In Other Media
Mihael Keehl (ミハエル・ケール, Mihaeru Kēru)
Also Known As
Date of Birth
December 13, 1989 (1992 in anime)
Date of Death
January 26, 2010 (2013 in anime)
Inferiority Complex: 8/10
Nozomu Sasaki (佐々木・望, Sasaki Nozomu)
Rong-zhang Huang (黃榮璋, Wong4 Wing4 Zoeng1)
Il Kim (김일, Kim Il)
Anthony Steven San Juan
Manuel Gimeno (Spain)
Javier Olguín (Latin America)
Marcos Souza (Brazil)
Fabrizio De Flaviis
“It's not just the notebook I'm after. I wanna eliminate my competition. I will be the best. I don't care what it takes. I'll beat Near by any means necessary.”
Mello (メロ, Mero), is the oldest of L's two successors, raised at Wammy's House—Watari's orphanage for gifted children in Winchester, England. When Roger decides that Mello should work with Near to capture Kira, he refuses, citing an inability to work with somebody he is considered "second" to. He leaves the orphanage soon after, stating "I'll find my own way," and eventually seeks help from the Mafia.
Mello is a young man with chin length blonde hair and blue eyes his bangs also hang down just over his eyebrows, and stands at about average height. He later gains a large scar on the left side of his face going from the bottom of his left cheek and up just in-between his nose and left eye, after initiating an explosion of the mafia hideout in order to escape being captured. Mello is usually seen wearing dark leather clothes. The manga depicts him wearing a red colored rosary and a cross-adorned bracelet. In the anime however, the cross has been edited to be a stick (the horizontal portion of the would-be-cross in not present). He also carries a gun that, in the manga, has a cross attached to a chain that hangs from its handle.
While Mello is certainly a genius and more intelligent than most people, the concept of being only the second most intelligent person in Wammy's, behind Near, fuels the inferiority complex that defines Mello's character. Mello verges on being immoral in his obsession with being the one to take down Kira and is willing to do "whatever it takes". Tactics which include kidnapping Director of the Japanese Police's daughter (Sayu Yagami), and having a member of the mafia write down most of the SPK member's names in Sidoh's Death Note. In the manga, after Mello has successfully stolen a Death Note, he even goes so far as to attempt to blackmail the President of the United States via telephone into giving him funds and resources to aid his hunt for Kira, threatening that if his demands are not met he will use the Death Note to force the president to launch the United States' nuclear missiles and start World War III. Arguably, Mello isn't even trying to defeat Kira out of a sense of "justice", but because capturing Kira will prove to the world that Mello is indeed the worthy successor to L as the world's greatest detective, and not simply runner-up to Near, or as Mello describes his goal in his own words, "I will be the new Number One!"
The artist of Death Note, Takeshi Obata points out in the book Death Note: How To Read 13 that Mello's envy and hatred of Near was only one-way, and that Near "honestly liked Mello". The book states that Mello isn't purely evil, citing his apology and genuine care for Matt's well-being, as well as earlier in the series when he apologizes to Soichiro Yagami. It also states that Mello has an excellent mind and that he sometimes lets his emotions get in his way. Tsugumi Ohba, the writer of Death Note, stated that Mello works hard for everything.
Similar to L's fondness for sweets, Mello often eats bars of chocolate, even when talking. In the manga, Mello is often seen licking the chocolate before eating it. Mello also has a habit of bending his right leg up while sitting, often with his left leg turned outwards. He tends to alternate between that pose and simply crossing his right leg over his left leg. Another thing about him that is very like L is his tendency to take drastic strategies to confuse and force the hand of his opponents.
Mello is first introduced to the story as a young teenager at Wammy's House. He is shown playing outside with some other children (and hitting one in the head with a soccer ball), while Near stays indoors alone, working on a blank puzzle. When the children go back indoors, Mello can be seen holding a smaller boy back. The manager, Roger, then asks him and Near to join him in his office where he tells them of L's death.
Mello is shocked and angered by the news. He is then told that L failed to choose either him or Near as a successor. Roger tries to persuade them to work together but while Near is willing Mello refuses, pointing out that they never get on and that in terms of knowledge and ability Near is always ahead of him no matter how hard he tries. Mello himself states that Near should be the successor, being both calm and methodical, and runs away from Wammy's House, determined to find Kira his own way.
Mello goes to America where he joins forces with Rod Ross, a leading Mafiosi. He proves his worth by destroying mob bosses whom even Kira could not identify and his advice proves invaluable to Ross who is persuaded to help Mello claim the Death Note.
