Death Note: The Last Name review

Movie Poster

I just got back from the theatre, and as promised here’s the review of Death Note: The Last Name. Please note that I don’t know Japanese and what I understood about the movie is through Chinese subtitles. I don’t have any screenshots, so this is going to be all text. This is also my first review, so any suggestion and criticisms are very welcomed.

Rather too detailed synopsis (movie length 2 hrs 30 min):
The movie begins with rules of Death Note in a flash card format with Light narrating them, but for subtitle readers, it is a little too fast to read all of them. Particular of note are the rules:

  • The name could be inserted after the writing the condition of the death
  • The condition of the death has a maximum effective period of 23 day
  • Once the name is written, it cannot be stopped/changed

The movie then backs up to the last movie when Misa was assaulted by the stalker and her meeting of Remu and obtaining the second Death Note. The scene then cut to the funeral of Shiori, and Light seeming all heart broken and determined to catch Kira. Ryuk, being the sarcastic Shinigami that he is, quips, “You’re going to catch Kira? But you’re Kira… hahaha” Light is then brought to L’s Kira Investigation HQ, where L is playing a game of chess against himself. Light steps in as Black, and the two of them began amazing verbal fencing while playing a game of speed chess. The conversation ends with Light checkmating L and saying that he will prove his innocence and catch Kira.

The scene switches to Sakura TV, where the producer and the news anchor argued about the rightness and legitimacy of something. The understudy, Takada Kiyomi, is shown to be disfavored by the producer and the anchor, but voices her support of Kira. It is revealed that they received a tape claiming to be from Second Kira and they argues if airing is moral, but they aired the tape as instructed in the end. Outside, it is daytime, Sakura TV is holding a festival outside the station, and the unfortunate Yagami Saya is there with her friend. Second Kira first proved the legitimacy by killing a news anchor of a rival station who criticizes Kira, then demands that anyone who supports Kira should gather in front of Sakura TV.

Mori, who arrives at the scene to stop the broadcast was immediately killed by Second Kira in front of Saya, and two other policemen are killed when they tried to stop the film crew from broadcasting Mori’s death. Saya is extremely distraught by the death, and is almost killed by Second Kira when she starts accusing Second Kira as a murderer. Fortunately, a helmeted Yagami Souichirou crashes the scene with an armored police vehicle, stops the broadcast, and escorts Saya inside the Sakura TV building. Misa sees the interruption of live broadcast from what appears to be a dressing room, gets notified that her filming was cancelled for the day, and decides to leave the TV station. At the same time, seeing the whole thing on TV, Light rushes to the TV station to console his sister, and is seen by Misa as she is leaving Sakura TV. Misa, with her Shinigami’s eyes (which allows her to see people’s names and lifespan), is able to tell that “Yagami Tsuki” is Kira because she can’t see his lifespan. Through the Internet, Misa is able to find Light’s information and accosts him as he’s returning home from school. She reveals herself to be Second Kira to Light and demands to be invited to his house, where they can talk in private.

In Light’s room, Misa throws herself at Light, gives him her Death Note, and promises that she will do anything Light tells her to, but only if he would become her boyfriend. Light is nonplussed by it, and scolds Misa about her killing the policemen, and tells her that by becoming a couple, they will bring suspicion on themselves. Misa again promises that she would do anything for Light, and Light finally assents. Remu then threatens Light that if he tries to kill Misa, Remu would kill Light first.

Light is then shown to be in class, and L suddenly pops up behind him. Light challenges L’s carelessness with him showing himself in public, and L produces a mask. As they start walking in campus, Misa shows up, to Light’s consternation and delight. Misa removes L’s mask, only to go, “Hajimemashite…… Ryuuzaki-san.” The three of them separates, and when Light tries to call Misa, L picks up the phone. L then informs Light that Misa is arrested under the suspicion of being Second Kira, and Light is banned from the Investigation HQ.

Misa is interrogated at HQ, blindfolded and hogtied, but she doesn’t give-in, only telling L to kill her. Meanwhile Light, Ryuk, and Remu meet in the forest, revealing that Remu persuaded Misa to give up the Death Note and have her memories erased, leaving only her love for Light. Light tells Remu to leave with the Death Note and promises to save Misa. Light then forced his way back into HQ, and volunteers to be bound and surveyed by L, to prove that he is not Kira. L agrees, but not without reservation. After two weeks of surveillance, Light also gives up his Death Note, looses his memory as Kira, and begs to be released. L does not agree, but when the Kira killings began again, he relents but claims that he still suspects Light and Misa, forcing them to stay in the HQ for surveillance.

The movie then shows that the new Death Note owner is Takada Kiyomi, the understudy at Sakura TV. Instructed by Rem, she kills criminals as Kira did, but taking upon herself, she increased the positive coverage of Kira in TV, and killed the anchorwoman so she could take her spot. With some profiling and Takada’s own actions, Light and L were able to quickly able to pinpoint Takada as the new Kira. Matsuda, disguised as a reporter, tried to blackmail Takada, saying that he has evidence that Takada is Kira. Matsuda then went to a live broadcast in Sakura TV to reveal who Kira is. Takada panics, and trades for the Shinigami’s eyes and drives to Sakura TV to kill Matsuda before he could expose her. However, the Matsuda she saw in TV is actually a doll, and she was arrested. She reveals the truth of the Kira’s methods to the investigators, and when they picked up the Death Note, they saw Rem. Light also picks up the Death Note so he could see Rem, and all his memory as Kira returns, kills Takada, claiming that L is defeated.

