“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 older 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 to whom he is considered "second." He leaves the orphanage soon after, stating "I'll find my own way," and he eventually seeks help from the Mafia.
Mello is a young man with chin-length golden-blond hair and blue eyes. His bangs hang down just over his eyebrows, and he stands at about average height. He later gains a large scar, which begins somewhere between his shoulder and waist and extends up to just between his nose and left eye, after initiating an explosion in 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 is 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 House, behind Near, fuels the inferiority complex that defines Mello's character. Mello verges on immorality in his obsession with being the one to take down Kira and is willing to do "whatever it takes," including kidnapping the director of the Japanese Police's daughter (Sayu Yagami) and having a member of the Mafia murder most of the SPK members. 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 pursuit of Kira and to evade Near, 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 is not 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. As Mello describes his goal in his own words, "I will become Number One!"
The artist of Death Note, Takeshi Obata, points out in Death Note 13: How to Read that Mello's envy and hatred of Near was only one-sided and that Near "honestly liked Mello." The book states that Mello is not purely evil, citing his genuine care for Matt's well-being and his apology for Matt's death, as well as his apology to Soichiro Yagami for his responsibility for Soichiro's fatal wounds. The book 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, has stated that Mello works hard for everything, unlike Near, whose intellectual gifts are natural.
Similar to L's fondness for sweets, Mello is seen eating only bars of chocolate, even when talking. In the manga, he is 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 trait of his that is comparable to L is his tendency to take drastic strategies to confuse and force the hand of his opponents, as well as his lust for victory and the need to satisfy his ego.
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 Ruvie, 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 calm and methodical, and Mello soon after runs away from Wammy's House, determined to find Kira his own way.
Sometime after leaving the orphanage, Mello goes to America, where, three years after running away, 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 Japanese Task Force. When Takimura is killed, an action Mello recognizes as one of Kira's possible murders, Mello realizes that Kira potentially has access to police information. To increase pressure on the Task Force, Mello kidnaps Sayu Yagami, daughter of NPA Deputy Director Soichiro Yagami. He then forces Soichiro to come to the USA and hand over the Death Note, which is placed in a missile that 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 an obtained the Death Note first.
Shortly after, Mello has a member of the Mafia write down the names of almost every member of the SPK, not only to severely hinder Near's investigation and reduce the number of his resources, but also to kill the spy within the SPK should Near plan on getting to Mello through the spy.
Mello 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 Task Force as next to useless because of how little progress they have made since L's death and, recognizing that Matsuda is indeed not the person issuing orders, does not kill him.
Mello contacts the president, David Hoope, and blackmails him into granting Mello access to satellite surveillance, weapons, funds, and information on the SPK. After learning the SPK has narrowed his hideout to four locations, Mello moves.
Meanwhile, 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, and bargains with Sidoh, instructing him to guard the hideout in case of an attack by the SPK.
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). With knowledge of Shinigami Eyes, Mello forces Neylon into making the eye deal with Sidoh.
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 uses another Death Note to make Neylon mail him the Mafia's location.
Taking advantage of Mello contacting the president, Light sends a US Army Special Forces team led by Yitzak Ghazanin to raid the Mafia hideout, but it is foiled when Sidoh helps Mello and his accomplices escape and all the US Army Special Forces team are killed except one, who later commits suicide after biting down on a cyanide pill hidden in his tooth. The Mafia is tracked down again, however, and this time raided by the Kira Task Force led by Soichiro Yagami, who currently possesses Shinigami Eyes after making the eye deal with Ryuk. As the raid commences, all but two of the Mafia members die, which leads Mello to suspecting that Kira is behind the attack. He has the remaining two gangsters guard the notebook. However, the Task Force manage to capture them and regain the notebook.
Mello reveals to the Task Force that he has the entire hideout rigged with explosive, which allows him to demand that the Task Force destroy the cameras on their helmets, drop their weapons, and have one of its members enter the room Mello is in while bringing a mask and the notebook, which leads to a tense showdown between Soichiro and Mello.
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 who was later shot by Touta Matsuda. Shuichi Aizawa holds Mello at gunpoint, again demanding that he surrender, but Mello detonates the bombs, survives the explosion, and escapes. He is left badly scarred along the left side of his face above his mouth; the gas mask he was wearing at the time protected the rest of his face.
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 to happen, 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. When 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 a tool Near can use to solve a puzzle. Near is unfazed by being held at gunpoint and even goes so far as encouraging Mello to shoot him. Seriously tempted, Mello is talked into lowering his weapon by Lidner, who steps in front of the gun and 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 him and bringing him down.