Nearly four years after L's death, Mello learns about the Death Note from Ill Ratt, a member of the newly formed SPK which, under Near's leadership, has begun its own search for Kira. Ratt keeps Mello informed of the SPK's plans.
At first Mello gets the Mafia to kidnap Kanichi Takimura, the Director of the Japanese NPA, in order to exchange him for the Death Note which is in the possession of the Kira Task Force. When Takimura dies, Mello kidnaps Sayu Yagami, daughter of NPA Deputy Director Soichiro Yagami. He then forces Soichiro to go to the USA and hand over the Death Note, which is then placed in a missile which cannot be tracked by radar. The missile crashes into the ocean and the Mafia are able to obtain the Death Note before the authorities can trace it. During these events, Mello communicates with Soichiro while eating chocolate, a fact that is passed on to Near—Mello's intention being to show his rival that he has beaten him into getting the Death Note first.
Mello later again contacts Soichiro and threatens to use the Death Note to kill him and Sayu unless he passes on information, such as the real name of the current L, who is Soichiro's son Light Yagami. The Kira Task Force manages to gain a reprieve by telling Mello that the new L is Touta Matsuda but that he just acts on the instructions of the other members and is not the real brains of their operation. Mello sees the Kira Task Force as next to useless anyway and Matsuda is not killed.
(Mello and Near's contempt for the Kira Task Force is based on its failure to capture Kira—which is due to the fact that it is led by Kira (aka Light Yagami) himself.)
In time, Light discovers the location of Mello's Mafia hideout by having Misa Amane use her Shinigami Eyes to identify Jack Neylon, a Mafia member who currently owns the Death Note. Light then uses another Death Note to make Neylon mail him the Mafia's location. The indirect result of this is that the Shinigami Sidoh, who is the original owner of the Death Note Mello now possesses, also finds out Mello's location and is able to get there first. Appearing before the Mafiosi, the monstrous Sidoh causes them to panic in horror. Only Mello stays calm and his cool attitude and hard stare unnerves even the Shinigami.
Sidoh reveals to Mello that two rules in the Death Note—including the one stating that the user dies unless he kills someone every thirteen days—are fake. Mello begins to theorize that Kira probably used that rule to fool the Japanese police into thinking he was innocent (which is what happened). Mello also forces Neylon into making the Shinigami Eyes trade with Sidoh.Light then sends a US Army Special Forces team to raid the Mafia hideout but it is foiled when Sidoh helps Mello and his accomplices to escape. However, they are again tracked down and this time raided by the Kira Task Force led by Soichiro Yagami, who currently possesses Shinigami Eyes after making the trade with Ryuk. In a faceoff with Soichiro, Mello reveals that he has the entire building rigged with remote-controlled explosives, leading to a tense showdown. Although he has a Death Note and can see Mello's real name, Soichiro, a principled man and upstanding law officer, gives his enemy every opportunity to surrender, only to be shot at and fatally injured by another Mafiosi. Mello then detonates all of the bombs, survives the explosion and escapes—although he is left badly scarred along the entire left side of his face above his mouth (the gas mask he was wearing at the time protected the rest).
Mello makes his way to New York where he hides out in the home of Halle Lidner, an SPK member, who keeps him up to date with Near's latest theories concerning the Kira case. Lidner wants Kira captured and appears to believe that Mello and Near are both needed for this, even if they fail to work together.
Mello later forces his way into the SPK HQ while holding Lidner at gunpoint, intending to retrieve the one existing photograph of himself from Near. After Near states that Mello has actually been a big help in his own investigation, Mello becomes enraged and turns his gun on Near, saying that he isn't his tool to solve a puzzle. Seriously tempted to kill his rival, Mello is talked out of it by Lidner who warns him that shooting Near will only result in him being killed by the other SPK members, leaving Kira victorious since he would be rid of the only persons capable of matching and bringing him down. Accepting this argument, Mello lowers his gun.
Near gives Mello the photograph, in return for which Mello tells him about the Shinigami and the fake Death Note rules. Each wryly promises the other that the race is on to see who finds Kira first and Mello leaves. This meeting between the two successors has a profound impact, as the information Near receives from Mello drastically sharpens Near's suspicions on Light Yagami.
Mello later lures Mogi of the Kira Task Force to New York and into the hands of Near and the SPK. Thinking that Near and Mello are actually in league with each other, Mogi refuses to talk but Near and Mello's subsequent conversation over the phone and other events lead Mogi and Aizawa to suspect that Light Yagami may be Kira after all—though they hesitate since it is based on trusting Mello, a sworn enemy, and his claims about the fake rules. Aizawa eventually meets Near and reveals more information regarding the Death Note. Near gets Lidner to pass this on to Mello, except for the fact that he has now identified Light Yagami as the new L and the prime suspect for Kira.
