Death Note (film)
A promotional poster for Death Note: The Last Name
|Genre||Detective fiction, psychological thriller, supernatural|
|Directed by||Shūsuke Kaneko|
|Produced by||Toyoharu Fukuda
|Music by||Kenji Kawai|
|Studio||NTV, Warner Bros.|
|Licensed by||VIZ Pictures, Warner Bros.|
|Released||June 17, 2006|
|Death Note 2: The Last Name|
|Directed by||Shūsuke Kaneko|
|Produced by||Toyoharu Fukuda
|Music by||Kenji Kawai|
|Studio||NTV, Warner Bros.|
|Licensed by||VIZ Pictures|
|Released||October 28, 2006|
Death Note (デスノート Desu Nōto?) is a series of two live-action Japanese films released in 2006 and a spin-off released on February 9, 2008. The two movies are based on the Death Note manga (and later anime) series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. The films primarily center on a university student who decides to rid the world of evil with the help of a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. The two films were directed by Shūsuke Kaneko, produced by Nippon Television, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan.
The series is about Light Yagami, a young man and college student whose life undergoes a drastic change when he discovers a mysterious notebook, known as the "Death Note", lying on the ground. The Death Note's instructions claim that if a person's name is written within it while picturing that person's face, that person shall die. Light is initially skeptical of the notebook's authenticity, but after experimenting with it, he realizes that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a Shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become "god of the new world" by passing his judgment on those he deems to be evil or who get in his way.
After months of killing criminals, Light is dubbed Kira by the public and some believe him to be righteous about killing criminals. Interpol is no closer to catching him, and is going to pass the case on to the Ministry of Health as some disease, until L steps onto the scene. Known as the best detective in the world, L has solved many cases with his assistant Watari. Working with them, L manages to confront Light, live on TV, and deduces he is in the Kanto region of Japan and he can "kill without lifting a finger." The race begins between L and Light to discover each other's identity, and a game of cat and mouse ensues between the two geniuses.
Later L deduces that Kira is somehow related to the investigation taskforce led by Light's father Soichiro since Light manages to hack into the police database to find out which criminals had been acquitted and has independently have FBI agents track the relatives of the taskforce. Light finds out he is followed by one FBI agent and, through a series of events, kills him and his fellow agents. His fiancé Naomi Misora takes it upon herself to find out who Kira is. Suspecting Light, Misora kidnaps Shiori and asks Light to come to the art museum and confess that he really is Kira if he wants to save her. He goes to the museum, but denies that he is Kira, and begs for Shiori's release. Misora tells Light that unless he kills her using her real name, which was "Naomi" written in katakana, she would kill Shiori. Light adamantly insists that he is not Kira. Soichiro, upon seeing this, sends the police. Misora immediately becomes upset and distracted, allowing Light's girlfriend to break free and run away from her. Misora fires her gun and shoots Shiori, who dies in Light's arms shortly afterward, and then afterwards commits suicide by shooting herself.
Later, Ryuk finds that Light had actually engineered Naomi's death using the Death Note, as he had already found out her name by checking with the church since she revealed to him she was Iwamatsu's fiancée and he reasoned that nobody would use a fake name in marriage and written a scenario whereby Misora would commit suicide after shooting Shiori. Obviously, Ryuk is confused, as by doing this, Light would end up killing Shiori, but Light reveals that he had written her name in the Death Note as well. Using these events to foster hatred for Kira, Light asks to join the investigation team when his father checked on him. While Soichiro is slightly reluctant, L immediately grants his wish and it is hinted that he is still certain that Light is Kira.
As a prequel to the second movie, Misa, an actress, is chased down an alley by a man wielding a knife, intent on killing her. As she screams for help, the man dies of a heart attack just like Kira's victims. A second Death Note lands beside her.
Death Note: The Last Name
The movie starts with Misa, a TV presenter, getting a second Death Note from Rem, another Shinigami. As Light joins the team after Shiori's funeral, Misa becomes the second Kira and manipulates a TV station into broadcasting her tapes live during a festival. Through her TV screen Misa, using her Shinigami eyes, kills an outspoken critic of Kira, as well as investigative officer Mogi and two policemen who tried to break up a make-shift Kira supporters' rally. Light's younger sister Sayu was also almost killed until her father Soichiro crashed into the festival wearing a motorcycle helmet. Light later arrives to comfort Sayu and their father but was spotted by Misa as the family left the area.
