Death Note (film)

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Death Note
Deathnote lastnamecast.jpg
A promotional poster for Death Note: The Last Name
(Desu Nōto)
Genre Detective fiction, psychological thriller, supernatural
Live-action film
Directed by Shūsuke Kaneko
Produced by Toyoharu Fukuda
Takahiro Kohashi
Takahiro Satō
Music by Kenji Kawai
Studio NTV, Warner Bros.[1]
Licensed by VIZ Pictures, Warner Bros.
Released June 17, 2006
Runtime 125 minutes
Live-action film
Death Note 2: The Last Name
Directed by Shūsuke Kaneko
Produced by Toyoharu Fukuda
Seiji Okuda
Takahiro Satō
Music by Kenji Kawai
Studio NTV, Warner Bros.[1]
Licensed by VIZ Pictures
Released October 28, 2006
Runtime 140 minutes
Anime and Manga portal

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.

A spin-off film directed by Hideo Nakata, titled L: Change the World, was released on February 9, 2008.


Death Note[edit]

Light Yagami is a Japanese 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 while picturing that person's face, that person will die. Light is initially skeptical of the Death Note's authenticity, but after experimenting with it, he realizes it 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. He begins using the Death Note to kill scores of criminals, becoming a notorious serial killer known as "Kira."

As the Kira killings continue, some in Japanese society come to see Kira as a righteous figure. Interpol launches an investigation of the murders, but months pass without any fruitful lead. The case eventually attracts the attention of L, a reclusive and world-famous detective. Working with Interpol and the Japanese police, L manages to confront Light through a television broadcast and demonstrates his deductive skills, correctly surmising Kira's residence in the Kanto region and that 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.

After Light hacks into the police database to find information on acquitted criminals, L realizes that Kira is somehow related to the Kira task force led by Light's father Soichiro. Light finds out that he is being followed by an FBI agent named Raye Penber and, through a series of events, kills him and his fellow agents. Penber's fiance, Naomi Misora, takes it upon herself to uncover Kira's identity. Suspecting Light, she kidnaps his girlfriend Shiori and demands that he confess if he wants to save her. Light adamantly insists that he is not Kira. When Shiori tries to escape, Naomi shoots her and commits suicide. Shiori dies in Light's arms.

Ryuk finds that Light had actually engineered Naomi's death using the Death Note, as he had already found out her identity and written a scenario whereby Naomi would commit suicide after shooting Shiori. Ryuk is confused that Light would deliberately put Shiori in danger, 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 his father's task force. 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[edit]

Misa receives a second Death Note from Rem, another Shinigami. As Light joins the task force after Shiori's funeral, Misa becomes the second Kira and forces a TV station into broadcasting her tapes. Through her TV screen Misa, using her Shinigami eyes, kills a critic of the original Kira, as well as Detective Mogi and two policemen who tried to break up a makeshift Kira supporters' rally. Light's younger sister Sayu is almost killed for not supporting Kira until Soichiro crashes into the festival wearing a motorcycle helmet. Light later arrives to comfort Sayu and Soichiro but is spotted by Misa as the family leaves the area. Misa correctly identifies Light as the original Kira.

Misa confronts him near his home, wishing to be his girlfriend and aid his quest for a crimeless society. Seeing that she has Shinigami eyes, Light accepts her help to eliminate L. Light sets up a meeting between L, Misa and himself at Light's university so that Misa can learn of L's real name. However, Misa is arrested for being the second Kira and is detained. Fearing that she might crack, Rem asks Light to free her. In an elaborate plan, both Kiras lose their respective ownership of the Death Notes, and thus lose their memories of possessing them. Light orders Rem to give Misa's Death Note to Kiyomi Takada, a reporter covering the Kira case, while he buries his own Death Note elsewhere. Light would then "prove" he is not Kira by also being detained while Takada continues Kira's killing spree.

Light and Misa are released but still watched by L. Light finds a clue leading to Takada and the task force sets a trap to arrest her. As the team discover the Death Note in Takada's possession and 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 his buried Death Note and use it to kill L. After being told that the task force is flying to the United States to research the Death Note, Light tricks Rem into killing Watari and, seemingly, L; Rem herself dies for intentionally killing someone to help Misa, but burns her Death Note beforehand. To tie up loose ends, Light tries to use Misa's Death Note to kill his father, much to her horror.

It is revealed that L is alive and wrote his name in the Death Note with the intent to die almost a month in advance, thereby foiling Light. The task force did not leave for the U.S. but instead surveilled Light from another location, therefore hearing and observing Light's confession as Kira and replacing Light's Death Note with a decoy. Cornered, Light pleads with Ryuk to kill L and the task force. Instead, Ryuk 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.

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 meet one last time before L dies peacefully. One year on (on Light's birthday) Soichiro keeps to the lie to Sayu and his wife, as Sayu adores 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.


