Death Note explained: Kira vs Near

Light Yagami, Shiningami and ending explanation

The controversial ending of the worldwide successful anime.

You’re reading the second article about Death Note. In this second part our efforts are focused on the second half of the anime which is acknowledged as one of the wordwide success anime of recent years. Which are the roles of the Shinigami in Death Note? Was the choice of Mello and Near the right inheritance of the unequaled intelligence of L? There and more questions are covered in the lines below. Death Note explained, part 2!

Death Note: the controversial ending

The controversial ending of the anime

Did you miss part one? Look up here!

Kira, L’s successors and the controversial ending of Death Note

Kira’s kingdom: the Apocalypse.

The second half of the anime kicks off with another clue from Christian religion: after L’s death, Kira leads and influences the world for 3.5 years, the same duration of Antichrist’s domination. That amount of time (three years and a half) has a symbolic value: it refers to contemporary, to a present age. Then, the turn: L’s successors emerge from darkness.

L’s successors: Mello and Near.

Still today, Mello and Near are one of the subject of discussion of Death Note fan-base. Their presence and final impact on the anime splits the audience approval. They both represent two different sides of L Lawliet. Mello covers the volitional, active-oriented component pushing him till the self-sacrifice. Near personifies the logical, rational and the cool mind which collaborates with the other emotional counterpart.  

Mello and Near - Death Note

L’s successors: Mello and Near.

Kira is only a false God.

Even though the apparent crimes have been reduced, Kira’s mission do not reach his goal. Crime has only adapted itself to the rules of the “new world” recreated by Kira. The confirmation of that is the action of Mello’s gang: Kira is not able to catch the criminals who act beneath the surface. The Darwinian selection has created a resistant crime. Moreover, people do not share Kira’s principle of Justice: the mob chose the money instead of its God in episode 31, allowing Near’s SPK to escape.

The lack of entertaining and rational step by step explained actions is one of the critics the second-half of the anime is charged of.  Mello and Near are not regarded as the “right” successors of L. To my mind, the audience involvement from episode 26 is weakened by the loss of our L. His role, his face to face challenge with Light left a lack in the heart of the spectators.

Death Note explained ending: the Yellow House high noon.

The high noon ending is probably the major debated topic about Death Note. Taking a fair view of the anime, we cannot say that Death Note possesses a flawness final. It exposes the work to a number of possible plotholes. The audience during the entire show has been educated to judge the sequence of action according to rational, indisputible facts. On that context, Near’s victory seems to be a not deserved win, it is presented as a fortuitous event: Near without Mello’s sacrifice would have been cheated by Light. Kira in fact is more shrewd than Near alone. Light Yagami failed because one of his major followers, Teru Mikami’s too faithfull. Is that a thing a clever person like Kira would not have foreseen?

           lightyagami death note notebookdeath note shinigami eyes

A theory-fan based speculates about the possibility that Near used the Death Note to corner Kira. We know that Near had the real notebook in his possession before the meeting in the Yellow Box warehouse. In fact, Near would have forced Teru to come in the Yellow Box obliging him to act as he did. If so, Near has to be considered very different from L because of him unfair behavior. If Near had used the Death Note in advance to proof its authenticy, he would have reduced the possibility of Light’s win to zero. Of course, the mistake of Teru Mikami acting against an order of his God of stopping writing down names remains.

The spectator ‘s reaction is supposed to be the Matsuda’s one. Matsuda, at the initial stage supports Kira’s plan but at the end of the show he is the one who shoots Light preventing him to use the piece of notebook hidden in his watch. Matsuda has finally realized the filthy monster Kira has become.

Death Note explained

Death Note: Shinigami. Gelus, Rem and Ryuk.

Throughout the show, a number of Shinigamis are presented. In particular, two events are remarkable: when a Shinigami decides to save a human sacrificing its own life. It’s the case of Gelus and Rem who both decides to extend the life of Misa Amane. Rem, in fact, inherits not only the Death Note of Jealous but also its love for the girl. They both realize the value of human life and they’re ready to become ash to protect it.


Shinigami: Ryuk, Rem and Gelus.

On the other hand we have Ryuk who represent the Epicurean-like God: he’s a Death God who does not care about human and his behavior introduces the Problem of Evil:

God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak – and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful – which is equally foreign to god’s nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?

Lactantius, De Ira Deorum

Light Yagami becomes a Shinigami? The evidence and theories in Death Note Relight 1.

Afterlife. The nothingness of the Mu.

In Death Note universe there’s no Hell or Heaven. According to that, the appearance of L’s spirit in front of Light in the last instant of his life has to be considered as the following: L, who had always known he was Kira, has taken his revenge and he won, even after death. Light passes away on the halfway of the stairs: in the middle between death and human world there’s the nil of the Shinigami Realm.

Light’s Reincarnation Theory.

One of the interesting elements of the OVA Death Note Religh 1 (preview here) is the storyteller role of an older version of Ryuk. He tells the story of Light to a special spectator (an unnamed Shinigami) who leaves before the final ending. That Shinigami quits because he already knows how facts went. The Shinigami is increadibly similar in attitude and wearing to Light Yagami:

  • He wears a coat very similar to the one Light was wearing when he died (it also seems to be stained with blood);
  • He sports a red tie around his head resembling the one of Light’s high school uniform;
  • The mysterious  Shinigami also sports goggles, which could allude to the fact that Light never made the deal for Shinigami Eyes;
  • He carries a messenger bag, almost identical to the one Light often carried with him when he was in high school;
  • The only who knows Ryuk likes apple is Light and the Shinigami in question tosses an apple to Ryuk;
Light is shinigami

The Unnamed Shinigami: Light reincarnation?

In the end, also Ryuk’s interaction is very vague and seems someway to speak as Light was there : “You were not God”, “You were just…gone already?” “Wouldn’t you agree, Light!?”. However, a small possibility that there was only a reminescence has to be considered. The cinematographic hints are a lot and the final choice is left to the audience. What do you think?

Do you like the article? Let’s write your opinion in the comments. The standings for the whole serie are reported below! You’ll see lower grades than the first part due to the less solid structure of this second half.

Where to watch Death Note episodes.

Depending on your location, you may find Death Note on these streaming platforms: Hulu, Netflix and Crunchyroll. As happened for One Piece, the episodes are also available on free online website.

In case you’re Italian-based you can find Death Note in the dubbed version also on Anime Unity or on Amazon Prime Video.

Wanna read Psycho-Pass (season 1) analysis?

The Rankings

Death Note (Anime)