Personal Journal: vashti
Fandom: Death Note
Name: Light Yagami
Disturbed? Y/N N
(Here you can link to an outside source if you are using an Original Universe character; if your character is Disturbed and his/her past is different from canon, please [provide a link to the canon history AND summarize their revised history here.)
(Go really in depth; strengths and weaknesses, thought processes, likes and dislikes, relationships, how they view life, love etc etc. Include reasons as to why they may act a certain way. Include any mental impediments/enhancements, physical ailments/alterations, so on and so forth. BE VERY THOROUGH. If you can't provide enough information to convince me that this character is actually a PERSON, then it might not be a good idea to play him or her.)
Light Yagami is the villain protagonist of the animanga Death Note.
His basic character arc is that he discovers a notebook which kills people whose name is written in it, and decides to use it to change the world by eliminating criminals and “bad people”. Shortly afterwards, he succumbs to a god complex, planning to also rule over his new world as its god: over time, he's consumed by the notebook's power.
Aliases: Kira, L (the second).
23 24 (born February 28 1986; taken December 2009 January 2nd 2010. Relative birthdate within Disturbia is December 5th.).
Height: 179 cm / 5' 10” (HtR13's English translation is wrong).
Weight: 119 lb
Myers-Briggs personality type: INTJ
Lawful evil - he's not lawful evil, of course, he's neutral evil - with occasional flashes of chaotic evil.
Appearance: Japanese, tall, thin, extremely neat and well-dressed, as a rule. Hair is relatively light brown, mostly neat, but too long in front, and falls into his eyes a lot – which he exploits. Considered attractive – certainly considers himself to be so. Displays a name, but no lifespan, to a shinigami eye view. Has some faint scars around his left wrist, which are almost invariably covered.
Point in canon: Second arc, after his father's death – so he doesn't lose his memories when the note is taken from him.
Sexuality: Mostly straight (around a Kinsey 1), but indifferent.
Profession: He's a junior officer in Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) in the “intelligence and investigation bureau”; this is likely to be a fictionalised version / alternate translation of what Wikipedia calls the “criminal investigation bureau”, which “[investigates] nationally important and international cases”. He acts as the second L, with the Japanese task force investigating Kira.
Animal metaphors: Spiders; snakes; sometimes cats, crocodiles, or anything with way too many scary teeth.
By the time he's approaching the end of his life, Light has a well-established façade with which he handles the rest of the world: controlled, closed, quiet and focused, extremely intelligent and methodical, an impassive, flat affect – he's trained himself to display virtually no external mannerisms or tells that might alert an observer to his secret life and identity. On the inside, however, the evil machine is ticking along constantly. He's less like an iceberg, which shows as much as 10% of itself above the ocean, and more like Doctor Who's TARDIS, the external appearance of which is negligible compared to its vast interior.
You can conceive of him as acid under ice: cut through the outer façade and you'll see the inner one ticking away, still methodical, slightly less controlled; but dig further and you'll find a fountain of intense emotions, poisonous desires and crazy, grandiose visions. Occasionally the ice melts or cracks, and that's when you see how truly insane he is.
He is a creature of extremes – he doesn't do anything half-heartedly. If he's going to do something, he's going to aim to be better at it than anyone else, and with his gifts, he's likely to manage it. He's not someone who follows the crowd, either: he reaches his own conclusions and keeps to them.
He has two roles, a black hat (the mass murderer / god of the new world, Kira) and a fake white hat (the second L, who's investigating Kira – or in practice, keeping him from being investigated too closely). Either of these would be full-time jobs, but he manages to keep them both going. He's a workaholic, who lives for his plans, his dreams of the future and the things he's chosen to do.
He's not someone who appears to have a despair response: he doesn't get depressed and sit around moping, he gets furious and takes action. He does get introspective on rare occasions , though.
When it comes to sexuality, he's asexual tending towards straight – he prefers women strongly, but like a certain other bastard from fiction, has nothing but contempt for them; he doesn't enjoy their company, and finds the process of sex distasteful.. However, he does what he has to to achieve his aims, which has included at least two sexual relationships.
You could almost sum him up with the tagline from the film Gremlins: “cute, clever, mischievous, intelligent, dangerous”.
Light is exceptionally intelligent – one of the brightest children of his generation. He's ambitious and driven – even before finding the death note, he appears to spend most of his time studying, when he could coast and still expect to excel. It's not enough for him to be good – he has to be the best he can possibly be.
