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The Death Note Films

Updated on January 7, 2011

All about the Death Note trilogy: Synopses, Cast lists, videos, and more

Have you heard of the Death Note movies? Death Note or Desu Noto is a series of two Japanese films and a spin-off based on the Death Note manga and anime by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. The live action movies were released in 2006 and were a commercial success in their native Japan.

The story revolves around university student Light Yagami who chances upon a a supernatural notebook that can kill anyone whose name is written on it. At first the young Light only targets criminals who have escaped justice but, intoxicated by the evil book's power, he becomes obsessed with becoming the "god of a New World" and turns against anyone who gets in his way.

Death Note and its sequel Death Note: The Last Name were directed by Shusuke Kaneko and a spin-off film titled L: Change the World directed by Hideo Nakata was released on February 9, 2008. Due to its popularity, a Hollywood remake is currently in the offing.

If you want to learn more about the horror/fantasy Japanese films, please read on.

Anti-hero Light and the Death Note shinigami Ryuk

Anti-hero Light and the Death Note shinigami Ryuk
Anti-hero Light and the Death Note shinigami Ryuk

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Light and Misa
Light and Misa

Please be warned that the Death Note films are Rated R because of the plot's sensitive subject matter, some violence and a number of frightening scenes. For more information, see imdb's Parent's Guide for Death Note.

The Death Note Movies

A Japanese media franchise consisting of Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name and a spin-off movie, L:Change the World.

Death Note Movie Synopsis - A backgrounder on the first film in the series.

Death Note Movie
Death Note Movie

The Death Note films center around Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a young man whose life undergoes a drastic change when he discovers a mysterious notebook known as the "Death Note". The Death Note's instructions claim that if a person's name is written in it while picturing the person's face, that person shall die. Light is initially skeptical of the notebook's authenticity but after experimenting with it using names of relentless criminals, he realizes that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the owner of the Death Note, a shinigami (death god or reaper) named Ryuk, Light seeks to become "god of the New World" by passing his own judgment on those he deem to be evil or who get in his way.

After months of killing criminals, Light is dubbed Kira by the public and some believe him to be righteous about killing criminals. Interpol is no closer to catching him and is about to pass the case on to the Ministry of Health, dismissing the series of deaths as caused by an epidemic, until a mysterious and brilliant techno-detective known as L (Kenichi Matsuyama) enters the scene. The anonymous L has solved many cases with his assistant Watari but because of the situation's gravity, L reveals himself to the agents and joins forces with them. L manages to confront Light live on TV, deduces that he is in the Kanto region of Japan and points out that he can "kill without lifting a finger". A game of psychological cat and mouse then ensues between the two eccentric geniuses.

Synopsis sourced from Wikipedia

Watch the Death Note Japanese movie trailer

Buy the Live Action Death Note movie DVD

Death Note (Live Action)
Death Note (Live Action)

Adapted from the bestselling manga with original characters and plot twists developed only for live-action film the story takes unexpected turns before arriving at a shocking ending.

Ace student Light Yagami finds the Death Note, a notebook intentionally dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god named Ryuk. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies. Upset with the current justice system, Light takes matters into his own hands and vows to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of all evil, and become the God of the new world.

Soon, the number of suspicious deaths of reported criminals catches the attention of the International Police Organization. A mysterious detective known only as L quickly learns that the serial killer, nicknamed Kira by the public, is located in Japan. Light realizes that L will be his greatest enemy, and a game of psychological cat and mouse between the two begins.

 

Death Note: The Last Name synopsis - A short summary of the sequel to the successful Death Note film.

Death Note: The Last Name
Death Note: The Last Name

The second movie in the Death Note film series, Death Note: The Last Name picks up where the first movie left off. Death Note owner Light (Fujiwara Tatsuya) joins the police team in order to square off against his rival L (Matsuyama Kenichi), who rightly suspects Light of being Kira.

Both Light and L are thrown off, however, when another Kira appears. A second Death Note has fallen to earth, and this time it gets picked up by teen pop idol Amane Misa (Toda Erika) who acquires the power to kill with "the Shinigami eyes". An ardent Kira fan, Misa eagerly teams up with Light to outwit L in an elaborate plan, but L has more than a few schemes up his sleeve as well. Who will be the last man standing? Who will be the last name in the Death Note?

