“Nobody can tell what is right and what is wrong, what is righteous and what is evil. Even if there is a god, and I had His teachings before me, I would think it through, and decide if that was right or wrong myself.”
Near (ニア, Nia) is the younger of L's two successors, raised in Wammy's House—Watari's orphanage for gifted children in Winchester, England. After L's death, Near begins his investigation of the Kira case, gathering evidence over a period of four years. Near takes his findings to the President of the United States and reveals himself to be the true successor of L. Soon after, Near becomes the head of the Special Provision for Kira and continues the hunt for Kira. After making contact with "L" (Light Yagami), Near begins to suspect that the current L is also Kira.
Near is a young man with white hair and gray eyes. He is only seen wearing a white, long-sleeved pajama top and white pajama pants. In the anime, Near's pants are light blue. In the Death Note One-Shot Special, which takes place three years after the end of the Kira case, Near is shown to have sharp bags under his eyes, slightly longer hair, and to have undergone a growth spurt. He sits in a posture similar to L's and is often seen being expressionless.
Near is very intelligent, although his childish appearance and demeanor can cause others, such as David Hoope, to question his abilities. He has an obsession with solving complex problems and views the investigation as like solving a puzzle. He is highly observational and was once seen piecing together a puzzle that was almost entirely colored white. He is proficient when it comes to multitasking and is able to monitor multiple computer screens at once. Near also appears to be ambidextrous, playing darts with his left hand and stacking dice with his right.
Despite his genius abilities, Near has a low social knowledge and is bad at interacting with others. As stated in Death Note 13: How to Read, "he is only able to display his true deductive powers when he has the support of his members." The book also states that Near is distant from people because he is sensitive. Near is rather codependent, as seen when he asks Rester to accompany him on his flight to Japan due to having never flown alone.
Near is very calm and stable, a trait that is described in Death Note 13: How to Read as being "above that of L's." He is also rather devious and isn't above using tactics that are "barely within the law," as he "values results above all else." Although a seemingly straight-faced individual, Near will often smirk when getting something right and does so many times while trying to corner Light during their conversations. He is also shown to have a sense of humor, stating that Light was "popular with the ladies" while discussing with Rester the roles of Misa Amane and Kiyomi Takada in the Kira case. Near shows much more emotion and displays far more facial expressions in the manga than he does in the anime. For example, when the SPK members were killed around him in the anime, Near keeps a stern look, but he is visibly upset in the manga.
Tsugumi Ohba, the writer of Death Note, said that Near becomes less likable as the story progresses, citing the upcoming plan to have the notebook at a later point in history. Ohba added that Near's cheeky behavior, intended to reinforce his childishness, had been construed as annoying. The author said that a negative reaction led to a difference in their attitudes and that people may have seen Near as a cheat or wannabe L.
In the post-series one-shot chapter, Near is shown to have a great respect for L, basing much of how he solves crime on L's methods, even to the point where he only takes cases that he has a personal interest in rather than trying to pursue justice. Much like L, Near shows various unusual mannerisms during his day-to-day life. He is usually seen hunched over rather than sitting, and he also constantly plays with various toys, which he uses in his theories.
With extremely childlike interests, his surroundings always have toys, dice, or darts strewn about. Even though he is only playing, piecing together a patterned puzzle starting out of nowhere and the like easily shows a sample of his abilities and intelligence. Normally, his fixation with toys is light, but he does seem to have favorites, such as the toys he took with him when escaping the SPK headquarters while it was under attack by Hitoshi Demegawa and other Kira supporters. Three years after the main story, Near takes an interest in building Tarot card stacks. Of course, these structures are far beyond normal size, easily covering an entire room. It appears that Near would despise anyone who knocks down these structures, accidentally or intentionally. He also seems to have a love for dice. Although Near is always surrounded with toys, few of them are electronic. Most of his toys are the types that need to be moved manually, such as his action figures, darts, and dolls. His electronic toys include his remote-control rubber ducks and a battery-powered train.
