Hump Day Husbandos: L (Death Note)

Hump Day Husbandos

Every great villain needs a great detective as their foe. Moriarty had Holmes. Mr. X had Poirot. Kira has L, the greatest detective in a world desperately trying to track down a madman with the power to kill with the stroke of a pen. When he is first introduced in Death Note, it sets off one of the greatest cat-and-mouse dynamics in anime history.

Is L conventionally attractive? Maybe not, but that big, sexy brain of his provides the best back-and-forth moments in Death Note and makes him a worthy addition to our Humpday Husbando feature.

Who is L?

Light and L

The mystery around L is one of the most important and compelling aspects of Death Note. Though supplemental materials would expand on his identity and backstory, the anime and manga themselves reveal next to nothing about him save for his callsign and bizarre personality. L first appears as a faceless voice, taunting a killer he knows can kill from anywhere to find a weakness in how they attack. That takes some serious guts to even attempt.

The fact that this is all put together by a young man with the posture of a shrimp and an insatiable appetite for sweets just makes the ensuing investigation that much more entertaining. L has absolutely no social skills beyond investigating. His intellect is unmatched, but he still has the physical prowess to go toe-to-toe with Light in one of anime’s most dramatic tennis matches. He figures out who Kira is from the moment he meets Light yet believes too firmly in the value of the law to make an unsupported accusation.

Why we love him

L Playing tennis

L is the very epitome of the weird gremlin who is somehow incredible at everything he attempts, yet never comes across as smug or overbearing. Rather, there is a sadness to his life, which has been spent being trained to relentlessly pursue the truth no matter the cost. He laments that he hopes Light isn’t Kira because Light is the first friend L has ever had. Despite their adversarial role, L sees in Light the one person who could be his intellectual equal.

It can be lonely being the smartest person in the room at any given time, especially when his training requires him to see everyone as a suspect. It is his sense of justice and desire to prevent further bloodshed that keeps him pursuing the path he is on without hesitation. L knows precisely who he is and never wavers from that, regardless of how much it may cost him.

Why you’ll love him

L Sitting

For the record, L knows that sitting like that is weird. He does it because sitting like a normal human decreases his deductive power by at least 40%. It’s never explained why that is the case, but he says it with such authority that we’re not inclined to question him. And that is part of what makes L the best character in Death Note. He knows he’s weird; he just doesn’t care so long as he can continue his pursuit of justice.

L is easily the most interesting character in Death Note, to the point where when he is removed from the series the show becomes a significantly worse experience. Even though he is replaced by a pair of equally capable detectives, neither can hold a candle to L and his full-time goblin mode.

If you’ve never seen Death Note, it is one of the best examples of how to successfully tell a story from the point of view of the villain. Unfortunately, with the anime off Netflix, your best bet is to either buy the DVDs or pay to stream it on Amazon. Just stay away from the American live-action version of the show. It doesn’t do anyone justice.

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