Misa correctly identifies Light as the original Kira and confronts him near his home, wishing to be his girlfriend and help Light in his quest for a crimeless society. Seeing that she has Shinigami eyes, Light accepts her help to eliminate L, who still suspects him of being Kira. Light sets up a meeting between L, Misa and himself at Light's university so that Misa can learn of L's real name. After Misa leaves, she is arrested by the taskforce for being the second Kira and is held in their HQ for several days. Fearing that she might crack, Rem asks Light to free her. In an elaborate plan, both Kiras would lose their respective ownership of the Death Notes, and thus lose their memories of ever having the Notes. Light engineers Rem to give Misa's Death Note to Kiyomi Takada, a reporter who had covered cases involving Kira while he buries his own Death Note elsewhere. Light would then prove he is not Kira to L by also being placed in a constant 24 hour surveillance while Takada carries on Kira's retributions.
As Light and Misa are held for weeks, Takada carries on killing criminals as the third Kira and also a rival presenter to replace her as anchorwoman. Light and Misa are released but still held under surveillance by L. Light finds the clue that would lead to Takada being Kira and the investigation team sets a trap to arrest her. As the team discover the Death Note in Takada's possession and also discover Rem's existence, Light kills Takada using a piece of the Death Note inside his watch to regain ownership of the Death Note and not be incriminated. When Misa is allowed to leave, Light asks her to find the buried Death Note and use it to kill L. When the taskforce decide to test the Death Note's capabilities, they leave for America to test it on two death-row convicts. Light tricks Rem into killing L and Watari. After they both die, Rem dies for intentionally killing someone to help Misa but burns his Death Note beforehand. To tie up loose ends, Light uses the Death Note Misa brought to kill his father, much to her horror.
Later it is revealed that L did not die and avoided death by writing his name in the notebook stating, "L Lawliet will die 23 days from this date", which three days had already been passed. The taskforce did not leave for the US but instead left the room to monitor Light's actions in another place, therefore hearing and observing Light's confession as Kira. The killings that restarted after Misa left HQ also proved to them that Misa was the second Kira. Knowing this, L had Watari replace the Death Note with a fake lookalike after confirming the above. L's only regret was not saving Watari in time. Cornered, Light pleads with Ryuk to kill L and the task force. Ryuk agrees but writes Light's name in the Death Note, telling Light that anyone who uses the death note is banned from heaven and hell and will instead spend eternity as nothingness. Light dies in his father's arms begging him to believe he acted as Kira to carry out justice, which Soichiro had taught him since his childhood, into practice.
Knowing that supernatural events were involved, the official line put out by L and the investigation team was that Light was killed by Kira. Twenty days later, Soichiro and L met one last time before L dies peacefully. One year on (on Light's birthday) Soichiro kept to the lie to Sayu and his wife, as Sayu adored Light but did not support Kira's actions. Misa also celebrates Light's birthday, still loving him but has no recollection of the Death Notes.
In his production notes, director Shūsuke Kaneko explained his desire to convince audiences that, while the killing of bad humans may seem to be fair, it underestimates the corrupting influence of wielding such power (the manga series follows a very similar viewpoint). Kaneko also commented that the psychological fear of dying could be "more nightmarish than Kaiju (monsters) destroying cities and killing people".
Kaneko also stated that he wanted the film to "focus on psychological pain", explain how the deaths occur, and explain how younger people would begin to like Kira. He also removed many of the interior monologues prominent in the manga and anime to allow audiences to develop their own ideas about the characters' thoughts and beliefs, while allowing "dramatic tension".
Kaneko said that the most difficult portion of the manga to film was the scene when the investigation begins and the authorities conclude that a person is responsible for the killing of criminals. He chose to add a scene in which L explains his logic via his laptop in order to make the film "more believable" and "excite people" for the coming struggle between L and Light.
Kaneko indicated mixed feelings while directing the movie. He said that he felt "a little reservation" at how the movie would perform, since the film "uses 'death' to entertain the audience" and feels "morally unsettling". Kaneko theorized that the film may have performed well because of the Internet culture of Japan, saying that the use of the Death Note had similarities to how users attacked one another on message boards and blogs. In addition, Kaneko noted that death is "carefully" concealed, to the point where "people don't even think about it".
Kaneko chartered an underground line to film a particular scene in the first film; this was the first time in Japanese film history that an underground line was used. Kaneko used about 500 extras throughout the first film.
Death Note: The Last Name
Death Note (死亡筆記) was released in Hong Kong on August 10, 2006, in Taiwan on September 8, 2006, in Singapore on October 19, 2006, and in Malaysia on November 9, 2006 with English and Chinese subtitles. The world premiere was in the UA Langham Place cinema in Hong Kong on October 28, 2006, the first Japanese movie to premiere in Hong Kong. The film ended up earning US$41 million in Japan, $1.9 million in Hong Kong. The film was released in the UK on April 25, 2008.
