Death Note 2 (デスノート 2) Made in: Japan Language: Japanese Director: Shusuke Kaneko Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kenichi Matsuyama, Erika Toda, Takeshi Kaga, Shido Nakamura, Shinnosuke Ikehata, Nana Katase Year: 2006
Warning: Don't read this review if you haven't seen the first movie, or plan on watching it.
Synopsis: Based on the Japanese manga (comic book series) by Tsugumi Oba and Takeshi Obata, this sequel picks up where the original left off. Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has joined the elite police investigative team with his father (Takeshi Kaga), and is working side-by-side with the mysterious detective L (Kenichi Matsuyama).
The investigative team is trying to apprehend the mysterious killer known as Kira, who has somehow been able to wipe out criminals by causing them to drop dead of sudden heart attacks. With Tokyo's crime rate rapidly declining, Kira has become an underground celebrity.
Light, of course, is Kira. And he's been snuffing out people by writing their names in the Death Note, a notebook belonging to a God of Death known as Ryuk (voiced by Shido Nakamura).
Although Light has carefully covered his tracks, the detective L has used his brilliant intellect and knows that Light and Kira are one and the same. The problem is, he can't conclusively prove it yet. And the whole reason Light has joined the investigative team is to not only eliminate suspicion of his murderous activities, but to do away with L once and for all.
However, a second Death Note unexpectedly appears. This time, it comes into the hands of a young pop star named Misa Amane (Erika Toda), and we're introduced to another God of Death named Rem (voiced by Shinnosuke "Peter" Ikehata).
A big Kira fan, Misa becomes attached to Light. They combine forces to get rid of L, but their alliance creates complications in this cat-and-mouse game as detective and killer continually try to outsmart each other.
The Good: Death Note 2 certainly has its moments of brilliance, and many of the interactions between L and Light are fun to watch. Once again, the story is utterly unpredictable and requires you to do a lot of thinking (which is what makes it engaging). It's very imaginative as well, and contains a dark fairy-tale element that's pretty neat.
I also thought the casting/acting was good. And whenever Light makes a bold move, you're left wondering what L's countermove is going to be. This is very much a continuation of a bigger storyline, and it's carried forth with boldness.
The Bad: I haven't read the original Japanese manga, nor do I follow the anime series so I won't do a movie vs. comic book or movie vs. cartoon comparison. However, I'm sad to say that I found Death Note 2 to be a disappointing sequel.
It wasn't a bad movie overall, but during the climax, the twists come at you too quickly that it ends up being very confusing. To emphasize my complaint, I'll use an analogy.
Movies are sort of like math problems. And in every math problem, you're supposed to come up with a conclusion based on a set of given elements (clues). But Death Note 2 is the equivalent of your math teacher giving you an unfair question, where you're deliberately not given some of the elements needed to solve the problem.
This movie almost seems to pull several important things out of thin air, and doesn't even give us a chance to guess. It's like expecting us to find buried treasure on an island when all we're given is a map of the New York City subway system. Good luck.
Who would like this movie: This is for you if you like foreign films, comic book to screen adaptations, and of course, if you've already seen the first Death Note movie. It's definitely an intelligent film, and although too many major plot twists are contrived, it'll probably be more enjoyable upon a second or third viewing.