Synopsis from the Death Note product page on YesAsia

Watch Death Note: The Last Name trailer

Buy Death Note: The Last Name DVD

Death Note II: The Last Name
Death Note II: The Last Name

Death Note: The Last Name is a sequel to the movie Death Note which closely follows major plot elements from the original manga series, while featuring several new key story differences. The story begins on the heels of the first movie as Light Yagami joins the investigation team in pursuit of the serial killer known as "Kira." While L still strongly suspects that Light is "Kira," Light tries to uncover L's real name so he can kill him with his Death Note. Confusingly enough, a new rash of murders all around the world are taking place, with a Second Kira" claiming responsibility. Light learns the identity of the Second Kira and suggests they join forces to get rid of L. Will L be able to catch "Kira" before he is killed?

 

The mysterious, odd and brilliant super-detective simply known as "L"

The mysterious, odd and brilliant super-detective simply known as "L"
The mysterious, odd and brilliant super-detective simply known as "L"

In the Death Note movies, the two main characters Light Yagami and L sit on opposing schools of thought.

Light, known publicly as "Kira" is the justice-seeking revolutionary who is using the Death Note to eliminate evil by killing off unconvicted criminals and anyone who stands in his way. On the opposite side is L, the world's greatest detective who is dead-set on catching Kira whom he perceives as the world's biggest mass murderer even if Kira's initial intentions are for "the greater good".

Whose beliefs do you agree with?

Death Note Rules (live-action movie version)

A guide to using the supernatural notebook.

Death Note Rules

The human whose name is written in this note shall die.

This note will not take effect unless the writer has the subject's face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affected.

If the cause of death is written within 40 seconds of writing the subject's name,

it will happen.

If the cause of death is not specified, the subject will simply die of a heart attack.

After writing the cause of death, the details of the death should be written

in the next 6 minutes and 40 seconds

Light's Fake Death Note Rules

If the owner of the Death Note does not kill with the Death Note within 13 days of the last entry, he or she will die.

If the Death Note is burned, destroyed, or otherwise damaged in any way, all those who have touched that Death Note will die.

See the complete list of Death Note rules.

Buy the Death Note Rules Wall Scroll - Official Death Note Wall scroll. Approx. 31 x 43inches.

Great Eastern Entertainment Death Note Rule Wall Scroll, 33 by 44-Inch
Great Eastern Entertainment Death Note Rule Wall Scroll, 33 by 44-Inch

Inscribed within the Death Note are rules on how to use the supernatural notebook. Approximately measuring 31" x 43", this Official Death Note Rules wall scroll depicts these rules as they appear in the Japanese horror fantasy movies.

 

Death Note Characters

Death Note: Light Yagami
Death Note: Light Yagami

Light Yagami (portrayed by Tatsuya Fujiwara)

The anti-hero protagonist in the Death Note series.

Yagami Light is a first-year university student studying law. Prior to his discovery of the Death Note, he hacks into the government database and learns that the government secretly acknowledges that many criminals are unable to be prosecuted.

When he finds a black notebook called the Death Note and discovers the supernatural powers contained within, he uses it out of frustration from the perceived failures of the Japanese justice system and vows to rid the world of evil.

Death Note: L
Death Note: L

L (portrayed by Kenichi Matsuyama)

The eccentric detective and unlikely hero of the Death Note film series.

L is considered the world's greatest detective but his true identity is unknown. When a series of unexplained criminal deaths take place, L takes on the case and deduces that a teenager named Light Yagami is the entity the public has dubbed Kira and becomes determined to convict him.

L's disheveled appearance belie his great powers of deduction and insight. He is extremely meticulous and has quirks like crouching rather than sitting properly and eating only sweet foods all day.

Misa Amane
Misa Amane

Misa Amane (portrayed by Erika Toda)

A Japan pop idoru who happens to become the second Kira.

Misa Amane is a popular Japanese idol and is first seen filming a TV show called "Misa-Misa's Happy Sweets" baking treats to make her enemies fat, she states. After filming, she expresses support for Kira to a journalist. She is childish and tends to refer to herself in the third person.

She is completely devoted to Light, saying that she loved him at first sight, although the feeling is hardly mutual since Light merely views her as a rather annoying asset and uses her.

Shinigami Ryuk
Shinigami Ryuk

Shinigami

Reapers or Gods of Death

Shinigami or Gods Of Death are demon-like beings who live in the Shinigami realm. Shinigami are functionally immortal, able to extend their lives indefinitely by writing the names of humans in their Death Notes. By writing the name of a human whose fated time of death has not yet come, Shinigami have their lifespan increased by the amount that human would have lived.

The main Shinigami featured in the movies are Ryuk and Rem.

The Death Note cast list - Cast of characters in the Japanese horror-fantasy movies.

