Death Note (デスノート Desu Nōto) is a series of two live-action Japanese films released in 2006 and based on the Death Note manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. The films primarily center around a university student who decides to rid the world of evil with the help of a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. The two films were directed by Shūsuke Kaneko, produced by Nippon Television and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan.
A spin-off film directed by Hideo Nakata by the name of "L: Change the WorLd" was released on February 9, 2008.
Light Yagami is a To-Oh University (東応大学 Tōō Daigaku) student who resents the crime and corruption in the world. His life undergoes a drastic change when he discovers a mysterious notebook, known as the "Death Note", lying on the ground. The Death Note's instructions claim that, if a humans name is written within it, that person will be killed. Light is initially skeptical of the Death Note's authenticity, believing it is just a prank. However, after experimenting with it and killing two criminals, Light is forced to admit that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a Shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become "the God of the New World" by passing his judgment on criminals.
Soon, the number of inexplicable deaths of reported criminals catches the attention of the International Police Organization and a mysterious detective known only as "L". L quickly learns that the serial killer, dubbed by the public as "Kira" (derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the English word "Killer"), is located in Japan. L also concludes that Kira can kill people without laying a finger on them. Light realizes that L will be his greatest nemesis, and a race to prove mental superiority between the two begins.
- Ken'ichi Matsuyama as L
- Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami
- Erika Toda as Misa Amane
- Asaka Seto as Naomi Misora
- Shidou Nakamura as Ryuk (voice)
- Shinnosuke Ikehata as Rem (voice in Death Note: The Last Name)
- Shigeki Hosokawa as Raye Iwamatsu
- Shunji Fujimura as Watari
- Takeshi Kaga as Soichiro Yagami
- Yuu Kashii as Shiori Akino
- Hikari Mitsushima as Sayu Yagami
- Shin Shimizu as Kanzo Mogi
- Matt Lagan as Lind L. Tailor
- Michiko Godai as Sachiko Yagami
- Tatsuhito Okuda as Shuichi Aizawa
- Sota Aoyama as Touta Matsuda
- Ikuji Nakamura as Hirokazu Ukita
- Ruben Chacon as Kevin LeRoy
- Masanori Fujita as Ryotaro Sakajo
- Norman England as FBI agent
- Takeo Nakahara as Matsubara
- Yoji Tanaka as Sasaki
- Masahiko Tsugawa as Saeki
English dub voice castEdit
- Brad Swaile as Light Yagami
- Alessandro Juliani as L. Lawliet
- Shannon Chan-Kent as Misa Amane
- Ashleigh Ball as Shiori Akino
- Chris Britton as Soichiro Yagami
- Vincent Tong as Tota Matsuda, Takeshi Maruo
- Trevor Devall as Shuichi Aizawa
- John Murphy as Kanzo Mogi
- Jeremy From as Hirokazu Ukita
- Janyse Jaud as Sanami
- Ron Halder as Watari, Matsubara
- Kristie Marsden as Sayu Yagami
- Saffron Henderson as Sachiko Yagami
- Michael Donovan as Ryotaro Sakajo, Takuo's friend
- Brian Drummond as Ryuk
- Michael Dobson as Rem
- Ted Cole as Lind L. Tailor, additional voices
- Michael Adamthwaite as Raye Iwamatsu
- Nicole Oliver as Naomi Misora
- Brian Dobson as Kiichiro Osoreda, Katsuya Seta
- Bill Switzer as Sasaki
- Louis Chirillo as Takuo Shibuimaru, Yusuke Hibisawa
- David Kaye as Koreyoshi Kitamura
Intent with the filmsEdit
Shusuke Kaneko, in his production notes, says that people may feel that killing "bad ones" is fair but humans need to understand the power of the Death Note. Kaneko adds that the psychological fear of dying could be "more nightmarish than Kaiju (monsters) destroying cities and killing people."
Kaneko also stated that he wanted the film to "focus on psychological pain," explain how the deaths occur, and explain how younger people begin to like Kira & Other people begin to like L.
Kaneko chartered an underground line to film a particular scene; this was the first time in Japanese filming history that an underground line was used. Kaneko used about 500 extras throughout the film.
The first film, simply known as Death Note, premiered in Japan on June 17, 2006 and topped the Japanese box office for two weeks, pushing The Da Vinci Code into second place. It is mostly faithful to the manga, starting [medias res] with Light in university and flashing back a month earlier to when he received the Death Note. It ends with his first meeting with L.
The second movie, Death Note: The Last Name, premiered on November 3, 2006, and instantly topped the Japanese box office, remaining at number one for four straight weeks, and grossed 5.5 billion yen in Japan by the end of the year, making it one of the year's highest grossing Japanese films. It combines elements from the rest of the storyline creating an outcome similar to the manga, but with a few key differences.
