Death Note II: The Last Name – Movie Review
- Directed by Shusuke Kaneko
- Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Erika Toda and Nana Takase
The sequel to Death Note opens with an actress named Misa Amane (Toda) saved from a crazed acquaintance by the attackers’ name being written into another Ëœdeath note’, and the book falls to the ground at her feet. She picks it up and we’re launched into credits, which appear over flashback scenes to the first film, most of which won’t necessarily mean anything to you unless you have already seen it and it jogs your memory.
This review will obviously contain a few spoilers to the first film, as it is a sequel, so don’t read further unless you’ve seen it or don’t care if it’s spoiled for you, okay?
Light (Fujiwara) has narrowly escaped master sleuth L’s (Matsuyama) clutches in the first film, and has ingratiated himself to the point that he’s a part of L’s task force that is pursuing mass murderer ËœKira’, Light’s alter ego who has been cleaning up the criminal underworld via the notebook he found at the beginning of the first film. I think that basically gets you up to speed, yadda yadda-ing over a lot of cat and mouse bullshit that’s interesting to watch but boring as hell to synopsize.
Sakura TV broadcasts two tapes allegedly sent in by someone calling themselves ËœKira II’, and Kira II goes so far as to kill a public naysayer on live television, as they are making negative comments about Kira. News spreads via the live broadcast, and Kira II kills several police officers who try to break up the public gathering outside the television studio. Kira II also references Ëœseeing with the eyes of the God of Death’, to which L reacts, visually shocked. Light’s younger sister is on the site of the deaths, and her father rushes out to save her, covering his head to conceal his identity from Kira II. Light also heads to the television station, desperate to find Kira II before L does, as this gives him an out in his battle of wits with L, and a partner who can kill in his stead.
It’s around this time that we first meet the frustrated Kiyomi (Takase), who wants to get ahead in her job at the television station, but is sidelined in favor of the more aggressive and sexy face that delivers the news. More on her later, okay?
Misa introduces herself to Light, explains that she knows that he’s Kira because she’s traded half her life-span in exchange for the Ëœeyes of the God of Death’, which allows her to immediately see anyone’s name and life-span floating over their head. Light looks accusingly at Ryuk, his own God of Death, who shrugs and says Hey, you never asked., which I found pretty amusing. Rem, her God of Death is stark white on contrast to Ryuk, and equally emaciated and CGI, and slightly more helpful it would seem. Misa’s family was murdered when she was young, but Kira’s killings took care of the man responsible, and she has sworn undying allegiance to him. They hatch a plan to learn L’s true identity, but Misa is almost immediately taken into custody as the suspected Kira II, where she’s held without food or water for days on end.
Rem explains to Light that the reason Misa came into possession of the death note was the love of a God named Jealous, who gave up his Godhood to save her, and his notebook fell to her. Rem charges Light with saving her, for which Light hatches a carefully timed plan. Light turns himself in as Ëœpossibly being Kira, under a separate personality’ (or some such sketchy reasoning), agreeing to 24 hour survellience in a cell to prove that he’s not the killer. To make this work, he has Rem give the second Death Note to Kiyomi, who he knows will use it, and thus relinquishes his claim (and memories of) his life as Kira, because possession is nine tenths of the Death Note or something like that.
With Kiyomi killing, and both Light and Misa under lock and key, L seems forced to admit that they should be cleared, but there’s still a whole lot of twists, turns and double-crosses to come, as these two young men evidently know each others moves before they even conceive of them and are already planning ahead.
I was a little more put off by L’s mannerisms this time around, as he perches like a bird on furniture rather than sitting like a human, only consumes sugar and generally touches things with only his thumb and forefinger. According to some reading I did online, these quirks are consistent with the character from the Anime and manga, but it’s also annoying to watch when you want to slap him after watching over an hour of his oddball affectations.
I enjoyed the films, and the power struggle between the two leads definitely has something of an episodic feel as moves are made by each, then countered by the other, but that’s the nature of adapting a larger story into a couple of two hour films. The films are engaging, I loved the use of the CGI’d supernatural creatures and in spite of the inherent quirky nature of the characters, I was still easily drawn into their struggles.
Death Note II: The Last Name is available to buy from Amazon.com
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