“ Genre: Horror / Theatrical Release: 2006 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Shusuke Kaneko / Actors: Erika Toda, Takeshi Kaga, Shido Nakamura, Tatsuya Fujiwara ... / DVD released 2009-09-14 at 4Digital Asia / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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Being a huge fan of the Death Note anime, I was filled with feelings of both intrigue and scepticism when I discovered a live action version had been created. Remakes can be hit and miss enough (miss, more often than not), but bringing an anime/manga to life is a different kettle of fish altogether.
Death Note is a supernatural cat-and-mouse crime thriller centred around a teenage school boy called Light Yagami, who one day finds a book that has been left lying around by a God of Death (Shinigami). With this book (known as a Death Note), an individual is capable of controlling life and death, simply by writing in its pages. With this power, Light sets about putting the world's wrongs to right and starts killing off known criminals. The suspicious deaths catch the attention of L, a young man considered the world's greatest detective, who makes it his mission to discover the identity of this mysterious killer and bring him to justice.
The film boasts a solid, reasonably star-studded cast including Tatsuya Fujiwara of Battle Royale fame, who is convincing in his role as Light Yagami. He is definitely outperformed by Japan's answer to Johnny Depp, Kenichi Matsuyama, who portrays the bizarre and eccentric character L to perfection. The special effects used to bring the shinigami characters Ryuk and Rem to life are simplistic but perfectly acceptable, and have not deviated too far from the character designs depicted in the anime.
The storyline, although following the same general premise as the anime, is quite different, rather more of a condensed abridged version, which is understandable considering the length and complexity of the plotline that runs through the anime. Also, well-loved characters from the latter part of the anime series such as Near and Mello do not make an appearance, which probably won't sit well with devoted fans. However, the changes to the story work well in the context of the live action movie, and will hopefully capture a new wave of fans to show interest in the anime series.