Near (Death Note)

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Nate River
Death Note character
Near, drawn by Takeshi Obata
First appearance Chapter 59: "Zero" ( Rei?)
Created by Tsugumi Ohba
Takeshi Obata
Voiced by Noriko Hidaka (Japanese)
Cathy Weseluck (English)
Michael Strusievici (English live action)
Portrayed by Narushi Fukuda
Mio Yuki
Aliases Near
Babel (Japanese TV Drama)

Nate River (Japanese: ネイト・リバー Hepburn: Neito Ribā?), universally referred to by the mononym Near (ニア Nia?), is a fictional character in the manga series Death Note, created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. Near is the younger of the two successors of L who was investigating the methods of identifying Kira, the in-universe name given to the mysterious serial killer who murdered criminals by means of the eponymous Death Note. He becomes the leader of the SPK (Special Provision for Kira), an organization that looks into the Kira case, and in the end, succeeds in uncovering Kira's identity. He is voiced by Noriko Hidaka in the Japanese anime, and by Cathy Weseluck in the English version. In the Japanese TV Drama, he is portrayed by Mio Yūki.

Creation and conception[edit]

Tsugumi Ohba, writer of Death Note said that he introduced Near and Mello together as 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 Obata 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.[1]

Ohba said that he gave Near a hobby of playing with toys and stacking "things" as a development from L's hobby of stacking sugar cubes and little food cups. Ohba included the match and the dice towers in his thumbnails. Ohba said that he thought about Obata encountering difficulty in drawing the dice towers and felt surprised when he saw the dice towers in the final work.[2]

The given name "Nate" comes from the words "natural" and "river", to symbolize that Near's talents flow from L. Thus making Near the natural successor to L. The name is supposed to show that Near is a "natural genius blessed from above".[3]

Takeshi Obata, artist of Death Note, 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 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.[4] Obata stated that he originally thought about creating Near as "a bit more mature mentally". Obata said that he created a "cooler looking version of L" design and considered using a younger version of that design. Another design Obata created for L included a "really innocent and cheerful character" and he felt that the design could work for Near; he said that he "quickly abandoned" the idea.[5]

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 clothes as he did not understand the assembly of his clothes. Obata said that he settled for pyjamas and "things got a lot easier".[5]

Ohba said that Near "becomes less likeable" as the story advances, citing Near's plan to take the notebook at an earlier point in the story. Ohba said that a negative reaction originated from the loss of L and "the difference in their attitudes" and that people may have viewed Near as "a cheat". Ohba added that Near's "cheeky behavior", intended to "reinforce his childishness", had been construed as "annoying".[6]

In the final chapter Near brings finger puppets to the Yellow Box Warehouse. Obata said that Near first bought the Kira finger puppet and drew on it with a magic marker. Obata then said that Near must have created the other puppets afterwards. Obata views Near as not liking L much so Obata had Near depict L as "ugly", and that Near "worked hard" on Mello's puppet as Near "liked Mello".[6]

Obata said he enjoyed drawing Near and that Near is also one of his favorite and his least favorite characters,[6] considering him to be the smartest character in the manga "because he cheats".[7]

When asked about which character was most similar to himself, Ohba indicated Near and "maybe Light". Regarding Near, Ohba said that he does not leave his house often.[8]

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; then when Obata received approval he could not say that the labels were incorrect. Obata said that, for him, Near was "more evil". He felt that "it's better" that the switch occurred.[5]

Obata 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.[9] He felt he could express "negative" parts of Near with the puppets. Ohba added that one could see "his dark side in his kind of puppets he used".[6]


In Death Note, Near is the younger of L's two possible successors raised in Wammy's House, Watari's orphanage for gifted children, in Winchester, England. Of the successors, Near is more level-headed, calmly assessing the situation, while the other, Mello, is more emotional and quicker to act. Much like L, Near shows various odd behaviors during his normal life. He is usually seen hunched over rather than sitting. He also constantly plays with various toys, which he uses in his theories, as well as idly twirling or stroking strands of his hair. He shows 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 is interested in rather than trying to pursue justice. The Kira case - as a case L died trying to solve - naturally becomes his first one. Near uses the Wedding text font "N" and "L" to represent himself and the fake L, respectively. In the aftermath, he used Old English MT font "L" like the original L did.

Sometime after L's death, Near works for the United States under the SPK (Special Provision for Kira) team that is established to investigate Kira without the help of the new "L" Light Yagami. After already catching Light offguard by revealing the fact that he knows the original L is dead and unnerving him by reminding him of his former nemesis when they communicate, he soon manages to deduce that Light, posing as L, is actually Kira. After dismissing the outright capture or killing of Light as disrespectful to L's memory, he finds that Teru Mikami is Kira's proxy. Distracted momentarily by Mello, who kidnaps Kira's TV spokesperson Kiyomi Takada before being killed by her using a Death Note fragment, Near is able to switch Mikami's Death Note with a forged one, allowing him to set up a final confrontation that leaves Light exposed. Near admits that neither he nor Mello could have surpassed L alone, but have managed to do so by working inadvertently together. He rejects all of Light's ideals as a god of the new world who kills for the greater good and refers to the Death Note as "the worst murder weapon in all of history". Ryuk kills Light with his own Death Note soon after as a Death Note owner must eventually be killed by the Shinigami possessing them and with Light in prison he reasons he will be unable to satisfy his interest any further. Light then taunts Near in desperation, tempting him to test the Death Notes to prove there power, but Near brushes of his taunts and burns the remaining notebooks on the spot. Near then himself takes Light's L alias, keeping on the surviving members of the SPK as his subordinates with Roger, the head of Wammy's House, acting as the new Watari. In the epilogue of the manga, he is shown eating a bar of chocolate, as he pursues a new case, possibly in memory of Mello.

In other media[edit]

L: Change the WorLd[edit]

Narushi Fukuda as Near in L: Change the WorLd

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,[10] to succeed him as L, knowing 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[10] in the film and voice by Michael Strusievici in the English Dub. For unknown reasons, even though L was shown giving him the name of "Near", he was listed as "BOY" in the credits.


In L: Change the World 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 successor is not necessary. As a result, the eight-year-old Near is claimed to be working on a different case involving the prevention of World War III since the timeskip present in the original series is absent.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How to Think". Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 64.
  2. ^ "How to Think". Death Note How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 68.
  3. ^ "How to Think". Death Note: How to Read 13. The nickname "Near" comes from the first two letters of "Nate" and the last two letters of "River" put together with the vowels switched. VIZ Media. 75.
  4. ^ "Takeshi Obata Production Note: Characters". Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 134.
  5. ^ a b c "Takeshi Obata Production Note: Characters". Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 135.
  6. ^ a b c d Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 180.
  7. ^ Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 191.
  8. ^ Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 194.
  9. ^ Death Note: How to Read 13. VIZ Media. 119.
  10. ^ a b Kan, Saori. "23 days to live." The Star. March 23, 2008. Retrieved on August 13, 2009.