Mello (Death Note)

Mello (Death Note)
Mihael Keehl
Death Note character
Mello with his chocolate in the anime
First appearance Chapter 60 : "Kidnapping"
in 7th Volume, "Zero"
Created by Tsugumi Ohba
Takeshi Obata
Voiced by Nozomu Sasaki (Japanese)
David Hurwitz (English)
Aliases Mello
Mihael Keehl (real name)

Mihael Keehl (ミハエル・ケール Mihaeru Kēru?), universally referred to by the mononym Mello (メロ Mero?), is one of the main antagonists in the manga and anime series Death Note.



Mello (Mihael Keehl) is the older of L's two potential successors raised in Wammy's House, Watari's orphanage for gifted children, in Winchester, England, United Kingdom. When it is decided that Mello should work with the other successor, Near, Mello refuses, citing an inability to work with Near, to whom he is considered second in ability. Near is more intelligent than Mello, but Mello has more ambition than Near. This results in Near thinking things out better than Mello, but sometimes being so uninterested in his surroundings that he verges on inactivity. Meanwhile, Mello has a brazen and driven personality, driving him (unlike Near) to be the first to resume actively hunting Kira; however, Mello lets his emotions cloud his judgment, often leading to rash decisions that impede his progress.

While Mello is certainly a genius and more intelligent than most people, the concept of being only the second most intelligent person at Wammy's House, behind Near, fuels the inferiority complex that defines Mello's character. Mello verges on being amoral in his obsession with being the one to take down Kira and is willing to do "whatever it takes", tactics which include kidnapping and being an accessory to murder. 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.[1] Arguably, Mello is not even trying to defeat Kira out of a sense of "justice," but because capturing Kira will not only get revenge for L's death but also prove to the world that Mello is indeed the worthy successor to L's status as the world's greatest detective, and not simply runner-up to Near. As Mello describes his goal in his own words, "I will be the new Number One!" [2] Similar to L's fondness for sweets, Mello is near-constantly seen eating bars of chocolate, usually by ripping off an entire chunk in his mouth with a dramatic flourish. Also, just like L, Mello thinks and reacts quickly, and uses less conventional methods to solve his cases.

After Mello leaves the orphanage, there is a four-year time jump.

13: How to Read states that Mello has "an excellent mind" and that he "sometimes lets his emotions get in his way". The book cites Mello's "hatred of Near", which created "a flaw in [Mello's] personality". Obata points out that Mello's envy and hatred of Near was only one-way, and that Near honestly "liked Mello" [3] The book states that Mello isn't purely evil, citing his apology and genuine care for Matt's well-being.[4] Tsugumi Ohba, the writer of Death Note, stated that Mello "works hard for everything". Ohba added that Mello's name "doesn't really stand for anything."[5]

Mello is voiced by Nozomu Sasaki in the Japanese anime, and David Hurwitz in the English version.

Plot overview

Mello decides to find Kira his own way by joining the Mafia, who accept him as their major advisor because they have the shared goal of taking down Kira. Mello proves his ability to them by tracking down a rival mob boss that even Kira could not discover the identity of. Mello has the Director of the Japanese police kidnapped, but Kira makes them commit suicide. Mello obtains one of the Death Notes from the Kira investigation team by having the Mafia kidnap Sayu Yagami, then exchanging her for a Death Note. Mello is then successfully able to retrieve the Death Note by fooling the police into thinking it was being transported away from the exchange via helicopter, until revealing that it had actually been loaded onto a missile, which was too fast to be tracked once launched. Having successfully outwitted Kira, Mello's men retrieved the Death Note, and he began planning how to use it.

