|† ＭＩＨＡＥＬ「ＭＥＬＬＯ」ＫＥＥＨＬ † |
Born in 1989 in what was then Yugoslavia, Mihael was orphaned at the age of three, losing his parents in a bombing during the Croat-Bosnian War in 1993, after which he was sent to a branch of the SOS Kinderdorf association in Germany, along with many other war-orphaned children. However, the fact that Mihael’s intelligence highly exceeded that of the other children was clear from the start, and after only a year and a few months there, Mihael was collected by Wammy’s House, a special institution for the exceptionally gifted. Stripped of his original identity and everything that connected him to his destroyed home or his previous orphanage—save the rosary given him by his mother—five year old Mihael Keehl was assigned the pseudonym Mello and entered in the competition to bring about the world’s next “L.”
There, Mello excelled in his studies, driven and determined to achieve the role all of the children were struggling toward and especially set on overcoming his greatest rival, a boy named Near with whom he often clashed. Unfortunately, Near always seemed to remain one step ahead of him, to Mello’s chagrin and outrage, and Mello pushed himself to study and work as hard as he could in order to achieve his goals. Wammy’s was also the place he met his best friend, a boy given the name Matt, who ranked third. Mello grew close to him, indeed, closer than he had to anybody since his arrival. After L’s murder, however, Mello’s life was disrupted, and after refusing Roger’s suggestion that he and Near work together as the next L, Mello left Wammy’s House on December 5, 2004, shortly before he turned fifteen.
Intent on catching Kira before Near, essentially beating his rival and even doing what L himself could not in order to avenge him, Mello sets out alone, severing connections with Wammy’s as preferred to do things his own way. Mello joins the mafia, setting up a base in Los Angeles, and works from there. Intent on ‘winning’, Mello sinks to criminal levels at times to accomplish his goals, tossing aside morality for cold logic in a mindset that states he must do whatever it takes to catch Kira. However, Kira locates his base, kills his mafia subordinates, and sends men after him, and so Mello is forced to destroy; the explosion leaves him badly wounded and is the cause of the scars spanning over the left half of his face and throat.
Suffering from severe burns, as well as other injuries he sustained in the explosion, Mello barely manages to drive away from the site, but though he is the type to stubbornly continue doing things on his own, this time, he realizes he won’t be able to. And so, after having severed connections years ago, Mello contacts Matt, who he has actually been keeping tabs on—along with Near—and knows happens to be not too far from him. Matt comes to his aid, takes him home to his own apartment to tend his injuries, and during the time that Mello spends recovering, his relationship with Matt is not only reaffirmed but strengthened, and the two become lovers, unsurprising considering their closeness in the orphanage and Mello’s feelings for him lasting since then, which he finds are returned. When he is mostly recovered, albeit sporting the aforementioned scars, Mello returns to his race for Kira at full-force, and ultimately ends up getting information of Kiyomi Takada, whom he intends to kidnap.
On the night he is to kidnap Takada, however, his plans go awry when a group of Kira supporters shoots down Matt, who was acting as a diversion for him. Seeing this live on the news as he is driving away with Takada in a stolen van, Mello clearly feels guilty, apologizing to Matt silently and thinking he never meant to get him killed. Takada, however, has hidden a piece of the Death Note in her bra and Mello dies shortly after, crashing the van into an abandoned church, with Takada still trapped inside as it all goes up in fire and smoke. And that's it-- as Mello himself puts it, that sums up the ending of the story of the best dresser who died like a dog.
Mello was raised in Wammy’s Orphanage, in severe competition to be the world’s next L, and was ranked second in the institution. For Mello, however, being second is simply not good enough. His need to be number one, the best and brightest, and most of all to beat the actual first-ranked student Near are the factors which drive his actions. As a child, he strove to outrank Near, who always placed first despite his apparent lack of work. The manga describes how Near was always playing with his toys and never studying, while Mello pushed himself day and night, reading, studying, and striving for the number one rank that always eluded him. He feels that he’s always stuck a step behind Near and it infuriates him, but also drives him to be more ambitious. This inferiority complex and hatred toward Near keeps him from working with the younger boy after L’s death, and thus he left the orphanage, seeking to become number one by his own methods. As shown by this, Mello is a man who acts on his own, playing by his own rules and refusing to let anyone get in his way. He is stubbornly determined and hot-headed, and once he sets his sights on a goal, he goes for it regardless of what it takes to get there, oftentimes committing deeds of questionable morality. For example, during his hunt for Kira and race to beat Near to the serial killer, Mello became a mafia boss in the United States, ordering Yagami Sayu’s kidnapping and even blackmailing the US President. In fact, he states he is willing to “kill all who get in [his] way” to secure “Kira’s head.”
A natural leader, Mello is fearless and compelling, capable of being charming but much more often choosing to make his wishes known and carried out by sheer force of will.
He is often angry, loud, even obnoxious and prone to cursing, yet can also be stealthy and sly, a brilliant liar and strategic manipulator. Because he is so prone to being overemotional, Mello knows how people work, and is good at reading their feelings. Though he is actually a brilliant tactician and capable of devising and carrying out complicated plans—such as in the case of his launching the Death Note in a missile to keep the location unknown to others—Mello’s rash and impulsive nature often get the best of him. He takes precautions, yet quickly abandons his plans if he sees an advantage elsewhere. He adapts well to situations thrown at him on short notice and, even if he doesn’t always think things through, he acts without hesitation. He is proud and cocky, traits which sometimes lead him to make mistakes; however, he takes these mistakes in stride as well because he can’t stand not being in control of his own life and actions. When his base is infiltrated by Light’s forces, he takes charge of the situation again by willingly blowing up the building—while he is still inside—to erase his tracks as well as try to get rid of the intruders.
Ruthless and not one for compassion, Mello seems to be cold and completely uncaring toward human life, but when his mafia members are taken out by Yagami’s force, Mello actually seems to feel a bit bad they got caught in the crossfire. Similarly, when Matt gets killed while acting as a distraction for Mello during his mission to kidnap Takada, Mello is genuinely sorry, apologizing out loud to his friend when he learns the news. Earlier in his life, he was also was clearly devastated by L’s death, and his relentless drive to kill Kira seems to be not only a race against Near, but also a wish avenge his mentor L by hunting down his murderer. Thus, despite Mello’s ruthless and manipulative nature, it is shown he truly cares about the few people he is close to.
A note on my interpretation of his jewelry: Mello wears a Catholic rosary, a bracelet with a cross, and has crosses on the knees of his pants in some manga art. Though he is never actively shown in canon to be religious, this is heavily implied by the fact he is shown in a lot of official art and on cover-pages of chapters as surrounded by Catholic paraphernalia. Thus, I will be playing him as someone who struggles personally with his religion and the crimes he’s committed. Still, his vision of religion and God is warped. He thinks he can never be forgiven, and even though he believes in God, he does not believe in a God who cares much about the world, and he certainly does not believe he is saved.