Death Note (2006 film)

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Death Note
Death Note (film) poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Shūsuke Kaneko
Produced by Toyoharu Fukuda
Takahiro Kohashi
Takahiro Satō
Screenplay by Tetsuya Oishi
Based on Death Note
by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara
Kenichi Matsuyama
Shunji Fujimura
Takeshi Kaga
Asaka Seto
Shigeki Hosokawa
Erika Toda
Music by Kenji Kawai
Cinematography Hiroshi Takase
Edited by Yosuke Yafune
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • June 17, 2006 (2006-06-17)
Running time
125 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Box office US$23 million (Japan)
US$1.9 million (Hong Kong)

Death Note (デスノート, Desu Nōto) is a 2006 live-action Japanese supernatural thriller film based on the Death Note manga (and later anime) series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. It was followed by a sequel, Death Note 2: The Last Name, released in the same year. The films primarily center on a university student who attempts to rid the world of the crime element with the help of a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in the pages, while being hunted down by an enigmatic and near-mythical international criminal profiler.

The two films were directed by Shūsuke Kaneko, produced by Nippon Television, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. The film was licensed by VIZ Pictures, Warner Bros..

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

Another sequel, Death Note: Light Up the New World, was released in October 2016.


Within the Kanto region of Japan, Light Yagami, an intelligent yet disaffected Japanese college student stumbles across a mysterious dark-colored notebook, with the words "Death Note" marked on the cover, while returning home from his classes. 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 on a convicted criminal, he realizes it is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a Shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become a literal human deity by passing his judgment on those he deems to be morally impure or impede his plans to change the world. He begins using the Death Note to kill numerous known criminals and law-offenders around the world, becoming a world-famous and near-mythical 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, enigmatic and world-renowned criminal profiler. Working with Interpol and the Japanese police force, 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 Iwamatsu and, through a series of events, maipulates Iwamatsu into killing himself along with his fellow agents. Raye's fiance, Naomi Misora, takes it upon herself to uncover Kira's identity. Considering Light as the prime suspect, she kidnaps his girlfriend Shiori and demands that he confess if he wants to save her. Light adamantly insists that he is not Kira and pleads with her. When Shiori tries to escape, Naomi shoots her and abruptly 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 seemingly 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 precursor 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.


Character Actor 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
Shidou Nakamura Brian Drummond
(Voice in Death Note 2: The Last Name)
Shinnosuke Ikehata 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 Tong
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]

The owner of the Death Note copyright required Kaneko to not change any of the rules of the Death Note, and as the film was developed, new rules of the Death Note were added in the original manga. Kaneko described adhering to this condition as the most difficult aspect of making the film.[6]


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


The film premiered in Japan on June 17, 2006, and topped the Japanese box office for two weeks, pushing The Da Vinci Code into second place.[7]

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$23 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 female detectives".[8]

North American release[edit]

The first movie briefly played in certain North American theaters on May 20–21, 2008.[9] The theatrical version featured actors from the English dub of the anime voicing over their respective characters with a few notable recasts, including Ted Cole as Lind L. Tailor's voice (dubbed in the anime by John Murphy), Ron Halder as Watari's voice (dubbed in the anime by French Tickner), Nicole Oliver as Naomi Misora's voice (dubbed in the anime by Tabitha St. Germain), and Michael Dobson as Rem's voice (dubbed in the anime by Colleen Wheeler). 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.[10]

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.[11][12][13][14] 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.[15] Both films were also broadcast on Film4.


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 78% approval rating based on 9 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Official Death Note live-action movie website" (in Japanese). Warner Bros. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  2. ^ Tai, Elizabeth. "... And justice for all?". The Star. Archived September 10, 2012, at
  3. ^ a b "The making". The Star. Archived July 28, 2012, at
  4. ^ a b Shonen Jump. Volume 6, Issue 6. June 2008. VIZ Media. 8.
  5. ^ Kitty Sensei (January 14, 2007). "Here're a few hints of the second and concluding part of Death Note the movie, The Last Name". The Star. Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  6. ^ "'Death Note' Director Shusuke Kaneko: Nietzsche, Manga, and Gods of Death". 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  7. ^ "Death Note Tops Box Office Again". Anime News Network. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  8. ^ "Death Note Manga Spawns Movie, Crime Wave". Wired. 2008-05-19. Archived from the original on 2013-08-09. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
  9. ^ "1st Death Note Film to Run in 300+ U.S. Theaters in May". Anime News Network. 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  10. ^ "Death Note Live-Action!! Trailer". Viz Media. 2007-04-14. Archived from the original on 2008-04-20. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  11. ^ UK release details: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 22, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009. 
  12. ^ UK release details here:
  13. ^ UK release details here:
  14. ^ Company website:
  15. ^ Franchise site:
  16. ^ "Death Note (Desu nôto) (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved April 20, 2018. 

External links[edit]