Death Note Live Action (Part 1): Movie Review

Directed by: Shusuke Kaneko Written by: Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata Released on: June 17, 2006
Directed by: Shusuke Kaneko
     Written by: Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata
                   Released on: June 17, 2006

153 suspects and criminals die

Series of deaths due to heart attacks

Victims with no past medical history

This is how the 1st part of the live action adaptation of the popular anime Death Note opened – a series of deaths around the world with the same cause of death – heart attack.

And the target of the attacks? Prominent suspects and criminals who were not convicted by law and have been allowed to get out of jail.

Numbers of deaths rise and suspicion grew – all pointing to a single source of what the Japanese now considers a case of mass  murder. But the question remains: Who is doing the killing? And how?

Meanwhile, as the killings start to attract international attention including that of the famous ICPO (International Criminal Police Organization), Light Yagami, son of the head of the mass murder investigation, is doing his own part of the worldwide issue – hacking through the police’s system, and writing down the names of the criminals who escaped legal punishment.

But Light doesn’t just write them down for no reason. He writes their names down to kill them. And how does he do it? The Death Note.

KIRA and the Death Note


It’s quite difficult, if not impossible, to ‘not compare’ the live adaptation of Death Note from that of the anime version. And even if a lot of parts in the anime has been removed in the live action, it’s very easy to spot the similarities of the plot and characterization employed in the movie.

Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is shown as a kind, smart and respectful son who has a strong sense of justice which can be attributed to him, being a son of a senior police investigator.

I should say the choice of actor (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is great. Fujiwara played the role very well and really appeared like the real Light Yagami in the anime who has both innocence but hardly ignorant appeal and cunning intelligence.

In both story (anime and live) Light was initially shown as a moral teenager- paying high regards to the law and dreading the idea of criminals freely roaming around the city just because the justice system failed to put them in jail. He was aware of how ‘rotten’ the world has become and seeks to change it all.

But he was just a teenager son of a high ranking police official. Even popular, he technically can’t do anything much.

Enter the Death Note.


The Death Note became Light’s answer to the growing societal injustice and his personal desire to create balance. The Death Note, which allows him to kill his target by simply writing down their names and knowing how they look like came to be a very handy tool for murder. But of course, Light never thought of it as murder. For him, killing criminals was justice.

Thus born KIRA – then name people start to call him -their savior, their angel, the killer.

Kira and L


But one can’t just simply put the whole police force at bay. Not when Kira is going on a killing spree! So came ‘L‘, (Kenichi Matsuyama) a mysterious identity who had gained popular reputation on being a formidable international inspector.

Thing is, nobody knows how he looks. More like, he doesn’t want anybody to know how he looks. Save for his faithful servant, Watari who is the only contact of the police force to L.

“The future is in my hand.” -Kira

Just when Kira is at the hype of controlling who dies when, L devised a strategy (which you will have to find out yourself) and ends up saying;

“Come and kill me.” -L

Which of course, Kira can’t do at the moment as he doesn’t know how L looks like and  which of course to L’s hardcore fans is a triumphant display of who’s got more superior intelligence.

Thus begins the battle of intellect, wit and timing.

And the best parts…


Generally, I should say the first part was very well justified. Kira and L was brought to life really well. Ryuk was awesome as he literally looked and acted like the Ryuk we know in the anime and the story was just crafted really well.

If in the anime there were a lot of unresolved questions on the initial episodes (which were nevertheless answered on the later parts of the series), the live action has  a solid trail of central story. It was presented clearly but with the intelligence we love on our favorite thriller movies.

The best part for me was the character of ‘L’ (Matsuyama). I wasn’t expecting too much for the live action as I had the initial thought that it will be like a sort of stand alone movie apart from the anime series. Because after all, who could play L’s weird character (which happens to be my favorite in the anime)?

So just imagine my surprise when I saw L on his trademark pale complexion, dark eyebags wearing his white sweatshirt and denim pants! It was L all right. Kenichi Matsuyama certainly nailed it. And it’s not just the looks, take note. The L who loves sweets, who looks so weird yet strangely adorable at the same time was very well presented.

I don’t know what solid Kira fans will say, but I certainly think L grabbed the spotlight this time.




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