I still can’t say with certainty, “I liked the Death Note anime,” yet when I heard that the film based on the manga and animated series would be shown in Canada on September 15, I couldn’t wait to see it. And I fretted over whether the filmmakers had done a good job of translating it to live action.
Death Note is about a young man who finds a notebook from the Shinigami, Japanese death gods. It can be used to kill someone by writing their name while following certain rules. At first, Light Yagami kills only criminals whom the law hasn’t satisfactorily punished, but soon he kills as many justice officials as criminals, when the police go after Light himself. They know him only as “Kira,” a serial killer, while he proclaims himself “the god of this world.”
Heading the search for Kira is another young adult, known as “L.” What makes the story so fascinating, despite its macabre subject matter, is the back-and-forth intellectual game between these two brilliant young men. What riveted me for each anime episode was the intense chess game of move and counter-move played by the two main characters.
So I fretted: how could a live action film possibly capture the intellectual plotting of these two? For most Death Note fans, this battle of intellects is the main story. Then there was the question of whether all the characters could be captured properly by live actors. There was a lot to be anxious about.