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Matsuda has black hair and brown eyes. His hair hangs over his ears with bangs that hang primarily above his right eye. After the time skip his hair is shorter, though there is more hair covering his forehead. He has fair skin and is of average height.
Matsuda's police skills are lacking in experience, and at times, particularly in the beginning of the series, he somewhat impedes the investigation process. Much to the irritation of his peers, his brash attitude can get him into tricky situations, as evidenced by the time he infiltrated Yotsuba and had to fake his own death to get out. Members of the Task Force, such as Ryuzaki and Shuichi Aizawa, seem to view him as a reckless, naive young detective lacking seriousness for his work.
Despite not having much experience in the NPA, Matsuda has proven to be useful or even crucial to the success of a mission, particularly after the timeskip, in which he helped bring down the Mafia members who were holding the Death Note. Showing great proficiency in his almost instant reactions to tight situations, Matsuda has demonstrated skill in the field of infiltration both as Misa Amane's manager Taro Matsui (松井 太郎, Matsui Tarō), and in the faces of the Yotsuba Group.
Matsuda appears to stay up to date with what is popular in the media, evidenced by his knowledge of Misa-Misa's achievements, and he often watches television. Remarkably, his television habit can be a resourceful asset to the investigation team.
Despite his naive personality, Matsuda maintains loyalty to the Task Force through many dangerous situations and commits to the NPA after the Kira case is solved. He is also totally devoted to Soichiro Yagami, who appears from the beginning of the series to have taken young Matsuda under his wing.
Matsuda is a skilled shot, shown when shooting the notebook out of the hand of a Mafioso without killing him and shooting the pen out of Light Yagami's hand when he attempts to write Near's real name on a hidden piece of the Death Note.
Matsuda has sympathy toward Kira's followers and thinks Kira had good intentions at heart but simply went about them the wrong way. His positive relationship with Light, however, seems all but forgotten after Light's confession, when Matsuda, out of anger and betrayal, shoots Light several times at the warehouse. His anger is partly caused by Light's lack of regret about his father's death.
Matsuda is a self-confessed weakling who, as a policeman, is duty-bound to capture Kira but also sees some of the benefits of a new world order in which crime is decreasing and war almost non-existent.
In spite of his weak nature, he is prepared to take risks. When it becomes clear that Kira is targeting not just criminals but also the people who are after him, Matsuda is one of the few of the originally large Kira Investigation Team willing to stay and risk his life in order to catch Kira. Later, he takes big risks in infiltrating the Yotsuba Group building and eavesdropping on the secret meeting held by some of its executives as they discuss how to use Kira's powers for their own ends. He even agrees to act as bait in order to expose Higuchi as the Yotsuba Kira, even though he is aware that a slip-up in the plan may cost him his life.
Years later, when Mello acquires the Death Note, he contacts Soichiro Yagami and threatens to kill his daughter Sayu unless Soichiro reveals the identity of the current L (Light Yagami). Torn between both his children, Soichiro hesitates, but Matsuda gets him to tell Mello that he, Matsuda, is L but is quite "useless" (Matsuda's words), though Soichiro is more diplomatic by telling Mello that L-Matsuda merely follows the orders of others in the Kira Investigation Team. Matsuda then fears he'll be killed by Mello but isn't since Mello himself sees the current L as useless and not the real brains of the team.
When Light decides to get the Death Note back from Mello by entrusting the team with another, he knows that it will be necessary to make a deal for the Shinigami Eyes in order to get Mello's real name. This will involve the human bearer giving up half his life expectancy. Light expects Matsuda to volunteer for this and indeed he does, but ultimately Soichiro insists on making the eye deal instead.
In other media
In the films, Matsuda is played by Sota Aoyama. Matsuda's role and personality are more or less the same as they are in the manga and anime. When Light is cornered at the end of Death Note: The Last Name, Matsuda shoots Light while he is trying to use a piece of the Death Note that he keeps hidden in his watch.
In the drama, Matsuda still obtains his same role as in the anime; however, one difference is that he is a family friend of the Yagamis prior to the series as he informs Sayu and Light when their father is held hostage. He is also the one to inform Light about L's methods and skills.
In the end, as Light is attempting to kill Near by writing his name in the notebook, Matsuda at first pleads with Light to stop and barely manages to bring himself into shooting Light, in which he collapses over the sight of what he did. Light is then shot twice and incapacitated by Aizawa and Mogi. When Mikami sets the warehouse on fire, Matsuda tries to save Light but is pulled away by Aizawa.
Obata described Matsuda as "hard to predict and thus hard to draw." Obata said that Matsuda's character concept consisted of an "average young detective" and that Matsuda's character had "nothing unique about his features and his actions weren't consistent, so I didn't like him. [laughs]" Obata added that he was a "Matsuda-type" person and therefore did not like seeing "my own inconsistency" in Matsuda. Obata described Matsuda as the sole character who "looks younger" during the Near and Mello arc.
