rule, a fake Death Note rule designed to prove Light and Misa's innocence. Rem, knowing that L's actions will reveal Misa's identity as the 2nd Kira, writes both L's and Watari's names in the Death Note. Light then proceeds to write his father's, Soichiro's, name in the book, manipulating his father to return the confiscated Death Note.

However, once he confronts his father, he finds that he is still alive. The investigation team members, including L, reveal themselves. Having already written his own name in the Death Note, thus negating Rem's actions, L tells Light that he had just written in a fake note.Light tries to write on a hidden piece of Death Note, but is shot by Matsuda, an investigation team member. Light tells Ryuk to write the team's names, promising to show him many interesting things, and begins to laugh. He stops, however, when Ryuk shows him that he had written just one name: Light's. Light tries to stop Ryuk, but merely passes right through him. As Light begins to succumb to the effects of the Death Note, Ryuk takes this opportunity to reveal to him that humans that have used the Death Note are barred from entering either Heaven or Hell, instead spending eternity in nothingness. Light dies in his father's arms, begging him to believe that he acted as Kira to put the justice, which Soichiro had taught him since his childhood, into practice.

Death Note (TV Drama)

Light yagami drama

Light Yagami is also the villainous protagonist of 2015 television series Death Note. Light is an university student who hate crimes and injustice when a old classmate taunted him and his friends. After discovering a mysterious black notebook which claim to be able to kill anyone he decides to test it. After killing his former tormentor with the notebook as a test, Light becomes horrified but after meeting with Ryuk who pressured him to kill criminals, Light become as known as Kira, a vigilante who is seen as a god by many followers include Misa Amane whom Light was fan and become his girlfriend.

He was portrayed by Masataka Kubota.

Role

Light Yagami grew up to a happy childhood with his family, which included a close bond with his mother until she was diagnosed with terminal illness. While Light and his sister, Sayuri, were beside her for his mother's last hours, his father Sochiro Yagami was a policeman chased a criminal named Kuro Otoharada, and had rushed to see his wife after doing so, only find it was too late - she had passed away and the relationship between father and son strained as Sochiro tried best to raise his children as a single father. Sayuri took care of herself by cooking and clearing. Light studied in high school where he was helpless as he watched his best friend Kamoda getting bullied by seniors led by Sakota. Eventually, he graduated from high school. Light wanted be a lawyer and defended some innocent against criminals until Sakota tracked down Light and Kamora demanded money after they left for work. While walking Light finds a notebook called Death Note and read the rules of book. He only write Sakota's name at first.

Death Note: The Musical

Musical promo Light 01

Light plays roughly the same role as his anime/manga counterpart in the Japanese and Korean stage musical adaptations. However, instead of being imprisoned to clear his name, he instead confronts and faces off with L. However, he loses and Ryuk, deciding that he is no longer entertaining, writes down his name and kills him.

Light sings eight songs in the show.

Netflix poster Light

Death Note (2017 film)

Main article: Light Turner

In this American adaptation, Light is portrayed as more sympathetic, as well as overshadowed by the other villains, who are all considered more evil than their old versions. He is given the Death Note by Ryuk to replace its last owner, who has passed away. He uses it to kill criminals in more gruesome ways, while also spreading his influence across the world.

In this version, he was portrayed by Nat Wolff.

Quotes

I want the world to know of my existence, that there's someone out there passing righteous judgment on the wicked.
~ Light explaining why he shows off Kira to Ryuk.
I am justice!
~ Light Yagami
Look around you, and all you see are people the world would be better off without.
~ Light Yagami
I'll take a potato chip... and eat it!
~ Light Yagami eating potato chips.
In all things, one cannot win with defense alone. To win, you must attack.
~ Light during a tennis match against L.
In this world, there are very few people who actually trust each other, and it's no different for the police, you know. What's especially important is that L and the investigators don't trust each other at all. Think about it. Could you trust someone whose name and face you don't even know? When L discovers that I'm somehow getting confidential information, he'll be obligated to start investigating the police to find the source of the leak. When that happens, it'll only be a matter of time before the police start resenting him. On the surface, it will appear that L and the investigation team are working together to try to catch me, but in reality L will investigate the police and they will be investigating L. I'm not the one who's gonna find L. I can let the police do that for me; and when they do, that's when I'll eliminate him.
~ Light to Ryuk about L and the Task Force.
I'll arrange for her to meet L. She'll tell me his name and then I'll eliminate the entire task force; and, when that's done, I'll kill her, too. After all, she's the only person who knows Kira's true identity. The only one. I can't let her live much longer.
~ Light to himself about Misa.
Do these look like the eyes of someone who is lying?
~ Light Yagami
What're you gonna do, Rem? You may be a shinigami but you can't hide the fact that you care for Misa. There's no way you would turn your back on her now, after she's already halved her lifespan twice. Come on. Think about Misa's happiness.
~ Light to Rem.
Mr. President, I am very grateful that you and your country have sympathized with me, but I'm afraid even that much is not enough. The SPK is still trying to catch me despite your recent announcement. I want you to stop them immediately and formally disband them. At the same time, I want you to use the American police, the CIA, the FBI and all other law enforcement organizations at your disposal to find out where the SPK members are currently hiding. As soon as you've found their base of operations, I want you to forward that information to a third party. I will give you this contact shortly. Mr. President, whether you live a long life or not is up to you. Don't forget that.
~ Light to the president of the United States, disguised as Kira.
So this whole thing will be nothing more than a contest between L and me, a match of wits. On the surface we'll be two friendly classmates, but in reality we'll actually be investigating each other. This is interesting, Ryuk. If it's my friendship you want? I'll gladly accept it. In time I'll earn your trust. And once you've told me what I want to know, there'll be no point keeping you alive, then I'll kill you - with my hands if I have to.
~ Light to Ryuk regarding L.
Well, Near, looks like I win.
~ Light after thinking he beat Near.
That's right. I am Kira.
~ Light revealing himself after Near discovers his true identity.
Hear this: I'm not only Kira, but I'm also God of the new world!
~ Light Yagami to Near and the Task Force.
Damn it...
~ Light's last words (manga).

Trivia

  • Light's last name, Yagami, is also the last name of Hikari in the Japanese version of Digimon, whose crest is the Crest of Light. Also, his nickname, Kira, is an anagram of Kari, which is Hikari's English name.
  • As the TV Tropes term "Light is Not Good" implies, his first name might be a pun on the fact that he is not a good guy, despite his name being "Light". Light's given name itself might also be considered a coincidence on the aforementioned term.
  • Both his actors Tatsuya Fujiwara and Masataka Kubota have stared in Rurnoi Kenshin movies where Fujiwara played Shishio Makoto and Kubota as ill-fated Akira Kiyosato.
  • As the TV Tropes term Light is Not Good implies, his first name might be a pun on the fact that he is not a good guy, despite his name being "Light". Light's given name itself might also be considered a coincidence on the aforementioned term.
           Death Note Villains

Originals
Light Yagami | Misa Amane | Ryuk | Teru Mikami | Kyosuke Higuchi | Yotsuba Group | Mello | Kiyomi Takada | Shinigami King

2017 Film
Light Turner | Mia Sutton | L | Ryuk

Other
Beyond Birthday

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