“Death Note” is the popular live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese anime series. In a sense, the story follows true to the anime and the manga. Despite a lot of content covered in the anime and manga that cannot be covered in the live-action movie, Death Note definitely delivers a lot to audiences. There looks to be nothing cheesy or tacky about the live-action version of Death Note. The movie tends to follow the first half of the manga as there is no-time jump present. Its sequel “Death Note 2: The Last Name” picks up the other half of the manga.
The story behind the movie is very much the same in the manga. The main characters are Light Yagami, L, and Ryuk. Light Yagami is a very bright university student who despises crime and corruption around the world. His sense of justice was instilled by his father who is a high ranking police official. To follow in his father’s footsteps, Light majors in law at his university. It follows the same plotline as it does in the manga. However, the locations on where Light finds the book are different.
In the anime, Light finds the Death Note lying on the campus grounds as nobody else had picked it up. In the live-action movie, Light finds it on the open street at night. The movie gives a more humanized perspective on the path Light takes after taking the Death Note. A few hours prior, Light watched the news on how this psychotic murder managed to get off free. Light follows the man to the bar and listens to him brag about it. The psychotic murderer threatens to kill Light.
Light storms out of the bar angry and frustrated. He’s more frustrated at the legal system and he takes out the book he uses for school and tosses it aside. However, Light finds the Death Note. At first, Light thinks that this is some sort of joke. But, Light decides to test out the Death Note. Instead of a situation where children are taken hostage in the anime, people are taken hostage in a bank. Light isn’t in his room but he’s in the city square along with everybody else watching the news.
Then, Light gets a visit from the original owner a Shinigami aka Death God by the name of Ryuk. He explains the world of the Shinigami as it’s boring. Ryuk says that this is the reason he dropped the Death Note into the world of the living. Afterwards, Light goes on a major power trip as he uses his skills to hack into the government database and gets the dossiers of all the criminals.
In order for the Death Note to work, Light must have a face to match the name. As a result, there is a strong of deaths to all the criminals. The deaths are very much unexplained. It brings the attention of Interpol and they get the help of the world famous detective known as “L.” Light and L have their own senses of right and wrong. L understands the gray area while Light only sees the world as black and white. It presents an interesting dilemma and conflict of interests.
I was very impressed on Ryuk’s appearance. They’ve done well making a CGI version of Ryuk.
Asides from the Death Note, Ryuk explains that humans who have the Death Note can trade half of their lives for “Shinigami Eyes.” With Shinigami Eyes, you can see the person’s name and date of death. But Light refuses as he has his ways of getting their names.
Like the anime, it’s one major cat and mouse game with the supernatural twist. L proves to be a brilliant opponent for Light. As Light utilizes the Death Note, L gets closer to his trail. Yet, the two of them do not know who the other looks like. Meaning, L can’t arrest Light. At the same time, Light cannot kill L. In the live action movie, L is depicted as a bit more cheerful and child like. L does retain his love for sweets in the movie as he does in the anime.
They decided to play more on L’s loves of sweets as his hotel room is stacked full of chocolates, donuts, and other types of candies. But, the live action movie serves as a great adaptation.
There are quite a few differences between the film and the manga. The film introduces a film exclusive character named Shiori Akino who is Light’s girlfriend. Shiori isn’t present in the anime or the manga.
Tatsuya Fujiwara and Ken’ichi Matsuyama do a good job portraying the roles of Light Yagami and L respectively.
Interestingly enough, the live action version of Death Note topped the box office in Japan for two weeks after its premier. At the time of the release, it beat out “The Da Vinci Code” and pushed it into second place. The sequel happened to be just as impressive as the first movie.