Death Note (2006 film)

Death Note (デスノート, Desu Nōto) is a 2006 Japanese supernatural thriller film based on the manga series of the same title by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. It was followed by a sequel, Death Note 2: The Last Name, released in the same year. The films primarily center on a Tokyo college student who attempts to change the world into a utopian society without crime, by committing a world-wide massacre of criminals and people whom he deems morally unworthy of life, through a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in the pages, while being hunted down by an elite task-force of law enforcement officers within Tokyo, led by an enigmatic international detective.

Death Note
Death Note (film) poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byShūsuke Kaneko
Produced byToyoharu Fukuda
Takahiro Kohashi
Takahiro Satō
Screenplay byTetsuya Oishi
Based on
StarringTatsuya Fujiwara
Kenichi Matsuyama
Shunji Fujimura
Takeshi Kaga
Asaka Seto
Shigeki Hosokawa
Erika Toda
Music byKenji Kawai
CinematographyHiroshi Takase
Edited byYosuke Yafune
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • June 17, 2006 (2006-06-17) (Japan)
Running time
125 minutes
Box office$31.3 million

The two films were directed by Shūsuke Kaneko, produced by Nippon Television, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. The film was licensed by VIZ Pictures, Warner Bros..

A spin-off film directed by Hideo Nakata and titled L: Change the World, was released on February 9, 2008. Another sequel, Death Note: Light Up the New World, was released in October 2016.


Within the Kanto region of Japan, Light Yagami: an intelligent and distinguished yet disaffected Tokyo college student stumbles across a mysterious dark-colored notebook, with the words: "Death Note" marked on the cover, while returning home from his classes. The Death Note's instructions claim that if a person's name is written within while picturing that person's face, he or she will die. Light is initially skeptical of the Death Note's authenticity, but after experimenting with it on a convicted criminal, he realizes it is real. After experimenting with it on his second victim: an acquitted felon named Takuo Shibuimaru and meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a demonic Shinigami named Ryuk, Light begins to see the potential of the Death Note's god-like abilities and eventually decides to use the notebook to kill those whom he deems to be morally unworthy of life or impede his plans to change the world. He begins using the Death Note to kill numerous known criminals, terrorists and convicted felons around the world, becoming a near-mythical vigilante known as "Kira", which is the Japanese trans-literation of the word: killer and who is both beloved and feared by the world-wide media and public.

As the Kira killings continue, some within both the international and Japanese society come to see Kira as a righteous figure, with many even calling him a "god". Interpol launches an investigation of the murders, but months pass without any fruitful lead. The case eventually attracts the attention of L, a reclusive, highly-skilled and world-renowned criminal profiler/international private detective, who deduces that "Kira" is in Japan. Allying himself with Interpol and the Japanese police force, L manages to confront Light through a television broadcast and demonstrates his deductive skills, correctly surmising Kira's residence in the Kanto region and that he can "kill without lifting a finger", by manipulating Light to kill a decoy of his named "Lind L. Tailor", thus unwittingly giving out his location to the Japanese police force. Enraged, Light vows to find and kill L, either by hook or crook.

After Light hacks into the police database to find information on acquitted criminals, L deduces that Kira is connected to the Kira task-force in Tokyo, led by Light's father: Soichiro Yagami, the head of the National Police Agency. Around the same time, Light finds out that he is being followed by an FBI agent named Raye Iwamatsu, who was assigned by L to shadow over potential "Kira" suspects and, through a series of events, manipulates Iwamatsu's and his fellow agents' deaths. Raye's fiancé, Naomi Misora, a former FBI agent, decides to uncover Kira's identity. Considering Light as the prime suspect, she kidnaps his girlfriend Shiori and demands that he confess or Shiori will die. Light adamantly insists that he is not Kira and pleads with her. When Shiori tries to escape, Naomi shoots her and abruptly commits suicide. Shiori dies in Light's arms.

Ryuk finds that Light had actually engineered Naomi's death using the Death Note, as he had already found out her identity and written a scenario whereby Naomi would commit suicide after shooting Shiori. Ryuk is confused that Light would deliberately put Shiori in danger, but Light reveals that he had written her name in the Death Note as well, much to his reluctance and remorse. Using these events to seemingly foster hatred for Kira, Light asks to join his father's task force. While Soichiro is slightly reluctant, L immediately grants his wish and it is hinted that he is still certain that Light is Kira.

As a precursor to the second movie, Misa, an actress, is chased down an alley by a man wielding a knife, intent on killing her. As she screams for help, the man dies of a heart attack just like Kira's victims. A second Death Note lands beside her.


