I know for a fact that L’s entire character design became the mood board for self-proclaimed high-IQ boys in the anime fandom. And like, I don’t mind it. For a huge chunk of the late 2010s, we saw his influence. L Lawliet from Death Note was an easy enough cosplay, so those were always abundant. And then you’d have fans emulating his sitting style, saying it definitely made you smarter? Safe to say, people really wanted to be like him.
So, they’d actively try honing their own IQ skills to match L’s, because wouldn’t that be super awesome? I mean, L was like them for real, right? It always amazed me because first of all, L’s IQ is kind of unheard of, at a whopping 211 (Ironically the same as the criminal he was pursuing, Light Yagami.) but also because, listen. The ‘lovable slob’ thing only works for L alone. I know that L’s character arc made him seem so much more appealing, but his social skills are actually ranked a 1/10 for a reason. But I can also see why people related to him.
Anime fans were kind of outcasts, you know? So, it was hard to see yourself in someone like Light, who was always portrayed as being super smart and handsome, with good people skills. Mind you, this was even after he becomes the infamous Kira, a murderer using his high IQ and the power of the infamous Death Note to bring others to justice. But L? L was the perfect mirror. He was messy, had a sweet tooth, and clearly portrayed some neurodivergent vibes as well. But he was also the good guy.
It was this that made people so obsessed with him. L’s combined with his eccentric personality, made him the approachable genius archetype. And to this day, the rivalry between Light and L is the stuff of legends. Their polarizing characters are what made Death Note such a unique watch. And L’s character is exactly what we are here to break down in Character Analysis! So, let’s discuss this.
L Lawliet: The Sweet Tooth Detective Who Bit Off More Than He Could Chew
The story of how L came to be this hot-shot detective that aided Interpol is really interesting once you consider how young he is. Like, yeah, he’s older than Light but he didn’t start with the same normal childhood as he did.
He is, oddly enough, shadier than the man he is looking into. It’s not a secret that L is very protective of his privacy, going by the moniker ‘Ryuzaki’, to deal with the police and Kira. But his deductive skills more than makeup for his lack of social cues. Like, L is the first person to correctly assume Light is the killer. Even if he couldn’t pin down how Kira did I, it was still fascinating to see.
But that’s not the only reason why he’s so memorable. His entire character is a jumble of traits that make no sense. He’s super smart but acts often childish and standoffish. L has a high IQ and the means to a better lifestyle, but he would rather spend it eating sweets. He’s an enigma.
L’s High IQ Couldn’t Keep Him Safe From Kira But He’s Still A Fan Favorite:
And yet, none of it matters because, in the end, Kira got the best of him. Mind you, he did prepare for every inevitability. But Light was just as smart, and he had the power of a literal Death God by his side. At some point, L bit more than he could chew.
But it’s also important to remember that if L hadn’t used his high IQ to deduce Light’s involvement with Kira in the first place, people like Mello and Near wouldn’t have been able to nail him down as the killer. And honestly, that is what fans remember. Yes, Light’s end was satisfying, but his entire dynamic with l is what sold Death Note to so many people. They were both equals, but opposites at the same time.
The push and pull from them was so well articulated and written in a way that it never felt stale. Both L’s and Light’s IQs were high, so it was genuinely a gamble to see who would come out on top!