Death Note
Death Note

Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami

Kenichi Matsuyama as L

Erika Toda as Misa Amane

Asaka Seto as Naomi Misora

Shidou Nakamura as Ryuk (voice)

Shinnosuke Ikehata as Rem (Voice in Death Note: The Last Name)

Shigeki Hosokawa as Raye Iwamatsu

Shunji Fujimura as Watari

Takeshi Kaga as Soichiro Yagami

Yuu Kashii as Shiori Akino

Hikari Mitsushima as Sayu Yagami

Shin Shimizu as Kanzo Mogi

Matt Lagan as Lind L. Taylor

Michiko Godai as Sachiko Yagami

Tatsuhito Okuda as Shuichi Aizawa

Sota Aoyama as Touta Matsuda

Ikuji Nakamura as Hirokazu Ukita

Ruben Chacon as Kevin LeRoy

Masanori Fujita as Ryotaro Sakajo

Norman England as FBI Agent

Takeo Nakahara as Matsubara

Yoji Tanaka as Sasaki

Masahiko Tsugawa as Saeki

Nana Katase as Kiyomi Takada

L: Change the World

A Death Note spin-off film directed by Hideo Nakata

L: Change the World Synopsis - A short summary of the Death Note spin-off film.

L: Change the World
L: Change the World

L: Change the World chronicles the final 23 days of L's life as he solves one final case involving a bioterrorist group that aims to wipe out much of humanity with a virus with one-hundred times the virulence of Ebola. L (Kenichi Matsuyama) takes a boy he names Near, the sole survivor of a village in Thailand, and an elementary schooler named Maki Nikaido under his wing.

Dr. Nikaido, a researcher, received a sample of a deadly virus which destroyed a village in Thailand. His assistant, Dr. Kimiko Kujo who goes by the initial K reveals herself to be the leader of the organization that created the virus. Dr. Nikaido, who has created an antidote, refuses to give it her. She kills him, convinced that his daughter Maki has the formula.

Maki runs away, eventually finding L's headquarters but the group tracks her down, forcing L, accompanied by Maki and Near, to run away to a high-tech truck with the help of an FBI agent, Hideaki Suruga. L seeks the help of Nikaido's research partner in creating an antidote. Using Near, L manages to acquire the antidote just as the terrorists are about to take an infected Maki to the US to spread the virus. L stops the plane and gives all the infected passengers including the terrorist the antidote. Maki then tries to kill Kujo for revenge but L stops her. The movie concludes with L leaving Near and giving him his "real name".

Shunji Fujimura also reprises his role as Watari though the character dies early in the film (to coincide with events in Death Note:The Last Name. The major characters of the main storyline Light Yagami (Kira), Misa Amane, and Shinigami Ryuk all have brief cameos in the film.

Synopsis sourced from Wikipedia

Watch the L: Change the World Japanese trailer with English subtitles

Buy the L: Change the World DVD from Amazon

Death Note: L, change the WorLd
Death Note: L, change the WorLd

With only 23 days left to live, L (Matsuyama Kenichi) burns the remaining Death Note and proceeds to work day and night solving as many cases and consuming as many sweets as possible. One final case is sent his way in the form of a Thai boy who alone survived a deadly virus outbreak in his village. L gets another guest when 12-year-old girl Maki (Fukuda Mayuko, Little DJ) shows up on the doorstep. Both children are connected to an Ebola-influenza virus developed by Maki's father which has been stolen by terrorists. With the terrorists hunting for Maki and threatening to unleash the virus, L is forced to leave his chair and venture out into the real world, both children in stow. The days tick down as L rushes to develop an antidote and catch the terrorists before time runs out.

 

Death Note Photo Gallery - Screenshots from the Death Note films

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Yagami Light encounters the Death Note and Shinigami Ryuk for the first time.Light and his girlfriend Shiori.The Yagami family at dinner.L (or Ryuzaki), the oddball but brilliant detective.Naomi and Shiori in a tense moment.The view from a Shinigami's eyes.L, Misa Amane and Light at the University.The Kira Investigation Team with Kira #3, Kiyomi Takada.Kira #2 Misa AmaneLight vs. L. Who are you rooting for?
Yagami Light encounters the Death Note and Shinigami Ryuk for the first time.
Yagami Light encounters the Death Note and Shinigami Ryuk for the first time.
Light and his girlfriend Shiori.
Light and his girlfriend Shiori.
The Yagami family at dinner.
The Yagami family at dinner.
L (or Ryuzaki), the oddball but brilliant detective.
L (or Ryuzaki), the oddball but brilliant detective.
Naomi and Shiori in a tense moment.
Naomi and Shiori in a tense moment.
The view from a Shinigami's eyes.
The view from a Shinigami's eyes.
L, Misa Amane and Light at the University.
L, Misa Amane and Light at the University.
The Kira Investigation Team with Kira #3, Kiyomi Takada.
The Kira Investigation Team with Kira #3, Kiyomi Takada.
Kira #2 Misa Amane
Kira #2 Misa Amane
Light vs. L. Who are you rooting for?
Light vs. L. Who are you rooting for?

