Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba's supernatural crime thriller Death Note anime is great fun to watch, and it depicts a battle of wits for the ages as Kira and L maneuver to do each other in. Both Light Yagami (as Kira) and L use all sorts of brilliant ploys and schemes in their cat-and-mouse game, each more cunning than the last.
Light Yagami is a high school student at first, but he's no ordinary teenager. He uses his vast intelligence to become the world's most prolific serial killer, aiming to rid the world of crime. Even the FBI falls to him, powerless, during his quest to vanquish L. What are Light's ten most cunning tricks and ploys?
10 The drawer with a fake bottom
As Ryuk explains early on, hiding the Death Note soon becomes a major headache for any owner. After all, it's pretty serious evidence of murders committed with it, and the owner wouldn't want other people seeing their Shinigami companion. So, Light buys some tools and installs a fake bottom in a desk drawer in his room, complete with a decoy — a regular notebook. He takes the extra step of adding a plastic bag of gasoline, wires, and a rubber block so that if anyone forces out the Death Note, the entire desk catches on fire, the Death Note along with it. Now that's some insurance!
9 Rigging the bedroom door
Early in his career as Kira, Light uses his own bedroom as his headquarters. He even invites Misa, the second Kira, inside. Light uses not only his desk trap, but also rigs his bedroom door handle to see if anyone entered. He sets the handle so that he can tell the difference. Further, he puts pencil lead in the hinges, and he could when L's detectives visited the room to plant electronic bugs. The agents hid some, but not all, evidence of their arrival. That's how Light knew that detectives visited, and not an ordinary guest (who would miss all of those things).
8 The potato chip bag
This is a popular Death Note scene among the fans, since it's funny to see Light make such drama out of eating some potato chips ("crisps" in the UK). But it really is a great trick. With L watching via hidden cameras, Light uses a tiny TV in the bag to see the faces of criminals, and write their names in a Death Note snippet inside the bag, one letter at a time. This way, Light disguises his actions as just reaching into the bag for chips. On the outside, L and Soichiro only see Light studying while Kira kills criminals. Ultimately, this doesn't discourage L, but it's a neat trick all the same.
7 The bus jacking
Here's another early ploy that paid off well for Light. Ryuk informs him that an FBI detective is tailing him, so Light arranges a bus jacking, complete with a psychotic criminal holding the driver at gunpoint. But everyone here is a pawn, and Light asks the FBI agent to show him his badge to prove that he's not the bus jacker's accomplice. Thus, Light learns the name Raye Penber. And to wrap things up, the jacker is killed when he sees Ryuk, flees the bus in terror, and dies to a car accident.
6 Raye and the FBI Team
This scheme is a continuation of the bus jacking. Now that Light knows Raye's name and the FBI's involvement in the Kira case, Light takes action. Using pre-prepared Death Note pages, envelopes, and a small radio, he corners Raye in a subway and manipulates Raye into finding out the names and faces of all FBI agents in Japan. Raye writes their names and unwittingly kills them all, since he's writing into Death Note paper without realizing it. Once again, Light wraps things up neatly. In this case, it is Raye Penber who drops dead.
5 Rem kills L and Watari
Light's final victory against L is an indirect one, but no less impressive for it. To make a long story short, Light creates a scenario where the newly released Misa starts operating as Kira once again, and L strongly suspects her. To protect Misa from any future action from L, Rem kills both L and Watari. But this action extended a life, and so Rem dissolves into sand and dies. Light killed his ultimate enemy, and also got rid of Rem, who would even kill Light to protect Misa if she had to. Mission accomplished!
4 Kal Snydar and the eyes
In the second half of Death Note, Light faces more pressure than ever, as both Near and Mello compete to capture Kira. Mello uses his own schemes to claim the Death Note for himself, but Light isn't about to give in. He borrows Misa's eye power to identify Kal Snydar as the current Death Note owner. With that information in hand, Light writes down Mr. Snydar's name and forces him to write his current hideout's address and mail it to Misa. Kal, bound by Light's details of the death, didn't alert Mello of this action before he died of a heart attack.
3 Bonus Kiras
At some point, Light has his back to the wall as both Kira and L, and he can't even operate as Kira anymore, and neither can Misa. But even with all these eyes watching him, Light finds a way. He recruits Teru Mikami as his proxy to great effect, and later, Teru even uses Kiyomi Takada (now a news anchor) to act as his proxy later on. The power of Kira is moving around faster than the detectives can track it, and only a late-stage blunder on Teru's part unravels the plan at the last minute. Until then, Kira was more a ghost than a mortal. Try arresting that!
2 Naomi Misora and her driver's license
Here's another early trick that proves Light's limitless intelligence. After the bus jacking and Raye Penber's death, Raye's fiancee Naomi Misora is deteremined to catch Kira herself. She nearly does, until Light invites her out on a walk and acts as Soichiro Yagami's ever-so-innocent son. Ms. Misora gave Light a fake name that prevented a quick Death Note murder. But Light posed as a member of the investigation team and offered to recruit Ms. Misora, and asked for ID. She handed over her driver's license; her demise was a guarantee soon after that.
1 Ryuk, the errand boy
As L and Kira at the same time, Light had a lot to juggle in Part 2. He had to disguise the fact that he was technically investigating himself, and Near and Mello wanted Kira dead at all costs. So, to recapture the notebook from Mello at last, Light arranged for Misa to pose as the "real" Kira and call Soichiro with an interesting offer for mutual benefit. Meanwhile, Ryuk "arrived" at L's headquarters with Kira's notebook. Mr. Yagami and the others were 100% fooled that Kira was assisting L as a separate person, united by their hostility toward Mello. Eventually, Near sees through this, but it allows Light to launch a successful mission to recapture the notebook and render Mello nearly powerless.