Death Note is a dark, complex, story driven by the crucial choices characters make. Situations may have turned out very differently if Light used a different decision-making process, or L had a different personality, or Misa’s mind worked differently, or Ryuk wasn’t so bored.
With all that in mind, you might have wondered what personality types these characters have. Myers-Briggs® types describe how people learn new information, make decisions, and interact with their outer and inner worlds. When we look at what we learn of the Death Note characters in the anime, which type does each of them have?
Disclaimers: Fictional personality typing always involves guesswork and is open to interpretation. These aren’t the only ways that people could type these characters, though most people who I’ve seen weigh-in on this topic agree on major typings like Light and L. Also, for a story like this with so many villains and morally questionable characters, it’s worth pointing out that no personality type is more likely than another to be “evil.” In other words, typing someone like Light as an ENTJ isn’t a commentary on the morality of ENTJs in general.
Table of contents
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Light Yagami – ENTJ
“If Kira gets caught, he is evil. If Kira rules the world, he is justice.”
Even when not holding and using the Death Note, Light is a natural genius who’s highly perceptive, excels at problem-solving, and strategically plans ahead. He’s systematic in pursuing goals and, like many real-life ENTJs, he talks through his thoughts aloud, sorting through ideas to find the most effective and efficient solutions. He’s also attracted by the idea of power and enjoys a challenge. Of course he tries out the Death Note to see what it will do. Couple that new power with his hubris and the effect of possessing a Death Note, and you’ve got a brilliant example of an ENTJ villain.
L Lawliet – INTP
“I was testing him. I wanted to see what he’d choose.”
L is famous for his analytical mind and problem-solving abilities before the anime even starts. No one knows his real name and most of the people he works with don’t even see him; he stays behind the scenes even more fully than a typical armchair detective. That keeps his personality quirks and disorganized appearance from interfering with people’s perceptions of him until Kira’s murders present a challenge big enough for L to start working with a task force personally. Like many other INTPs, L is creative, clever, fascinated by puzzles, and doesn’t care very much about what other people think of how he chooses to test his ideas.
“You thought I chose you? ‘Cuz you’re so smart or something? It just happened to land somewhere around here and you just happened to pick it up.”
The whole story with Light and the Death Notes starts because Ryuk was bored and wanted to see what would happen if he dropped one of these notebooks in the human world. Feeling the need to break up monotony and routine with something unexpected is a very ENTP thing to do. This Shinigami is a chaotic trickster who doesn’t really care what Light does with the notebook as long as it’s interesting and doesn’t interfere with things Ryuk wants to do, like eat apples and laugh when Light makes decisions based on incomplete information.
Misa Amane – ESFP
“I’ll work hard to make you love me.”
Misa is an intense, live-in-the-moment person with a successful career as a pop star. Like other ESFPs, she thrives in the outer world and wholeheartedly throws herself into things she’s passionate about. Misa takes her thoughtlessness and passion to an extreme, though; to the point that she recklessly trades chunks of her lifespan away and kills without question to help the man she loves.
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Rem – INFP
“Yes, I will die if I act first and kill the person who wants to kill Misa before he makes his move, but… that is fine with me.”
The Shinigami working with Misa is full of contradictions. She’s helping someone who’s using a Death Note to kill, yet manga artist Takeshi Obata calls her “a good person.” She’s a death god, yet she’s doing her best to keep Misa alive. Much like real-life INFPs are guided by strong personal feelings of what’s right and wrong, Rem sticks with her beliefs even though they don’t make sense to others around her. She’s forward-thinking, but not quite enough to outwit Light, and finally sacrifices herself to save Misa.
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Near – INTJ
“If you can’t win the game, if you can’t solve the puzzle, you’re nothing but a loser.”
L’s successor Near has a similar personality, but a different way of approaching the world. The way he thinks is a little more like Light, which gives him an edge in figuring out his opponent’s next moves. Near is incredibly intelligent and approaches the problem of Kira like a puzzle or chess game. He uses deductive reasoning to figure things out. Though he struggles socially and tends to distance himself from people, he also sees his relationships as important (a balance many real-life INTJs struggle with as well).
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Mello – ESTP
“I don’t underestimate revenge as a motive.”
Another of L’s successors, Mello is highly intelligent and at the same time far more action-oriented than either L or Near. He doesn’t stew over new pieces of information or set up elaborate puzzles to test his theories. He acts immediately even when those actions seem extreme, like kidnapping Light’s sister. Mello’s motives are also different—he’s highly competitive and he wants to catch Kira to prove he’s better than Near, whom he sees as a rival. He’s often described as emotional, but that’s because he’s expressive and short-tempered rather than because he’s a Feeling type.
Read This Next: 10 Amazing ESTP Anime Characters
Teru Mikami – ISTJ
“In this world, there is only good and evil, that was the first universal truth I grasped from observing the world around me when I was a child. Every human being without exception ends up falling into one category or the other.”
Strict, logical, and disciplined, criminal prosecutor Mikami latches on to Kira’s mission as if it were justice dispensed by a god. He even goes so far as to call Kira “God” and eagerly takes up using a Death Note when Light recruits him. He has a black-and-white view of the world and a ridged definition of justice. One thing that sets him apart from more forward-thinking Light (who justifies his kills saying they prevent crime) is that Mikami is more concerned with past actions; anyone who has ever committed a crime deserves to be written in the Death Note.
Kiyomi Takada – ESFJ
“You’re the only man I’ve ever actually admired… and now to find out that you’re Kira… it’s too amazing for words.”
Smart, driven, and charming, Kiyomi is a believer in Kira’s ideals and seems a natural choice to act as his spokesperson. She enjoys being the center of attention and takes pride in her appearance, control of a situation, and power in the roles Kira gives her. As an ESFJ, one of the things she’s concerned with is keeping society as a whole on the right track. She prioritizes relationships and social standing, and it grates on her that someone like Light would be in a relationship with someone as “undeserving” of him as Misa.
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Soichiro Yagami – ESTJ
“I’m seeing this case through to the end. I will not succumb to evil.”
Light’s father and the head of the Japanese Task Force trying to capture Kira, Soichiro has a strong sense of justice and a commitment to doing what is right. For him, “what’s right” aligns with traditional definitions of morality and legality. He’s driven and focused, even to the point that his family life takes a back-seat to his professional commitments as a law enforcement officer. Family is still important to him, though, and he’ll bend some of his principles as he tries to prove Light isn’t Kira and protect the rest of his family.
Naomi Misora – INFJ
“My fiancé… and the convenience store robber… and the busjacker… were all used by Kira in order to murder the FBI agents in Japan. I’m convinced of it.”
Naomi plays a small but important role in the story. She used to be an FBI agent, but left because starting a family with her fiancé was more important to her than a career. Like many INFJs, she’s intelligent and insightful, putting patterns of information together so quickly that she rivals L in her investigative ability. She’s more inclined to make emotional decisions, though, and Light is able to manipulate her and use her feelings against her.
What Are Your Thoughts?
What did you think of this article? Did I leave out any of your favorite characters (I wanted to type the whole task force, but it’s already a long post), or do you have a different typing to suggest? Let us know your thoughts and chat with other readers in the comments.
About the Author:
Marissa Baker is the author of The INFJ Handbook (available in the Amazon Kindle Store). You can find her online at LikeAnAnchor.com where she blogs about personal growth and development from a Christian perspective.