I was having a conversation with my friend and I said that Kira was one of my favorite antiheroes. He replied with: Kira is not a an antihero, he's a villain.

But he gave nearly zero arguments for that.

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    I have removed the second part of your question as it seems off topic to me. Megneto is from comics and movies not anime or manga Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 19:51

10 Answers 10


In modern works, we are not limited to Greek archetypes. Light is a villain protagonist.

While the stories of the Greeks were written to follow great heroes, that does not limit us to their archetypes. The central character can be a villain -- and Light is clearly one such person, as he steps off the deep end shortly into the series.

An anti-hero is a hero who lacks heroic features; Light is a protagonist who performs villainous actions.

A good anti-hero example would be the modern take on Batman. He is dark, foreboding, and a lawbreaker. He does things (like attacking policemen to stop them from accidentally attacking disguised hostages in The Dark Knight) that aren't considered heroic, with the direct intent of performing a heroic duty -- that is, saving lives. The presence of heroic intent with unheroic actions makes Batman an anti-hero.

Light, on the other hand, quickly steps off his original goal of removing dangerous known bad actors, and begins killing people -- both innocent and guilty -- for the sake of glorifying himself. This is, both in action and intent, the opposite of an archetypal hero. In this way, Light steps over the anti-hero line directly into villain territory.


The entire anime (and probably manga but I haven’t read it) follows the story of Light — from when he first gains access to a Death Note until the bitter end. It’s obvious that Light is a central character and we can ask ourself whether he is a hero (or antihero) or a villain.

An antihero has been defined by Ankit, a villain would typically be somebody who works against the principal (anti) hero standing on the other side of the black/white schism.

There are other principal and supporting character, naturally. I would classify the police investigation squad as supporting and L as another principal character.

L’s successor Near would also be classified as principal in my humble opinion.

Obviously, Light and L are not both black or both white; they have conflicting goals.

With this rather simple classification in hand, it is up to us to ask us whether L’s side can be considered the ‘hero side’ — the only possibility if we desire to call Light the villain. Well:

L can’t be the hero by himself as he dies halfway through. The work ends if the hero dies. Near can’t be the hero by himself as he only appears halfway through. Together, they could be the ‘hero side’ in a two-episode drama.

But even if that last case is true, we still follow the story of Light much more closely than the story of L. It’s not the idea of a hero that they barely turn up.

Therefore, Light is an antihero.


Definition of antihero from Google:

a central character in a story, film, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.

Light was central character and lacks conventional heroic attributes. So he is surely an antihero.

  • Will appreciate the downvote feedback. Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 6:43
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    I'm not the downvoter but this answer seems way too simplistic. Definitions in literature and art are not clear-cut like they are in programming. It feels very inadequate to answer a question on a complex topic like antihero vs. villain by saying "Here's a definition; this character fits this definition, so they are an antihero."
    – Torisuda
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 0:01
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    @Torisuda On the other hand, if you aren't willing to agree to a definition then things can be warped to support (or attack) any arbitrarily selected conclusion. After all, the question "Is Light an X or Y?" is utterly meaningless if you don't specify what X and Y actually are to some extent (and becomes a primarily opinion based question, which is the kind we close on almost all SE sites). Give me wiggle room in definitions and I could argue Light is a force of nature, for example, which while potentially amusing is kind of absurd. Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 13:57
  • @zibadawatimmy This definition and this answer are way too simplistic. It might fly if we were talking about some background character who appeared in one episode, but with Light we have dozens of hours / hundreds of pages worth of material to analyze. Questions like this about literary terms and tropes in media are always to some extent subjective in a way that wouldn't be accepted on Stack Overflow, but this answer tries to be objective and SO-esque and ends up drastically oversimplifying the situation.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 14:22

Light Yagami was a Villian. He killed innocent people such as the dead investigator's wife, Naomi Misora, who he enjoyed killing. He kills the fake L immediately on live TV in his prefecture after the Fake L's speech that he would bring Kira to justice.

He kills L, L's guardian, kills Naomi Misora's husband, kills Naomi Misora and enjoyed the horrified expression on her face as she knows he killed her. After the Death Note takes hold of her he then taunts her and revels in his "victory". Light Yagami is a villain and is a case course on how showing people what drives a killer will bias themselves and argue the immorality of a murder was somehow just an argument over ethics.


Kira (Or Light Yagami) is definitely an anti hero. By definition, anti hero means the central character in a story, film, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes. Heroic attributes are the qualities like strong sense of justice, striving for others rather than his own existence, compassion for others etc.

Light had his own way of justice, he many times murders people to protect his own identity(existence) and also manipulated innocent people to do his bidding. Which are all the qualities that are opposite to a hero.

Even L and N, can't be classified to be heroes, as L stayed till half and is killed. Then N enters from second half.

Finally, I say may be, he shows some villain characteristics, but not classified to be a villain. :)


Kira is both the antihero and a villain.

By the definition given in Ankit's answer he is an antihero (being not really a hero, but still the main character).

By the evil he has done (murder of innocents and even enjoying it, examples in Amira's answer) he is a villain.

The other answers try to exclude one option by arguing that he already is the other one. However, the concepts of an antihero and a villain do not exclude each other. Therefore he can be both if he fulfils both requirements.


Actually, I think Light is an anti-villian since he always talk about justice. However, Light is ready to kill an inocent man just because he object and call him evil. "An Anti-Villain is the opposite of an Anti-Hero; while the anti-hero often fights on the side of good, but with selfish motives; the anti-villain plays a villain's game, but for a noble cause...at least in their eyes. They may be more noble or heroic than an anti-hero, but the means to achieve their ends are often considered exploitative, immoral, unjust, or evil". So yeah, I think Light is not an anti-hero but the oposite, an anti-villain.


I think we all can agree that Light is the central character. All the events in the story surrounds him, but although his way of reaching his goal of becoming the new god isn't really heroic, he had good intencions, such as cleaning the world from criminals. All the innocents killed were a threat to Kira's identity being exposed. So yeah, Light was an antihero. Also i noticed a lot of people misusing the term "villain", because a villain CAN be the main character and a hero also can be the antagonist


Light is both anti-hero and villain, though him being villain outweighs overall.

The first hint of him being more villain was when he killed fake L without thinking as if it was too normal for him to do. Second time which was decisive of him becoming more of a villain was the FBI and his fiance. Hints of him realizing that he is doing wrong were first shown in this case. At this point onwards, he started to have more of villain qualities while the anti-hero pretty much was gone. He had the one villain quality stuck to his mind, i.e. he believes he is a good guy.

The thing is, being anti-hero doesn't mean it's a good or bad thing. An anti-hero is a protagonist who doesn't have good qualities like normal ones, but he can do either good things or bad things, and he will be either a hero or villain. Here, Light started as an anti-hero, but since he started doing bad things he became a villain instead of a hero.


Light is a hero because he only killed criminals. L is secretly a criminal. Look up Anime Theory L's Dark Secret(death note Theory) by DuoReview. Light tried to team up with L but L refused and threatened Light that when L finds Light L is going to kill Light. What was Light supposed to do? Lie to survive. Light killed some agents because L brainwashed them into thinking Light is evil. L should of not threatened Light. L should of chatted with Light, teamed up with Light then there would be true teamwork with the two. A true hero sacrifices himself to save the world and that is what Light did in episode 1.

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