Following on from that, he is an extremely accomplished perfectionist – he routinely tops exam scores, even the national ones, and becomes junior high tennis champion two years in a row, and all of that is before he evades the world's greatest detective, L, for a year, replaces him, and remakes the world in his image in seven years (but see below). He's also curious, with a need to know everything he can – he soaks up information of all sorts like a sponge, saving it up and applying it as necessary, often with devastating effect.
He plans well ahead – some might say ridiculously ahead – of time, and tends to prefer complicated solutions to simple ones: there's no elegance through simplicity here. This doesn't mean to say that he won't act on the spur of the moment when required (the murder of Naomi Misora being an example of it going well for him, and the murder of Lind L. Tailor being an example of it going terribly wrong.) He likes to have everything running on rails, neat and ordered, and when he has to act spontaneously, or his plans are derailed, he's prone to panic – though only in the most serious extremity will this be visible, or likely to hamper him.
He is extraordinarily cautious and protective of his anonymity – a large part of Kira's power stems from his watching from the shadows: “to be unseen is to be powerful”. The chances are that he would never have found the time right to announce himself as Kira, if he'd won: he would have pulled strings from the shadows all his life, and found that his work - and all the killing it entailed - never ended.
He's highly perceptive, taking in and analysing the majority of what goes on around him – though not everything; he does miss things, and is not hypervigilant. His deductive reasoning abilities are impressive, and snap judgements are a strength – as you might expect. He's methodical, meticulous and careful about everything he does – ranging right from his various plans and projects relating to taking over the world, down to how obsessively organised and neat he is in his personal life – he's very fastidious, preoccupied with his personal cleanliness and his appearance.
Flaws and failings
Light is arrogant, very much so – he considers himself to be always right, to be the most intelligent person around, to be so superior to everyone else he encounters that he has the absolute right to do whatever he chooses with others and the world. As he sees it, between himself and the rest of the world there is a great gulf fixed, and that gives him the right to choose for everyone on the other side. His confidence in himself and his actions is overwhelming, rooted right down in his god complex, and he holds the whole rest of the world in contempt: nobody is his equal, and he's surrounded by idiots; such are the trials of being him. He isn't really elitist, unless it's to be considered an elite of one. He can be obscenely smug and self-satisfied, especially when a plan comes together (“exactly as planned!”) And he's extremely cunning and calculating, laying out epic-scale plans and manipulations and watching them fall into place patiently, over time.
He's solitary, with no apparent need or desire for the company of others; he defends his privacy with his usual meticulousness as part of keeping his own secrets, but he doesn't appear to have a particular need for privacy. He's quite able to manage all the social niceties, though, such as living and working with others, and maintaining relationships of all kinds – in which he has no emotional involvement, except with what remains of his immediate family. His monkeysphere is small, consisting only of himself and his immediate family, who he does love and wish to protect: anyone outside that central circle is unimportant and disposable.
He's deceitful, to the point where virtually nothing true ever comes out of his mouth, or his body language: he leads a double life, with everything he really thinks and does hidden. He's a masterful liar – convincing, practised and articulate – who's accustomed, very much so, to getting everything his own way. If he wants something from you, he'll come off as effortlessly charming; he'll turn you around till you don't know which way is up and manipulate you until you want to do what he says. By nature, he has the glib charm of a born sociopath – but this is something he suppresses as time passes, and he represses himself more and more into a pattern of studied innocence. He's also not somebody who tries to hide inconvenient truths – his style is far more to point out the obvious first, and only then deal with the issue that what he's said appears to incriminate him.
He is almost completely amoral – he looks at a situation, decides what the best thing to do is, and does it, with no considerations other than how these will further his own aims. In a very few situations (such as when he's faced with potentially having to kill his sister), he does appear to have a moral conflict, but carefully rationalises his lack of action to himself – this ability to do what's necessary is something very important to his self-image.
He is extremely judgemental – he splits the world neatly into good and bad people, into black hats and white hats, and has no qualms whatsoever about killing off all the ones he considers bad. In his eyes, this constitutes justice, and by extension, as the person carrying this “justice” out, so does he. Despite his own crimes – he kills tens of thousands of people without a second thought, many of whom have neither been tried nor convicted – he offers condemnation like an irregular verb: This is what I was meant to do, what's necessary, what has to be done, but for doing the same, under my orders, you are a criminal and deserve death – there's that arrogance again.
