Is Near hearing voices? Are we witnessing a schizophrenic future L? Or is (s)he merely dissociating him/herself from the dodgier thoughts passing through consideration?
- Death Note News: Review of TV Death Note Episode 1
By episode seven, all speculation was confirmed as fact. We saw Near's persona physically switch into Mello. We witnessed a re-emerging Near beg Mello, "Don't come out."
Death Note's Babel in the Tower: Multiple Voices Seeking to be Heard at the Same Time
Our clue was in the pseudonym taken by Near: Babel.
Its people decided to build a tower, those top reaches would allow them to climb into Heaven itself. God wasn't best pleased about this imminent invasion of human beings, so set out to thwart them.
Until then, everyone on Earth had been united. They spoke just one language and all understood each other. God did a bit of smiting, or cursing, whatever you call it, whereby their mother tongue suddenly splintered into all the various languages heard around the globe, then and since.
Hence Babel being the root of babble. Multiple voices. No-one able to understand the other.
Additionally, God 'scattered them abroad', so that none were congregated in the city anymore, but its population exiled all over the planet. The people divided from one into many.
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language...
- Genesis 11:6
Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
- Genesis 11:7
Nor does the Babel imagery end there.
Kiras Meeting in the Yotsuba Tower of Babel
Light doesn't change the Yotsuba executives' language. Despite the nice touch in 'Babel' (aka Near/Mello) asking for 'hush money'.
However L and Babel succeed in causing divisions amongst the group's mindset. When they are no longer working in accord, nor even in the same room, its a simple matter to confound their pseudo-divine plan.
Another Note: Beyond Birthday's Near Nod in Death Note (2015) Episode Seven
In the Death Note universe, an Old English font letter B signifies L's original back-up: Beyond Birthday.
Watari: There are three people known as the greatest detectives in the world. L, Eraldo Coil, and Marie Deneuve. Babel is ranked after the three of them.
Makimura: The fourth, then?
L: No, Coil and Deneuve are both me. So Babel is actually the second. Quite the troublesome one.
- Death Note Episode 7 (2015)
We were so being trolled by the writers of this television version of Death Note. Despite the fact that most of us, after our initial shock at seeing Beyond's B, had spent the rest of its occurrences assuming that Yotsuba's detective was Near.
The only major mystery being whether we were hearing Near or Mello, as the dominant personality at the time.
Yet when L introduced B as his second, Beyond's cameo suddenly felt like a distinct possibility again.
It was now common knowledge that the three great post war detectives, L, Eraldo Coil and Danuve were all actually the same person... L engaged in a war with the real Eraldo Coil, and the real Danuve, and emerged victorious, claiming their detective codes... in addition, L possessed many other detective codes... at least three digits worth.
He was B.
NB This episode of television's Death Note drama was aired on August 16th 2015. The 19th was a Wednesday.
I mean, how fabulous would that have been?!
The first child, A, was unable to handle the pressure of living up to L and took his own life, and the second child, Beyond Birthday, was brilliant and deviant.
B stood for Backup.
But B tried to surpass L, not become him.
Mello, Another Note by Nisiosin, p105
However in that 'I know all about it. Deep down inside, you think you're better than L' line from episode two, we've already seen Mello accuse Near of something more commonly attributed to Beyond. Did 'deep down inside' hold a more significance than hitherto realised?
Dissociative Identity Disorder in Death Note
A could have been the original individual - the first child - whose personality fragmented into the rest, and is now lost beneath them all. Near is so named, as the persona most closely resembling A. Or its an acronym: Near Enough A's Replica.
I tell you, Matt's in there too. Probably Linda and all the Letters from L: Change the World as well. Given enough time, scope and energy, Near's going to turn out to be a walking Wammy's House; all Watari Letters contained within a single form.
Which probably accounts for the outstanding cleverness overall.
A Double Wammy in Death Note's Multiple Personality Plot Twists?
Beyond Birthday with Naomi Misora on the fly sheet of Another Note.
A version depicting Beyond Birthday close up adorns the German translation book-cover.
It would explain why the detective's insistence upon a sterile home environment faded whenever he went outside to play tennis or watch Ichigo Berry in concert. That wasn't L. It was Mello or somebody wearing L's face.