The investigation team gathers in the HQ with the Death Note, and the fake rule that says, “Anyone who uses the Death Note must use it again (I forgot the detail, but I think that was it) or die in 13 days. Since Light and Misa didn’t die while they were detained, they were rid of all suspicion. L, of course, still doubts Light, but there is nothing he could do. Misa is evicted from the HQ because she is free and not part of the investigation. Before she can leave, however, Light instructs her to go retrieve the Death Note he buried in the forest.

Misa reclaims the Death Note and her memory, but could not remember L’s real name. She also begins to kill criminals as Light instructed. L remains skeptical about the 13 day rule, and devises a test using death roll criminals. While the investigators are horrified by L’s cold-blood use of human beings, Yagami Souichirou volunteers to bring the Death Note to America, and will write the name himself. When Chief Yagami left, L reveals to Light that he is still suspicious of Misa, and invited her to the HQ. Using himself as bait, Misa will likely see and write his real name, and if he dies, it would prove that Misa and Light are Kira. Before Misa enters the room, Remu hears that and kills Wataru and L to protect Misa, he is turned into sand because of it. Misa and Light reunites, and Misa hands the Death Note to Light. Light, using the Death Note, instructs his father to bring the Death Note back to the HQ, much to Misa’s discomfort.

*Movie Ending. Read on if you want*
When Chief Yagami arrives, Light says that his father’s time is up, and wants the Death Note from him. However, the Death Note is not there. The investigation team then surrounds Light and Misa with guns drawn, and L reveals himself. He is not dead because when Misa was released, he kept her surveillance going. And when the Kira killings began again, he switched Misa’s Death Note with a replica, and showed Light and Misa fake death reports. As a final bet to reveal Light as Kira, L wrote his own name onto the Death Note, with the time of death 23 days later, so Remu could not kill him because his time of death is already set. To make Light make his move, he sent everyone away to escort Chief Yagami to the airport. Light made his move, using Remu’s protectiveness of Misa, with Wataru’s death L’s only miscalculation. Light goes hysterical, claiming that he is god of this new era and that the world needs Kira. He begs Ryuk to kill everyone in the investigation team, and Ryuk began to write in his Death Note. Light thought he had won, only to have Ryuk show that he wrote Light’s name on the Death Note. Light dies of a heart attack, in his father’s arms.

The investigation is closed with Light’s death and destruction of the two Death Note by L, but no one outside the investigation team believes the story. Light is ascribed to have been killed by Kira during the investigation, and Misa’s memories erase when the Death Note is destroyed. L then dies in the HQ, as if he fell asleep.

One year later, the Yagami family still mourns for Light, and Misa continued to live her life, only remembering her love for Light and fragments of forgotten memories.

The End

Right off the bat, I have to say that I like this movie. A lot. The plot follows the manga closely, piecing the good parts together, and removing the excess. By excess, I meant that the Yotsuba arc was good, but would drag the movie too long. By using Takada as the third Kira, the screenwriter created an intelligent, over-zealous, but disposable connecting piece. The meeting between Misa and Light is similarly shortened, and it was not stretch at all that Misa saw Light at Sakura TV, since they changed that part rather well (and they used the fact that she was at Sakura TV against her later). And having Second Kira reveal herself on the tape avoided more lengthy deductions. Oh, and there’s no car chase since Takada did not manage to run away from Sakura TV since they just tackled her right on stage and cuffed her there. As for the ending, I’ve heard from various sources that Light dies in this movie, and could not but wonder how it would happen. Well, I have to say that the movie certainly stuck closely to the manga in the first part of the “ending”, and attached an even more riveting version of the manga’s ending to it, using the whole “I swapped your Death Note while you weren’t looking, and ha, you tried to use it against me, so fess up” thing. Having L reveal how he still suspect Light and Misa and took pro-active measures to attack it, and commits suicide so he could arrest/expose Light was some powerful screenwriting. I’m sad that L has to die in the end, but glad that L is the one who trumps Light. Personally, I’ve always wanted L to be the one who arrests Light, not Near and Mero.

I’ve said that I’ve enjoyed Matsuyama Kenichi’s portrayal of L, and even more so for this movie. Matsuyama was intense, funny, lethargic, and gloomy when needed, and played the part well. He also got all of L’s little nuances right again: the sitting positions, the handling of things from cell phones, to sweets, to even Death Note, the way he speaks slowly when needed, but going rapid fire when he intensifies, and the way he tilts his head when he looks at people are all there. The scene where he flies off the chair when he heard the word “Shinigami” in Second Kira’s tape was particularly enjoyable for me. Misa, played by Toda Erika, is also good. Her interpretation of Misa’s worship of Light, zesty energy of starlet MisaMisa, and aggression when arrested are all done well. Of course, she is very cute as Misa. ^^;;; Not quite as well as Matsuyama, perhaps, but still good. Perhaps it’s my personal disfavor of Misa’s character, though. Also of note is Kaga Takeshi (鹿賀丈史) of umm… Iron Chef fame, who plays Yagami Souichirou. Yes, he’s a veteran actor who’s acted in many movies, TV shows, plays, etc., but his expression when he faced Light in the last scene, Light’s death, and when the Yagami family mourned for Light’s death showed the complexity in his character’s emotions. Very good stuff.

