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. The film 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. The film was directed by Shusuke Kaneko, produced by Nippon Television, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures Japan. The film was licensed by VIZ Pictures, Warner Bros.

Death Note
Theatrical release poster
Directed byShusuke Kaneko
Screenplay byTetsuya Oishi
Based on
Death Note
Produced by
  • Toyoharu Fukuda
  • Takahiro Kohashi
  • Takahiro Satō
CinematographyHiroshi Takase
Edited byYosuke Yafune
Music byKenji Kawai
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • June 17, 2006 (2006-06-17) (Japan)

  • May 20, 2008 (2008-05-20) (US)
Running time
125 minutes
Box office$31.3 million

It was followed by a sequel, Death Note 2: The Last Name, released in the same year. 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.

Plot Edit

Light Yagami is an extremely intelligent university student who resents 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 human's name is written within it, that person shall die. Light is initially skeptical of the notebook's authenticity, but after experimenting with it, Light realizes 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 those he deems to be evil or who get in his way.

Soon, the number of inexplicable deaths of reported criminals catches the attention of Interpol, as well as a mysterious detective known only as "L". L quickly deduces that the murderer, dubbed by the public as Kira (a Japanese approximation 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 game of psychological "cat and mouse" between the two begins.

Light, pursued by L and by FBI detective Raye Iwamatsu, outsmarts them, killing Raye and his partners in the process. When Raye's fiancée, a former FBI detective named Naomi Misora, kidnaps Light's girlfriend Shiori Akino, Light pleads for her safety. Naomi accidentally shoots Shiori and commits suicide as the police approach. Light acts sorrowful for his girlfriend's death and asks to join the Kira investigation to get revenge, but he reveals to Ryuk that in fact he had learned Naomi's name beforehand and engineered the deaths of both Naomi and Shiori. The end of the film features Misa Amane, who survives an attempt on her life as her would-be assailant has a mysterious heart attack.

Cast Edit

English Dubbed Cast Edit

  • Ron Halder as Matsubara
  • Brian Dobson as Kiichirou Osoreda
  • Louis Chirillo as Takuo Shibuimaru
  • Louis Chirillo as Yuusuke Hibisawa

Production Edit

Development Edit

In his production notes, director Shusuke 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]

Filming Edit

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]

Music Edit

Theme songs Edit

Release Edit

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 release Edit

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. Taylor'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 release Edit

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.

Home media Edit

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.[16]

Reception Edit

Box office Edit

At the Japanese box office, the film grossed ¥2.85 billion[17] ($24.5 million).[18] Overseas, the film grossed $6,758,126, including over $3.7 million in South Korea and US$1.9 million in Hong Kong.[19] This brings the film's worldwide box office gross to $31,258,126.

Critical response Edit

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]

Accolades Edit

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

Sequel Edit

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

Remake Edit

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 also Edit

References Edit

  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: "4Digital Media". Archived from the original on May 22, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  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. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "Movies With Box Office Gross Receipts Exceeding 1 Billion Yen". Eiren. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average) - Japan". World Bank. 2006. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Desu nôto (Death Note) (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  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. Archived from the original on 2019-10-22. 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 links Edit