Death Note 2: The Last Name (2006) Review
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year! As for me, it’s time to get back to work on this.
Okay. Let’s do this! If you need a refresher before I dive into Part II, my review of Part I is right here.
Death Note 2: The Last Name opens with Misa Amane, having just been saved from a potential murderer, finding a Death Note and being introduced to the Shinigami Rem.
A few days later, at the Sakura TV Festival, she decides to go public as “Kira II” in an effort to meet the real Kira, Light Yagami.
However, Light’s subsequent involvement with Misa only deepens L.’s suspicion of him and – when Light gives up his memories of the Death Note in order to escape suspicion – he finds that L. is not ready to let him off the hook so easily.
Will L. be able to catch Light in the act of murder? And has using the Death Note corrupted Light to the point of no return?
Part II: The Last Name
Death Note 2 mainly handles Light’s rivalry with L. along with his relationship with Misa Amane. I like that we see a lot more of the Taskforce trying to capture Kira in this installment. It raises the stakes significantly and seeing Light and L. go head-to-head is amazing!
Misa Amane (played by Erika Toda)
Misa actually ended up being one of my favorite characters when I read the manga for the first time. In this movie, her role is largely the same as her manga counterpart, taking on the role of the second Kira in order to find and meet the real Kira.
I like that Misa’s devotion to and love for Light is largely kept intact here. Her devotion to him drives the plot of the movie (much like the manga) and it was great to see her presence and significance get the treatment it deserved.
I also like the way her forfeiting ownership of the Death Note is treated. Seeing her willing to go so far as to give up her memories and her power to protect Light is riveting, because it’s a waiting game from then on to see if she’ll get them back and what will happen from there.
Soichiro Yagami (played by Takeshi Kaga)
I promised I’d talk a bit more about Light’s father in this part, and that’s mainly because his role is greatly expanded upon to show who he is as a character even more so than it was in Part I.
Soichiro’s willingness to protect his family is easily one of the best aspects of his character. Seeing him rush in to protect Sayu during Kira II’s invasion of the Sakura TV Festival shows just how far he’s willing to go to protect the people he loves, and I loved seeing that alongside his bravery in trying to shut down Kira II’s broadcast by himself.
However, Soichiro being the upstanding guy he is makes Light’s treatment of him at the end of the film absolutely heartbreaking. Without spoiling exactly what happens, I will say that it only made me pity Soichiro more and hate what Light became in the end.
Sayu Yagami (played by Hikari Mitsushima)
Because I’m discussing the Sakura TV Festival with Soichiro and Misa, I should put in a quick word for Sayu’s character as well. Sayu’s role in these films is relatively small, but the little we see of her shows her as a sweet young woman who is kind and caring toward others.
Mitsushima plays Sayu as the innocent young woman she was in the manga. While she doesn’t affect the plot too much, seeing her reactions to Kira II showed her as brave in the face of danger, such as when she called Kira II a bastard and murderer.
I was really moved by her performance, despite how small it was. Her reaction to Mogi’s death in particular was perfect given the circumstances and her emotions shown on Light’s birthday at the end of the film were really poignant. I’ve got to give the actress credit where it’s due.
Rem (voiced by Shinnosuke Ikehata)
The inclusion of other Shinigamis in the Death Note lore remains one of the most fascinating aspects of the manga to me, and Rem’s character is no exception, although I do question the changing of her gender in this film.
Why exactly is she played as a male Shinigami when she was female in the manga? Were they really unable to find a good actress to play her? I find that hard to believe, and otherwise I just don’t see a good reason to change that. It bugs me a bit.
Besides that, however, I don’t have any other complaints about this character. His protection of Misa was sweet to see, and it was obvious that Rem was determined to fulfill the promise he made to the death god Gelus by keeping Misa safe.
I like how, toward the end of the film, Rem realizes that Light orchestrated a situation where he would be forced to extend Misa’s lifespan – resulting in his own demise – and he faces that death with all the defiance toward Light and love for Misa that he can muster.