Mello has now been joined by Matt, another boy from Wammy's House. They follow Aizawa and Mogi back to Los Angeles and this leads them to spy on Misa Amane and the Task Force's HQ. Based on the info passed on by Lidner, Mello guesses that Misa is the Second Kira, though she strikes him as so feather-brained that it is hard to believe Kira ever willingly employed her. However, he also concludes for himself that her boyfriend, Light Yagami, is L.
Misa and the Kira Task Force later return to Japan where the police detectives intend to investigate Kiyomi Takada, a TV presenter who has been made Kira's new spokesperson. Mello and Matt follow them there.
(At this stage in the manga, Mello and Matt's movements are unknown. The next eleven chapters, which cover a period of almost two months, focus on Light Yagami's meetings with Takada and the SPK's investigation of Teru Mikami who has been entrusted with a Death Note and is continuing the killing of criminals and other troublemakers under Light's distant supervision.)
Lidner later informs Mello of Near's plan to expose and capture Kira. Timing is essential and there are a few days to go before it is implemented. In a desperate move, Mello kidnaps Kiyomi Takada by having Matt attack Takada's motorcade with a gas grenade. Mello then drives up on a motorbike, while wearing a helmet, and offers to take Takada to safety. In the confusion, Takada agrees, not realizing it is Mello until it is too late to get off. After a chase, Mello is able to evade Takada's guards and locks her in a shipping truck. While driving her to a different location, Mello sees on his portable television that Matt was cornered by Takada's guards and killed in a hail of gunfire—something he had not expected and regrets.
Mello forces Takada to strip in order to get rid of any tracking devices, however he allows her to cover herself with a blanket. This proves to be his undoing as she has a piece of the Death Note hidden in her clothes and the blanket allows her to hide it. Since she knows Mello's real name from Light, Takada uses the hidden piece of Death Note paper to kill him.
Influence After Death
Upon hearing of Takada's kidnapping, Teru Mikami takes his own Death Note from a bank deposit box and uses it to make her kill herself by setting fire to the truck and destroying all the evidence—unaware that Light himself has used a piece of the Death Note in order to get her to do the same thing just one minute before Mikami sets it.
This initiative on Mikami's part, instigated by Mello's actions, requires him to go to the bank the day after he has already been there, which is a sudden breach of his usually meticulous habits. This alerts Near and his agents to the location of the real Death Note in the bank and enables them to seize it and bring down Light Yagami and expose him as Kira.
During the final showdown with Light and Mikami, Near credits Mello as the single most pivotal person in exposing Light's plans and thus his subsequent defeat. Lidner suggests that Mello may have guessed what Mikami and Light were up to and staged his own death, knowing that it was the only way to reveal the true location of Mikami's Death Note. Near doubts if Mello really thought that far but acknowledges that it is only together that he and Mello have managed not only to match their idol, the L, but also surpass and avenge him by obtaining the evidence that leads to the downfall of Kira!
(From the manga it is not clear if Mello did figure out that Mikami had the real Death Note hidden away since his activities in Japan are unknown until he kidnaps Takada. It's possible that he simply seized Takada in order to force her to reveal Kira's real identity and provide evidence just in order to beat Near, having been informed of Near's plan by Lidner.)
After bringing down Kira, Near becomes the new official L. He is later shown eating a bar of chocolate in reference to Mello's favorite snack.
In Other Media
Mello is the narrator of the Death Note spinoff novel, Death Note: Another Note - The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases. In it, he states that he is only telling the story in order to flaunt his greater knowledge of L over Near, even describing Near as a "big-headed twit". Mello decides that Near might not be the only person to read the book, so he should make it more interesting. While narrating, Mello uses different techniques: he begins as a typical narrator, but drops it to acquire a way of speech that is usually associated with a live storytelling. Mello's reason for this is that he would have become bored otherwise. The novel also switches from Mello's view and opinions to Naomi Misora's point of view.
The following information is from Death Note 13: How to Read.
Tsugumi Ohba: Writer
Takeshi Obata: Artist
Ohba said that he introduced Near and Mello together because L individually could not defeat Kira. Ohba felt that introducing one character individually would produce a "repeat" of the struggle between Light and L, so he instead wanted a story involving three combatants fighting each other. Ohba said that he "wavered" in their ages and considered making the characters the younger version of L. Ohba added that he did not initially develop their personalities as he wanted to "reveal" them through their actions.
