Light Yagami – The Perfect Protagonist | Character Analysis

Light Yagami from ‘Death Note’ may be the epitome of a perfect protagonist. ‘Death Note’ wastes no time; almost immediately, we find Light encountering the Death Note. In the very first episode, we witness the inception of his character arc, which begins with temptation. Like anyone would, Light initially perceives the Death Note as a mere joke. However, he succumbs to the temptation of its power, setting the stage for his transformation.

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Even at school, he contemplates using it on a classmate, marking the early emergence of his ‘Kira’ mentality. He dismisses the notion of the Death Note’s ability to kill through a mere name but still yields to its allure. By the end of the first episode, aptly named ‘Rebirth,’ Light embarks on a killing spree, marking the formation of his new mindset.

However, this mindset is not one that seeks to make the world a better place, as Light proclaims. From the moment he first touched the Death Note, Light’s true desire was to become the god of a new world. While he often justifies his actions to the world and even to himself by claiming he is eliminating crime and injustice, his real motivations become increasingly apparent as the story unfolds.

Light derives a twisted pleasure from the act of murder. He enjoys outsmarting, outplaying, and overpowering others. What he truly revels in is the sense of power and control, the feeling of being unstoppable, and the pursuit of godhood. Light has no qualms about sacrificing innocent lives, all under the guise of necessary sacrifices to create a better world. However, his true intentions become glaringly evident as the story progresses.

Despite this, Light clings tenaciously to his façade, justifying his actions even as he becomes more obsessed and ruthless. Every time he talks about bringing justice and ending crime, he inevitably speaks of becoming the god of the new world. He convinces himself that his actions are for the greater good, but in reality, he is driven solely by selfish ambition.

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‘Death Note’ takes a unique approach by stripping Light of his powers and influence, dedicating eight episodes to his transformation when he is deprived of the Death Note. This allows the audience to witness a Light without Kira, along with his unfiltered views on Kira’s actions, free from the book’s influence.

During this period, it becomes evident that Light vehemently opposes Kira’s actions. He is horrified at the possibility that he might have a split personality or connection to Kira. These episodes underscore the fact that Light is, at his core, just an intelligent but normal individual. Power changed him, turning him into the greatest killer in history.

‘Death Note’ presents two characters who both claim to represent justice: Light and L. However, neither of them truly embodies justice. L, while exceptionally skilled, doesn’t solve crimes to save people but sees them as games to win. Light’s arrival gives L the challenge he had been waiting for. Light, on the other hand, craves power and, in the guise of justice, seeks to become a god.

L’s death only solidifies Light’s path. He grows more obsessed with power and increasingly ruthless. Light is willing to sacrifice his own sister and father, betray his closest allies, and manipulate those who cared for him. Despite his ego, he still underestimates Near and makes critical mistakes.

In a moment of desperation, Light tries to employ his old tactics but is thwarted by Matsuda, who has always unwaveringly believed in Light’s innocence. Matsuda, filled with rage at the betrayal, shoots Light. In his final moments, Light calls on those who once trusted and loved him, only to find himself surrounded by people who now despise him.

Ryuk, who had observed Light’s transformation from the beginning, knew that Light’s destiny was sealed the moment he touched the Death Note. A once innocent, kind-hearted, and brilliant teenager was ensnared by the malevolence of the Death Note, ultimately transforming into the world’s greatest murderer.

As Light lays between the thresholds of heaven and hell, his name is inscribed in the very book he used to kill countless others. In his last moments, Light Yagami closes his eyes, still tragically believing in his own righteousness.

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