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The wacky rivalry of Near and Mello

So lately I've been reading and watching my way through Death Note, a manga and anime with a concept that had always seemed rather interesting, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to get to it.

Anyway, I've made it to the dreaded second half of the story, with plot and character developments that produced a pretty divided fandom and are still controversial to this day. And I can certainly understand them, and even share them to a degree. I can't be totally negative, though, because the second half has the wacky graduates of a school/orphanage that seems to have struggled to produce alumni who spent more than 20 percent of their time on the same planet as everyone else.

Many spoilers for the second half of Death Note follow! )