How to Act Like L From "Death Note"
In Death Note, a manga, anime and set of live action films, L is a character admired for his intelligence, odd behaviors and dry sense of humor. Although rude and without general manners, L tends to be the most loved in the series, aside from his target and nemesis, Light Yagami. He is the source of many cosplays and costumes because of his fame and simple style of dress. Only dressing like L won’t make you just like him, however; his mannerisms are what make him who he is.
Appearance: Looking and Dressing Like L
In the live action films, the audience is introduced to L in a masterful scene that, through his appearance and body posture, tell us all about him. The scene draws attention to:
- His computer, showing puzzles written by Kira
- A table covered in plates of candy and sweet foods
- L’s simple clothing and hunched posture
- L’s bare feet, one with which he scratches his leg
- Dark circles under his eyes, showing lack of sleep
- L’s unemotional facial expression
In the manga and anime, L’s appearance does not differ; L looks to be in his twenties, both tall and thin (probably no heavier than one hundred and ten pounds) with short, dark hair and dark eyes. He might even be described as unhealthy due to the circles under his eyes and his crooked posture. Judging by the pile of sweets on the table, is can certainly be deduced that L does not have a healthy diet. Moments later, L’s bad posture is explained by his preference of crouching forward in a chair as opposed to sitting. Another feature to take into account is his poker face; rarely do you ever see L smile.
Don’t worry - you don’t need to start deforming you good posture and ruining your diet and sleep patterns to look like L; to give the appearance of being like L, you can:
- Show interest in puzzles and murders while on your computer
- Always have a large amount of candy and sweet foods around your living space
- Buy and wear a simple white long-sleeved shirt and straight-legged blue jeans
- Walk around barefoot, at least while you are indoors
- Apply eyeliner to give the appearance of no sleep (and don’t be energetic)
- Refrain from showing emotion - no matter what, keep a straight face
Because of L’s personality traits, it has been suggested that he might have Asperger’s Syndrome. Symptoms include awkward social interaction, lack of empathy, high intelligence, and sleep deprivation, among others.
Personality: Thinking and Acting Like L
Being like Death Note’s L goes beyond looking and dressing like the character. If you truly want to replicate L, you’ll need to act like him both mentally and physically. The strong point of L’s personality is his intelligence, it’s only match being Light’s quick, deductive thinking. L’s personality traits consist of:
- High intelligence
- Deductive reasoning
- Sarcasm / dry humor
- Lack of empathy
- Social awkwardness
- Telling subtle lies
Here is where being like L gets difficult. If you are naturally outgoing, bubbly, emotional or honest, you might find it difficult to flip these behaviors around with a level of consistency. To put it simply, L is not a nice person. If you’ve seen the British crime drama Sherlock, you know that Sherlock’s personality is the same; incredibly intelligent, but also sarcastic and unsympathetic. Some tips for teaching yourself this personality type include:
- Read books; reading increases your vocabulary and intelligence
- Always second guess your results, even if the answer seems obvious
- Practice deductive reasoning; solve your family or friend’s problems
- When researching, be meticulous over every detail
- Don’t be gullible or accept answers and beliefs without question
- Only use and respond to sarcastic or dry humor
- Be socially awkward; act out of place, say strange things and act oddly
- Separate yourself from your emotions (and never show them)
- Tell lies, but not outright - lie about little details, or to discover facts and evidence
Behaving in this mindset will take a deal of practice because most people don’t think or behave this way. However, when you get it down pat you’ll stick out in the crowd like a sore thumb. And if you’ve watched the anime or films (or read the manga), you’ll recall that L does, too. Imitate L’s personality, and the rest will seem much simpler.
How much do you already act like L?
Behavior: Picking Up L's Bad Habits
The way that L behaves in public distance him from everyone else, especially when it comes to what you might call his bad habits. In short, L’s mannerisms in public are quite rude in a society where polite behavior and the utmost respect for others are encouraged. L’s bad social habits include:
- Biting his nails and / or putting his fingers in his mouth
- Walking barefoot and putting his feet on furniture
- Chewing food with his mouth open
- Talking with his mouth full of food
- Making rude observations of others out loud
- Picking items up with the tips of his fingers (instead of his hand)
- Sitting crouched with his feet on the furniture
To L, this behavior all seems perfectly natural. He especially defends sitting in a crouched position, saying that if he sat any other way, his reasoning would drop by forty percent. Also, when he steals Misa’s (Light's girlfriend) phone from her in a crowd, he answers it by grasping it in the tips of his fingers. To behave like L, you simply need to repeat these actions in public. But be careful, sitting hunched over in that manner for long periods of time can be uncomfortable, and could affect your overall posture. Don’t be too serious about it - act like L just enough to convince your audience.
Occupation: Becoming the Detective
Finally, understanding L’s occupation will help you to act like him both inside and out. L became a secret detective at a young age after his caretaker, Watari, discovered how smart he was. L is an orphan and has no immediate family aside from Watari. His deductive reasoning and vast intelligence help him to catch even the sneakiest of criminals, a feat he is renowned for around the world. He helps solve crimes via a computer connection that alters his voice as he speaks, and hides his face. Watari acts as his messenger.
L uses bold tactics and subterfuge to gain the lead on his targets and discover evidence. To be the detective that L is, you would have to:
- Be willing to take risks if it means catching your criminal or target
- Use bold tactics against your enemy, including actions that others might view as “wrong”
- Put your own life in danger if it means getting the upper hand and “winning”
In the end, L views the battle for evidence between him and Light (Kira) as a game to be won or lost. By seeing it this way, L has no emotional attachment aside from the need for justice to prevail. Become a torchbearer of justice (everything in moderation, of course), and you can become like L.
Whether you read the manga, watched the anime or saw the live action films (or all three), you’ll recognize L as the same character; in all three, he wears the same clothing, has the same personality and exhibits the same behavioral problems. It’s a combination of his intelligence, mannerisms and deductive detective work that make L such an admirable character. However, liking L and being like L are two different things; take a break every once in a while, or you might end up with a hunch in your back or strange reactions from your friends.