Ohba said that he added the chocolate trait because he believed that chocolate "represented all sweets" and that the trait would fit with the story arc in the United States. Ohba described the trait became "useful" during the discovery of Mello's base due to the discarded chocolate boxes. Ohba said that he added Mello's scar to the thumbnails as the trait would give him "more depth." These traits give Mello a unique character build.
Ohba recalled that he considered having Mello be the character who ultimately defeats Light. According to Ohba, after the disappearance of Sidoh, the writer "struggled" with Mello's role. Ohba's idea of Mello ultimately defeating Light and Near being "the best" was strong in his mind, but once Mello had "learned too much about the Death Note" he had to kill him to "sustain the intensity of the story." As a result, Ohba did not give Mello a "large role" at the conclusion of Death Note and instead had Mello negatively affect Light "indirectly." Ohba gave Mello a "very plain" death, depicted in only one panel; he felt that if Mello had perished "dramatically" it would reveal the truth behind his death.
Ohba said that he let Obata create the character designs and asked him to make both characters look "a little 'L-ish.'"
Obata said that, since Ohba wanted to "include a little L" in Near and Mello, he tried to keep "the weirdness and the panda eyes." He also added that since L was an important character, he felt that he made Near and Mello look too much like L. He described the character designs as "a major struggle." Obata said that, when he first heard about Near and Mello, he assumed that Near and Mello would join as a team and work together, so he envisioned the two as twins when he created the character designs.
Obata added that the designs for the characters became switched at the design phase; the final Mello had Near's design and vice versa. Obata said that when he created a depiction of the designs, his editor wrote the wrong names accompanying the designs; when Obata received approval he could not say that the labels were incorrect. Obata said that, for him, Mello's design (originally Near's) was "more calm and feminine," while Near's (originally Mello's) was more chaotic with his tangled hair. However, he came to feel that it was better that the switch happened.
Obata added that he designed Mello's clothing based on "what I like," meaning clothes he enjoys drawing and not clothes that he enjoys wearing; Obata says that he enjoys drawing "shiny" leather.
Obata said that at first he tried to depict Mello as having "more energy than Near." At first, Mello's hair was cut straight across; Obata said that he preferred Mello's hair becoming messy, which occurred later in the story. Obata said that he felt grateful when Ohba added the scar since he felt that he could draw Mello "looking cooler." In addition 13: How to Read described Mello as looking "more intense" and "more human" with the scar. Obata said that he felt sad when Mello died in the story shortly afterwards. At the point he created the pages featuring the reappearance of Mello with his scar, Obata said that he "finally [felt that he could draw Mello] really well." Obata added that the fact that Ohba and Obata did not regularly meet in person was best, because if Obata told Ohba about his satisfaction with Mello's new appearance that Ohba may not have killed Mello.
- The only food Mello has ever been seen eating is a chocolate bar.
- When Soichiro Yagami uses his Shinigami Eyes, Mello's lifespan is shown as 502209.
- Mello states that during his one meeting with L, he was told three stories: one was of the L.A. BB murder case (which later became the subject of a book), the second was about the final fight between L and the real Eraldo Coil and Deneuve. The third story recounts how L first met Watari when he was eight.
- Mello was one of several Death Note characters that were made into Nendoroid figures except for that only a Nendoroid petite of Mello was made.
- "I'll live my own way." (Chapter 61)
- "In the end there is no greater motivation than revenge." (Chapter 64)
- "He's terribly reasonable, this new L." (Chapter 64)
- "Near, you say clever things." (Chapter 77)
- "It's my turn to use you." (Chapter 79)
- "Matt... I didn't mean for you to get killed... I'm so sorry..." (Chapter 99)
- "I am your narrator your navigator, your storyteller. For anyone else but those two, my identity may be of no interest, but I am the old world’s runner-up, the best dresser that died like a dog, Mihael Keehl. I once called myself Mello and was addressed by that name, but that was a long time ago. Good memories and nightmares." (Death Note: Another Note)
- "Imagine that you were going to kill someone. What do you think would be the most difficult part? Three, two, one… time's up! The correct answer: killing someone." (Death Note: Another Note, p 93)
- "No matter what I have to do, I will get it before Near."
- "I'll kill anyone who gets in my way. I'll be number one."
- "I'm not a tool for you to use to solve the puzzle."
- "Our goal is the same, I'll wait for you there."
- "Matt... I never thought you'd be killed... Forgive me..."
Mello has three themes, each which can be found on Death Note Original Soundtrack III. Mello's themes are called "Mello" (メロ, Mero), "Mello 2" (メロ2, Mero 2), and "Mello's Theme" (メロのテーマ, Mero no Tēma).