Death Note Live Action Movie

Death Note Movie Poster

When the movie first came out, I was excited about it and was planning on watching it, but I missed it and waited the DVD. I’ve read mixed reviews about the movie, but most seemed positive. The second movie, Death Note: The Last Name, to due to come out (well it’s out already as I’m typing this) on November 3, but since I missed the first one, I didn’t plan to go see it.

Then there was the media blitz in Hong Kong for the second movie. The movie was on the cover of magazines, not just anime related ones, but in a lot of “normal” ones as well. The actors were interviews in Hong Kong in a promotional event, and even newspapers and TV were covering the premier of the movie! My friends and I are planning on watching it together next week, but still I have not watched the first movie yet. Damnit! Where’s my Death Note DVD?

To remedy this, I searched the internet for the first movie, bracing myself for some rather bad screeners. To my very surprise, I found HDTV rips of the movie! Apparent, to celebrate the second movie, they are showing the first one on TV, on HD no less. On pay TV, that is. I, of course, downloaded it immediately and proceeded to watch it.

Impression (spoilers ahead):

The movie does not follow the manga plot closely, and it gave me mixed feelings. At first, when my brain was still engaged in the “see manga movie” mode, I was dismayed. In the end, however, I felt that the movie was one of those that was based on the manga, but got the basics and feeling through in its own way.

The plot: the premises are the same as the manga: Light picks up a Death Note and proceeds to kill off criminals left and right, and the police worldwide are not overjoyed about it. L joins the fray when the police are clueless about what to do and publicly challenges Light. The Japanese police (MPD) remains somewhat by-standers in the Kira case, until they become the point of investigation by the FBI, instructed by L. Light finds out about this and kills off all the FBI agents in Japan, but his tail’s Fiancée, Naomi, wants revenge. Meanwhile the MPD hears about the FBI and isn’t thrilled, most quit from the case, but a selected few stays and demands to meet L, and they do. L, after review the deaths of the FBI agents, wants a 24/7 surveillance on Light and family, pissing off the members of the MPD. Light learns about the surveillance and survives it, but L still suspects Light. Naomi then confronts Light and gets herself killed. L then invites Light to join the investigation.

It looks from the summary above that the plot is the same as the manga, but it’s the little details that are different. Well, there are some major differences, especially with Shiori and Naomi, but the differences actually help establish Light’s character. More on that later. Purely as a movie, the plot works better than an unedited manga version. The manga’s plot is driven by detail and dialogue, and that usually doesn’t work too well in movies. By changing the story, it avoided the fallacy where the story is dragged down by the details.

Light: Light in the movie is greatly different from the manga version. He looked as if he was hysterical and nervous most of movie (until the end, that is) and lacked the cool and calculations of Light. I first attributed it to the bad acting, and also according to an interview, the actor, Fujiwara Tatsuya, didn’t want to follow the manga character too closely. According to him, instead of reading the manga closely for mannerisms and expression, he used the script and the setting of Light’s room as a base of the personality. After finishing the movie, I actually like this version of Light. In the manga version, Light’s personality was almost set from the beginning: very smart, very calculating. In the movie, however, you actually see him getting more evil and evil, accumulating to the very end where he kills both Naomi and Shiori in a diabolical plot to join the Kira investigation. Now that’s something! I thought, “Damn! The manga Light is not that evil!”

L: You don’t get to see a lot of L in this movie, but I hope that will change in the next time, where Light and L confront each other face to face. What little we see of L, however, is a great reflection of the manga version of L. Props to Matsuyama Kenichi, who actually read and studied the manga and noticed all the little nuances of L and successfully brought them onto the big screen, like how L likes his sweets and plays with them, the weird way he sits, stands, and looks at people, and how he like to hold things with two fingers. One thing that surprised me, though, was how deep his voice is. I’ve always thought that L would have a middle/higher pitched voice and Light with a deeper voice. Well, the reverse is true here.

Misa: You don’t get to see her much here either, but I like what I see here. Again, Toda Erika played her pretty close to the manga.