Other than the gender flip, his character is largely the same as it was in the manga, and I have to give that credit where it’s due.
Kiyomi Takada (played by Nana Katase)
The original Yotsuba arc in the manga becomes the Kiyomi Takada arc in this film, most likely as a cost- and time-saving measure. I like that the buildup to it is showing Takada disenfranchised with her job at Sakura TV, jealous of the current news anchor and being sexually harassed by her scummy boss Demegawa.
We clearly see where she’s coming from when she finally gets the Death Note, and it works in showing that her position in the company is really terrible. While her usage of the Death Note is changed from how it was used by Yotsuba in the manga, I do like that we see her using the deaths she causes in order to report on those deaths, giving herself a better position in the company while living up to the original Kira’s standards.
Besides Takada herself, I like how her arrest and demise is tied into Light getting his memories of the Death Note back. I enjoyed seeing him use the scrap of the Death Note hidden in his watch along with his blood to write her name down. It was a nice callback to how he got rid of Higuchi in the manga. Plus, his reaction to getting his memories back has him using the exact same line he did in the manga: “I’ve won. Exactly as planned!”
Light as a “Devil in Disguise”
Something I didn’t mention in Part I is how Light is referred to as Kira in these movies. A name often used to describe him is “devil,” “devil in disguise,” and that he’s “worse than a god of death”. I like how this clearly refers to how being Kira warps Light’s idea of justice and how it turns him into an irredeemable monster.
Seeing this commentary is useful because we don’t have all the volumes of the manga crammed into these movies. In the manga, Light’s descent into an evil vigilante was obvious because of all the time we had with him.
Now that that’s been stripped away, there has to be other ways to mark his moral decay. And, even without the “devil in disguise” commentary, it’s clear that he’s evil anyway, but the film adding that helped show this development.
Accuracy to the Manga
The biggest change with this particular film is the changing of the original Yotsuba arc to the Kiyomi Takada arc. Like I said earlier, I do believe that this was done as a cost-saving measure, and I also believe it was done to keep the flow of the story in check, so it doesn’t bother me that much.
If they started throwing in the Yotsuba members, I can see how that would potentially confuse viewers because they haven’t been seen before. In the anime adaptation of the manga, there was enough time to establish that arc, but I do not believe that to be the case here.
There are other changes because we never get to see Near and Mello as L.’s successors, but I am excusing those because this film series is strictly dealing with the Light versus L. arc, so there’s no need to include them.
Besides that, a lot of stuff from the manga did get featured here, which was nice to see. I particularly liked the use of the memory erasure if ownership of the Note is forfeited. It worked perfectly in this version of the story, such as when Misa remembers that Light is Kira after digging up the Death Note he buried.
I also like how we see Misa with her Shinigami eyes. I like that we’re given a taste of what it’s like to see with them and how she uses them to find Light for the first time, as well as how she uses them during the Sakura TV Festival to get the original Kira’s attention.
However, one thing they included kind of bugs me a bit because we don’t see much evidence of it. I’m mainly talking about Matsuda being called “incompetent”. Ohba and Obata were able to get away with this in the manga because we see how he screws things up for L. and the taskforce multiple times.
There wasn’t enough time in the films to turn him into the innocent, kind, yet slightly idiotic person he was in the manga, so we only see him being called out as stupid with no concrete evidence of him actually being stupid.
That being said, the films do call attention to is how good he is with a gun, which provides the context for what he does in the final moments of Death Note 2. While his interrogation of Light is cut out, at least we see him provide aid to L. in that way, which is generally the same as his role in the climax of the manga.
I think that covers everything I was hoping to talk about. While I would still recommend reading the original manga before diving into any of these adaptations, I really had fun with this film series and would definitely recommend it to Death Note fans and anyone who just wants to check it out.
It’s an interesting, fun ride that will leave you guessing the end until the very last moments of the film.
Death Note and Death Note 2: The Last Name Rating as a Series: 8 out of 10 stars