Kira #2, Japan pop idol Misa Amane.

Kira #2, Japan pop idol Misa Amane.
Kira #2, Japan pop idol Misa Amane.

Death Note Merchandise

L from Death Note figurine

Death Note: Craft Label L (Lawliet) 9" Statue
Death Note: Craft Label L (Lawliet) 9" Statue

If you want an amazing, eye-catching item to show your love for Death Note and Ryuzaki, this is the one to grab. I was hesitant at first due to the availability of cheaper options, but the extra cash is completely worth it. You get an incredibly durable and detailed likeness, more sculpture than figure really. The thing's as heavy as a brick, so you won't be accidentally swiping it off your desk too often. Everything down to the sugar cubes in his coffee looks awesome, and it really is a step above other figures I've bought. - Amazon customer Togusa

 

Shinigami Ryuk Bookends

Death Note Ryuk Book End Statues
Death Note Ryuk Book End Statues

Have highly detailed Shinigami Ryuk statues protect your treasured book, manga or anime DVD library. Highly detailed at an affordable price and a must have for every Death Note fan.

 

Death Note Characters in Miniature

Nendoroid Petite Death Note Case File #1 Mini Action Figure Box of 12
Nendoroid Petite Death Note Case File #1 Mini Action Figure Box of 12

The battle of the logic in super-cute miniature form! Finally a new set of figures is here to join the Nendoroid Petite series - and this time it's the characters from 'Death Note'. The first set of figures called 'Case File #01' features the main character Light Yagami, as well as L, Misa Amane, the death gods Ryuk and Rem and even Watari, L's loyal assistant. Each character includes certain items that featured in the original story, allowing multiple scenes from the anime or manga to be recreated in miniature form! The second set, 'Case File #02' is currently in production. Specifications Complete painted ABS & PVC poseable trading figures - not to scale - stands included - approximately 65mm in height - 10 figures to collect as well as an additional secret figure Material: PVC.

 

Death Note L Plush

Great Eastern Shonen Jump Death Note 8" L Plush
Great Eastern Shonen Jump Death Note 8" L Plush

Own an adorable and soft plushi of a super-deformed likeness of Death Note hero L. The Death Note plush measures approximately 6 inches.

 

More Death Note plushies

Official Death Note tees from Amazon

Buy the Death Note Manga box set

Death Note Box Set  (Vol.s 1-13): Volumes 1 - 13
Death Note Box Set (Vol.s 1-13): Volumes 1 - 13

The entire Death Note manga story arc is now available in a box set for the first time! This custom box set includes all 12 books from the Death Note series, the information How To Read "Death Note 13" and exclusive Death Note premium gifts! The high gloss printed box set also comes with a recessed handle and velcro closure. The box set is 10% off the total retail price of 13 volumes of Death Note! This is a perfect gift for either yourself or anyone not yet exposed to the amazing intrigue of this Obha / Obata masterpiece.

 

Buy the Death Note Animated Series DVD Box Sets

Death Note: Set 1
Death Note: Set 1

A 5-disc box set containing the first 20 episdoes of Death Note.

 
Death Note Box Set 2
Death Note Box Set 2

DVD contains audio Commentary, a behind the scenes look and production sketches.

 

Preview and download Death Note music

Play and listen to MP3s from the Death Note anime. Most tracks are from Death Note Tales by Hattori Hanzo.

"Checkmate!" Light Yagami and L face off -- literally -- in a game of chess.

"Checkmate!" Light Yagami and L face off -- literally -- in a game of chess.
"Checkmate!" Light Yagami and L face off -- literally -- in a game of chess.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was not familiar with The Death Note before reading your lens today. Nice lens.

    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 6 years ago

      I'm a Deathnote fan - in fact i own the blu ray of the Death Note movies AND L - Change the World on dvd, and the complete anime box set and the complete manga box set and plushies and my own Deathnote with a quill and phone charms and... Anyway, GREAT lens. Blessed.

    • Akitajitsu profile image

      Jen 6 years ago from California

      I saw these films being advertised in the local theater, but didn't know what they are. Now I'm sorry I missed them! They sound very interesting!

    • poptastic profile image
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      Cynthia Arre 6 years ago from Quezon City

      @jptanabe: Thanks for the visit Jennifer, I really appreciate it! (:

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Fascinating! Now you've got me interested in Death Note.