RelationshipsLight Yagami's relationship with Matsuda is rather complex and less professional in comparison to the other task force members — excluding his father Soichiro Yagami. At the start of the series, Matsuda knew very little of Light and, even though he had met both of the Yagami children in the past, he merely knew him as Chief Soichiro Yagami's son. He gets closer to Light when Light joins the task force, even still trusting him when others begin to suspect him of being Kira. His attitude around Light is playful when it comes to issues involving women (Misa or Takada). However, at the meeting with Near at the warehouse, when Light finally admits to being Kira, Matsuda shoots him several times with his gun. Ostensibly this is in order to prevent Light from killing anyone with a piece of the Death Note, but it is also out of anger at the way in which Light's actions caused the death of his own father, whom Matsuda respected and looked up to.
Soichiro Yagami is seen by Matsuda as some sort of a father figure or mentor and Matsuda frequently comes to him for advice or consults him on his doubts. Matsuda is the task force member who shows the chief the most sympathy during his voluntary imprisonment and sides with him when they split from L during the course of the investigation into the Yotsuba Group. At the end of the series, Matsuda is especially enraged that Light Yagami sees his late father as merely a foundation for his new world order.
Ryuzaki views Matsuda as a reckless, dimwitted idiot who impedes the Kira investigation and gives him little credit, though Matsuda does work well with Light in discovering that some recent Kira killings are linked to the interests of the Yotsuba Group conglomerate. During Misa's "lamest date ever," Matsuda breaks up a fight between L and Light by informing them that Misa's latest surge in popularity may get her a part in a major movie, to which L remarks, "Matsuda's acting stupid again." L even taunts Matsuda when Misa reveals how she got Higuchi to admit to being the Yotsuba Kira, calling it a "triumph" as compared to Matsuda's bungled infiltration of the Yotsuba Group HQ, even though his actions narrowed the number of suspects down to eight, a number which included Higuchi.
Shuichi Aizawa's personality is especially contrasting to that of Matsuda's, often resulting in humorous upsets where Aizawa yells at him for "not taking his job seriously," and Matsuda apologizes. When L announces that the Kira Investigation Team is moving to a new, permanent HQ, Aizawa announces his determination to capture Kira, naming all those present: L, Light and Soichiro Yagami, but Matsuda notes that he does not mention him by name. Despite Aizawa's frequent criticism, Matsuda seems to look up to him as a superior and consider him a friend.
Hideki Ide is often taunted by Matsuda, especially over his lack of a love-life. While eavesdropping on Light Yagami's meetings with Kiyomi Takada, Ide expresses frustration over the way the pair interact, discussing things other than the Kira case which is the prime object of the exercise, while Matsuda finds it very romantic. In the final chapter of the main series, Ide and Matsuda are shown hanging out together, with the former trying to convince the other to get himself motivated again and put behind the doubts he has about ending Kira's reign and returning the world to the way it was before.
Sayu Yagami meets Matsuda at a time when she is grown and mature and attending university. Matsuda appears to fall for her at this period, praising her and acting friendly, but she turns him down because he is too old for her and her parents are not keen on a relationship between her and police officer.
Ryuk looks upon Matsuda as a loser and resents the idea of being linked to him when Light decides to entrust the Task Force with a Death Note prior to the raid on the Mafia hideout. Like the rest of the Task Force, Matsuda shows little fear of Ryuk when he becomes a daily fixture at their headquarters and even gives him apples. Matsuda presses Ryuk without any success to tell them the location of Kira's hideout.
Near is not trusted by Matsuda, especially when he puts forward the suggestion that Light may be Kira. Matsuda consequently assures Light that he will not share any of their findings with Near. A year after Light's exposure as Kira and subsequent death, Matsuda still resents the idea of working with Near, now the new official L, since he firmly believes that Near used the Death Note in order to manipulate Teru Mikami into exposing himself and Light as the current Kiras and shortly after committing suicide in prison.
- When Mikami uses his Shinigami eyes and sees everyone's life spans, Matsuda's life span is shown to be 548192.
- "Matsuda, you idiot" became a recurrent phrase throughout the anime. Multiple members of the Task Force have said it. Ryuzaki has said this on numerous occasions, and Light says it after he is shot by Matsuda in the final episode.
- In the anime, certain characters take on stylized hair colors while the viewer hears their thoughts; Matsuda's color is yellow.
- “You guys hit at the same time. Just call this one a draw.” (Crazy)
- “Why are you looking at me? It's not me.” (Number Two)
- “W-what? Is this the matter of winning or losing?” (Prediction)
- To Light (in the anime): “What was it all for then?!What about your father, what the hell did he die for?!”
- To Light: “You drove your own father to his death... now you're trying to turn it the other way around, saying they are the fools who got tricked?” (Intent to Kill)
- To Light (in the anime): “You drove your own father to his death...and now you're saying we are the fools?!” (Episode 37)
- To Yotsuba Group: “It's time for Matsui Taro! Showtime!” (Episode 19)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 see chapter 41 "Matsuda"
- ↑ see Chapter 73 "Cornered"
- ↑ see Chapter 106 "Intent to Kill"
- ↑ see Chapter 75 "Acknowledgement"
- ↑ see Chapter 10 "Confluence"
- ↑ see Chapter 49 "Potted Plant" to Chapter 51 "Misunderstanding"
- ↑ see Chapter 67 "Button"
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 see Chapter 71 "Contact"
- ↑ see chapter 82 "Himself"
- ↑ Death Note One-Shot Special
- ↑ see chapter 101 "Inducement"