Nate River (ネイト・リバー, Neito Ribā), better known as Near(ニア, Nia), Near is 155 cm tall (5' 0"), weighs 88 pounds (39.2 kg), and his blood type is B. Near is the more level-headed, calmly assessing the situation, while the other, Mello, is more emotional and quick to act. Much like L, Near shows various odd behaviors during his normal life. He is usually seen hunched over rather than sitting, and he also constantly plays with various toys, which he uses in his theories. 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 has a personal interest in rather than trying to pursue justice. As L uses the Old English MT text "L," Near uses the Old English MT text "N," to represent himself. He is voiced by Noriko Hidaka in the Japanese anime and Cathy Weseluck in the English dub.
Nearly four years after the death of L, he works for the United States under the SPK team that is established to investigate Kira. He soon manages to deduce that Light Yagami, posing as L, actually is Kira. After finding that Mikami is Light's proxy and after Mello kidnaps Takada (which reveals Light's deception of having Mikami use a fake Death Note to lead Near on), Near is able to switch the real Death Note with his own fake version, allowing him to set up a final confrontation which leaves Light exposed.Near claims neither he nor Mello of could surpass L alone, but together they have done so inadvertently by working together. Near soon takes on L's name and keeps on the surviving members of the SPK as his subordinates.
In the one-shot taking place after the series, Near is shown as the new L. A new Kira emerges who has gained a Death Note from the shinigami Meadra (Midori in Viz's translation of Death Note: How To Read 13), who had received the additional Death Note from the Shinigami King by giving him 13 apples she had taken from the human world. The new Kira murders elderly people in Japan to "relieve their pain." When Near's SPK subordinates ask him why he isn't taking any action, he replies that he is trying to think what would of the previous L would do. He finally reaches a conclusion that the prevailing Kira was just a killer without a purpose, and he labels the killer as "C-Kira" for "Cheap Kira." He announces on national television, under the alias of "L," that he is not interested in this case and that he also has deduced that this Kira is not the real Kira but only an "abominable murder." This results in C-Kira committing suicide. Throughout the 40-page manga chapter, the identity of the new Kira is not revealed.
Tsugumi Ohba, the writer of Death Note, said that Near becomes less likeable as the story progresses, citing the upcoming plan to have the notebook at a later point in history. Ohba 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. Ohba added that Near's cheeky behavior, intended to reinforce his childishness, had been construed as annoying. Also, in Death Note: How To Read 13, it is included that generally speaking, his personality is dry, and he values results above all else.
In the final chapter,Near brings finger puppets to the Yellow Box Warehouse. Takeshi Obata, artist of Death Note, said that Near first brought the finger puppets and drew on them with a magic marker. Obata then said Near must have created the other puppets afterwards. Obata sees that Near doesn't really like L so much (although he respects him, he doesn't realy like him 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". Referring to L as a loser, so Obata had Near depict L as ugly; however, Near worked hard on the Mello's puppet as Near liked Mello.
Conception and development of Near
Ohba 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.
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 emphasising his child-like appearence. Ohba included the match and the dice towers in his thumbnails and said that he thought Obata might encounter difficulty in drawing them. Ohba felt surprised when he saw the dice towers in the final work.
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.
Obata said that since Ohba wanted to "include a little L" in Matt 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. Obata stated that he originally thought about creating Near as "a bit more mature mentally." Obata said that he created and considered using a younger version of that design. Another design Obata included a "really innocent and cheerful character," and he felt that the design could work for Near; however, he "quickly abandoned" the idea.
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 he settled for pajamas [because of the "toyish" theme Near represents] and "things got a lot easier."
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 Obata received approval, and 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.
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.
Ohba 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 "negative" parts of Near with the puppets. Ohba added that one could see "his dark side in his kind of puppets he used."
It is stated in "Death Note: How To Read 13" that "his calmness in situations is even above that of L's." Effectively, Near is shown to be extremely calm and emotionless in both attitude and expression regardless of the situation he's put in. (Even when nearly all the members of the SPK were killed, he simply observed.) However, it is shown that he is worse at cooperation than L was. "He was even willing to use forceful tactics that were barely in the law" and that "he values results above all else."He is shown to smile when getting something right or when he gets it.
Even though his intelligence is that of a genius, he lacks social knowledge and is bad at interacting with others, so "he is only able to release his true powers when he has the support of his members."
Much like L, who plays with his food while he is working on the investigation, Near plays with toys while he works, and often uses them to demonstrate or explain something. With extremely child-like 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 things that he particularly likes since he has taken these with him when he had to escape. 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 would knock down these structures, accidentally or intentionally. He also seems to have a love for dice. Near could also be described as "apathetic." He tends to feel that emotions will carry him away and will reduce his focus on more important ordeals.
Although Near is always surrounded with toys, none of them are electronics. All of his toys are the types that need to be moved manually such as the action figures, darts and dolls (except for the remote-control rubber ducks powered with batteries and a battery-moved train). In Death Note 11 he uses toys to explain the case. Near is never shown playing a video game, or anything of electronic screen-game sorts such as Game Boy, PlayStation, or even Arcade games like Matt did. Whether he has no interests in video games, they're too much trouble to be carried during investigations, or he avoid the risk to harm his eyesight, it is unknown.
Many speculations say that simply when one plays electronic/video games almost the whole of their concentration becomes on the game they are playing more than anything else. The direct opposite is with the hand-action toys, which might allow "Near" to concentrate and focus, and feel more clear-headed while thinking.
Besides, obviously one can see "Near" doesn't monitor the screens too much as L was doing. It could be his nature, charisma, or way of behaving, also It can support the possibility that he wants to protect his eyesight.
In Other Media
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, 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.
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. The plot in which Near was a Thai boy is also completely absent from the novel due to plot changes made as a result of severe dissatisfaction with Near's depiction in the film by fans.
It is quite unclear how Near was able to create a puppet of L. Since L hid in the shadows and lived a secret life, his face was almost never exposed to the outside world without his consent. Some fans speculate that Near has obtained at least one photograph of L given to him from either Roger or Watari during his time at Wammy's House.
It is revealed 3 years later (after Light Yagami's death) that Near not only takes on the name of L but also grows up to look more like the original L himself. Near begins to have the sharp bags under his eyes and also almost reaches the same height as L.
Like Mello, his name comes from the opposite of his personality; Near, therefore, is very distant from other people.
Throughout the whole of the manga series, Near is almost always seen hunched over. He is only seen standing five times: in front of the president of the United States in chapter 60, when the vice-president recognizes Kira in chapter 75, while he talks with Lester in chapter 76, when he picks up his toys in chapter 80 and when he discovers Mikami as Light's proxy in chapter 91.
In the anime, he is seen standing in a scene where Light and Near are opposite each other on a moving platform, and Near is shown standing up when he guesses that Teru Mikami is X-Kira. Both scenes are in episode 33 of the anime.
In the one-shot of the manga Near is shown eating chocolate, possibly in homage to Mello as it is the same brand. It could also be symbolic for the fact that he and Mello came together and did what L couldn't do.
Near appears to be ambidextrous, playing darts with his left hand and stacking dice with his right.
Near appears to have albinism, with his white hair and pale grey eyes.
It is revealed in the novel "L Change the worLd" that Near was the chosen successer to L if L had to make his choice. However, there was no mention or discussion about Mello in the book.
When Teru Mikami used his Shinigami eyes, the numbers of Near's Lifespan are: 43406
In Death Note: How To Read 13, it says that Near is distant from people because he is sensitive. This questions his true personality.