Okay, so. Let's get that spoiler tag working off the bat:
Mello dies in chapter 99.
The thing is, a good death ... a good death I'm okay with. The proper order of grief is: Denial, Anger, Grief, Acceptance, I think.
It's not: Disappointment, bland acceptance, RAGE.
See... thing is. If it were a good death and an IC death, that's fine. "But Mello-mun! If it's written by the mangaka, it's IC!"
... not if it denies all the principles she's set up for him before. Not if it's anticlimactic.
NOT IF IT'S NOT EVEN FUCKING ONSCREEN.
See. Mello may base his decisions off his emotions. At the same time, he's not stupid. He's of a quality that he was considered appropriate to take over from L (along with Near; Roger couldn't pick betwen them) FOUR YEARS before the current date, and he's only trained harder in the meantime. He's driven. He can't afford to lose. Even when a direct confrontation had happened, he'd rigged the entire building with explosives -- he's PARANOID. He works carefully. He doesn't rush and doesn't respond because of his anger. He was a very attractive man and never ONCE do we see him obsess over his scar -- he never even comments on it; he denies the usual prettyboy stereotype. None of this "My face, my beautiful face" shit. Later, he catches Near off guard by working through NEAR to get Mogi there/gather information/etc. He's not throwing himself out recklessly.
Then he spends a lot of time settling in to watch and wait. NO comment from him for about ten chapters. He and his orphanage-mate Matt are observing people. They're taking their time and laying low.
At the end of this ten chapter break, Mello is no longer a main character.
No explanation is given, but we don't see into his head. He comes back in chapter 98 to kidnap Takada, Raito's new puppetgirlfriend, and ... okay, I'm fine with that. But I consider he'd work with the same care as previously.
No, instead he is suddenly retarded.
Sure, he realizes she's probably being tracked and tells her to strip, and then pakcs her clothes on a truck ... but he doesn't actually check to make sure she's not hiding anything. LIKE OH THE TRACKER HE WAS TRYING TO GET RID OF. Sure, in this case, she wasn't, but he didn't CHECK. And because he didn't check, she managed to hide a cell phone, a pencil, and a slip of the Death Note.
1) If he were looking to get rid of a tracker, you think he'd check her BODY, not just dump her clothes.
2) This is someone he KNOWS has a connection with Kira. He should KNOW she's pretty dangerous. Hell, he should KNOW that at that point, Kira clearly had a need to keep her alive, and so should have been watching for traps. LIKE THE FACT KIRA HAD GIVEN HER A BIT OF THE DAMN DEATH NOTE. Mello has TOUCHED the death note. He KNOWS what paper from it looks like (like normal lined paper, lol.). He KNOWS that all it would take to kill him is writing his name in the book or a scrap from it. And yet he doesn't even SEARCH HER. He kidnaps her, makes her strip, kindly offers her a blanket, and then leaves her alone in a storage room.
And then he dies.
Mind, we don't see it. We don't really know for SURE he's dead until she calls Raito and is all "Lolz I wrote his name down!" and Raito's all "Right you wouldn't be calling unless you already killed his kidnapper", and THEN we get a flash to Mello's stunned-looking dead body.
But it's offscreen, it's anticlimactic, and it ... fails.
Especially because it was obviously a plot device.
See, the trouble is... for about 20 chapters, Ohba has been FLOUNDERING. Sure, it's a great plot idea to make the next brain-rape striving an ORGY ... if you can manage it. But Ohba had started to fail. Keeping track of what everyone knew and could do about it ... was clearly getting hard for her. You could tell. Characters would disappear for long moments of time. Plots would drag on. People would suddenly act REALLY STUPID in order to give one or the other of the main characters (Raito and Near) information and/or remove a limitation from them so they could act.
Mikami USED THE DEATH NOTE IN PUBLIC. Hell, Mikami TALKED ALOUD TO HIMSELF. Both of these were stupid and rather uncharacteristic and done just to get Near information he needed right then for the story to continue. It was one of the most painful deux ex machina I've seen in a while and I commented as much to Near's player as I was reading (before I knew about Mello's death).
Mello's death and Matt's and Takada's served a similar function: First, it interfered so not everything was falling into Near's plan (because Ohba is gunning for Raito to win, see), and second, it got rid of three of the extra people who all knew stuff and had reason to interfere.
You know, I'm fine with a one-on-one brain deathmatch, as with L and Raito, and now with Near and Raito.
But it could have been that way from the start, been streamlined, and not fallen into painfully awkward storytelling.
I'm just -- I'm not as rageful as this sounds. I'm deeply disappointed and annoyed because ... I don't think there's anyone who can read the chapter where Matt, Mello, and Takada all die and not be disappointed and annoyed. She dropped the ball badly.
Mind. MATT'S death was onscreen, dramatic, and painful. I felt a pang for him and a "God, poor Matt". Matt was also the most minor of thre three above characters. Mello ... important for so many chapters... vanishes...comes back to engage in STUPID, UNCHARACTERISTIC, OBVIOUS behaviour, and then die offscreen and with no focus given to it.
I am painfully wondering how Near will respond. Given that both boys were THRILLED at the thought of competing against each other in chapter ...76? 77? [forget] ... but now I'm ahead of myself.
I'm just ... it's not that I'm even sad Mello's dead.
It was just done so, so pathetically.