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This is what annoyed me with the Anime, but the whole point of the series was that Light and L were the same. Two opposite Sides of the same Coin. The series trolled you to choose a side and fall into the trap, but the reality was that you were only suppose to see the subjectivity of Justice, and what is "right" or "wrong" was a funny thing defined by Man.
Both Light and L killed innocent people, both Light and L had judicial authority on their side, both Light and L broke the law, both Light and L fought for "Justice".
The whole series was basically an attack on organized religion and capital punishment, and took some time out to laugh at Atheist at the end. That's (mainly) why it is controversial. The Author took a different look at society and painted a world where humans look especially silly.
I believe the difference between these two is that L knows if you are born and live on this planet, you are guilty, end of story.
Light and L both saw their justice in Shades of Grey, and each had different limits. If you notice, Light had no problem working with the Criminals L hired either. L's morality also comes in question when they are suspicious to if he ever tested the notebook. (as to the reader can question why both Wataru and L died, and if Misa's Shinigami wrote both their names or not)
You could make an argument on Light believing in the absolute, but it didn't stop him from killing innocent people as well that didn't fallow that mentality. For the most part it was a game between L and Kira, as to who could best the other. That was the whole series, and I think at some point both characters knew that as well.
They really were the same person on opposite sides, the only reason either side (police vs Kira) ever succeeded in their plans
is due to the teamwork on the other side. Light's teamwork with Misa and her Shinigami defeated L, and Near and Mellow's teamwork defeated light. I think if you want to make assertions over wither L believed in state power or not is more of your personal opinion or view on the world. (Not that I'm not saying it's not an interesting view, L did repeatedly break National Laws and basically lived by his own rules to solve the crime his way, as cleanly as possible.
Yeah, there was controversy though it's run and books published about it after (And it was apparently controversial enough for the writer(s) to not want to comment much about it). It wouldn't have been nearly as controversial if it wasn't for it's attacks on judicial systems and capital punishments. (Even though I don't know completely why the edited out the religious controversies in the Anime, I doubt in a nation like Japan, what was said was controversial)Main cases were the question of Morality of Kira that the characters touched up upon, none of them ever really had a good explanation as to why it was evil, although many characters constantly questioned it, the answer was really boiled down to "because I deemed him a criminal" even after the United States and Japanese governments became compliant to Kira.I wasn't aware there was any controversy over Death Note. What I saw was a pretty straightforward attack not on capital punishment, but on vigilante justice and the corrupting influence of power.
It had Vigilantism, and corruption of power, but don't forget that L, Near, and Mellow all were vigilantes themselves. The theme itself wasn't even brought up at all, unlike the theme of "What is Justice?" and "Why is it bad to murder death row inmates?" which basically came up about every chapter. I think it's an interesting idea though, and I do agree that "corruption of power" comes into play on Light specifically, but I don't know if it is a main theme.
(That too, though, is kind-of distorted by the ending change, as part of seeing the corruption of Light was suppose to build up at the end to see his corruption was born due to his desire to see the bad guys punished. In a way, it's ironic because would Near or L or any of the other characters have changed if they knew the situation? did Misa know? Then how would the reader re-act? We all aren't suppose to be that different from Light... but that's a different story)
Still, the anime changes the whole interpretations of the story and lingers on parts (making them more commercial and safe in the process), it can really pervert the interpretation of the series' meanings unless you read it first.
The mind games were fun, and did a great job of heightening tension. But the conflict between Light and L was ultimately still just a vessel for comparing and contrasting the two major schools of thought on morality. I really don't know how you can possibly argue that Light's morality was anything but absolute. He makes it clear over and over again that he believes what he is doing is objectively right, and he honestly thinks that any intelligent, 'good' human being will inevitably see the righteousness of his actions. In his mind, creating utopia is just a matter of getting rid of anyone too stupid, blind or corrupt to understand the objective moral truths he's identified.
And whereas Light works towards what he believes are objective moral truths, L works at the behest of society to achieve what the consensus agrees is for the greater good. Like every human being, he has his own moral views. But his moral relativism is made very clear when he decides that the Death Note is too much power to unilaterally entrust to any one human. He understands that people disagree on what is moral, that no absolute moral truth can exist, and that no human should be allowed to impose their own view of morality on others without checks and balances.
Acting outside the law doesn't make L any less of a moral relativist, it just means he thinks that ends can justify means. But his ultimate end is always the mission he has been given by society. L and the other characters never properly discuss how what Kira is doing is good or evil precisely because they would never presume to override society's decision on the matter with their own, and they'd gain nothing by passing their own moral judgement.
Ohba himself has said that the theme he wished to express through the series was that "...no human has the right to pass judgement on another's actions. No one should play god." If that's not a direct statement on the perils of moral absolutism and vigilante justice, I don't know what is.