Character Actor English dubbing
Light Yagami Tatsuya Fujiwara Brad Swaile
L Kenichi Matsuyama Alessandro Juliani
Misa Amane Erika Toda Shannon Chan-Kent
Naomi Misora Asaka Seto Nicole Oliver
Shidou Nakamura Brian Drummond
Raye Iwamatsu Shigeki Hosokawa Michael Adamthwaite
Watari Shunji Fujimura Ron Halder
Soichiro Yagami Takeshi Kaga Christopher Britton
Shiori Akino Yuu Kashii Ashleigh Ball
Sayu Yagami Hikari Mitsushima Kristie Marsden
Kanzo Mogi Shin Shimizu John Murphy
Lind L. Taylor Matt Lagan Ted Cole
Sachiko Yagami Michiko Godai Saffron Henderson
Shuichi Aizawa Tatsuhito Okuda Trevor Devall
Touta Matsuda Sota Aoyama Vincent Tong
Hirokazu Ukita Ikuji Nakamura Jeremy From
Kevin LeRoy Ruben Chacon Unknown
Ryotaro Sakajo Masanori Fujita Michael Donovan
FBI Agent Norman England
Ayako Yoshino Ai Maeda Unknown
Matsubara Takeo Nakahara Ron Halder
Sasaki Yoji Tanaka Bill Switzer
Saeki Masahiko Tsugawa Unknown
Sanami Miyuki Komatsu Janyse Jaud
Takeshi Maruo Unknown Vincent Tong
Kiichiro Osoreda Sarutoki Miyagawa Brian Dobson
Katsuya Seta Unknown
Takuo Shibuimaru Kaohiko Kaota Louis Chirillo
Yusuke Hibisawa Toshiyuki Watarai
Koreyoshi Kitamura Unknown David Kaye



In his production notes, director Shūsuke Kaneko explained his desire to convince audiences that, while the killing of bad humans may seem to be fair, it underestimates the corrupting influence of wielding such power (the manga series follows a very similar viewpoint). Kaneko also commented that the psychological fear of dying could be "more nightmarish than Kaiju (monsters) destroying cities and killing people".[2]

Kaneko also stated that he wanted the film to "focus on psychological pain", explain how the deaths occur, and explain how younger people would begin to like Kira.[3] He also removed many of the interior monologues prominent in the manga and anime to allow audiences to develop their own ideas about the characters' thoughts and beliefs, while allowing "dramatic tension".[4]

Kaneko said that the most difficult portion of the manga to film was the scene when the investigation begins and the authorities conclude that a person is responsible for the killing of criminals. He chose to add a scene in which L explains his logic via his laptop in order to make the film "more believable" and "excite people" for the coming struggle between L and Light.[4]

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 theorized that the film may have performed well because of the Internet culture of Japan, saying that the use of the Death Note had similarities to how users attacked one another on message boards and blogs. In addition, Kaneko noted that death is "carefully" concealed, to the point where "people don't even think about it".[5]

The owner of the Death Note copyright required Kaneko to not change any of the rules of the Death Note, and as the film was developed, new rules of the Death Note were added in the original manga. Kaneko described adhering to this condition as the most difficult aspect of making the film.[6]


Kaneko chartered an underground line to film a particular scene in the first film; this was the first time in Japanese film history that an underground line was used. Kaneko used about 500 extras throughout the first film.[3]


Theme songsEdit


The film premiered in Japan on June 17, 2006, and topped the Japanese box office for two weeks, pushing The Da Vinci Code into second place.[7]

Death Note (死亡筆記) was released in Hong Kong on August 10, 2006, in Taiwan on September 8, 2006, in Singapore on October 19, 2006, and in Malaysia on November 9, 2006, with English and Chinese subtitles. The world premiere was in the UA Langham Place cinema in Hong Kong on October 28, 2006, the first Japanese movie to premiere in Hong Kong. The film was released in the UK on April 25, 2008.

Wired's Lisa Katayama described the film as "a delightfully suspenseful 126 minutes for anyone who likes suspense, pretty Japanese boys or female detectives".[8]

North American releaseEdit

The first movie briefly played in certain North American theaters on May 20–21, 2008.[9] The theatrical version featured actors from the English dub of the anime voicing over their respective characters with a few notable recasts, including Ted Cole as Lind L. Tailor's voice (dubbed in the anime by John Murphy), Ron Halder as Watari's voice (dubbed in the anime by French Tickner), Nicole Oliver as Naomi Misora's voice (dubbed in the anime by Tabitha St. Germain), and Michael Dobson as Rem's voice (dubbed in the anime by Colleen Wheeler). The film was broadcast in Canadian theaters for one night only on September 15, 2008. The DVD was released on September 16, 2008, one day after the Canadian showing.[10]

UK releaseEdit

Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name, and L: Change the World were all licensed for UK release by 4Digital Asia, a sublabel of 4Digital Media, formerly Ilc Entertainment.[11][12][13][14] The first title was the inaugural release in this new sublabel, launched in 2008 to fill the gap in the UK for "Asia Extreme" titles created by the demise of Tartan. All have received limited theatrical screenings at arthouse venues around the UK, such as the ICA Cinema in central London. All three have received DVD releases in limited editions, featuring two discs in hardback-book-like packaging, mimicking the item of the title. Regular single-disc editions are replacing the limited ones for long-term release. A dedicated website focused on the franchise was also created for public use.[15] Both films were also broadcast on Film4.