While L uses the Old English Text MT/Cloister Black font text "L," Near uses the Wedding Text BT/ClerestorySSK font text "N" to represent himself during the Kira investigation. In the one-shot chapter, he is shown conducting investigations as "L," and uses the Old English Text MT/Cloister Black font text "L."
Near is introduced to the story as a child at Wammy's House. He is first seen sitting alone in a room piecing together a white puzzle, with the puzzle's only design being a black letter 'L' in the corner. As some children run by the room, a young girl named Linda asks Near if he wants to play with them. Near replies, "No, thank you, Linda," and continues to put together his puzzle. Soon after, Roger Ruvie comes by the room with Mello and brings the two children to his office. There, Roger informs the two boys that L has died.
Although Mello reacts rather violently to the news, Near remains quiet, sitting on the floor piecing together his puzzle. Mello begins questioning Roger, asking how L could say that he would catch Kira but end up dead himself. Near picks up his completed puzzle and turns it upside down, causing the pieces to fall about. He states, "If you can't win the game, if you can't solve the puzzle, you are just a loser." He immediately begins putting his puzzle back together. Mello asks Roger if he or Near was chosen as L's successor, and Roger replies that L had not decided yet. Roger asks if the two boys could work together. Near responds with a positive "alright," while Mello says it will never work because they "don't get along." Mello decides that Near should take the position of L because of his ability to stay calm and refrain from getting emotional, saying Near "uses his head" to solve the puzzle. Mello leaves the orphanage, and Near stays at Wammy's House for an unknown period of time.
In the time between learning of L's death and the creation of the SPK, Near gathers evidence related to the Kira case. Because all of the data gathered by L had been deleted, Near starts from scratch.
On March 5, 2009 (2012 in the anime), nearly four years after the death of L, Near and the Director of the FBI, Steve Mason, meet with the President of the United States. The Director informs the President that the current 'L' is false and was created by the Japanese Police to avoid disorder. The President is informed that the murders performed by Kira were done with a Death Note. The Director asks Near if these statements are correct, and Near replies that they are. Near explains that on November 5, 2004, L pursued Higuchi, and Higuchi was surrounded by police cars in his vehicle within forty minutes. Near says that L warned the police to not get near Higuchi's car, meaning that there is no doubt that Higuchi had the ability to kill. The President asks Near if he thinks Higuchi killed with a Death Note, and Near responds that the notebook has the power to kill those whose name is written in it. Near explains that a policeman at the scene reported hearing Higuchi mention a notebook that could kill someone whose face you know if you write their name in it. Near says that afterward, a notebook was removed from the scene and taken away via helicopter. Near says that this indicates that with L gone, the notebook is most likely in the hands of the Japanese Police. The Director tells the President that Near began his own investigation with no prior evidence, but his research materials that he brought for the President support his theory. The President asks the Director who this boy is, and the Director responds that Near is the rightful successor to the name of 'L.'
On March 12, 2009, the United States of America created the Special Provision for Kira, an independent organization consisting of FBI and CIA agents established to investigate Kira. Near worked for the United States as the head of the SPK. Near managed to contact the Japanese Task Force while Mello was causing trouble for them. During his conversations with the second "L", Mello had his mafia members write down the names of the majority of the SPK members in Mello's stolen Death Note, leaving only Stephen Gevanni, Halle Lidner, Anthony Rester, and Near.
Shortly after Mello gets defeated by the Task Force, Mello enters the SPK headquarters, asking Near for his photo. When Near told Mello that he managed to deduce who Kira is thanks to Mello's actions, out of rage, he threatens to shoot Near, only for Halle to convince him from doing it. In return for the photo, Mello tells Near that there are fake rules in the Death Note. Near deduces that one of these rules is the 13-day rule.
He contacts the Task Force, and discusses this fake rule. During his conversation with the Second L, Near managed to deduce that Kira is within the Task Force. He tells this to the Task Force, arousing doubt within the Task Force. Shortly after, a large crowd of Kira supporters attack SPK Headquarters. Near managed to use L's inheritance to distract them, then disguised as police officers to escape unseen.
