Death Note

Reviewed by: sukting

August 22, 2010

Rating: three-point-five

How long
2 hours

Light Yagami, son of an inspector, finds a strange notebook given by a shinigami (death god) named Ryuk. It is The Death Note. It grants him the power to kill anyone once he has seen the face by by writing the person’s name in it. Light initally wants a crime free world but is trapped in his own obessession to become a serial killer instead. This causes a battle of wits between him and a mysterious detective, L. This is a translation of the manga of the same name by Tsugumi Ohba.


Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is a law university student. He is enraged that some criminals can boast after being let off due to lack of evidence. He starts to question the purpose of having law. He finds a notebook on the ground after visiting a pub and returns home with it. He writes a criminal’s name on it. To his dismay, the person dies the next day. Even the cause of death is similar.

Light sees a shinigami, Ryuk(voice dubbed by Shidou Nakamura) by touching the notebook. He is the owner of the Death Note. He is very bored in his own world and is curious to know how humans behave after getting it. It tells Light how to use the notebook and its only weakness is the crave for apples.

Light starts writing names in the Death note to become his own judge. For 4 months, the criminals die mysteriously of heart attacks. Students call the hero, Kira – the god of death as their idol. Light is pleased as justice is done. Light’s father, Soichiro (Takeshi Kaga) is solving the case. He doesn’t like how Kira takes matters into his own hands.

The Japan police and ICPO are helpless. Why are so many dying of mysterious heart attacks? Light discovers that unless he writes the cause of deaths, the criminals will die of heart attacks. Soichiro finds Watari (Shunji Fujimura) who is the assistant of a capable FBI agent, L. However, Soichiro doesn’t like talking to the mysterious L from the laptop as his face is never seen. L says that Kira is in Japan and that is why the international police will be based in Japan.

Light is with Ryuk watching the news. There is this person called Lind. L. Tailor, commonly known as L. He claims that he will deal with Kira defeat him. Light writes Lind. L Tailor’s name on the deathnote and he dies of a heart attack. The people bring him away. Suddenly, the real L’s voice can be heard and his logo is presented on screen.

The fake L is actually a criminal to be hung to death a few hours later. The news is only shown in Japan and is not an international news as claimed earlier. Through this killing, he can confirm that Kira is in Japan and will hunt him down. He even dedudes correctly that Kira is in Kanto.

L asks the police to reconsider if they want to continue to take up the case as it involves danger since Kira might know their identities. Soon, many back out of the headquarters, leaving only Soichiro and his team. The others fear for their lives. Although Soichiro doesn’t agree with L’s way of doing things to end a life so easily, he has to agree that there is no other choice.

Newspapers showing Kira Versus L are selling like hot cakes. Light’s girlfriend, Shiori Akino ( Yuu Kashii) and sister, Sayu (Hikari Mitsushima) also talk on the case. Shiori sides L while Sayu sides Kira but Light says nothing. L (Kenchi Matsuyama) flies to Japan and Soichiro is amazed to see how young he is. He scolds them for showing him their ID cards as he could have killed them if he is Kira. He is pale-looking, dresses in white and also loves sweets.

L concludes that Kira is a univeristy student who is immature to try his hand on crime. He concludes this by looking into the time and day of the deaths. He suspects that Kira obtains information from the police. Light’s mother, Sachiko (Michiko Godai) asks Light about his relationship with Shiori but he dismisses as normal.
Soichiro returns home and Light requests to help on the dangerous case but he refuses.

Light returns to his room and gives Ryuk an apple to eat. He checks the police website again, writing the names of criminals, making them die every hour. L recalls that Kira declares to have the power to control the time of death of a person. He starts to suspect Light and gets Soichiro to plant watching devices in Light’s room. Light and Ryuk go for a walk. This time, Ryuk doesn’t accept the apple as he knows that someone is shadowing them. Ryuk is not siding anyone as he enjoys to observe who will be the winner.

Ryuk explains that a shimigami’s eyes can see a human’s name and life span. Ryuk increases his lifespan from people as he can see the name and lifespan of everyone. If a human wants his power, the price is half of the human’s life. Light rejects the deal although he is eager to see L in person to shorten his life. L requests that the police report the cases as normal heart attacks. Light’s father asks for the reason and L deduces that Kira may be using them as an experiment.

Light reads the reports and tells Ryuk that the death note is accurate. On the news, there is a news report on 3 men robbing a bank. 2 get caught and one ison the run. Light asks Ryuk and wants to use the man as a means to find out the name of the person who is following him. L sends an agent, to tail Light and Shiori on a bus. The bus has the words Misa love Misa on it ( a hint for the sequel.)

They are attacked by the fugitive who points a gun at the driver. The agent has no choice but to expose his identity to Light upon seeing Light wanting to handle the criminal himself. He is Raye Iwamatsu (Shigeki Hosokawa) and later the fugitive is killed by a coming van. The poor man goes mad after firing a gun at Ryuk when touching the death note paper. This is actually done according to Light’s plan as he has written this down onto the notebook. But he is still astonished to know that Raye is from FBI.

Even though Light lies about revising for his exams and skip watching television, he manages to buy a small set to hide it in the chilli potato chip wrapper. He puts a small piece of paper from the notebook to write the names secretly. No one else at home likes chilli potato flavour like him.

