commonly referred to by his alias "L
" is a fictional character in the manga, anime and film series Death Note
. L is considered the world's greatest detective, whose identity remains unknown before the story takes place because he has never revealed himself to the public. L takes on the Kira investigation in the first arc. The character of L is portrayed by Ken'ichi Matsuyama in Death Note
, Death Note: The Last Name
and L: Change the WorLd
L, who also uses the aliases Hideki Ryuga, Ryuzaki, Eraldo Coil, and Deneuve, the latter two for which he has developed reputations as the second- and third-best detectives in the world, is quite secretive and only communicates with the world through his assistant Watari. He never shows his face to the world, instead representing himself with a capital L in Cloister Black font. After meeting the Kira investigation team, he requests that the task force refer to him as Ryuzaki for discretion. The Kira investigation team never learns his true name. Ohba said that L is the smartest character in the manga because "the plot requires it." Ohba also said that he personally views L as "slightly evil"; for instance, in chapter 109, Near discloses the fact that L claimed to pursue cases out of personal interest with no great sense of justice.
When asked about L's ethnicity, Ohba responded saying "I think of him as a quarter Japanese, a quarter English, a quarter Russian and... maybe a quarter French or Italian? Something like that."
L's disheveled and languid appearance masks his great powers of deduction and insight. He tends to second-guess everything he is presented with, and is extremely meticulous and analytical. He has several quirks such as preferring to crouch rather than sit, eating only sweet foods like desserts and fruits, and holding items very delicately. L stayed in England for five years, and during that time he was the champion in tennis for the England Junior Cup. L also secretly assumes the identities of the world's second and third best detectives (Eraldo Coil and Deneuve respectively).
L suspects early in the investigation that Light Yagami is Kira, but can not obtain any concrete evidence. In several situations, Light seems to be proven innocent by the circumstances, but L remains skeptical. If Light were Kira, the case would be solved, and L has trouble letting go of this simple and complete solution. L can easily present his conclusions publicly at any time, and with his reputation, is taken seriously.
Because of his initial suspicions of Light, L decides to join To-Oh University, the university that Light attends, using the name of Hideki Ryuga for investigative purposes. L attends To-Oh because he feels confidence in his reasoning skills and wishes to test them. He also intends to tell Light that he can "take the offensive." L understands that his act is dangerous and since he understands Light's thought process he feels confident that Light will not kill him at that point.
After L introduces himself as Ryuga, Light does not attempt to kill him since the name is conspicuously fake. Also, he has no way to know at the time whether the person is the real L or a proxy acting under orders. Light also reasons that L would have already introduced himself to Light's father earlier, and thus that if he somehow killed L, he would be easily uncovered as Kira. When Light discovers his "Hideki Ryuga" alias, Light fears that if he writes this name in the Death Note, the face of the pop singer from which the alias was derived would enter Light's head and therefore Light would inadvertently kill the pop idol. This would lead L to the obvious conclusion that Light is Kira.
Whenever L gives percentages to indicate how much he suspects a person of committing a crime, such as "five percent," in reality he means over 90 percent. Although L gives Light a low percentage indicating how much he suspects Light, in reality L is "pretty certain" that Light is Kira.