As a Tokyo-based writer, I will introduce you to various aspects of pop culture such as manga, anime, movies and music. I want to spread the joy of Japanese pop culture around the world.
Hello, readers of MANGA.TOKYO. This is Mokugyo, and as you probably already know, I love manga and anime. Nowadays, there have been a lot of live-action movies based on manga and anime. For example, there will be a live-action Hollywood version of Death Note released on Netflix later this year. Death Note is huge hit which started as a manga series and has been made into anime, live-action movies, plays and a TV show. Today, let’s talk about the movie Death Note: Light Up the New World, released in Japan in 2016.
Death Note is a manga which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, the manga magazine famous for works such as One Piece and Naruto. It was illustrated by Takeshi Obata and written by Tsugumi Ohba. When it started serialization in 2003, it became instantly popular.
It’s a suspense story about the eponymous death note, a notebook which kills people whose names are written in it. One day, a high school student named Light Yagami receives the death note from a Shinigami (God of Death) named Ryuk. Light starts to kill people he deems bad one after another. He gets the nickname Kira (which comes from the Japanese pronunciation of the English word ‘killer’) because he’s been using his mysterious power to cause criminals to die. A genius detective named L starts investigating on Kira, and Thus an epic battle of the wits over the death note between Kira and L begins.
I read Death Note right from when the first chapter came out and I remember it being popular from the beginning. In the 2000s Weekly Shonen Jump, One Piece and Naruto were so popular that it was very hard for any other manga to catch up with them. Except Death Note! Its premise and its characters were so dark and interesting that provided the necessary contrast the young readership of Jump needed to bring another favorite in the spotlight.
In 2006, a live-action two-part movie was released to huge success. Kenichi Matsuyama, who played the genius detective L, got his big break with this movie. The success of the movie brought a spin-off movie about L. Death Note was also made into an anime series and in 2015 it was adapted into a live-action TV show.
In 2016, a new movie was released to mark the 10th anniversary of the live-action movie. This movie is Death Note: Light Up the New World.
This movie is an official sequel of the live-action movie, Death Note. Since the original story has already been told, this movie, Death Note: Light Up the New World, is an original sequel with a brand new story. The setting is 10 years after the first movie. A murder using the death note happens again. Death Note has an official rule: only 6 death notes exist in the human world. This sequel revolves around this ‘6 death notes’ rule. It develops as Kira and L’s successors vie for the 6 death notes. Characters like Misa Amane, one of the owners in the previous movie, and the incident room’s Matsuda appear again.
One of this movie’s best points is the cast members’ enthusiastic performances. The actors in the previous Death Note movie, Tatsuya Fujiwara (Light Yagami) and Kenichi Matsuyama (L), both enjoyed the limelight. In the new movie, the story describes a conflict between a person who takes over Light/Kira’s will and a person who takes over L’s will.
The protagonist, an investigator named Tsukuru Mishima, is played by Masahiro Higashide. At 189cm tall, he is very tall for a Japanese man and also works as a model. He has appeared in more live-action works based on manga: in xxxHOLiC as Doumeki and in Parasyte as Shimada. Mishima, the character he plays this time, has a secret. Check out what it is in the movie.
L’s successor is named Ryuzaki and is played by Sosuke Ikematsu. He is a very skilled actor and has been playing important roles since childhood. In a movie called Tetsujin 28: The Movie, released in 2005, he played Kaneda, the pilot the Tetsujin. Tetsujin 28 is based on an old popular manga ranked with Astro Boy. This time, Ryuzaki is a difficult man with a sharp tongue. His appealing points are different to that of L’s.
Yuki Shien, a cyberterrorist who strives to revive Kira, is played by Masaki Suda. Suda is a young Japanese actor that has been gaining a lot of attention recently. He gets a lot of offers for live-action works. For example, in Assassination Classroom, he played a cool-genius middle school boy, and in Princess Jellyfish, he played a young man who likes cross-dressing. In Gintama, which will be released in 2017, he will play one of the main characters, Shinpachi. Shien is a man who actively uses the death note. You can’t miss his amazing performance when he gleefuly writes the names down. His acting in the last half is especially great.
In Death Note, there are lots of rules regarding the use of the note: you can’t kill someone without knowing their name; you can see names if you make a deal for the Shinigami’s eyes; you can abandon your ownership of the death note, etc. The characters use these rules to the fullest. If you have watched the Death Note series, you’ll enjoy these rule scenes.
You don’t have to see the previous works to enjoy this movie. Many of the major plot points are xplained so you can delve right into this movie’s incidents. However, there are many scene you’ll enjoy more if you have seen the previous works.
Just like in past Death Note works, people in this movie use death notes to attack their enemies. The main characteristic of this series is that death notes are used as murder weapons. This has been an idea people have thought about: if a notebook in which you can kill someone by just writing their name down existed, how could you use it? One of this movie’s highlights is, if I can say it without spoiling it, the distinction between death notes and guns: how to fight against the guns that investigators or police officers hold. This is a development described in the previous movie. Also, it’s good to see familiar characters like Misa and Matsuda get involved in the story.
If you take a look at reviews on the Internet, this movie has both positive and negative ones. People who critisize the movie say that, ‘there is no need to make unnecessary sequels,’ or ‘you can’t surpass the previous movie.’ I understand those opinions. However, I’m happy there is new Death Note material. In the first place, people said that the manga wouldn’t be good as a live-action and no one could play L. The expectations before it was released weren’t high. As a result, the first movie was a hit, a spin-off was made, and then 10 years later, this sequel was released. As a fan who has been reading the original manga from the initial chapter in Weekly Shonen Jump, I’m so happy that this work has come this far.