Oh, and the wardrobe needs special mention for this movie. I don’t usually notice this, but the clothes on each character are very fitting for each character. L has his slightly dirty t-shirt and jeans, Misa with her high fashion (not quite so gothloli in the movie and no bleach blond), Wataru with his impeccable tailoring, and Light with his most current university attire. The soundtrack is also noticeably better than the last movie. Perhaps that’s because I’m seeing The Last Name in a movie theatre as compare to in front of my computer, but the soundtrack feel a lot less ambient but help drive the scenes more with its more powerful sounds. Lighting and cinematography wise, I guess I was paying too much attention to what’s going on in the movie to pay much attention, but somehow, I felt that the lighting and cinematography is not top notch for some reason. Have to go see the movie again to tell.

I haven’t mentioned Light’s actor, Fujiwara Tatsuya for a good reason. I thought that the director wanted Light to be less intense in the last movie so the nefarious scheme in killing Naomi and Shiori so he could join the investigation would have more impact. Well, impact it had, but the intensity level of Light remained about the same in this movie. Which is to say now enough. I thought it is just the Light fanboy in me speaking but apparently my friends, who have not seem the manga at all feels the same way. To quote one of them, “I did not feel Light’s drive in using the Death Note to change the world at all. It was as if he was going along, living a rather normal life.” I mean, look at these pictures from the manga:

Misa is mine!Death Note is mine!L is DEAD!

These scenes were faithfully reproduced in the movie (well, not so faithfully for when he got the DN back), but there is no Light’s patented I-can-send-shivers-down-anyone’s-spine evil glare remotely anywhere. None, zilch, nil. Oh, he has that I-got-what-I-want-good-job look during those scenes, but it feels rather plain compared to the manga Light. It’s not all lost, though. Fujiwara does a good job of the intelligent Light, especially during chess scene, the hidden consternation and elation when Misa surprised him at the university but got L’s real name, and when he kicks L in his lazy bum by profiling Third Kira. He also did a good job playing Light during his last moments, going hysterical when he found out that L beat him. I’m not sure if it’s the director’s direction, so I can’t assign all the blame to Fujiwara.

Overall, this is a good Death Note movie, if not great. Unfortunately, it still suffers a little from most adopted screenplays: the screenwriters forgot that not everyone knows all the particulars of the plot, and without such knowledge, the movie left much to be desired. Still, all my friends who saw the movie thought it was a good movie, even though they didn’t read the manga. If you are a Death Note fan, this movie is worth the price of the ticket or the DVD, and if you are an L fan, you definitely have to go see the movie.


6 Responses to “Death Note: The Last Name review”

  1. 1 Mysterious December 29, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    Very good review. I just felt that the movie was lacking in atmosphere the original manga has. I didn’t feel Light was really changing the world. It just feel fake and unreal…

  2. 2 elie April 2, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    very good review. i like it

  3. 3 nick March 31, 2012 at 4:44 am

    ok it’s years later but just in case you’re still monitoring this…
    First, thank you very much! I have to admit getting confused towards the end of The Last Name. I didn’t realise that Rem had written Wataru and L’s name in his Death Note, and from there on I got a bit lost! Your review has cleared it up, more or less.
    Secondly, a question. There seem to be rather a lot of Death Notes around towards the end! If I understand right, Light’s original DN is subsequently dug up and owned by Misa after she is released, and then substituted by Wataru on the orders of L, who then produces it at the end with his own name written inside. The DN that Misa brings to the investigation centre is the fake. The DN that Misa originally used, given to her by Rem after being saved on the dock, is also in the possession of the police, (officially owned by Light but not used by him except for killing Takada to gain ownership) although why it’s not in Light’s father’s case is not clear. It doesn’t seem to matter one way or the other if he had it in there. This DN is not mentioned after that but is presumably destroyed by L after Light dies.
    Then there are 2 DNs that confuse me. The one that Rem uses to kill Wataru and then burns when Rem turns to dust to avoid Light taking ownership of it, and the one that Ryuk uses to kill Light at the end. Are these 2 DNs new ones that the reapers have, their own replacements for the ones they had given away to the humans?
    If not, what on earth is going on? 🙂
    Hope someone reads this who can clarify things for me!

  4. 4 mttb review September 26, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    It’s hard to find well-informed people for this subject,
    but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  5. 5 heart clinic January 14, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    It’s an awesome piece of writing in favor of all the internet visitors; they
    will get advantage from it I am sure.

  1. 1 Death Note « Mid-20s Crisis Trackback on November 21, 2006 at 2:04 pm

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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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