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Deathnote: Light Yagami and the Question of Morality.

Updated on April 15, 2015
The forbidden fruit of human desire.
The forbidden fruit of human desire. | Source


In religious texts as well as political narrative, there are only two sides where morality is objective. There is a good side that is afflicted systematically by the bad side; the protagonist must rise and overcome, crushing the antagonist. But what if there is no such thing as such opposition? Philosophical schools have branched out, dissecting the human psyche, and illustrating the complexity of human interaction through culture and language. The antagonist versus protagonist entertainment structure, commonly used in Western films and literature has grown exhaustible, answering only questions of comfort, not truth. Deathnotes’ moral appeal operates off of a conflicting moral system. Within the perceived moral relativism of Deathnote, can Lights Yagamis’ actions be justified by morality?


There are ways in which morality can be measured out of its spectrum and into a more darkened area on the scale of morality. The intent of a moral action is key to understanding motive to define what a person does to get the achieved ethical outcome. Interestingly, Lights’ intentions are superficial; bent not on a legitimate empirical basis to derive an outcome of the perfect world but on one that makes him look like a God for the sake of the good. How could he resist the prowess of a book that contains such power with the stroke of a pen? Even within the occult, every intention stirs up an energy depending on the negative or positive means both subconsciously and consciously. The occult knows all for it recognizes the deepest seed of negativity within the soul; As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul. Lights' Shinigami, Ryku, ensures Light of his inevitable afterlife damnation.

Within seconds of Lights' debut as a character, he is restless, not because of the horrors of the world; he is simply bored. Tired of being subjected to a life of monotony. It is permissible to even theorize that Light willed the magnetism of the Shinigamis’ boredom in his realm. Lights heart was never in the right place, he chose to hinge his will on pure judgment without thought, it is nothing more than brutality.

Destructive Passion

Light was given his alias, Kira, due to his growing fanbase. The root of ethicality depends on the people. Peoples’ individual perceptions are intertwined and help provide long term results to the action. Seeing that Kiras'’ actions are global, the implications are severe. Kira had global support, after all, he did execute proven offenders. Not surprisingly as Light goes further down the spiral, he supports and participates in the killings of those who dissent against him. The moralist argument in the name of Light would refute with “He lowered the crime rate by 70%. His intentions are in the right place”, this assertion is based on cognitive bias and psychosocial aspects. Causation does not equal correlation. Despite the power Light obviously withholds, he cannot dismantle crime entirely; especially when he allows wrongdoings to continue his reign.

What is the foundation of a society when its ethical axis is upholstered by supernatural forces imposed by a human who is led by ego and where actions and outcome are not questioned due to intent? Evidently, the notion of “crime” is placed on subjective grounds. What is a crime and can one trust authority to symmetrically match crime to punishment?

Light supported and personally carried out the executions of bullies and petty thieves. Anything that was deemed a crime was in conflict with Lights Yagamis' morality alongside his predecessors who he gave the Deathnote to, faced death without question or trial.

Light, the Tyrant

The world of the supernatural is not superseded by the realm of the flesh; they mirror each other. Political narrative along with the deviancy that is political corruption is intrinsic to the plane of magic, arguably inherent in human nature where there are figures with absolute power. Even in the conceivably flawed philosophy of objectivism and its controversial philosopher, Ayn Rand mentioned in her novel, Atlas Shrugged, "a dictator is no more different than a mystic and vice versa, for they have the same ability to destroy consciousness and rational thought". This can be done by rectifying a government paradigm, a political division that is ultimately one in the same but it is projected as a dichotomy to the masses. Light and government despotism are one in the same. Light did not control money and food, however, he did control the mass media; to the point where schools were to be mandatory not to any grounded teachings that provide leverage to the existence of reality, but classes dedicated to Kira as a moral enforcer.

Similar to the corrupt hierarchies of the old as well as the new, Light assigns placeholders such as Teru Mikami, to carry out his dealings. In fact, Light purposely chose Teru Mikami and Kiyomi Takada, not because of their moral stances or even differing opinions and perspectives to Lights' convoluted mechanisms; he chose them for their blind faith and fatal devotion. Light demonstrates an undemocratic disposition in selecting his book holders without any say from the people who support him.

Sensationalism combined with fear is no doubt a modus operandi in concentrating and enforcing established ideas. It is a matter of a faceless power serving the faceless good.

Closing Perspective

Lights' last moments were a trembling cacophony of cowardice, grasping at the last straws of his mangled deductive reasoning. Light promised that he would die as a brave martyr, when faced his mortality, he shunned his bravery, pummeling into a state of God-like rage. Lights' death ultimately marked the crumbling empire of his rule. Although a procession took place in his honor, decorated with the saddened awe of those who sought refuge in his blind justice.

Between the dueling perceptions of right and wrong, one truth remains constant with authority, absolute power corrupts. The lack of intent that was never placed on a scale of question, destructive passion inflamed by the Deathnote, and fear mongering combined with the outcome, cracked Light Yagamis' compass of morality.

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Do you think the actions of Light Yagami were justifiable?

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