Both films star Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light.
There is a spin-off, featuring L as the protagonist, entitled "L: Change the WorLd", directed by Ring director Hideo Nakata and set in the United States, which was released in 2008.
The first Death Note film was released in Hong Kong on August 10, 2006, Taiwan on September 8, 2006, Singapore on October 19, 2006, Malaysia on November 9, 2006 (with English and Chinese subtitles) & in the UK on April 25, 2008,. The sequel was released in Hong Kong on November 3, 2006, in Taiwan on November 24, 2006, in Singapore on December 28, 2006, and in Malaysia on January 25, 2007, with English and Chinese subtitles. The world premiere was shown in UA Langham Place cinema in Hong Kong on October 28 2006, and this film is the first Japanese movie to have its world premiere in Hong Kong. It is also available in American specialty stores. Although the dialogue is still only in Japanese, the Hong Kong release of the DVD has English subtitles (the Japanese release only has Japanese subtitles).
The first movie will briefly play in certain North American theaters on May 20th and 21st. The theatrical version will feature the actors from the English dub of the anime voicing over their respective characters. A DVD release is scheduled for September 16th, 2008, with The Last Name arriving soon after.
Production Credits Edit
Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Screenplay: Tetsuya Oishi
Executive producer: Seiji Okuda and Toyoharu Fukuda
Producer: Takahiro Sato
Assistant Camera: Sakura Seno
Camera: Minoru Ishiyama
Chief Lighting Technician: Masamichi Uwabo
Cinematography: Kenji Takama
Film Editing: Yousuke Yafune
First Assistant Director: Koji Yamaguchi
Original Music: Kenji Kawai
"Manatsu no Yoru no Yume" by Shikao Suga
"Dani California" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Snow ((Hey Oh))" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Erika Toda as Misa Amane
Ken'ichi Matsuyama as L / Ryuuzaki
Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami
Shidou Nakamura as Ryuk (voice of)
Shunji Fujiwara as Watari
Takeshi Kaga as Souichirou Yagami
Asaka Seto as Naomi Misora
Nana Katase as Kiyomi Takada
Shigeki Hosokawa as Raye Iwamatsu
Shin Shimizu as Shuichi Aizawa
Sota Aoyama as Touta Matsuda
Yuu Kashii as Shiori Akino
Production: Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), Shueisha, and Warner Bros.
Sound Stages: Nikkatsu Studio
Currently these film DVDs have been released in Japan:
- Death Note: The Movie
- Death Note: The Last Name
- Death Note Movie 3-Disc Set
- Death Note Movie Documentary: DEAD or ALIVE
- L: Change the WorLd
Reception to Death NoteEdit
A press release stated that 80% of viewers in one theater described satisfaction with the film. The film earned $41 million United States dollars in Japan, $1.9 million USD in Hong Kong, and $1.6 million USD in the Republic of China. A 2007 The Star (Malaysia) article states that more than ten film companies in the United States expressed interest in creating a remake.
Review of the Death Note filmsEdit
Shusuke 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 theorizes that the film may have performed well because of the Internet culture of Japan. Kaneko said that use of the Death Note had similarities to how users attack one another on message boards and blogs. In addition Kaneko said that death is "carefully" concealed to the point where "people don't even think about it."
Christy Lee S.W. of The Star reviewed Death Note: The Last Name. According to Lee, Kaneko "did a good job" pacifing the film; she added that the increase in pacing towards the end gave her difficulty in understanding some of the content. She said that Tetsuya Oishi, the screenwriter, "well fleshed out" the characters and therefore the viewer will easily empathize with them.
North American Remake Edit
Main Article : Death Note (American film).
In 2007, the Malaysian paper The Star stated that more than ten film companies in the United States had expressed interest in the Death Note franchise. The American production company Vertigo Entertainment was originally set to develop the remake, with Charley and Vlas Parlapanides as screenwriters and Roy Lee, Doug Davison, Dan Lin, and Brian Witten as producers. On April 30, 2009, Variety reported that Warner Bros., the distributors for the original Japanese live-action films, had acquired the American rights for the remake, with the original screenwriters and producers still attached. The release date is planned to be around 2014.
In January 2011 Warner Bros have hired Shane Black to direct the live-action movie of the hit manga/anime Death Note. 'Death Note is Black's favorite manga. Black's quote from Deadline: "It's my favorite manga, I was just struck by its unique and brilliant sensibility," Black said. "What we want to do is take it back to that manga, and make it closer to what is so complex and truthful about the spirituality of the story, versus taking the concept and trying to copy it as an American thriller".