Less L changing the world, than the world triggering a change in L.
Moreover, L's Dissociative Identity Disorder would fix an anomaly which has been niggling me since the very first episode. (I am a Death Note fan-fiction writer, finding plot-holes to credibly fill is what breathes life into our tales.) How could Wammy's House alter architecturally, depending upon whether L or Near sit on that staircase?
Its secondary purpose to be where personae stand by, acting as consultants in the near consciousness. Communicating fully with the self on public display, seeing upon their screens what that worldly self views with their own eyes.
Hence the terrified look then, and the horror on L's face, when Watari informed him that Near had left the House.
Watari acts as a kind of internal gatekeeper, or an external carer, able to inform L when personae become dominant without his knowing that time had been missed.
Watari was telling him that he'd been usurped by Near. That Near had been dominant, while L unknowingly and unwittingly was shut down, losing time through being stashed somewhere within the unseen chambers of Wammy's House.
Worse still, that Near could act as a conduit, or else has a twin, a counterpoint to his own behaviour - so close in morality to L, that the latter doesn't always mind him coming to the fore - which can too easily flip to control them both. It might be Mello playing maverick with their case-load, and it's impossible to predict his moves or count on tracking them down later.
They couldn't even trust that he was always on their side, working with L and Near, rather than Kira.
Oh! There's so much fun to be had speculating on the possibilities inherent in this new Death Note storyline! But I'd better return to what is, and not what might potentially be.
Creation of a Successor - L and Near's Michelangelo Moment in Death Note (2015)
That way Kira wouldn't gain too much ground, while struggles for dominance divided and conquered those who might stand in his way.
L has already foreseen that his baton could soon need to be passed on. He cryptically tagged Near, placing him on stand-by as his choice for successor.
The way he did so owed a debt in imagery to Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. Wherein God reaches out to touch Adam, gifting the spark of life to one made in His own image.
All on the off-chance that L should (metaphorically of course) fatally place his own wrong piece in the battle against Kira. Then it would fall to his successor - 'It could be you, Near' - to finish the puzzle, and the war.
Near caught the implication loud and clear, with an expression further seeing significance in L leaving the scene, as soon as his piece was conveyed. It was a gesture laden with pathos. Inherently implying that L expected to die.
He was probably too busy noticing that their surroundings still looked like a Mafia penthouse in Los Angeles.
Nor had it been explained, other than the room wasn't in Wammy's House ("You don't have to go back to the house?" L asked Near not two minutes previously). The furnishings weren't even remotely like those in the hotel, wherein we last saw Near lodged and within the depths of which L had his own hide-out.
Perhaps it would have been too blatant had they gone instead for the zebra striped suite from the other Mafia digs in the desert.
Unless I'm also right in my wilder speculation that this room doesn't exist in the real world. It's L visiting a secondary self inside a place located inside his own psyche.
And that jigsaw piece passing hands is L acknowledging that he's losing his position as dominant personality amidst a multitude of others.
Light Changes L's Mind: Death Note Winners
In L's world-view, the challenge has been issued with Light as his opponent, regardless of how they spent episode seven double teaming against an external interloper. The Yotsuba group, headed by Higuchi as the current Death Note owning Kira, were never serious challengers in L's book. They existed as an opportunity to gather clues and ammunition for the proper battle of wills with Light.
But to play an effective game, both sides need to know the rules. Otherwise how could anyone be declared champion? It would be a hollow victory without the loser knowing themselves to be beaten.
Thus the conditions for winning were set out by Light and agreed by L.
Even if we learn how he kills people, if a comrade dies that's losing, in my opinion.
- Light Yagami, Death Note (2015), episode 7
A Fatal Flaw for L in new Death Note Drama
But no matter that. L had already observed that Light and Kira's minds worked along the same lines. Light's thoughts would probably fit in with Kira's plans too. Their dual outlook aligning in this duel.
Nor was Light necessarily aware that his definition of winning was meaningful for L.
It was Kira who entered into the battle of wills with the detective, not Light. If he felt the challenge, then it was in reaction to L's actions now. His memories of the previous cerebral duelling had been wiped.
