Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I do hope you’ve seen the first ‘Death Note’ before you read this because I’m going to totally SPOIL that movie for you, but the last time we saw the completely deranged Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara) he has just engineered the murder of his beloved girlfriend and the subsequent suicide of a woman who was solely dedicated to bringing him to justice. He instigated all of this to prove to those who suspected him of being the crazed vigilante Kira that it couldn’t be him since surely he wouldn’t have killed his girlfriend now would he? But especially to prove to his father Soichiro (Takeshi Kaga), the officer in charge of the case that he needs to be on the team to catch Kira so that he can avenge the death of his girlfriend. Of course all Light wants to do is finally get next to L (Ken’Ichi Matsuyama), learn his name and kill his ass once and for all. Before Soichiro can say yay or nay to his son, L appears out of the shadows, shakes Lights hand and welcomes him to the team. And this is where we begin with ‘Death Note: The Last Name’ which in my opinion was even better than the first movie which I thought was pretty damn good.

So sure enough Light finds himself in the starting lineup with the crew trying to track down and bring down himself, but the problem with his ultimate goal that he has no idea what L’s real name is. This leads us something else that closed out the last film in the fluffy lightweight TV celebrity Misa Amane (Erika Toda) having a death note dropped in her possession while being stalked by a murderous fan. Misa is quite the gushing fan of Kira since one of his many, many kills was his dispatching of the fiend that murdered her family and now that she has a death book herself she has become a second Kira, but one lacking Lights reasoning abilities and intelligence. Misa also has a God of Death looking over her in Rem (voiced by Shinnosuke Ikehata) and Misa has also dealt for the ‘magic eyes’ or whatever they are called which make it easy to see peoples names, and option which Light opted out of since it cuts your life in half.

Misa has found out that Light is Kira and knowing that she would literally die for him, he devises a plan using her gift to find out L’s real name and kill him. Thing is L has never stopped believing, not for one moment, that Light is Kira. Certain things happen which places Light’s plan on hold which also brings up a few new rules to the Death Note mythos which Light attempts to manipulate in his favor, manipulation which tosses a new player into the fray in pretty – check that – drop dead gorgeous television reporter Kyomi Takada (Nana Katase) who also gains access to The Death Note and succumbs to its dizzying powers.

One thing we do know is that Light Yagami will sacrifice anyone or anything to achieve his goals and he’s not bashful about how intelligent he thinks he is. The question is how far is his counterpart willing to go to achieve his own goals and finally solve this case?

Even though I did enjoy the first ‘Death Note’, after watching ‘Death Note: The Last Name’ the original feels like a two hour setup for what we were to experience in this film. Both films are different though and I certainly wouldn’t recommend that you watch them out order since director Shusuke Kaneko pretty much assumes with this movie, simply by the way it progresses, that you have seen the first one. The first film has a narrower focus. We meet Light, he kills people with Death Note, his moral compass slowly disintegrates and by the time that movie is over Light is off his rocker. This film has a much wider scope and takes on the deeper ramifications of the power of the Death Note. Light is still the main axis of the movie but now we spend more time getting into the character of L, we get into Light’s diabolical nature which also exposes his fatal flaw. I also enjoyed the way they worked the characters of Misa and Kyomi into the story which was effective in  displaying how the Death Note worked in lesser hands.

Even the conclusion was a bit of a surprise. Not the outcome so much but how the outcome was executed. The rather over the top extended, expanded histrionic death sequence by one of the characters was a bit much, but whaddayagonna do? I’m guessing the character was going for the Japanese equivalent of an Academy Award with that one.

A sequel, more or less since they were shot simultaneously, that outdistanced the original is what we have with ‘Death Note: The Last Name’ and since its unlikely there won’t be third episode, I will miss not having that to look forward to.

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