Box officeEdit

At the Japanese box office, the film grossed ¥2.85 billion[16] ($24.5 million).[17] Overseas, the film grossed $6,758,126, including over $3.7 million in South Korea and US$1.9 million in Hong Kong.[18] This brings the film's worldwide box office gross to $31,258,126.

Home mediaEdit

On home video, the DVD releases of Death Note and Death Note 2: The Last Name sold over 1.027 million units in Japan as of March 2007.[19]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 78% approval rating based on 9 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10.[20]

Hidayah Idris wrote in the Singapore edition of the magazine Cleo that the film was "a major hit in Singapore!"[21]


Award nominations for Death Note
Year Award Category Recipient Result
2006 Hochi Film Award Best New Actor Kenichi Matsuyama Won
2007 Award of the Japanese Academy Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film Pegasus Audience Award Best Film Won
Hong Kong Film Award Best Asian Film Japan Nominated
Mainichi Film Concours Readers' Choice Award Most Popular Film Won
Yokohama Film Festival Best New Talent Kenichi Matsuyama Won


A sequel, Death Note 2: The Last Name, was released in Japan on October 28, 2006


In 2007, the Malaysian newspaper The Star stated that more than ten film companies in the United States had expressed interest in the Death Note franchise.[5] 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.[22] On April 30, 2009, Variety reported that Warner Bros., the distributors for the original Japanese live-action films, had acquired the rights for an American remake, with the original screenwriters and producers still attached.[23] In 2009, Zac Efron responded to rumors that he would be playing the film's lead role by stating that the project was "not on the front burner".[24] On April 27, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Adam Wingard would direct the film, that Lin, Lee, Jason Hoffs and Masi Oka would produce, and that Niija Kuykendall and Nik Mavinkurve would oversee the studio.Producers stated the film would receive an R rating. On April 6, 2016, it was confirmed that Netflix had bought the film from Warner Bros

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Official Death Note live-action movie website" (in Japanese). Warner Bros. Retrieved 2006-11-19.
  2. ^ Tai, Elizabeth. "... And justice for all?". The Star. Archived September 10, 2012, at
  3. ^ a b "The making". The Star. Archived July 28, 2012, at
  4. ^ a b Shonen Jump. Volume 6, Issue 6. June 2008. VIZ Media. 8.
  5. ^ a b Kitty Sensei (January 14, 2007). "Here're a few hints of the second and concluding part of Death Note the movie, The Last Name". The Star. Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  6. ^ "'Death Note' Director Shusuke Kaneko: Nietzsche, Manga, and Gods of Death". 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  7. ^ "Death Note Tops Box Office Again". Anime News Network. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2006-12-18.
  8. ^ "Death Note Manga Spawns Movie, Crime Wave". Wired. 2008-05-19. Archived from the original on 2013-08-09. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
  9. ^ "1st Death Note Film to Run in 300+ U.S. Theaters in May". Anime News Network. 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  10. ^ "Death Note Live-Action!! Trailer". Viz Media. 2007-04-14. Archived from the original on 2008-04-20. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
  11. ^ UK release details: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 22, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ UK release details here: Archived 2009-05-22 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ UK release details here: Archived 2009-04-12 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Company website:
  15. ^ Franchise site: Archived 2009-04-03 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Movies With Box Office Gross Receipts Exceeding 1 Billion Yen". Eiren. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average) - Japan". World Bank. 2006. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Desu nôto (Death Note) (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  19. ^ "実写版「デスノート」のDVD前後編セットが50万セットを出荷 -バップ「前後編合わせて100万枚を突破」". AV Watch. Impress Watch. 2007-03-15.
  20. ^ "Death Note (Desu nôto) (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  21. ^ Hidayah Idris (2016-02-05). "Why Japanese Actor Tatsuya Fujiwara Doesn't Want To Deal With People". Cleo Singapore. Retrieved 2019-10-23.
  22. ^ "Warner Brothers Acquire Live-Action Death Note Rights". Anime News Network. May 1, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  23. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 30, 2009). "Warner brings 'Death' to bigscreen". Variety. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  24. ^ Weintraub, Steve (November 22, 2009). "Exclusive Interview: Zac Efron and Richard Linklater on ME AND ORSON WELLES; Plus Zac Addresses DEATH NOTE Rumors". Collider. Retrieved April 10, 2016.

External linksEdit