Near gives Mello the photograph. In return, Mello tells him about the Shinigami and the fake Death Note rules. As Mello leaves, each wryly promises the other that the race is on to see who finds Kira first. This meeting between the two successors has a profound impact, as the information Near receives from Mello drastically sharpens Near's suspicion of Light Yagami.
Mello lures Kanzo Mogi of the Japanese 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 info 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 spying on Misa Amane and the Task Force HQ. Based on the information 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 Task Force 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 and continue to track Misa and Mogi. Mello had originally planned to take the Death Note from Misa but decides not to, concluding that she is not the Second Kira anymore.
(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 continues the killings under Light's distant supervision.)
Lidner informs Mello of Near's plan to expose and capture Kira. Timing is essential, and there are only a few days to go before the plan is implemented. Mello kidnaps Kiyomi Takada by having Matt attack Takada's motorcade with a gas grenade. Mello drives up on a motorbike and offers to take Takada to safety. In the confusion, and with reassurance from Lidner, 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 Mikami's 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 the Death Note to kill him.
Influence after death
Upon hearing of Takada's kidnapping, Teru Mikami takes his 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's agent, Gevanni, to the location of the real Death Note in the bank and enables them to seize it, 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 bringing about his subsequent defeat. Lidner suggests that Mello may have guessed what Mikami and Light were up to and orchestrated 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 original L, but also surpass him and avenge his death 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 has been made ambiguous and left up the reader to decide whether or not Mello intended to die and help Near.
After bringing down Kira, Near officially becomes the new L. He is later shown eating a chocolate bar, paying homage to Mello with his 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.
In the Death Note television drama, Mello is a split personality of Near's. Mello is initially embodied in a puppet that Near carries around, but later, the Mello personality manifests directly through Near. Mello is aggressive and dangerous, in contrast to Near's gentler nature, and L scolds Mello when he starts to cause Near problems. After L's death, Mello dominates Near's personality and begins taking more drastic actions to catch Kira. Near reveals later that this was a ploy to force Light to take action that reveal him as Kira, and the Task Force and police had been in on his plans. This proves that Near can now control his Mello personality, though it is unknown if his control over his Mello personality is a new development or if he has always been able to switch personalities at whim and uses this to his advantage.
Mello has not made a direct appearance in the Death Note film series, but he exists in that continuity. In the second episode of the mini-series Death Note: New Generation, Ryuzaki asks Near about Mello, but Near simply responds that Mello is his problem.
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. He 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. At first, he "wavered" in their ages and considered making the characters the younger version of L, and he did not develop their personalities initially as he wanted to "reveal" them through their actions.
Ohba gave Mello the chocolate trait because he believed that chocolate "represented all sweets" and that it would fit with the story arc in the United States. He described the trait as "useful" during the discovery of Mello's base due to the discarded chocolate boxes. Ohba also said that he added Mello's scar to the thumbnails as this appearance would give him "more depth." These traits give Mello a unique character build.
The writer recalled that he considered having Mello be the character who ultimately defeats Light. According to Ohba, after the disappearance of Sidoh, he "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 and 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.
The artist 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 has stated that he enjoys drawing "shiny" leather.
At first, Obata tried to depict Mello as having "more energy than Near." Mello's hair was originally cut straight across, but Obata preferred Mello's hair becoming messy, which occurred later in the story. The artist said that he felt grateful when Ohba added the scar, since he felt that he could draw Mello "looking cooler." In addition Death Note 13: How to Read described Mello as looking "more intense" and "more human" with the scar. Obata claimed he felt sad when Mello died in the story shortly afterward. At the point he created the pages featuring the reappearance of Mello with his scar, the artist "finally [felt that he could draw Mello] really well." He added that the fact that he and Ohba did not regularly meet in person was for the best, because if Obata told Ohba about his satisfaction with Mello's new appearance, Ohba may not have killed Mello.
- The only food Mello has ever been seen eating is chocolate bars.
- Mello states that during his one meeting with L, he was told three stories: the first 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, and the third story recounts how L first met Watari when he was eight.
- American singer Madonna cosplayed as Mello for her 2007 music video of "Jump." She cited Mello as her favorite character.
- Mello's gun is a Beretta 92FS.
- While Mello was absent from the live-action movies, L eats several chocolate bars as a nod to the character.
- Mello was one of several Death Note characters that were made into Nendoroid figures; however, 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.
- "No matter what I have to do, I will get it before Near." (Chapter 60)
- "I'll live my own way." (Chapter 61)
- "I'll kill anyone who gets in my way. I'll be number one." (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)
- "I'm not a tool for you to use to solve the puzzle." (Chapter 77)
- "Our goal is the same, I'll wait for you there." (Chapter 77)
- "It's my turn to use you." (Chapter 79)
- "Matt... I never thought you'd be killed...Forgive me..." (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)
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).