How is it different when Light kills people or breaks the laws because what he believes brings true justice from when L breaks the laws and disobeys orders because what he believes is true justice? (They both believe the ends justify the means, in other words) I very much think that L abandoned the idea of what was good or bad about catching Kira, and just saw himself in a competition of wits with Light. (As with Light to a degree, they both at least temporarily, forgot about their ideals to just compete in a "Shounen" Rivalry)
Maybe I'm having a communication problem, I don't disagree that Light represents Justice from One Person while L represents an establishment to form Justice, they are still the same thing: Two sides of the Same coin, a Yin-Yang relationship. And like Yin-Yang relationships, one is not to be superior to the other, I just think it's less about particular justices, and more about Justice in general.
Well, I agree... I'm not completely sold on everything you say, but I'll read it again when I get the chance with that in mind.Themes don't have to be directly discussed by characters to be vitally important to a story. Some interesting questions about when it's okay to kill murderers were brought up along the way, but vigilantism and the corruptive influence of power were without question the major themes of Death Note. The entire series was about how unilateral power turned a well-intentioned vigilante schoolboy into a power-hungry freak with a god complex.
Again, maybe I'm just having a communication problem, because I'm not disagreeing, I did state it was "an attack on capital punishment", I believe that you could interpret it on Light being a vigilante*... but I'm not convinced the Wammy house is not vigilante based either. (Though true they were hired by a government to start the case initially, but it's the same government told them not to pursue the case later on). I still very much think that the end you are suppose to believe that neither Light nor L is correct because there is no such thing as true Justice... or at least that Justice is an invention of man (not gods). (Which again is why Ryuk is always giggling)Ohba himself has said that the theme he wished to express through the series was that "...no human has the right to pass judgement on another's actions. No one should play god." If that's not a direct statement on the perils of moral absolutism and vigilante justice, I don't know what is.
*I also want to add that while you can give Light's interpretation to being a Vigilante, you can also interpret him as having authority from gods and L as authority from man... which goes back to the religious themes in the books as well. So he doesn't necessarily have to be a Vigilante (but in the same sense/theme he is still judging people's deaths as one person so L and Light can still have those themes you stated even if he's not a Vigilante)
Hmmm... well I don't live in Japan so maybe it's been exaggerated (actually I'm almost certain it was), but I do remember there being controversy from Parents complaining to Jump (which is why the anime aired so late), I remember books being written about the series and it's topic's it brought up, and I believe it's been mentioned in the "How to Read" fanfile book among quotes from other statements (Like I believe it might even had been mentioned in Bakuman to say something recent).I haven't watched the anime, I've only read the Japanese version of the manga. Living in Japan I certainly haven't been aware of any big cultural controversy over the story.
Plus their obviously must have been some controversy otherwise the anime wouldn't have been censored.
Last edited by bell02+; 30th October 2010 at 03:24 PM.
I recently started watching and I have to say Kira. He manipulates, uses people, lies, considers killing his own family, and has no issues killing anyone who opposes him. Oh, and he has an evil laugh.
L's motives were grey, but at least he tried to save people from dying.
Kira's methods weren't entirely wrong - I agree with him to some point. I also agree with L as well. They both got a strong sense of justice - it's just who's obnoxious and who's not.
No human is "evil". But whose actions were evil? I voted for Kira.
Kira was a murderer. Ignoring the criminals that he killed, he also killed non-criminals. Also even if he only did kill criminals, that's evil. I don't agree with execution to begin with, but at least criminals that are executed get a fair trial and all that. Kira just killed them regardless... and he had to have killed innocent people by mistake at least a few times considering he would just copy names from the police database / the news without even doing any research into these suspects.
L did some pretty bad things... wanting to bring Kira to justice was not one of them. I'm referring to things like his plan to find two prisoners on death row and have one write the other's name in the notebook in order to test whether or not the notebook really worked, but realistically speaking, he used people on death row who were going to be executed anyway. He was just killing two birds with one stone... executing the criminals and at the same time helping to take down Kira. The other thing with L is that he didn't want to kill Kira. He wanted to bring Kira to justice. Yes, he was aware that Kira would end up executed, but he really has no control over that. It's obvious that L did not just want Kira dead at all costs... if he did then he would have killed Light at the very beginning since he suspected Light of being Kira the entire time. The worst thing that L did (in the movie) was kill himself. There is no excuse for suicide... even though it did allow him to live an extra 20 or so days.
And another thing - his suicide was entirely pointless. Misa's notebook was fake so she wouldn't have been able to kill him, Light had no notebook to L's knowledge so L should have had no reason to think that Light could have killed him, and L never suspected that Light would use the Shinigami. Basically, there's no way that L knew about in which he could have been killed in that situation.
Last edited by Xenidal; 3rd April 2012 at 10:33 AM.
Wait... in the whole series I can't think of a single person L killed. L used Lind L. Tailor, but it was Kira who actually killed him. In the movie L made mention of testing the Death Note by having criminals on death row use it, but that never actually was done. Other than those 2 instances, I don't remember L even coming close to killing anyone. What am I missing / forgetting about?
Light is totally evil. L is awesomeness.
Light wouldn't have been so evil if he was just killing criminals. But he wasn't. He killed Raye Penber and Naomi Misora, which I cannot forgive. And what kind of sick bastard even thinks of killing his own sister? He was also just using Misa, whom I felt kind of bad for.