His deceitful nature and amorality render him totally untrustworthy, and extremely dangerous to people who he perceives as getting in his way, or who attempt to cooperate with him: he has no qualms about killing non-criminals because they're trying to catch him, or people who attempt to assist him as Kira simply because they're no longer convenient and could expose him – again, to him, killing is a crime punishable by death even if he's told you to do it.
He is violently competitive – he can't bear to lose, has to be the best at everything, and, especially as a teenager, he never backs down, but responds to challenges with further challenges of his own, even when this endangers him. As an adult, he develops an ability to sit back and look at the bigger picture, somewhat, but he doesn't like it. He doesn't like to be threatened, either – insults and attacks from people he considers inferior to him are likely to bounce right off, but people who could potentially compete with him, such as his two main antagonists, L and Near, can get right under his skin quite easily.
Another aspect of his competitive nature is that he gloats, extravagantly: if someone has threatened him directly, it's not enough for him to beat them quietly, in the dark; they have to know that they're beaten, and by him, before they die: he's got a god's thirst for vengeance. This tendency is part of what eventually defeats him, and reflects something else again: he's very immature, and childish – his ambition of creating a new world by killing off the bad guys is a child's vision, an adolescent power fantasy. (And yet, it works – while anyone with a basic grounding in social sciences or human nature will realise that real world people just don't work that way, in the DNverse Light has carried out his plan and seen that it does work – so you may not want to try and argue with him, should it ever arise, using real world arguments against the death penalty, no matter how valid.)
As Stopford A. Brooke wrote about Richard III, Light takes “a chuckling pleasure in his cunning” - inside he's filled with evil glee, smirking and cackling, even sometimes bestial – as he becomes when left alone at L's grave, consumed with a violent pleasure, gloating in his own victory over a man who threatened him on every level. He's also prone to attacks of full-on narcissistic rage.
Light is close to being a pathological narcissist, meeting every single criterion for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) – but he doesn't appear to have any of the weaknesses or disabilities associated with it – for example, he works extremely well with others, and while he doesn't care about other peoples' wants and needs, he recognises them and doesn't hesitate to use them against them. He's also one of the most vain people you'll ever encounter, though he won't make it obvious – he cares a great deal about his appearance, clothes, et cetera, and his closest personal relationship is with his own reflection in the mirror – which is the only thing in which he sometimes confides. He would be one of Gabbard's “oblivious-type” narcissists - “grandiose, arrogant and thick-skinned”. It's an understatement to say that he enjoys power: he needs it, it's what drives him, and the fact that he gets off on it so much is probably why he isn't all that interested in sex – he's sublimated the one need in the other.
According to Wikipedia, “the psychopath represents the extreme form of pathological narcissism”, and Light has strong psychopathic tendencies – another temptation is to describe him outright as a psychopath – but he lacks the social deviance factors, scoring across the board on the aggressive narcissist factors. He scores 19 on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R; see Appendix 1); the usual cutoff is 30 – this is enough to garner him a label of partial personality disorder (PPD), however.
Light is a megalomaniac – he believes that he's a god and should remake the world and rule it. His core policy statement is “I will be the god of the new world.” It's hard to make out the exact details of his beliefs, or if he really has any: the plot tends not to focus there.
He believes that criminals should be killed, to cleanse the world, and to encourage others. This he does himself, killing tens of thousands over a seven-year period without remorse: it's what he uses the death note for. He starts out killing only the most violent criminals, and waits for his theories to penetrate society – L even states at one point that Kira's aim is “not a dictatorship based on fear”, though by the end of the series it certainly appears to be going that way, and Light appears quite indifferent, so long as he is in charge and gets to be a god. He objects to such things as killing anti-Kira figures in the media and collecting vast sums of money for palaces, not for their own sake, but because they hurt Kira's image.
A lot of people have tried to psychoanalyse Light. Here's my attempt.
While highly functional and capable, Light is far from sane (“mad as a box of frogs” is the usual term I use). He lies to himself more than he does to anybody else: his delusions and complexes are legendary in scale. By the end of his life, he's accustomed to living in a world that acknowledges him – anonymously, but still him – as a god, and anywhere that forces him to withdraw from that is liable to give him issues.