Sometime later, Mello gives Mogi to Near and tells Near to demand information out of Mogi, with Mello listening in on the conversation. However, Mogi, thinking that Near and Mello are working together, doesn't spill any information. Near takes advantage of Mogi's arrival to lie to the Task Force, claiming that Mogi has died. After this, Aizawa tells Near information about the Kira case, allowing Near to deduce that Kira is, in fact, Light Yagami.
Later on, Near identifies Teru Mikami as Light's proxy. For the next few months, he had Gevanni spy on Mikami, only for him to deceive the SPK by saying things such as the fact that he has a Shinigami following him. Shortly after, Mello kidnaps Kiyomi Takada, resulting in Mello's death. Mikami then proceeded to write Takada's name. This action results in Gevanni finding the notebook, then switching it with an exact replica.
Near then tells the members of the Task Force to meet him at the Yellow Box Warehouse (he needed to have a place with only one entrance). They do so, and, just as Near plans, Mikami attempts to write down the names of everyone. Light thinks that he won as he had actually had a fake. However, thanks to Mello's actions, Near's plan worked. Since everyone except Light's name was written, Light was exposed as Kira, followed by Matsuda shooting Light. Near then becomes the Third L.
During the epilogue of the manga, Matsuda proposes a theory that Near had used the Death Note on Mikami, which would assure his victory. Whether this theory is true or not is up to the reader's interpretation.
In the one-shot chapter taking place after the series, Near is shown as the new L (the third chronologically). A new Kira emerges who has gained a Death Note from the Shinigami named Midora, who had received the additional Death Note from the Shinigami King by bribing him with 13 apples she had taken from the Human World. The new Kira murdered elderly people in Japan to "relieve their pain." When Near's SPK subordinates asked him why he was not taking action, he replied that he was trying to think what the previous L would have done. He finally reaches a conclusion that the prevailing Kira was just a killer without a purpose, and he labeled the killer "C-Kira" for "Cheap Kira." He announces on national television, under the alias "L," that he is not interested in the case and has deduced that this Kira is not the real Kira but only an "abominable murderer." This results in C-Kira's suicide. Throughout the 40-page manga chapter, the identity of the new Kira is not revealed.
In other media
In L: Change the WorLd, L gives a talented Thai boy with a gift for calculations the name "Near." L hopes for the boy, the sole survivor of a Thai village ravaged with a deadly disease, to succeed him as L as he knows that the rules of the Death Note will kill the experienced detective within a short period of time. Near does not speak much in the movie (during the movie, he only says numbers and letters) and when he does, he speaks only in English. Like many of the characters during the transition from animation to live action, Near is portrayed with black hair instead of white hair as seen in the anime. Near is portrayed by Narushi Fukuda in the film and voice by Michael Strusievici in the English dub. For reasons unknown, even though L was shown giving him the name of "Near," he was listed as "BOY/ニア" in the credits.
Near returns in Death Note: New Generation in the second episode Dying Wish. He calls L's successor Ryuzaki to check how his recent case went. Near speaks in Japanese to check Ryuzaki's Japanese, in anticipation of Ryuzaki joining the Kira investigation with the Japanese Task Force. Ryuzaki is initially against taking the case, but Near and J get him interested and he does so. Near also has a small presence in the film Death Note: Genius of the Counterattack in which he talks with Ryuzaki at the end.
Near does not show up in the film Death Note: Light Up the NEW World, but he is in the novelization. He continues to remotely keep in touch with Ryuzaki.
In L: Change the WorLd, the novel based on the film, Near is described as being the original Near as he appeared in the original Death Note series. However, due to the plot in which Kira killing L is absent, the requirement of an immediate nominee as a successor is not necessary until L's final days are over. Despite this, Near assists L in the capture of Blue Ship from behind the scenes. The plot in which Near was a Thai boy is also completely absent from the novel.
It is revealed in the novel that Near was the chosen successor to L if L had to make his choice. However, there was no mention or discussion about Mello in the book. L even goes on to say that Near will be harder to deal with than him.
