Even though Death Note has ended for more than a decade now, it surely has left an impact on anime and manga fans. Almost everyone has heard of it because it is a certified classic. It also only has 1 season in its main storyline, so it is recommendable to new anime watchers. The story is easy to follow with all the right amount of thrill and suspense.
This is why until now, there are still fans talking about Death Note. Usually, they would discuss the intelligence of the two main characters, L and Light Yagami. Aside from this, both of these characters’ morality are also widely debated. Fans would determine which of them are more justified in their actions.
Among these discussions would include Near (real name: Nate River), one of L’s successors after his death. Near was the one who caught Light aka Kira at the end. Near was the one who was able to fulfill L’s goal of taking down Light/Kira, with the help of Mello (another one of L’s successors).
The questions surrounding Near indicate the fandom’s general view of him. Why is Near hated/disliked? This is the biggest controversies in Death Note. When he appeared in the series, it can be assumed he was not well-received. Although this question is subjective, there can be prevailing answers in reference to the series itself.
L’s character was fleshed out in the series. Although he remained mysterious as we do not know so much about him, he still managed to gain the audience’s respect and admiration. This is because the first time the audience encounters him, it is when he baited Kira to reveal his location in a TV broadcast. His strategy was considered impressive, especially for a first-time watcher.
As the episodes went on, he has shown a distinctive personality. He was not the typical black-or-white character, he was someone complex. Although he fought on the side of the law, he would use criminal and morally-questionable methods in order to get what he wants. It was clear that he did not seem to hold morals in a high regard, and he just wanted to be right about his deductions.
He also has quirky traits that are quite comical. He has his slouching posture and affinity for sweets. His appearance did not also seem professional. The scene where everyone in the police force looked dumbfounded when they first met L can even be humorous. His inability to socialize with others like his interactions with Misa can be fun to watch.
His relationship and chemistry with Light was also very interesting to watch. The series managed to build up their cat-and-mouse relationship, with them using chess pieces to beat the other. L and Light also had a lot of similarities, so there’s a sense of kinship. They were also on somewhat friendly terms during the Yotsuba arc, when Light temporarily lost his memories of being Kira.
A lot of fans rooted for L because of his character. When he died, it brought about a sense of devastation and grief. It was easy to put a lot of faith in L’s abilities. He always bounced back from setbacks and continued to create more intricate plans. It was with his death that a lot of the audience may have started to dislike Light.
When L died, Light relished in his victory of freely becoming Kira without anyone on his tail. What he did not know is that apparently, there were 2 successors for L in any case he died. These successors were Near and Mello. They both hail from the same orphanage L grew up in. Mello reacted with shock on L’s death, while Near seemed apathetic. He then proceeded to say, “If you can’t win the game, then you are just a loser.”
Near’s comment of L unable to catch Kira would most likely have a bad impression among fans. Most especially those who are still mourning L’s death. This first impression alone differed greatly with L’s appearance.
Near’s appearance can be perceived as ‘abrupt’ or ‘sudden’. His successors were not given a bit of screen-time nor even a slight mention. The first half only focused on building L and Light’s relationship. It gave the idea that either one of them is going to win the game. The idea of successors may seem out of nowhere to some.
Near’s personality is similar to that of L’s. He is also intelligent, and valued results above anything else. He resorted to questionable methods just to solve the case too. He remained calm throughout his investigations – never showing much emotion. He also has a quirky trait: if L liked to eat sweets, Near liked to play with his toys.
These personality traits made L stand out among the audience. These are something unique to him as a person. Near having similar traits may not have been distinguishable. It probably evoked numerous comparisons between him and L. Some may have labeled him as a ‘copycat’ and a ‘L wannabe’. Since Near may have had a bad first impression among viewers, this could have increased everyone’s dislike.
It would have been probably interesting if Near had an entirely different personality from L’s. In this way, he will be able to free himself from L’s shadow. Having a distinctive personality that the audience can grow to like may have elevated everyone’s opinion of Near. There are some fans who actually like Near, who stated that there are differences between him and L. When it comes to personality, it may not have been apparent in the anime. But they do have one major difference.
Near’s Relationship with Light
Near and Light’s relationship were not as complex as L and Light’s. They were playing chess pieces together, but they were not as intriguing. They never interacted personally like L and Light, until the last episode where Near caught him. There was never a sense of possible kinship, as Near did not seem remotely interested to be close to him unlike L. This may have contributed to the audience disliking Near for the lack of some sort of chemistry with Light.
Ultimately, it is actually Near’s indifference towards Light that guaranteed his win. He does not feel some sort of connection with Light. He also did not express some sort of admiration towards Light, unlike L. His statement towards Light in the last episode, “But you have yielded to the power of this notebook and Shinigami and have confused yourself with a god… You’re just a crazy mass murderer. Nothing more. And nothing less.”
If Near would have had a better characterization in the series, then he would probably be well-loved by the fans too. Regardless of everyone’s low opinion on him and their own reasons, he fulfilled L’s wish. He did his job. He managed to put someone with a God complex in his place.