The popular manga, Death Note, spawned an anime series and three movies. I haven’t yet seen the third but I’m sure I’ll hunt it down soon enough! Here’s a quick recap of Death Note for those who may not have seen it (and it will help you understand this review a little bit better):
The Death Note is a notebook. If you write someone’s name in it, they die, either according to your specifications or by generic heart attack, as long as you know their true name and have their face in mind. That way people with the same name as your victim won’t die. The human who touches the notebook will be able to see the shinigami, Ryuuk, attached to it – that’s a death god to you and me. In the first movie, Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara) discovers the book. He goes a little power mad and thinks he should be in charge of creating a new society, under the name Kira, by killing off the criminal element (and anyone who gets too close to discovering his secret identity). His father is the head of the FBI task force assigned to finding Kira and bringing him to justice. L is an enigmatic young man, genius, sweets junkie and Light’s nemesis, who might be the only one who can uncover Kira’s true identity.
Death Note II picks up right where the first movie left off. Light and L finally get a chance to meet. How else can he keep an eye on what the task force is up to and how close to catching him they might be? During the investigation, we discover that there is a Kira 2, uber fan and supporter of Kira’s antics. When Light meets this #2, we find there’s a second Death Note and a second shinigami, named Ren. Together these two self-appointed executioners will kill whomever they deem ‘bad’ for the new world order.
But the task force, and L, are closing in. Thankfully Light is as brilliant as L because he plot twists and back stabs and red herrings his way out of close call after close call. And despite the added rules and tons of new information made available about the Death Note, he comes out on top. Or does he? Does L figure out the truth? Did I have a hard time following all this shit? Yes, yes I did.
But it was still a fun ride.
I have not watched the anime (of which I am assured is SO MUCH BETTER than the movies or the manga) but it’s in my Netflix cue. Now that I have two movies under my belt, I’ll start working my way through the series. I loved the first movie. It was such a great idea and so new and fresh. The second movie is almost as good. It got a little muddled with all the extra info (oh, Light, did I forget to tell you that part? – dammit, Ryuuk) and the added ‘rules’ of the new book. When a Kira #2 and then Kira #3 showed up, I was a bit disappointed. Though Kira #1 now had a partner/support system, we know from the first movie he only cares about himself and will throw anyone under the bus when necessary. So I hated that the story went in that direction.
Many of you may know Tastuya Fujiwara from Battle Royale. If you don’t, STOP READING AND GO WATCH THAT RIGHT NOW. You back? Okay. I love this kid. He’s a great sympathetic character in BR but in DN he is absolutely chilling as the sociopath Light/Kira. L (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) was great as this ghostly, quirky smarty-pants who figures out the entire storyline and throws it out there to everyone’s incredulity. It’s kind of funny but frustrating at the same time.
My favorite elements, though, were the shinigami. Ryuuk was in the first one and he was my favorite character. Ren is also a death god but he’s a bit different. Where Ryuuk is sarcastic and kind of a dick, Ren is compassionate and loyal. They are definitely worth the 2+ hours of movie, even though they don’t have a lot of screen time. I genuinely cried for a couple of them and near the end, where Ryuuk spells out some particulars for the users of the Death Note, I got goosebumps!
True anime fans might scoff at the films but I thoroughly enjoyed them. Though this isn’t as good as the first film (how often are the sequels good anyway, amirite?), it was still entertaining. If you’d like to explore the Death Note universe, but don’t have time for the entire anime series, the films are a great substitute.
7 Hatchets (out of 10)
About the Author
Peggy Christie has been writing horror fiction since 1999. Her work has appeared in several websites, magazines, and anthologies, including Necrotic Tissue, Code Z: An Undead Hospital Anthology, Black Ink Horror, Elements of Horror, and Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes. Her short story, “Why Be Normal?”, opened the anthology Reckless Abandon from Catalyst Press which premiered at the Horrorfind Convention in 2002. Her collection, Hell Hath No Fury, was published by Hazardous Press in May of 2013. Peggy is also the Secretary of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. She even has her own webpage. Check it out at themonkeyisin.com.
Peggy loves Korean dramas, survival horror video games, and chocolate (not necessarily in that order) and lives in Michigan with her husband and their two dogs, Roscoe P. Coltrane and Dozer.