This is the review for the first live action movie adaptation of Death Note (2006). It was part of Fantasia back in 2007. I wasn’t familiar with the source material back then. That changed a couple of years ago, and I’ve wanted to go back and watch this film ever since. Now that I have, it’s time for a way overdue very late review.


Shusuke Kaneko directs the first full feature film for what will be a series. However, I preferred trying to see this as it was first intended: a standalone film with only a hint of a possibility of a sequel. Tatsuya Fujiwara takes on the role of Light Yayami. Kenichi Matsuyama is the enigmatic detective L. After a few moments on the screen, you won’t be able to imagine anybody else in those roles.

The plot, in case you’ve never heard of the series, is centered around the Death Note, a notebook where any name written down while thinking of the person’s face causes their death. The vagueness of some of the rules allow Light to craftily manipulate them to his advantage. As the body count rises, the public notices how the deaths are all criminals and a following for “Kira” (a Japanese pronunciation of “killer”) begins. However, the enigmatic detective L is only one step behind. Several parts are lifted directly from the anime. I can’t quite judge how they stand on their own since I saw the anime first

The Shinigami of Death, Ryuk, also appears in CGI form. It’s been a few years, and this CGI incarnation is not without its flaws. At the same time, you rarely care as the movie’s true strength is the battle of wits between Light, who becomes increasingly devious, and L who slowly closes in his prey.

Highly recommended with reservations. The movie does seem to move at a slow pace, never quite building up to the finale. That being said, this could be a side effect of the transition of the story from animated form to live action. Some people won’t be able to move past the older CGI, but you really should see if for the performances of the lead cast alone. For the fans of Death Note, it’s a milestone that they shouldn’t ignore.

That will do for now.