In the television drama, Near is in regular contact with L from the start of the series, and the two of them spend regular quality time together. Near is a fully capable detective who goes by the alias "B" and assists in the investigation beginning with the Yotsuba arc. Near's character is combined with Mello as a separate personality. Mello is initially embodied in a puppet that Near carries around, but later the Mello personality comes out directly in Near.
Near is portrayed by actress Mio Yūki, and the character's gender in the Drama is left ambiguous.
The following information is from Death Note 13: How to Read.
Tsugumi Ohba: Writer
Takeshi Obata: Artist
Ohba said that he gave Near a hobby of playing with toys (mostly robots); he also stacks "things" as a development from L's hobby of stacking sugar cubes, emphasizing his childlike appearance.
The given name "Nate" comes from the word "natural," and "River" symbolizes that Near's talents flow from L. Therefore, Near is the natural successor to L. The name is "supposed" to show that Near is a "natural genius blessed from above." The nickname Near is composed of the first and last letters of Nate River then swapped around to make a recognizable word.
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."
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, Near was "more evil" than Mello. He feels now that "it's better" that the switch occurred.
Obata said that when he first saw Near, he "didn't even know what the heck he was wearing." He said that "it was tough" drawing Near's apparel as he did not understand the assembly of his clothes. Obata said that when he settled for pajamas, because of the "toyish" theme Near represents, "things got a lot easier." The artist stated that as he drew Near, the concept of his immaturity became "stronger and stronger," as he believes that such traits are best revealed "gradually." Obata cited the fact that in the beginning Near's sole toy consisted of darts.
Ohba has said that the finger puppets used by Near in the final chapter did not exist in the thumbnails and that he felt the final scenes "looked cooler" with the presence of the puppets. Obata said that he felt he could express the "negative" parts of Near with the puppets. Ohba added that one could see "his dark side in his kind of puppets he used." Obata said that Near first brought the finger puppets and drew on them with a magic marker; he then said Near must have created the other puppets afterwards. Although Near respects L, Obata sees Near not liking L as a person, as Near says, "If you can't win the game, if you can't solve the puzzle, then you're just a loser." Since he refers to L as a loser, Obata had Near depict L as ugly; however, Near worked hard on Mello's puppet, as Near liked Mello.
When asked: "Who do you think is the smartest character [in Death Note]?" Obata replied, "Near. Because he cheats."
- At the end of the manga, Near is shown eating chocolate in homage to Mello.
- Near's tendency to smile whenever he gets something right was used as a foreshadow in the final episode. Unbeknownst to Light, Near's smile during his direct confrontation with Light was used to indicate that he was able to see Ryuk and thus prove to himself that Light was Kira.
- Near was one of the Death Note characters made into Nendoroid figures, but he was only made into a Nendoroid petite. Light, L, Misa, and Ryuk were the only characters made into the primary Nendoroid figures, but they were also made into Nendoroid petites.
- In the Italian version, when referred to as "N," rather than using the letter "N" to spell his name, the phonetic spelling "Enne" is used.
- “If you can't win the game, if you can't solve the puzzle, you're nothing but a loser.” (Chapter 60)
- “Together we can stand with L. Together we can surpass L.” (Chapter 104)
- “You abominable murderer.” (Death Note One-Shot Special)
- “Don't worry, Commander Rester, making assumptions is part of any investigation, if we're wrong all it'll cost is an apology.” (Episode 30)
- “No. You're just a murderer, Light Yagami. And this notebook is the deadliest weapon in the history of mankind. You yielded to the power of the Shinigami and the notebook and you have confused yourself with a god. In the end, you're nothing more than a crazy serial killer. That’s all you are. Nothing more, and nothing less.” (Episode 37)
- “Light Yagami, L, Kira, you have lost.” (Episode 37)
- “Keep all important information in your mind only.”
Near has three themes, each appearing on Death Note Original Soundtrack III. His themes are "Near's Theme", "Near", and "Near 2".