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In the Death Note 2015 series, some people sometimes speak English. For instance when Raye Penber and Bell talk and when Lind L Tailor comes out on TV, it's in English.

The Death Note anime of course acknowledges the existence of the English language, like in the first episode, when people with English names are written down in the Death Note and when Near says 'Mister' Aizawa, but a lot of English speaking people instead speak Japanese.

So this got me to thinking,

  1. Are L, Mello, Near, Watari, Beyond Birthday et al Western people who just so happen to be fluent in or at least sufficiently speak and understand Japanese?

  2. L once adopted the alias Ryuga Hideki. How would anyone think that a Western-looking person has a Japanese name? Is his cover story that he was adopted by a Japanese family or something?

  3. Are they necessarily British just because Wammy's House is in England?

  4. In general, is there anyway to know for sure what language is being spoken between a Western person and an Eastern person in the Death Note anime? For instance, when Light and L talk, are they talking in Japanese or English? How about when Near and Light talk?

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    It goes without saying, but the anime probably works that way for the same reason the British Waver Velvet (who apparently doesn't have the best Japanese skills) speaks Japanese in Fate/zero. Anyways, interesting question! – Maroon Oct 15 '15 at 2:08
  • with 2) Light's monologue explains that if L's name was really Ryuga then there was a risk the real Ryuga's face would appear in his mind and accidentally kill him and i have seen of a show like Dr Oz or Dr Phil that there were 2 women in the US who had the same first and last name so there is a chance that 2 people can have the same names. though in the anime i only remember people questioning if L was the Ryuga they know – Memor-X Oct 15 '15 at 2:11
  • @Memor-X I mean why pick a Japanese name? He could've called himself someone with the same name as a popular British celebrity maybe. To me it seems very suspicious that a British looking person would have a Japanese name – BCLC Oct 15 '15 at 2:17
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    @BCLC i suspect L had the same thought as Light's monologue. he already concluded that Kira needs a name and face so even with L's face had Light tried to test his name out the real Ryuga may have died and that would not only limit the number of potential suspects but increase his own suspicion of Light. he could have probably used a British star but probably wanted someone Light would know already – Memor-X Oct 15 '15 at 2:22
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    @BCLC: I'm actually not sure---I mostly know of that detail because I heard about a drama CD where his lack of proficiency comes up. There are always interesting problems in anime with overtly "multicultural" settings though (e.g. here, or in Black Lagoon), where from the voice-acting it's hard to tell what language is actually being used. – Maroon Oct 15 '15 at 7:39
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  1. At least for L, his official profile says that he's fluent in Japanese, Chinese, English, German, French and Russian. I wouldn't be surprised if the other high-IQ guys were multilingual as well.
  2. The author says L is quarter Japanese, and since he has black hair and black eyes, introducing L as Japanese shouldn't be that strange, I guess.
  3. Again, at least for L, his profile says he's British (イギリス国籍).
  4. Dunno.
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  • 1 Source? 2 Thanks! 3 Thanks! 4 Thanks for confirming my hypothesis that it seems impossible to determine :)) – BCLC Oct 15 '15 at 18:02
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    Death Note 13: How to Read, if I remember correctly. – Doncot Oct 15 '15 at 19:13
  • @BCLC Actually the manga, anime and 2015 series confirmed the language they were speaking in though. In all those instances when Light and L talked to each other they were talking Japanese. – Peter Raeves Oct 15 '15 at 23:32
  • @PeterRaeves How do you know Light and L were speaking in Jap? Not surprising, but I don't see why they wouldn't speak English sometimes. What about L's first appearance on TV? What about L and the Japanese police in L's first appearance? Well I guess we'll never know. Hahahaha – BCLC Oct 18 '15 at 7:50
  • We do know. Ohba wrote everything in Japanese, didn't he? Every character he ever wrote always talked Japanese... I don't remember Ohba ever showing them speaking English, ever... Do you have a chapter where any of them spoke English? – Peter Raeves Oct 18 '15 at 15:49
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L is half Japanese. It goes without say that L, B and all who are apart of the L program, would know multiple languages.

I'm almost certain that Mello's Russian because his real first name, "Miheal." Miheal's origins come from somewhere in mother Russia, so therefore Mello's Russian. Oh, and the rosary that he always wears around his neck means he's Catholic. Yeah, I don't get Mels either. I really want to make the assumption that he came from a mafioso background. Like... the Odessa Mafia in the Soviet Union, where his father was a "pakhun" that controlled his own number of cells of mafioso. Just my own opinion. Not canon.

Nate Rivers, on the other hand, is really, REALLY hard to track down...I'm going to make a wild guess. He's either British or French. French because French sounds cool right now. Rivers, this famous aristocratic surname appears to be the archetypical English name, but is in fact French! It derives from the village of La Riviere in Calvados, Normandy, the original nameholders being companions of William, Duke of Normandy, in his 1066 conquest of England. The name does actually mean 'river', and its use after the conquest was such as to subordinate the former 'broc' and 'ea', the Olde English words for rivers and streams.

Matt is most probably Irish or American mix. Jeevas... however is of German Origin.... so... maybe Irish/German mix. That red hair and green eyes....>swooooon<.

The boys all know English...I can wager they speak a number of European languages. French, German, Irish, Russian, Slovakian.... then learning something like an East Asian language isn't something I'd consider hard to believe as L's Successors. They are being trained to follow in his footsteps. L solves cases all over the world. Do you think someone translates them for him before sending said case folders over to him? Life doesn't come with an automated "translate page" button. But they have books that teach you to speak different languages...

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  • Please include relevant sources/references. Specify specific anime episodes and manga chapters, if needed. – W. Are Dec 23 '19 at 3:33

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