Death Note has been knocking around for ages, and it seems to be one of those titles that just won’t go out of fashion. From the original 2003 manga by Tsugumi Oba and Takeshi Obata, there has come an anime adaptation, two alternate reality films, and one film solely about the character L, a film in which he (technically) wins the mind game between him and Kira. There has also been a Japanese TV adaptation. At the end of the TV series last year, it was announced that Death Note was getting a new film in 2016. And as of last week, we’ve been given the plot, the new characters, and the visuals (cast photos) to go with it.
The original plot of the manga is likely to be the most well-known of all Death Note’s formats. Light, a genius high-schooler, finds a notebook that can put people to death just by writing down their name inside. He appoints himself as the world’s new saviour, and begins to execute criminals one by one. The mental cat-and-mouse game to catch Light begins with battling the authorities, but soon spirals into a confrontation with L, the world’s most elusive detective.
The simple concept that a notebook can kill has appealed worldwide to teenagers looking for a show that was a bit darker, more psychologically intense than the usual shows that were released. The industry quickly caught on, and thirteen years later, we’re getting another live action adaptation. The question is, will it be a dodgy flop similar to other anime-film adaptations out there, or will it actually be any good? The new plot and the new visuals seem to have given us something fresh enough to make the story good, at least.
The new plot is pretty similar to the original in concept. L’s successor will battle Light’s successor over six remaining death notes in the world. This highlights the rule that there can be only six notes in the world at one time, a rule that was never utilised in the original series. From this we get a host of new psychotic death note users, each potentially far more dangerous than Light himself.
The image was released at the Berlin International Film Festival (which ended last week). It features the new ‘Ryuzaki’, the man who is to be L’s latest successor, slouched on a toilet with his face covered by a mask. This is along with the series most famous motif: the human whose name is written in this note shall die. It looks like L’s successor is going to find himself in a spot of trouble this time. It’s no wonder, since just one of the new death note users is said to be the most terrible death note user ever and an indiscriminate killer.
Other recent images of the cast are bog-standard. The new ‘Ryuzaki’ has a dishevelled, quirky appearance. From past experience, we know that this means he’s the misunderstood genius like his predecessor. As predicted, Light’s new replacement is clean-shaven, smooth and wearing a cold-as-ice expression. We have the unstable greasy-haired teenager who idolises Kira’s work, and the suited and booted detective investigating this mess; all typical stuff. It’s not the characters that make this new adaptation in any way interesting. It’s the new concept, the chance for the writers to continue feeding the world’s love of this great series.
They’ve been releasing the new content in dribs and drabs, teasing all over the place, building the anticipation. But because of recent live action adaptations failing so massively (see: Attack on Titan 2015), we’re all a little sceptical about the whole situation. The creators are certainly going to have a tough time convincing the anime community that, this time, there really will be a decent live action film. The planned release date is July this year, ten years after the release of the first Death Note live action film.
Already, it’s looking like a better film than the first one. The 2006 film’s concept of Light as a university law student with no personality was a bit dry, as was the underwhelming plot and failure of a second film. It’s no wonder that the wake of these films left the idea of a sequel ‘forbidden’, but now we have one. From the looks of it, we’ll have the same characters with new names, but a refreshing plot. Will the Death Note hype ever end? We hope not, because there’s so much potential for more.