Shiori and Naomi: I think the screenwriters decided to change these character to further the development of Light and the plot. Many of the character developments in the manga are either through monologues and/or thoughts or large panes of stills (oh, how I miss Light’s glare), and frankly that wouldn’t work too well in the movie. Shiori helped Light to express himself and his ideas, like how he perceives justice and how he wants to change the world. It works rather well, and it also shows that Light was a normal university student before the arrival of the Death Note. Through Shiori and Light’s own action, we can see how Light is changed because of the Death Note, and how he was becoming more and more influenced by it. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” An overused quote perhaps, but this is shown more clearly (at least overtly) here than in the manga. Of course the two of them are instrumental in the last part of the movie, where we see how evil and amoral Light has become.

Summary: I have to say I like this movie. Not that it does not have it flaws, but taken as a whole, I expressed the ideas and the plot of Death Note rather well. I eagerly awaits next weekend when I’ll go see Death Note: The Last Name.


14 Responses to “Death Note Live Action Movie”

  1. 1 Steve November 7, 2006 at 6:26 am

    Sounds cool. I’m enjoying the manga.


    Frankly I was pissed to hell when Light killed L in the manga. Yeah, it was great how he did it, and I have to give complete credit to the book for making me hope Light would somehow reform, but man…. it pissed me off. I guess it felt like L was the best opponent that Light would ever face, and having him go out that early in the story would make everything after it seem like a shoddy challenge.

  2. 2 uhsieh November 7, 2006 at 10:30 am

    I know, I was very disappointed when L got killed, too, but man was Light devious! *erects L shrine*
    Well, I think your wish is going to be granted. I heard (from the newspaper) that L is going to win this time. Let’s wait and see… “I’m gonna go see the movie…” x infinium

  3. 3 Steve November 8, 2006 at 7:39 am

    Well like I said, it wasn’t that he killed him. It’s that he killed him so early in the series. L was Light’s greatest opponent, IMO, and taking him out makes the rest of the series much less dynamic.

  4. 4 uhsieh November 9, 2006 at 9:40 am

    That’s true. The series was so much less entertaining after L was killed. Near and Mello can’t hold a light compared to L at all (am I making any sense?).

    *spoilers if you haven’t finished reading the whole manga*

    But then the two of them did what L couldn’t do, since they managed to catch Light. I guess ‘god’ (meaning Kira) and L aren’t all powerful after all, and takes little people to do big things.

  5. 5 will November 30, 2006 at 2:03 am

    Are there english subs for the first movie? Can’t find a DVD anywhere.

  6. 6 uhsieh November 30, 2006 at 9:48 am

    @will: Sorry, I don’t know any DN movie subs that are out yet. And the DVD isn’t out either, there’s no schedule for it yet.

  7. 7 Laura October 9, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    I don’t have access to the movie here in America, was Ryuk even in the movie at all??

  8. 8 Kaye December 31, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I want L!!! 😥 I was crying my eyes out!!Wahhhhhh..but i love the movie!

  9. 9 jabawock June 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Light guuuoooblokk….masa bisa kalah ama L…padahal dia dha menang strategi..

  10. 10 syahid December 6, 2009 at 8:20 am

    I mean “hah”.

  11. 11 Kartikeya Rai March 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Well! I would lyk 2 say that I liked the movie more than the manga coz of the character played by Light, as we see him growing more and more evil as he uses his death note.It seems lyk the scriptwriters were originally not just making the movie directly from the manga but also included sm more twists in the story to make it more interesting, lyk killing of Shiroi by Light and the role of Miss Takada.
    In fact in the movie when light loses from L(unlike the manga where Nera n Mello came)was a better idea than the plot used in manga, as helped to maintain a strong hold on story.At last I would only lyk 2 say that the movie was a perfect movie n the manga was a perfect manga

  1. 1 Death Note: Don’t mess with Kira « いつもバカばかし Trackback on November 10, 2006 at 10:44 pm
  2. 2 Cheb Mami Trackback on November 26, 2006 at 11:01 pm
  3. 3 acting monologues Trackback on January 4, 2007 at 5:12 am

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Please don't ask me where you could download the anime/movie/dorama. Check Tokyo Toshokan first, please. Thanks.

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