However, Light Yagami discovered the location of Mello's Mafia hideout by having Misa use her Shinigami eyes to discover the identity of one of Mello's Mafia accomplices, and then using the remaining Death Note to make him mail Light their location. The indirect result of this is that the Shinigami Sidoh, who was the original owner of the Death Note Mello now possessed, also found out Mello's location and was able to get there first. Sidoh briefly struck up a loose alliance of sorts with Mello, revealing to him (in exchange for some of Mello's chocolate) that the two extra rules that Light made Ryuk write in the Death Note to fool L — particularly the one saying that "if the user does not kill once every 13 days, they will die" — were fakes. Mello begins to theorize that whoever Kira was, he probably used that rule to fool the Japanese police into thinking he was innocent. However, Light then launches a SWAT team raid on the hideout, leaving Mello in a face to face confrontation with Light's father, in which Mello revealed that he had the entire building rigged with remote-controlled explosives, leading to a tense showdown. In order to escape, Mello was forced to detonate all of the bombs, after one of his Mafia accomplices fatally wounded Light's father. Mello managed to survive the explosion and evade the police, but was 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). Worse, while Mello was still alive, the failure of his Mafia scheme left his real name in Light's hands.

Mello forces an entry into the SPK at gunpoint, to retrieve the one existing photograph of himself from Near. Each wryly promises the other that the race is on to see who finds Kira first. Mello leaves Near, but not before passing on the information to him from Sidoh about the two fake Death Note rules, which drastically sharpens Near's suspicions on Light Yagami. Mello then enlists the help of his friend Matt (the third best student at Wammy's House, behind Near and Mello) to spy on Misa.

After learning that Light is Kira and Near was going to attempt to apprehend him, Mello kidnaps Kiyomi Takada, by having Matt attack Takada's motorcade with a gas grenade. Mello then drives up on a motorcycle, 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 on his motorcycle, and lock 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 (that also are fanatic followers of Kira) and killed in a hail of gunfire; Mello feels deeply guilty and remorseful that Matt died, as Mello's plan was for Matt to escape to safety. Mello forces her to strip to get rid of any tracking devices, however, he allows Takada to cover herself with a blanket, which proves to be his undoing as she had a piece of the Death Note hidden in her bra. Takada uses the hidden piece of Death Note paper to kill Mello, as Light had told her his name. This entire kidnapping action causes Teru Mikami to expose his own Death Note to kill Takada, not realizing that Light already killed her (to destroy all the evidence by setting herself and the truck on fire) using a different piece of Death Note paper he had with him. This alerted Near's agents to the location of where Mikami had hidden the real Death Note in his possession, directly leading to Near's final defeat of Kira. In the end, Near tells Light that Mello realized they couldn't live up to their predecessor, L, alone. Therefore, he worked with Near until his death shortly after.

Conception and development of Mello

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 let Takeshi Obata, artist of the series, create the character designs and asked him to make both characters look "a little 'L-ish.'" Ohba said that he "wavered" in their ages and considered making the characters the sons of L. Ohba added that he did not initially develop their personalities as he wanted to "reveal" them through their actions.[6]

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.[7] Ohba said that he added Mello's scar to the thumbnails as the trait would give him "more depth".[8]

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.[9]

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 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".[10] In addition 13: How to Read described Mello as looking "more intense" and "more human" with the scar.[11] Obata said that he felt sad when Mello died in the story shortly afterwards. 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.[10] 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 then Ohba may not have killed Mello. .[11]

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 was "more calm and feminine". He felt that "it's better" that the switch occurred.[12]

In Other Media


Death Note: Another Note- The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases By Nisioisin Translated by Andrew Cunningham 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, whom, unlike Near, Mello has actually met. Mello states that he not only knows about the LA:BB Murder cases, but about the detective war between L and the real Eraldo Coil and Deneuve. He added some comic relief to such an intense, gruesome story by calling Near a "bigheaded twit" in the book,Page 10, and saying that he is not bad at remembering names, but good at forgetting them, Page 175. He decides that Near might not be the only person to read it and decides to make it more interesting.

See also

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  1. ^ Death Note Volume 8. VIZ Media,
  2. ^ Death Note - Episode 27, "Abduction"
  3. ^ Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 180.
  4. ^ Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 13.
  5. ^ "How to Think." Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 75.
  6. ^ "How to Think". Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 64.
  7. ^ "How to Think". Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 66.
  8. ^ "How to Think". Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 69.
  9. ^ "How to Think". Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 68.
  10. ^ a b "Takeshi Obata Production Note: Characters". Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 134.
  11. ^ a b Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 179.
  12. ^ "Takeshi Obata Production Note: Characters". Death Note 13: How to Read. VIZ Media. 135.

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