It's possible that the process of losing and regaining his memories during the Yotsuba arc damages him – he seems far more naïve and childlike during the arc than he is even at the very beginning of the story, and he's much more unhinged after he regains his memories than he appears to have been previously – though that could simply be that triumphing over L reinforces his complexes and fantasies.
With regard to personality disorders, it should be noted that they kick in in late adolescence to early adulthood – so Light's timeline of age 17 to 23 puts him squarely in the region to be developing one.
Antisocial personality disorder:
He meets only two of the criteria for this (three are required), and wouldn't be diagnosed with it anyway, as he lacks “a documented history of a conduct disorder before the age of 15”. Also, he's middle-class. *rimshot*
Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
Narcissistic personality disorder:
He more than qualifies for this (see Appendix 2).
Supposed causes of this one include “overindulgence and overvaluation by parents,” “being praised for perceived exceptional looks or talents by adults”, and “excessive praise for good behaviors in childhood”. Oversensitivity at birth, unreliable caregiving from parents, and severe emotional abuse are also suggested, but I think less likely.
Most psychological theory suggests that pathological narcissism is overcompensation for a subconscious inferiority complex – this can be something that drives people to excel, and Light certainly is driven to excel. The inferiority complex comes first, and is followed by, and compensated for by, a superiority complex – so both coexist in the same individual.
A possible theory is that Light is addicted to the approval of his father, Soichiro: as a small child prodigy, he probably received a great deal of praise from both parents, but at some point his father stops offering him praise. Light's inferiority complex is rooted there: he achieves more and more, unconsciously trying to regain his father's approval – and what is it he does, with the power he's given? He tries to complete his father's work, eliminating crime in a way the police of a democracy could never accomplish, going above and beyond anything his father could ever do – only to find that Soichiro despises Kira and everything he does, eventually giving his life to the Kira investigation.
I think there's little doubt that Light is on some level convinced that one day, he'll show his father his new world, and everything he's done, and see him understand what it was all for, and that it was good. But instead Soichiro dies, and the last thing he says is how glad he is to know that his son isn't Kira – which is shattering for Light. By the time of his own death two months later, he's clearly compensating by remembering his father with contempt.
* If Light can't do something extremely well, he won't do it at all – one of the fanon theories for why he gives up tennis in high school is that he knew he simply wouldn't have time to meet his own standards any longer.
* It's tempting to describe him as dependent on narcissistic supply – a flow of feelings of power from the outside world. While he works a desk for five years, which appear to be relatively quiet, his ego certainly does increase over that time, and the outside world is more and more ready to acknowledge him as a god – providing an ever-increasing stimulus. If this is the case, as he's further and further removed from his fantasies, he will feel more of a need to victimise and control others to feed his own ego – though that is not to say that he'll act on it.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Idle hands do the devil's work.
“What does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
Appendix 1: Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R)
This scores each of 20 points from 0 to 2. Light scores 19 out of a possible total of 40, so it's more accurate to describe him as having psychopathic tendencies (partial personality disorder) than to call him a full-blown psychopath. He scores strongly on factor 1 qualities (aggressive narcissism) but low on factor 2 (social deviance).
Factor1: "Aggressive narcissism"
Glibness/superficial charm 2
Grandiose sense of self-worth 2
Pathological lying 2
Lack of remorse or guilt 2
Shallow affect 2
Callous/lack of empathy 2
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions 1
Promiscuous sexual behavior 0
Factor2: "Socially deviant lifestyle"
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom 2
Parasitic lifestyle 0
Poor behavioral control 0
Lack of realistic, long-term goals 0
Juvenile delinquency 0
Early behavior problems 0
Many short-term marital relationships 0
Revocation of conditional release 0
Traits not correlated with either factor
Criminal versatility 2
Appendix 2: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
has a grandiose sense of self-importance
is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
believes that he or she is "special" and unique
requires excessive admiration
has a sense of entitlement
is interpersonally exploitative
is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
(Please set your sample in Disturbia-verse. DO NOT use Audio/Video/Action post. If your character is not very talkative, you may write an introspective piece regarding their thoughts to arriving in Disturbia. This should be AT MINIMUM 150 words.)
Pain, that's the first thing I notice: a splitting headache. And I'm freezing cold, as if I've been lying here for hours... what happened?
Why don't I remember what happened?
The room's bright, a red glow behind my eyelids. I open them a little, close them again, unobtrusive, innocent.
