Death Note 2: The Last Name Review

After the tragic events at the closing of the first Death Note movie, the notorious Light Yagami succeeds in his plan of gaining the sympathy of the police force and asks that he become part of the investigation to unmask the vigilante mass murderer Kira. Unknown to the force, Light is actually seeking to gain entry into the investigation to learn lead investigator L’s true name and kill him. Surprisingly, the still suspicious L agrees to let Light help with the probe, testing him at every turn as he is still unsure of how Kira (Light) is committing the murders.

The plot thickens in the second chapter with the emergence of a second Kira, who is unfortunately in love with the first one and vows to help him create a crime free new world where he is the god. The second Kira, Misa Amane, unlike Light, possesses the Shinigami Eyes, which enables her to see the name and lifespan of her target just by seeing their face. This makes it easier for her to kill her victims (The Death Note only takes effect if the owner has in mind the face and the real name of his target as he writes their name in the book). At the same time, the Eyes lead her to Light as Shinigami eyes does not allow the possessor to see the life span of a fellow owner of a Death Note. L tries to keep the first and second Kira from finding each other but just as his plan gains headway, a third Kira appears towards the middle of the movie, making it harder and harder for investigators to keep track of the actual killer.

SURROUNDED. L and the two Kiras.

I loved the first movie, but while the beginning of the first Death Note is a bit slow, the second wastes no time in revealing the plot. Light Yagami, fresh from his successful attempt to thwart the law, becomes more aggressive and more conniving in this installment, forgetting his original intent of punishing criminals and has instead begun to focus more on eliminating his adversaries — primary of which is the mysterious but weird L. I must admit that there were times that the twists and turns in the movie left me reeling that I had to do some research after seeing the whole thing to confirm what I believed happened.

The characters are more developed in this second installment. Light and L constantly battle each other in a game of wits and cunning, but the respect for each other’s skills is evident in their every action, and while I hated Light the first second he came to the screen to log his first kill, I must admit that even I had to take my hat off to him when he executed his plan that pitted everyone against everyone else. He even managed to outsmart a Shinigami and that is a major accomplishment. L is weirder in this installment but no less brilliant. His unorthodox methods, I believe led Light to be wary of his actions but it was basically their characters, which they could not control, that emerged in the end to determine the final outcome of the battle.

SYMBOLIC. L and Light play chess which is pretty symbolic of what their actual characters were doing for the entire movie.

The Last Name served up a lot of unexpected surprises along the way. It captivated one’s attention in the sense that audiences will be hooked into trying to figure out what the next step will be and who will prevail in a particular scenario. There were a lot of scenes that I was wondering what the heck was going on and only managed to figure out what was happening when the final outcome was out.

What I liked was the balance in which the battle between Light and L were presented. It was not always one sided. Sometimes, Light won, sometimes it was the other way around. It was really a Tatsuya Fujiwara (Light) and Ken’ichi Matsuyama (L) movie, the rest were just gravy, but still, the strong performances of each character contributed to making everything seem real and believable so kudos to the team for this great anime adaptation. I’ll be watching the third Death Note movie in a bit, and I can’t wait.

Check out my review of Death Note 1 here.