If L's pride hadn't been so intent upon recognition as the winner, then he wouldn't have altered his game-plan. Perhaps the outcome might have been different. As it was, allowing Light to influence strategy had immediate consequences.
He touched the Death Note. His memories flooded back. Himself as Kira returned. Just as planned.
Paradise Lost and Kira - Myself am Hell
One day, I shall write a whole blog comparing the two, demonstrating how significantly Kira quotes Satan from Milton's epic verse.
To my mind, one of those moments comes in Light's classic line, 'I am Kira'. I can't help thinking of Satan in Paradise Lost screaming out, 'Myself am Hell!'
It's not word for word - nor even close - but their proclamations hold the same feeling for me. Not least because both are spoken as each anti-hero assumes their role by mentally and emotionally accepting its inevitability. Each against a background of isolation, as all relationships become merely instruments through which power may be gained or retained.
Each are now poised to duel with an avenging second. Be it Satan's clash with the Archangel Michael (Champion of El), or Kira's confrontation with Mello, aka Mihael Keehl (Champion of L).
The latter already long since viewed in kinship to St Michael. Ensured by Near's constant visual references to Giordano's The Fall of the Rebel Angels - showing Michael taking down Satan - whenever Mello's potential in play came to the fore.
Plus the obvious parallel in which Satan was Heaven's Light-Bringer, and Kira was Light. Ignorance is bliss they say. Light hated Kira. His own paradise lost in the knowledge that he is Kira.
The Return of the King: Kira Finds his Precious
Watching this Kira clutch his Death Note prompted me to write 'Gollum' on my pad, then circle it several times as the sequence progressed. I really did expect him to start hissing, 'My Precious!'
Not until Death Note 2015 have we heard that the notebook alters personalities to the bad. That using it invokes paranoia and feelings of dread, not to mention causing agony for those writing names. These are traits more commonly associated with the One Ring to Bind Them All in Tolkien's universe.
The emergence of a secondary personality - split from the owner's primary persona and seemingly built to serve the artefact - is another facet found in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Most notably in Gollum, whose conversations with his other self might have also inspired Mio Yuki's portrayal of Near and Mello in open discussion.
That Gollum with the Ring appears physically transformed is echoed in how TV Death Note's Kira can be discerned, distinct from Light, changed utterly.
In Death Note's Dark Prism Light Splits
There was none of that in the original manga Death Note, nor its anime, nor even the previous Japanese live-action adaptations. In all of those variants, Kira seemed less Light Yagami's split personality and more an alternative name for the same individual.
Light's nick-name, if you like.
Accepted and assumed during a period when Light's psyche stretched to embrace ownership of the Death Note. A label therefore for his supposed megalomania and increasingly apparent descent into madness. But still fundamentally a single self.
Only by integrating Tolkienesque themes, do we witness Light and Kira separated, as dissociated identities and possibly an emerging secondary self entirely.
By implication, the Death Note dividing his very soul.
Kira Identified in Split Personalities
Let's just say this: you will feel the fear and pain known only to humans who've used the notebook. And when it's your time to die, it will fall on me to write your name in my death note. Be warned any human who's used a death note can neither go to heaven nor hell for eternity... That's all.
- Ryuk, Death Note Anime, Episode 1
Complete souls are required to enter Heaven or Hell, at least as such things are understood by shinigami. Personae fragmenting from the same being dilutes the core identity enough that their passport into the afterlife is denied. With nowhere to go, they are lost to the void and formless. Nothingness ensues.
Moreover, this might explain why Death Note owners are identifiable by the lack of a name and date above their heads. It could be that shinigami eyes are confounded by the data being multiplied, as more than one person is present inside that head.
If so, then this has obvious implications for Near and Mello too.
If so, how does that affect Near? Will he die too? Or will he seem to make like a gamer or a cat with apparently numerous lives to risk in battling Kira?
If not, then how might Kira react to the discovery that some - to all practical extent and purpose - possess immunity from the Death Note's deadly reach. And L's successors are amongst their number.
A new twist beckons, as the insertion of split personalities creates diverging plot-lines. It will be interesting to see how this pans out as the story progresses.