L gets tired and sleeps, sucking his thumb into his mouth. Soichiro can’t sleep as Light is a suspect and uses a blanket to cover L. A few days later, L gets Soichiro to remove all the watching devices in Light’s room after discovering nothing. Soichiro is relieved but also dismayed that L still suspects Light. Light is dismayed that FBI is now watching him.

He gets into a MTR and introcudes himself as Kira. Thus, he kills Raye and other FBI agents on the MTR after forcing Raye to write their names on the death note. Raye dies in front of Light. Raye‘s finacee and also an FBI agent, Naomi Misora (Asaka Seto) has arranged to meet him but sees him dead in front of her. The two have worked for L for a long time.

She also suspects Light. She gives Light a fake namecard and sees through his ploy to want to kill her. Light often keeps small pieces of Death Note in his watch so that he can write to kill anytime. L finds it hard to control Naomi as she insists of checking on the case on her own. She is smart to discover that Kira can kill by means other than heart attacks and the bus incident is controlled by Kira.

She becomes hysterical and confronts the young lovers at the art museum. Shiori is being held hostage by Naomi. She demands Light to admit that he is Kira and stupidly gives her real name to him, telling him to kill her from where he is standing. Light denies that he is Kira.

The police arrives and Shiori breaks free to run to Light. Naomi shoots at Light and Shiori blocks it, getting killed. Naomi cannot believe it and shoots herself to death. Light mourns for Shiori silently. Ryuk says that Light makes a mistake. Light says that everything can gone in plan with Death Note. He has arranged all that in order to know Naomi’s name to get her to commit suicide.

No one will suspect him of killing Shiori too. Ryuk is amused at how wicked Light becomes and can’t wait for more events to tun up. Light requests to Soichiro to join the police to revenge Shiori to nap Kira. L appears and meets Light. The ending trailer showing Misa to continue with another notebook.

Most favourite character
L, he is brilliant and observant. He doesn’t let go of any details to solve cases although he can be ruthless.

Most hated character
Light, in order to prevent all from checking on him, he can kill his girlfriend! Can you believe this?


I have almost given up hope of watching Japanese movies after watching quite a couple of lousy ones in these few years. I decided to stop for a while. This movie came as a surprise. I was supposed to watch ‘Sinking in Japan’ with a free movie pass but it was too late as it had started when I reached the cinema. Thus I chose to watch this movie.

What a pleasant surprise! The first 15 minutes got me drawn to it immediately. The plot is complicated and refreshing. I also read the 12 volumes of the manga after that out of curiosity. It is quite a thriller. But yet I must confess that I did not like it much as the bulk of it stressed on Near after L is killed by Light. It had never occured to me that L will lose to Light this fast within 8 volumes. They should be close rivals and why let a foreigner, Near spoil the broth?

Acting wise, the two lead actors are brilliant. It is a close and tense war between the two. Tatsuya is competent as the vicious and ambitious Light. His looks are completely different from the manga as Light is supposed to have a long face. However, he looks terrible in crying scenes and has to work hard on it.

Kenchi Matsuyama is excellent! He makes L come alive and is a screen magnet! His gestures and also feel is just right. He is not acting as L – he is L! I am sure that you will like him in the movie as much as I do. He looks cute and young but is actually so intelligent that all seniors look up and listen to him. He has the commanding air in him. It must be hard on him as he doesn’t like sweets that much but has to end up eating so many in this movie.

Due to his outstanding performance for 2006, Kenchi was nominated for best supporting actor in Awards of Japanese Academy. Although he didn’t win, he won best new actor award at Hochi Film Awards. Death Note won best film in Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. It was also nominated for Best Asian Film at Hong Kong Film Awards.

However, the actresses are a let down and do not contribute much to the story. Yuu is so wooden in acting that makes her unbearable to look at. Shiori’s dying and kissing scenes are the worst that I have come across so far. It’s bad enough when one can’t cry – what’s more for both?! Asaka is cool but she changes too fast to be a hysterical woman due to no reason.

Still, the other supporting cast and veterans are also good. This is an excellent movie with enough twists and turns. An adaptation of a masterpiece can hardly go wrong. I will say that it is a successful adaptation. There are many comic book adaptations that end up in disaster. One of them is the awful 20th Century Boys, which I have no idea why it is so popular to run in a trilogy series.

I am glued to the chair for Death Note, yearning to know how the two men will seek to defeat each other through different tactics. Those who are new to Death Note will not find it hard to follow the story. Definitely a must watch film for all manga fans. After watching Part 1, I decided to watch Part 2 in the cinema. Hopefully, Part 2 is as close to the manga as Part 1 as well.

Can a person play the role of judge with his own hands? He will still be hunted down regardless what his initial intentions are. Light’s initial purpose is to create a crime-free world but he gets the enjoyment of killing so many lives that it becomes a pleasure. Too much that he can’t stop and he will prevent others to find out that he is the culprit.

As for L, he is a law enforcer. He is the cat while Light is the mouse. This game is highly entertaining and seems never ending. With Ryuk acting as a real judge, it makes this competition more exciting. You will feel sorry when it comes to an end as you might not have enough of it.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

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