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  Death Note: The Last Name Rotter's JotterBuy this film here.
Year: 2006
Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Stars: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Takeshi Kaga, Shido Nakamura, Erika Toda, Shigeki Hosokawa, Shunji Fujimura, Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Shin Shimizu, Sota Aoyama, Magy, Peter, Alexa Devine, Michiko Godai, Itsuji Itao, Nana Katase, Miyuki Komatsu, Ai Maeda, Hikari Mitsushima
Genre: Thriller, Fantasy
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Popular TV presenter Misa Amane (Erika Toda) is finding she's perhaps a little too popular as she is stalked by a crazed fan, who corners her by the river outside the television studios. Just as he proclaims his love for her and also his belief that they should be together in death, he keels over from a heart attack. A shocked Misa cannot believe her luck, but just as she is gingerly making her way past the body a black notebook falls to the ground - followed by a God of Death calling himself Rem (voiced by Peter), which informs her because the fan's name was written in the pages of the notebook, he was certain to die... and now Misa is the owner of that book to do with what she will.

The sequel to Death Note opens with the news that there is another notebook along with another spirit to accompany it, this one all in white to contrast with Ryuuk, the one we knew about, who was all in black. Well, you'd know about it if you had seen the first film, and this second part comes on like the latter half of a TV miniseries, making no allowances for those who have not seen the initial instalment. We get into the story proper with the funeral of the character who was murdered at the end of part one, and Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has joined forces with the investigative genius L (Ken'ichi Matsuyama) even though he is the man L has being trying to track down.

As with before, this flirts with serious messages before plumping for a battle of wits with no small measure of tricks up its sleeve, but perhaps it is because the cast and plot have had time to settle that the mixture plays better this time around. It's still far too self-involved for much resonance outwith the borders of its narrative, so the theme of the death penalty turning its advocates into bloodthirsty proponents of murder - as long as those they believe to be the right people are dying, that is - is pretty much relegated into the service of the next set-up. That said, this time there does seem to be an accusation here of the media as a breeding ground for the most judgemental way of looking at individuals.

We can see this because once Misa has her mitts on a Death Note book she attacks the prospect of instant death for the sinners with relish, so much so that she starts killing off law-abiding citizens who look to be endangering her freedom to kill: police, spokesmen against her inspiration Kira, and so forth. Kira being Light's alias, though through a complicated pattern of events he has forgotten he was ever this punisher and is now working with L and his police chief father (Takeshi Kaga) to track Misa. Even more complex is that she is actually his new girlfriend, is under his orders and by and by they will both recall precisely what their masterplan was and work towards beating L if they could only find out his real name.

They need his real name to write into the notebook, but Misa has an added talent of supernaturally advanced eyesight to enable her to see people's names in the air above their heads (oh, that old chestnut). So if she could just meet L, and he wasn't wearing a mask or similar disguise, then they could get rid of their opponents and implement a fascist state of sanctimony in destroying everyone who has ever hurt anyone else - except for themselves, of course. There's a lot more to this, and the overriding impression is that Death Note had nobody but its fans in mind when it was put into production (it was a comic book originally, not to mention a cartoon series), so they are preaching to the choir for most of this. If you were not convinced by part one, then this is still worth sticking with, however, as it has a neat payoff that may not have you gripping the arms of your chair, but does wrap the story up fairly well. Music by Kenji Kawai.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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