Misa Amane as she appears in the manga
|First appearance||Chapter 24: Shield (manga)
Episode 11: Assault (anime)
|Created by||Tsugumi Ohba
|Voiced by||Aya Hirano (Japanese)
Shannon Chan-Kent (English)
|Portrayed by||Erika Toda|
Misa Amane (弥 海砂 Amane Misa?), is a fictional character in the manga and anime series Death Note. Although she fills the traditional role of the love interest, her relationship with mass-murderer Light Yagami is one-sided.
Conception and development
Tsugumi Ohba, writer of Death Note, decided to create Misa to be the second Kira before the serialization began. Ohba felt that having the story solely consist of males would be "boring" and wanted "a cute female." Ohba, intending to introduce her with the Shinigami Eyes, described her as having to be "spontaneous and not too bright" and that he determined her personality "from the start." Since Light Yagami would never want to trade for the Shinigami Eyes, Ohba wanted another character to use to trade for the eyes, so Ohba decided to use Misa. Ohba said that the conception of the name Misa "was kind of random but I think it was from "kuromisa" (Black Mass). It must have been based on something".
Ohba ultimately decided to introduce Misa after the death of Naomi Misora. Ohba and Takeshi Obata, artist of Death Note, wanted to use the gothic lolita design to convey "gothic imagery of the Shinigami and that world". Ohba said that they're "into that fashion" and that having Misa first appear in unusual clothing would be "more interesting". Obata, imagining a mix of an "energetic Japanese artist" and a "foreign rock and roll singer", felt "set" when he drew Misa for the first time. Ohaberenbata said that he felt "apprehension" regarding the length of Misa's hair; personally he wanted her fringe (bangs) to be "straight across" but believed that creating Misa completely within the bounds of gothic lolita style would be "too much". Therefore Obata designed her so she looked "a little more natural" and to appear "cute" to people who "weren't into the Gothic Lolita style".
When the Near and Mello story arc began and Misa became a top idol, Obata decided to make her look like "a popular actress". Obata said that he remembered "having a lot of fun" while looking through gothic lolita magazines and drawing Misa. In response to a question inquiring about which characters the creators faced the most difficulty in creating, Obata selected Misa. Obata said that he had difficulty comprehending the concept of "doing anything for the person you love" and that he felt like the character controlled him when he drew her. Death Note 13: How to Read also states that Misa "required a lot of artistic variation" because of her "many expressions" that ranged "from goofy to serious".
In the manga, Misa wears jewelry with a crucifix theme; in the anime adaptation, she wears fleur de lis jewelry, although the cross is retained on the collector's figure included with Volume 5 of the DVD series.
Within the Death Note universe, Misa is a famous model, singer, and actress who is infatuated with Light Yagami. He has been shown to slightly consider feeling some type of affection for her when first meeting as she blushes at him when he compliments her on explaining, however he feels that "developing feelings is how most idiots screw up" as he says in his head. She usually refers to herself in the third person by calling herself "Misa-Misa" to be cute, although this is omitted in the English dub of the anime, and she tends to be hyperactive. Despite her hyperactivity, she rarely, if ever, allows her personal feelings about anyone to interfere with Light's plans, showing her unflinching loyalty to him. She, like Light, is corrupted by the power that comes with owning a Death Note. However, unlike Light, she neither wishes to become a god, nor loses her original personality. Despite this however her playfulness hides a deeply twisted and disturbed girl. Because of Light's cruel and manipulative nature, she's just another one of his victims, albeit a very dangerous one.
Douglas Wolk of Salon describes Misa as being drawn in a "Japanese comics' tradition of cute, tiny, airhead girls with big eyes" and being a "lot cannier than she pretends to be". Wolk adds that the reader could "watch her measuring how much quasi-innocent charm to pour on in every situation".
She decides to devote her life to Light because he punished the criminal that killed her parents when she was younger in front of her eyes. Misa, unable to forgive the killer and wanting to kill the burglar herself, saw multiple delays in the killer's trial and the possibility he could get off before Kira killed him. According to Ohba, Light sees Misa as a "bad person" who killed innocent people, so he acts emotionally cold towards her and manipulates her. Light and Misa both act together as Kira for over five years, until Light decides that it is too dangerous for Misa to be Kira with members of the taskforce suspecting him and tells her to give up the notebook. During the series, Misa performs two eye trades, cutting her lifespan in half twice: the first, with Rem; the second, with Ryuk. That is to say that if her original lifespan was to live to be a hundred, after trading for the eyes twice, her lifespan is shortened to twenty-five years. However, it is later revealed that if a Shinigami dies while protecting a human, that human gains the Shinigami's remaining lifespan. Thus, as Rem died while protecting Misa, her natural lifespan was extended.
The Shinigami who follows her is Rem. Not long before Misa's introduction to the series, Misa was attacked by an obsessed stalker. Unknown to her, a Shinigami named Gelus had fallen in love with her, and was watching her during the attack. In order to save her life, Gelus wrote her stalker's name into his notebook, killing him. Consequently, Gelus himself died, since shinigami exist only to take human life, not extend it. Rem, who witnessed the whole event, then took Gelus's notebook which had been left behind and gave it to Misa. The two eventually grew to care for each other.