It's not a room I know. It looks like a hotel room. Have I been kidnapped, this time? Detained? Arrested? No, I can't have been arrested: they wouldn't leave me unbound in a hotel room. I'd be restrained. Blinded. Probably demanding my lawyer around now.
But I'm being watched, without question, most likely by Near and his little friends. They must have drugged me, as well; that'll be what the headache's about... And if they saw me open my eyes, I need to start moving. Soon.
Up on one arm, open my eyes again, look around slowly – ow. Flat back down again. My wrist feels lighter than usual: a bit of pressure against the quilt, and yes, they've taken my watch. Shit. They'll dismantle it, find the scrap of paper in here. They'll go over everything I was carrying with a fine-toothed comb...
This just gets better and better.
But it's not the end of the road yet.
(This does NOT have to be set in Disturbia-verse, but let's at least make it something I can follow, even if I'm not familiar with the canon. This should be at least 300 words.)
Light is increasingly aware that his need to gloat is a tremendous weakness, which contributed to getting him killed. He's always been a bad loser: the psych profile on his father's computer had read immature ... hates to lose. He'd laughed at the first part, considering himself particularly mature for 17, but not the second.
He'd known he was going to have to protect himself, that he was going to have to kill people, good people, probably detectives and law enforcement types like his father, if he was going to follow through on creating the new world. He'd thought it would be hard, but in reality, it hadn't been difficult at all. L had called him out in front of the whole of Kanto, first of all, and the news story had gone all around the Internet not long afterwards. Light still remembers the anger he'd felt, and the cringing humiliation at how easily and neatly he'd been netted by L's simple trap. Still, how could I have done anything else? he tells himself - still, years later, he remembers his few defeats and considers how to stop them from repeating themselves. The good guys aren't meant to do effective things like offering criminals up to the slaughter. No, that's supposed to be the exclusive province of—
Light shuts down the thought before he can complete it: he knows perfectly well he isn't a "bad guy", that a few mavericks had decided they could overturn the expressed will of their world: while nearly the entire planet was shrieking his name, a handful of do-gooders had decided their personal moral quibbles were more valuable than the safety and security of the whole world. It was nauseating, honestly.
But even though he'd known that his shadow was almost certainly a good man, he'd been a threat, to Light personally as well as to Kira and the new world. He'd had to go, and it was easy to paste L's computerised voice over the man Raye Pember and treat him as an extension of Light's declared war with L. He'd known getting personally involved was a huge risk, but there had been no choice - well, none other than leaving the FBI to stalk him indefinitely and possibly arrest him. And when his plan had gone so perfectly, he hadn't been able to resist looking off the train into Pember's face, to let him see who had killed him.
The rush ... it had been indescribable, better than every results table he'd topped, better than all those victories at tennis and chess, better than every test result and gold star he'd brought home to his parents when he was still in infant school and their approval had been the most important thing in the world. And in retrospect, he was definitely able to say it was way, way better than sex.
It had made him wonder what it would be like to really kill someone, to find and stalk a victim and make them die using his own hands and his own strength. It had been a curious thought, an intriguing one which he'd never spoken to anyone, even Ryuk, who would only have been mildly interested and not condemned him. And it had made him realise the truth of Ryuk's prediction, "you'll be the only fucked-up person left", with an immediacy it hadn't had before.
Yet at the same time, he'd known it wasn't a crime just to be curious about something. The difference between him and the criminals he killed, Light knew, was that he would never do any of the things that fascinated him. It was one thing to kill criminals who made the world worse for others through their actions, and another to eliminate people who were misguidedly trying to abort his new world while it was yet unborn; but going out and killing some innocent for kicks would definitely be an appalling and irredeemable thing: a crime.
Plus, he might have lost.
But it had been so addictive, the thrill of the chase, the pattern of point and counterpoint between himself and L and their proxies. At every turn, he knew, he'd managed to do something stupid, and that's why I'm here in this mansion, and not consolidating my control over the rest of the world—
Light doesn't believe in second chances: you got an opportunity, and you took it, and got it right. If you mess it up, you pay the consequences, and so on.
He wonders if that is the rule here, or if he can bend it slightly and escape through the gap.
Questions or Concerns?
(If you NEED your character to retain an item, please make your argument here. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please go reread the FAQ before submitting this.)
Nothing that I'm aware of. :)