Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name

The Death Note movies were released in 2006 but I didn't watch them in the cinemas then because I wanted to watch both Death Note and its sequel Death Note: The Last Name at the same time. The movies are based on the manga series of the same name, and are basically about the battle of wits between Light (Kira) and L. Light is a university student who finds a notebook, the Death Note, that enables him to kill people by writing their names on it, while L is the mysterious detective (we find out later that he is a youth like Light) who tries to bring the murderer, Kira, to justice. The other important characters include CGI death gods who are the previous owners of the Death Notebooks, and the owners of the other Death Notebook.

Last night, I finally got to watch both Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name.

Personally, I was rooting for Light the entire time, even though he was the increasingly evil protagonist. Right to the end, I wanted him to win the battle with L and get away with his crimes. He was charming, cool, intelligent and very magnetic, even though the actor who played Light, Tatsuya Fujiwara, is rather effeminate in appearance. In the storyline, Light was well-loved by many people in his life, his girlfriends, his family and by the public, as the anonymous alter-ego, Kira. This was because Kira took the law into his own hands, killing off criminals who escaped the law. This made some of the public feel the murders were justified because the crime rates fell as a result. Tatsuya Fujiwara has the appropriate manga-ish looks and he has magnetic eyes which express many emotions with just one glance. Though he is not really my type of actor in terms of looks, he is still nonetheless very attractive. I remember him from Battle Royale too.

L in comparison was seriously too weird and aloof. Munching on sweets all the time, enforcing torturous interrogation methods in a cold and calculative manner, with beady, shifty, kohl-lined eyes which never look directly at anyone. In the movie, many people were also not very emotionally attached to him at all. The actor Ken'ichi Matsuyama who portrayed L is also not charismatic. So, I really disliked him. The only time I felt sympathy for him was at the end where he revealed his modus operandi that entailed a sacrifice on his part.

These characterisations of the main protagists were, in my opinion, very suitable for the 2 who personify the opposite poles of the rule of law versus vigilant justice. The law, represented by L, is cold, not always comfortable, sometimes oppressive and often non-humanistic. Vigilant justice on the other hand, as represented by Kira, is emotional and seductive. In this way I think the movies work very well.

Similarly the plot with its twists and turns is exciting and mind-boggling. The movies were engaging, but they might not be for everyone. My husband got bored with trying to follow the story and ended up walking away before the end of the first movie. I have not read the manga nor seen the anime, but the movies have made me very interested to do so. I am considering purchasing the DVD so that I can rewatch the shows in the future.

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