According to 13: How to Read, Misa loses her memories related to using the Death Note at Light's orders and retains her love for Light. Misa falls into despair after someone "like Matsuda" "probably let it slip" that Light died. Misa's fate is not shown in the manga at all; she was last seen staying at the Teito Hotel. Ohba stated that this was simply because he did not have a situation to fit her in. Misa commits suicide a year after Light dies.
At the anime's finale, Misa appears dressed in Gothic Lolita clothing, standing outside the safety rail on the edge of a skyscraper and looking into the sunset. The official manga guidebook lists her date of death as unknown, leaving fans to wonder whether or not she really committed suicide.
Misa is portrayed in the films by Erika Toda. In the film continuity, Misa has a brother, who is murdered along with her parents. Misa's personality is altered slightly from the manga. In addition, her appearance is slightly modified: while Misa has blonde hair in the manga and anime, she has brown hair in the films.
She is first seen filming a dorama called "Misa-Misa's Happy Sweets", where she states that she is baking treats to make her enemies fat. After filming of that section ends, she expresses support for Kira to a journalist. Her supervisor asks that the statement be cut due to controversies. Misa's attacker, Ryotaro Sakajo, the assistant director for "Happy Sweets", dies from a heart attack when Gelus writes his name inside of his Death Note. Gelus' Death Note then falls in front of Misa, who immediately picks it up. After reading the notebook, she finds Rem.
In the second film, Mogi replaces Ukita as Misa's victim during the Sakura TV incident. Additionally, Misa first learns of Light's identity as Kira when Soichiro rescues Sayu.
Misa is present at the final confrontation between Light and the police force, though she is handcuffed and restrained by another officer. When Light dies after Ryuk writes his name down in the Death Note, Misa breaks down emotionally. Her memory of the Death Note is erased, but she retains her obsession with Light, wishing him a happy birthday through a mini-shrine dedicated to him.
Actress's portrayal of Misa
Erika Toda said that, prior to filming, she felt "a lot of pressure" due to the character's popularity with audiences. She said the pressure vanished when filming began. In an article in The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, writer Kitty Sensei theorized that Toda did not have "the time to think much about how fans would react", citing film shoots that Kitty Sensei described as "physically and mentally exhausting" such as the straitjacket scene. Toda said that undoing the straitjacket took a lot of time, and at times she waited in the jacket between takes. Toda also said that on one occasion, she wore a blindfold for an hour during filming.
Tom S. Pepirium, an editor of IGN website, describes Misa in a review of the Death Note anime episode "Performance" as being the "show's weakest and most annoying character". Pepirium cites "the tone in which she is written". He feels that her motivation and obsession with Kira are "in league with Death Note's dark sensibilities". He says that when Misa "spouts" her "deep and fully realized" affection for Kira in "her wacky, excited, poodle-like way" the information "loses all impact". The reviewer uses "girly sophomoric pink fluff" and "Jar Jar" (a reference to Jar Jar Binks) as figurative descriptors for Misa. He also had compared Misa to Dot from Animaniacs. Pepirium said that he wished that Misa spent more time in a "somewhat serious state" instead of a "silly lovesick, big-eyed anime characterization". In a Salon.com article Douglas Wolk includes Misa in a grouping of characters that he describes as "neatly wrought".
Reception of the film version of the character
Erika Toda said that she views Misa as "complicated and fascinating". Toda added that she does not comprehend why a person would willingly use a Death Note; Toda said that she admired the fact that Misa "does everything she sets out to do" but that the actions of Light and Misa are "criminal".
Christy Lee S.W. of The Star said that Toda's portrayal of Misa in the second film "may seem rather annoying for being overly bubbly and cute at first" and that the character "grows" on the viewer "after a while". Lee said that at the end of the film she saw Misa as "quite endearing".
- "How to Think." Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 62.
- "How to Think." Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 60.
- "Takeshi Obata Production Note: Characters". Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 127.
- Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 191.
- Death Note 13: How to Read VIZ Media.
- Wolk, Douglas. "Death strip". Salon.
- Volume 4, Page 93
- "How to Think". Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 65.
- "The 13 Truths About Chapter 108." Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 200.
- Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 16.
- Ohba, Tsugumi (2007). Death Note A Animation Official Analysis Guide. Shueisha. p. 9. ISBN 9784088741970.
- Death Note 13: How to Read. Shueisha. 16.
- Kitty Sensei. "Here’re a few hints of the second and concluding part of Death Note the movie, The Last Name.." The Star. Sunday January 14, 2007. Retrieved on September 1, 2009.
- Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 215.
- Pepirium, Tom S. "Death Note: "Performance" Review". IGN. March 19, 2008. Retrieved on September 1, 2009.
- Pepirium, Tom S. "Death Note: "Friend" Review". IGN. January 28, 2008. Retrieved on September 1, 2009.
- Pepirium, Tom S. "Death Note: "Confession" Review." IGN. January 28, 2008. Retrieved on September 1, 2009.
- Lee S.W., Christy. "A Name to Remember". The Star. January 28, 2007. Retrieved on April 8, 2009.