Death Note has always been — and will always be — an anime near and dear to my heart; one that continues to withstand the test of time for being a ludicrously entertaining and thought-provoking tale on morality, blurring the lines between “good” and “bad”, and what justice truly is.
It was a thrilling and horrifyingly intriguing story to see unfold, and today we are going to be discussing one of the best and most defining moments of the manga right here with Naomi Misora, which set the tone for the rest of Light’s journey, and eventual destination.
So we will say this clearly before you go any further – spoilers ahead! Turn back now if you have yet to watch or read Death Note. And even if you have already, indulge yourself in it once again to remind yourself of the one and only Naomi Misora. For she was gone far too soon.
Who is Naomi Misora?
Naomi Misora is a former FBI agent and fiancée of currently active FBI agent, Raye Penber. She was regarded as one of the best FBI agents, having worked alongside L on a case in Los Angeles, in which we learn more about in NISIOISIN’s Death Note Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases. I simply cannot recommend reading this novel enough, as the amount of exploration and depth it goes into for Naomi’s character as its heroine makes it a worthwhile read alone.
But I know what we must discuss as the main reason for Naomi being waifu material, and it starts and ends over the course of a mere three episodes. Let’s take a trip back down memory lane, because while explaining who Naomi is happens to be an unfortunately short task, the amount of praise and adoration she deserves is anything but.
Why you’ll love Naomi Misora (spoiler-free)
One of the most striking elements of Naomi’s character is in her design. She is the manga’s first “cool” female character, as explained by its author, Tsugumi Ohba, being depicted as a fair beauty who has a calm and collected personality.
But she is understandably at the end of her tether as we become more familiar with her from episode 5 onwards, as she has just lost her fiancé, who suffered from a suspicious and untimely death. A neat detail also mentioned by Ohba in regards to her character design is how Naomi was created by designing her clothes first. Her all-black attire symbolises her grief over the loss of Raye — this was the first piece drawn of her character design, and her hair and facial features came after.
The suddenness of Raye’s passing spurs Naomi into action as she seeks the truth behind it and on her own terms. It is an immediately sympathetic and understandable path to choose, and one which has the audience either supporting her, shaking their head to because they know that she is on her way to her own demise — or both.
It’s already difficult to support Naomi, knowing that she’s against all the odds, but as the tension and terror settles in it becomes clear that all her efforts are for naught. Within just three episodes, the audience is shown how clever she is — but it turns out she’s too smart for her own good. The closer she gets to the truth, the worse her fate ends up being.
Her keen eye for detail and high intelligence is impressive from the outset as she seeks to avenge Raye; she’s able to deduce likely events from the bareboned information she has, and correctly summarises the facts using her own smarts and natural instincts.
Unfortunately, this seemingly positive, defining trait is what ultimately leads directly into her own downfall. There is no denying that Naomi is a smart, capable and brilliant female character — the issue is that she is just too much of a good thing, and we have a particular person to blame for that.
Why we love Naomi Misora (spoilers)
Ohba has mentioned how he had planned for Naomi to have been in the story for much longer, playing an active role in investigating suspects of the Kira Case, and by having more interactions between herself and Raye. He managed to create an immediately captivating and impressive female character — one of the strongest women the mangaka duo had ever conceived across their joint works — but her set-up of being such a massive threat to Kira meant her early exit was inevitable. Ohba effectively wrote himself into a corner.
And while her presence was most certainly far too short-lived for the our liking, both her character and exit remains real highlights of the show. Episode 7 “Overcast”, the last episode she appears in, represents the turning point for most of the audience’s perception of Light to completely flip and turn negative, as he becomes irredeemable during their first and last encounter together, and shows how no one is safe in this universe.
He sentences an innocent woman to her death — and all the while she knows that she was so close to the truth, with her fiancé’s same killer sentencing her to commit suicide. And worst yet, she knows what is happening, but is unable to turn back the clock. She is trapped, with no way of expressing the pain and fear she is experiencing. And on top of all this injustice, her body is also never to be found.
In fact, everything about this moment, especially how it is presented in its anime, was so effectively haunting and unforgettable, from the depressingly sombre OST track of “Dirge” kicking in, to the cuts to the close-ups of their faces and Light’s watching as her death nears. A moment when he can finally, proudly admit that he is Kira, the snow starting to fall to signal her demise — everything in combination here makes Naomi’s swift exit from Death Note all the more memorable and unforgivable.
It is a heart-wrenching and harrowing scene, and it’s unfortunate that it happened to such an interesting, fascinating character.
The cruelty and harshness of Naomi’s mistreatment, both by its characters (Raye was not a great partner, in retrospect), and its authors makes her all the more beloved and valued.
Whilst she was most definitely underutilised as part of the story for reasons that are both understandable and infuriating, her short time in both the manga and anime did not make her any less memorable, and it only ever highlights her potential and brilliance. She remains as one of the strongest threats to Light ever — even more so than her own fiancé — and her enduring popularity has seen her regain more deserving emphasis and focus in movie adaptations of the manga.
Long live Naomi, then; gone before your time. We salute you.
Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This is at no additional cost to you and helps support Rice Digital!
- Waifu Wednesday: Naomi Misora (Death Note) - September 15, 2021
- The balancing act of bad endings in the otome genre - September 13, 2021
- Olympia Soiree walkthrough and guide - September 10, 2021