Death Note: The Last Name
The second movie, Death Note: The Last Name, premiered on November 3, 2006, and instantly topped the Japanese box office, remaining at number one for four straight weeks, and grossed 5.5 billion yen in Japan by the end of the year, making it one of the year's highest grossing Japanese films.
Christy Lee S.W. of The Star, in her review of the second film, stated that Kaneko "did a good job" in pacing the film, adding that the increased pacing towards the end made some of the content difficult to understand. She also said that screenwriter Tetsuya Oishi made sure the characters were "well fleshed out" and easily empathized with.
North American release
The first movie briefly played in certain North American theaters on May 20–21, 2008 The theatrical version featured actors from the English dub of the anime voicing over their respective characters (with a few notable recasts, and the exception of John Murphy (Lind L. Tailor's English dub actor) due to Lind L. Tailor already being played by American actor Matt Lagan - in the dub, Tailor's voice is instead dubbed by Ted Cole). The film was broadcast in Canadian theaters for one night only on September 15, 2008. The DVD was released on September 16, 2008, one day after the Canadian showing.
Death Note: The Last Name was given similar treatment. The film was dubbed into English and released in American theaters for two nights only, October 15 and 16. The film was released in Canada on December 3, the DVD was released on February 10, 2009.
Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name, and L: Change the World were all licensed for UK release by 4Digital Asia, a sublabel of 4Digital Media, formerly Ilc Entertainment. The first title was the inaugural release in this new sublabel, launched in 2008 to fill the gap in the UK for "Asia Extreme" titles created by the demise of Tartan. All have received limited theatrical screenings at arthouse venues around the UK, such as the ICA Cinema in central London. All three have received DVD releases in limited editions, featuring two discs in hardback-book-like packaging, mimicking the item of the title. Regular single-disc editions are replacing the limited ones for long-term release. A dedicated website focused on the franchise was also created for public use. Both films were also broadcast on Film4.
In 2007, the Malaysian paper The Star stated that more than ten film companies in the United States had expressed interest in the Death Note franchise. The American production company Vertigo Entertainment was originally set to develop the remake, with Charley and Vlas Parlapanides as screenwriters and Roy Lee, Doug Davison, Dan Lin, and Brian Witten as producers. On April 30, 2009, Variety reported that Warner Bros., the distributors for the original Japanese live-action films, had acquired the American rights for the remake, with the original screenwriters and producers still attached. On January 13, 2011, it was announced that Shane Black has been hired to direct the film, with the script being written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry. There have also been rumours that Zac Efron has been cast to play Light Yagami, though this has not been confirmed. Black confirmed in an interview with Bleeding Cool that he's still working on the film. 
- "Official Death Note live-action movie website" (in Japanese). Warner Bros. Retrieved 2006-11-19.
- Tai, Elizabeth. "... And justice for all?". The Star.
- "The making". The Star.
- Shonen Jump. Volume 6, Issue 6. June 2008. VIZ Media. 8.
- "Here're a few hints of the second and concluding part of Death Note the movie, The Last Name.". The Star.
- "Death Note Tops Box Office Again". Anime News Network. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2006-12-18.
- "Death Note Manga Spawns Movie, Crime Wave". Wired. 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
- "Death Note Wins Japanese Box Office Weekend". Anime News Network. 2006-11-07. Retrieved 2006-11-07.
- "Death Note Notches Fourth Week at #1". Anime News Network. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2006-11-27.
- "Japan's Top 10 Box Office Hits in 2006". Anime News Network. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-01-09.
- "A Name to Remember." The Star.
- "1st Death Note Film to Run in 300+ U.S. Theaters in May". Anime News Network. 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- "Death Note Live-Action!! Trailer". Viz Media. 2007-04-14. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
- UK release details: http://www.4digitalmedia.com/index.php/details/33
- UK release details here: http://www.4digitalmedia.com/index.php/details/2
- UK release details here: http://www.4digitalmedia.com/index.php/details/7
- Company website: http://www.4digitalmedia.com/
- Franchise site: http://www.4digitalmedia.com/deathnote/
- "Warner Brothers Acquire Live-Action Death Note Rights". Anime News Network. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- Fleming, Michael (2009-04-30). "Warner brings 'Death' to bigscreen". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- <"Warner Bros Taps Shane Black For Japanese Manga 'Death Note'". Deadline.com. 2011-01-13. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Shane Black On His Death Note And Doc Savage Movies
- Death Note at Warner Brothers Japan (Japanese)
- Death Note DVD official website (Japanese)
- Death Note at the Internet Movie Database
- Death Note: The Last Name at the Internet Movie Database