Character Japan Actor (Original) Canada English Dubbing
Light Yagami Tatsuya Fujiwara Brad Swaile
L Kenichi Matsuyama Alessandro Juliani
Misa Amane Erika Toda Shannon Chan-Kent
Naomi Misora Asaka Seto Nicole Oliver
Ryuk (Voice) Shidou Nakamura Brian Drummond
Rem Shinnosuke Ikehata
(Voice in Death Note: The Last Name)
Michael Dobson
Raye Iwamatsu Shigeki Hosokawa Michael Adamthwaite
Watari Shunji Fujimura Ron Halder
Soichiro Yagami Takeshi Kaga Christopher Britton
Shiori Akino Yuu Kashii Ashleigh Ball
Sayu Yagami Hikari Mitsushima Kristie Marsden
Kanzo Mogi Shin Shimizu John Murphy
Lind L. Taylor Matt Lagan Ted Cole
Sachiko Yagami Michiko Godai Saffron Henderson
Shuichi Aizawa Tatsuhito Okuda Trevor Devall
Touta Matsuda Sota Aoyama Vincent Tong
Hirokazu Ukita Ikuji Nakamura Jeremy From
Kevin LeRoy Ruben Chacon Unknown
Ryotaro Sakajo Masanori Fujita Michael Donovan
FBI Agent Norman England ????
Ayako Yoshino Ai Maeda Unknown
Matsubara Takeo Nakahara Ron Halder
Sasaki Yoji Tanaka Bill Switzer
Saeki Masahiko Tsugawa Unknown
Sanami Miyuki Komatsu Janyse Jaud
Takeshi Maruo Unknown Vincent Wong
Kiichiro Osoreda Sarutoki Miyagawa Brian Dobson
Katsuya Seta Unknown
Takuo Shibuimaru Kaohiko Kaota Louis Chirillo
Yusuke Hibisawa Toshiyuki Watarai
Koreyoshi Kitamura Unknown David Kaye



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".[2]

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.[3] 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".[4]

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.[4]

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".[5]


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.[3]


Theme songs[edit]

Death Note

Death Note: The Last Name

L: Change the World


Death Note[edit]

The first film, simply titled as Death Note, premiered in Japan on June 17, 2006 and topped the Japanese box office for two weeks, pushing The Da Vinci Code into second place.[6]

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.

Wired's Lisa Katayama described the film as "a delightfully suspenseful 126 minutes for anyone who likes suspense, pretty Japanese boys or bad-ass female detectives".[7]

Death Note: The Last Name[edit]

The second movie, Death Note: The Last Name, premiered on November 3, 2006, and instantly topped the Japanese box office,[8] remaining at number one for four straight weeks,[9] 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.[10]

The sequel was released in Hong Kong on November 3, 2006, in Taiwan on November 24, 2006, in Singapore on December 28, 2006, and in Malaysia on January 25, 2007, with English and Chinese subtitles.

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.[11]

North American release[edit]

The first movie briefly played in certain North American theaters on May 20–21, 2008[12] 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.[13]

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.

L: Change the World was released in the United States on April 29–30 of 2009.

UK release[edit]

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.[14][15][16][17] 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.[18] 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.[5] 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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] There have also been rumours that Zac Efron has been cast to play Light Yagami, though this has not been confirmed.[22] Black confirmed in an interview with Bleeding Cool that he's still working on the film.[23] On July 8, 2014, Bleeding Cool reports that Gus Van Sant will direct the film with Dan Lin, Doug Davison, Roy Lee and Brian Witten are producing through Vertigo Entertainment, Witten Pictures and Lin Pictures.[24] On April 27, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Adam Wingard will direct the film, while Lin, Lee, Jason Hoffs and Masi Oka will produce the film and Niija Kuykendall & Nik Mavinkurve will oversee the studio.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Official Death Note live-action movie website" (in Japanese). Warner Bros. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  2. ^ Tai, Elizabeth. "... And justice for all?". The Star.
  3. ^ a b "The making". The Star.
  4. ^ a b Shonen Jump. Volume 6, Issue 6. June 2008. VIZ Media. 8.
  5. ^ a b "Here're a few hints of the second and concluding part of Death Note the movie, The Last Name.". The Star.
  6. ^ "Death Note Tops Box Office Again". Anime News Network. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  7. ^ "Death Note Manga Spawns Movie, Crime Wave". Wired. 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Death Note Wins Japanese Box Office Weekend". Anime News Network. 2006-11-07. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  9. ^ "Death Note Notches Fourth Week at #1". Anime News Network. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  10. ^ "Japan's Top 10 Box Office Hits in 2006". Anime News Network. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  11. ^ "A Name to Remember." The Star.
  12. ^ "1st Death Note Film to Run in 300+ U.S. Theaters in May". Anime News Network. 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  13. ^ "Death Note Live-Action!! Trailer". Viz Media. 2007-04-14. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  14. ^ UK release details:
  15. ^ UK release details here:
  16. ^ UK release details here:
  17. ^ Company website:
  18. ^ Franchise site:
  19. ^ "Warner Brothers Acquire Live-Action Death Note Rights". Anime News Network. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  20. ^ Fleming, Michael (2009-04-30). "Warner brings 'Death' to bigscreen". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  21. ^ <"Warner Bros Taps Shane Black For Japanese Manga 'Death Note'". 2011-01-13. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Shane Black On His Death Note And Doc Savage Movies
  24. ^ "{TB EXCLUSIVE} Gus Van Sant Takes Over “Death Note”". Retrieved 2014-07-09. 
  25. ^ Kit, Borys (April 27, 2015). "'Guest' Director Adam Wingard Signs On for 'Death Note' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 

External links[edit]